For the third year now, I have the privilege to read ordination exams for the PC(USA). For those of you unaware of how this works, toward the end of the ordination process in the PC(USA), after students have completed at least some of their seminary work, candidates for ministry take 4 written exams. They gather at regional testing sites (usually seminaries), and take three of the exams – Theology, Worship and Sacraments, and Polity – then they are given a week to write their Exegesis paper on a selected passage from either the Old or New Testament. Once of the Exams are collected, they are sent to the Presbyteries where they are read by ordained Elders and Ministers.
Serving as a reader has always been a good experience for me, a time of study and reading and thoughtful inquiry. It’s a great opportunity to invest and help shape and guide those who are exploring/pursuing God’s call in their lives toward the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
The first year I read I got to evaluate Theology Exams. There were some real stinkers, but there were also many very well written and theologically sound papers. Last year I read New Testament Exegesis, and while it was clear that some of the exams were DOA, there were still some enjoyable exams to read.
This year, I’m reading Polity. Let me share how I see this coming about:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Ethan… a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Ethan fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and he has read Theology and New Testament. But stretch out your hand and let him read Polity, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
(Job 1:6-12 ESV – alterations indicated )
I knew it was only a matter of time. If I kept reading exams, eventually it would come to this. Wait **cough, cough** is that a cold coming on.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.