Two and a half years ago, Dean Kleinhans invited me to write a New Beginnings column introducing myself. Now the time has come for me to write the bookend column as I complete my tenure as Director of Contextual and Experiential Formation and Director of Candidacy.
But the story didn’t really start two and a half years ago. It started 22 years ago, when I enrolled as an MDiv student in this very place. I was drawn to the way Gloria Dei could hold holy silence, with only the waters of the font testifying, and how in the next moment, the space could be filled, all the way to those soaring heights with the sound of voices singing and the organ playing, and my very favorite organ stop, the zimbelstern, imitating angel song. I was known by name here (we all were), in spite of large class sizes, by every professor and staff member and by the President who washed the feet of the students at the beginning of each academic year. I was challenged to consider new ideas in light of an old, old story and to do so in Greek AND Hebrew. Here, I was fully formed to go and do the work to which God was calling me.
But the story didn’t really start 22 years ago either. Because it’s a baptismal story. When, at the age of two weeks old, my parents brought me to the font of Trinity Lutheran Church and made promises on my behalf, the whole community welcomed me and affirmed what God had already done: claimed me as Their own. .
In this season, the Holy Spirit calls again, and I answer, reluctant to leave behind work that is fulfilling and students who are courageous and bold and faithful. The change that always companions the Church is accelerating in these days and I have confidence that the Church is in the good hands of the leaders who are being formed here AND those of us who were formed here in years past. For now, Bruce and I return to the place where our family is found (the Pacific Northwest) and I anticipate a return to parish ministry after a brief time of sabbatical. Rest is important, if we pay attention to Jesus.
The Celts describe the place where heaven and earth kiss as a “thin place.” That’s what Trinity Lutheran Seminary is for me. A thin place, where the saints who have gone before, and there were many in my own graduating class, watch and encourage and remind us that a hurting world needs to hear the truth of the Gospel: that Love has the final word. It always has.
And in that love of Christ and with the deepest gratitude, I wish you the peace of Christ, crucified and risen, now and always.
The Rev. Julie Martin Hutson, MDiv, 2005