Tuesday, May 26
One of the things that most doctoral students quickly learn in their quest to broaden the existing body of knowledge in their field of study is to set out to achieve a small, rather than a monumental, addition to what now exists within their chosen realm.
A sobering “reality check” is typically accomplished at the start of one’s studies by a deep engagement in the existing academic literature and research. This typically results in several peer-reviewed sources that have already dealt with the area you intended to study – a humbling experience. There is also benefit in getting some sage advice from one’s faculty advisors charged with successfully shepherding your efforts to a successful end. “Aim for something that incrementally moves forward the body of knowledge that already exists; that is your goal,” said my at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. While at the time I was not sure this was good advice, I eventually saw the wisdom in such counsel. Along this road too was the all-important exercise of creating THE QUESTION that would drive my thinking, research and writing for the next several years – seven to be exact of full-time and part-time study while continuing my full-time teaching career.
This week we draw to the close of the Easter season with the cusp of Pentecost looming only a few days away. So… what has your Easter journey been like this year? For most of us, it has been a disruptive time brought on by the global pandemic. Without church life as we have known it and limits placed on celebrating Easter in 2020, your emotions have likely been battered and perhaps even left you feeling a bit “spiritually-challenged.” However, the last few months of imposed social restrictions on work and leisure activities may have allowed you some more time to attend to sustaining your faith – perhaps thinking a bit more about a personally relevant phrase from a recent sermon you heard over Zoom, or investigating the meaning of a particular Bible passage while being quarantined at home. You may now find yourself at a new or revitalized “starting point” in your faith journey or with the desire to further your understanding of Scripture. You may have a QUESTION you want to have answered … maybe about a particular parable told by Jesus in the gospel, or what exactly is meant by the New Covenant, or what does Pentecost mean? Remember, it does not have to be an earth-shattering question of grand theological importance – rather, start small and begin with something that has meaning for you at this time.
Helping you answer this QUESTION and pursuing more information about it may be easy or it could be harder than you think. All Saints’ has a wealth of knowledgeable persons starting with our current interim priest, the Rev. Geoff Lloyd, other All Saints’ clergy, and many gifted lay members of the congregation who no doubt could help you. We hope to soon re-start other forms of spiritual growth and development activities once the “all clear” is given by the Diocese to resume worship and small group gatherings. Of course, such assistance in answering your QUESTION is greatly aided by an abiding faith in God the Father, a heartfelt desire on your part to have regular conversations with Jesus through prayer and listening, and in following the wise guidance of the Holy Spirit to help you, and indeed all of us, to learn and grow even in an incremental way as members of a vibrant faith community in Whitby and beyond.
Lord, in my effort to be a faithful disciple, I often have questions about my faith, how to practice what you have taught in the Scripture, and whether I fully understand what you are calling me to do. Help me to call on those around me to answer those small and sometimes big QUESTIONS that come my way. Remind me too that you are always there as a source of knowledge and guidance to enable me to move forward, even in small ways, and help answer my QUESTIONS in order that I may further your purpose in this life. And for all of this, I am most thankful. Amen.