Well, it didn't take long to jump back into parish work. Since the pastor scheduled to preach for me yesterday finds himself suffering from acute back issues, I returned to the pulpit a bit earlier than planned. The past two weeks, however, offered a wonderful respite and sabbatical from regular parish responsibilities, so resuming work didn't bring the stress it might otherwise have. Nevertheless, this session, like the one last summer, did bring challenges, at least in the ability to sit for extended periods of time and remain alert. Between the two courses I logged around 60 hours of class time. Dr. Pfatteicher and Dr. Herman provided much to think about and gave me a nice closure to the coursework part of my degree work. I also took time to meet with my thesis advisor Dr. Arnold Klukas, to discuss preliminary work on the capstone of my degree. As mentioned earlier I will be researching the use of the Apocalypse in the worship of the church. To narrow down my field it looks like the parameters will encompass the period from the NT to around 1054 AD. Initial work indicates a paucity of material from Revelation in this era, yet the research will hopefully uncover heretofore neglected research. At the moment I am trying to tract down my first lead by working my way backwards from Vatican II. The lectionary remained relatively unchanged, at least in Western Christendom, for at least 500 years before the massive reforms of this council. According to Annibale Bunini in The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 I discovered some research carried out by Fr. Fontaine around 1964 which should include numerous charts mapping out the use of the scriptures in a variety of early and modern lectionaries. Unfortunately the author fails to offer further documentation regarding where this voluminous research now exists, and I am on a detective mission to find it.
On the other end of the research I am also attempting to tract down what appears to be a fairly scarce work by Ned B. Stonehouse, entitled The Apocalypse in the Early Church: A Study in the History of the New Testament Canon. It was published in 1929, yet remains an oft quoted reference even to the present. I discovered it initially in a footnote of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. XII - Revelation, edited by Dr. William Weinrich of CTS-Ft. Wayne. If any of the readers out there have a lead on these subjects, let me know. I'm open to any assistance.
To close out my course work, however, I also have a couple of papers left to write by Sept. 1. In an effort to have this work assist my thesis I am gearing each in this direction. For Dr. Herman my final paper will be Allusions to the Apocalypse in the Church's Hymnody, and for Dr. Pfatteicher I will be writing a paper about the Revelation pericopes in the current Revision Common Lectionary and other ancillary texts for special festivals. It turns out that the lectionaries that came out of the revisions of Vatican II, while opening the scope of scripture to include the Apocalypse, included only six readings from this book, offered only during the Easter season in Series C, including material from a mere 5 chapters. While these papers may not contribute immediately to my thesis research, they will contribute to what may yet become a wider reach of research stretching to possible doctoral work, or even extended writing beyond the degree.
My time at Nashotah, as I indicated above, offered a needed respite and sabbatical from the routine of normal parish work, despite the rigors of classroom work. Twice daily chapel services took me back to a quiet corner where I could meditate on the mysteries apart from the distractions of parish responsibilities. While not being able to participate in the Eucharist, the exposure to the richness of the liturgy and Word offered ample refreshment. The rhythm of the Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer would probably be seen by some as mundane and uninspiring, but for me it was quite the opposite. As I worked my way through countless lines of Anglican chant it occurred to me that one of the benefits of such music is that it slows down our responses enough for us to actually meditate on the Word. So often the words blur past our minds, but slow and rhythmic chant allows us to see it and hear it more easily.
Aside from worship I also enjoyed the opportunity to expand my horizons and meet a variety of people I would never encounter in my normal travels. Sitting in one class I discovered an Anglican bishop from Kenya (The Rt. Rev. David Mugangi Mutisya), who was sitting next to an archdeacon from Nigeria. I suspect that little Nashotah is becoming a bit of an international haven for conservative Anglican clerics to study, although these churchmen are coming from what we used to see as Third World countries. With opportunities available throughout Europe and in England, I wonder what keeps pulling them to the states. CTS-Ft. Wayne has also drawn a fair number of internationals as well, I suspect it is because they need to come here to find places uninfected with liberal theology, places they can still study the scriptures where God's Word is seen as holy and inspired. Africa is now the place where the church is being reborn, it seems. Archbishop Walter Obare of Kenya remains a powerful reminder of this new leadership.
Nashotah also attracts scholars from outside its own tradition, as is evidenced in many of my fellow students who come from such traditions as Methodist and even non-denominational. One student in both of my sessions this summer was a baptist scholar from Carley Theological College in Vancouver Canada. Having already earned a Ph.D from Baylor University, she was now working on a D.Min at Nashotah. It was nice to see a mix of such scholarship in our classes, as it enriched the discussion overall.
Although kindly chided at times as "Dr. Luther" for being the token Lutheran clergyman in these sessions, I enjoyed my place as a representative of my faith. It afforded me the opportunity to share insights into the Lutheran church that many outside seldom receive. Being a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod offered an even rarer glimpse for many still, since clergy from this denomination seldom make their way into Anglican enclaves for advanced study. Nevertheless, I found nothing but respect and camaraderie from my fellow students. Anglicans are much like Lutherans, in some ways. They show a healthy sense of self-deprecation. I will miss many of these people.
The time at Nashotah is going by with amazing speed. It is hard to believe I only started last summer and have taken five courses in that time. I am looking forward to the thesis and for occasional return trips to Nashotah for consultation and research. For now, though, I need to get back to my "day job"......