I love my theological seminary. I really do. One of the reasons I chose to serve at Bethesda, following my retirement, is the opportunity to work under our Rector, a graduate of the same fine seminary, for I admire him. The other reason is due to my bride, who wanted to be taught by the talented Hal in our gifted Bethesda Choir. I made this choice, realizing that I would be surrounded by clergy who graduated from a well-known seminary in New Haven, Connecticut.
The Good Lord hasn’t blessed me to be a scholar, so when I applied to enter Seabury-Western, I was informed that I might have to be granted acceptance on academic probation. And after making it to Evanston, I walked by the grey stone walls of the seminary, late at night, touching the stone as I offered thanks to Almighty God for being granted the joy of being a student on the campus.
Throughout the years as a student, alum, Trustee, and Class Officer, I have attempted to return the love given to me by my seminary. At the same time, I recall, more than once, my temptation to punish the seminary for not doing what I wanted done. Each time I did not get my way, I would threaten to retaliate by withholding my modest contribution or to compose a letter describing my indignation!
It took a while, but it finally dawned on me that I could not put conditions on my love. It was all or nothing; otherwise, it is not love. One cannot say, “I love you, BUT. . .”
Recently, I have heard or seen folk say, “I love the Episcopal Church, BUT I am no longer giving to the Church because. . .” Or, I have heard, “I can’t pray for him, he doesn’t agree with me,” or “ I can‘t remember her in my prayer life, because she slighted my sister!”
No, it isn’t easy to embrace Unconditional Love. Yes, it takes courage to embrace Unconditional Love. However, embracing Unconditional Love is what God wants from each one of us.