Bob Dylan sang, “He who isn’t busy being born, is busy dying.” Those words, surely a variation on Ecclesiastes 3, were relevant when he wrote them and they’re even more fitting today. They’re a call and a challenge to people, churches and yes, to seminaries and theological education.
Being born takes effort and time. Having given birth twice, I know full well that the process isn’t painless or easy. And in most cases, it takes a lot of time. Do we expect a spiritual birthing process to be any easier? We are impatient people who prefer instantaneous results for our efforts. We are also easily discouraged when things don’t go according to plans and our preconceived expectations and wishes. When something takes too long or, conversely, when something changes too quickly, alarm bells go off in our heads.
McCormick Theological Seminary is in the process of giving birth to something new. We have a new president, a new sense of energy, and a diverse student body that is excited to be in the midst of a community that challenges them to grow in faith and understanding of what it means to be called to ministry in the 21st century.
The rapid shifts taking place in our churches are calling us to rethink our own place in theological education. How do we best prepare these emerging leaders, both lay and ordained? How do we hold the emerging future in a time of chaos, and remind people of their roots even as we open up God’s Word to them in new ways?
Some days the questions are unnerving. But then I remember that God, who is eternal, strengthens all of us for faithful living in the midst of this birthing process. God’s word is bringing us to new life and a new day, even though we do not yet know how long it will take or what it will look like. God’s presence and steadfast love will call us to “keep busy being born.”