Orientation, Mardi Gras, and Lent
February 1, 2008
Orientation began yesterday, January 31, for new students for the spring semester at Sioux Falls Seminary. Fifteen or so students began the process of learning more how classes fit in to their program, what they can expect, how to do research, and so on. Rather quiet in the beginning, their assurance becomes a tangible thing as the day advances.
Of course, next week they will experience "syllabus shock," a very tangible weight of doubt whether they can complete all the work in the fifteen weeks. They have access to all the course syllabi today in a room in the Education building, but it is not the same thing as sitting in class and going through what is expected.
One year, in Old Testament Literature, a student read the syllabus in class and fainted. Dr. Gordon Harris was beside himself. That had never happened! Hopefully the confidence gained in orientation will carry over to the opening days of class and there won't be a repeat of the faint.
The beginning of the semester corresponds with Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras is that time when a person indulges in life before the forty days of Lent when the focus will be on fasting, prayer, and charitable acts in preparation for Christ's death and resurrection at Easter. Lent extends from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The forty days do not include the Sundays because they are like little pre-Easter days. The Eastern Church has a little different schedule.
What a great time to begin a stage of life's journey like ministry preparation. Moving into a time of focus on Jesus' ultimate gift permits us to reflect on our sacrifice as his servants.
All of us can take the next forty plus days to recommit ourselves to a focus where our life is lived to the full to accomplish what God wants to do through us. As Dwight Moody said, "The world is awaiting a person who will be totally committed to Jesus. I wish to be that man."