Pastor's Pen

Pastor’s Pen

Joanne Martindale

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (I Peter 3:15a)

What is the reason for the hope that you have? Do you have hope? Does it fill you will joy?

May is always a month that fills me with joy. It usually is a month where I do much reflection. It is also a month of graduations, endings and new beginnings. Some youth are out of school in May, some programs stop and start in May.

30 years ago, this month, I graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey with the Masters of Divinity degree. Often, in May, I take some time to be thankful for such a wonderful theological education that I received so many years ago.

When I began Princeton Theological Seminary 30 years ago I drove my little car, with all my belongings from Glendale, California (where I grew up) to Princeton, New Jersey. I made the long “driving journey” with two good friends. We drove over 6,000 miles all around the United States (not the direct route) to see as many states as we could.

Our last stop, of the long “driving journey” was a small donut shop in Manhattan. There we were going to buy a donut and coffee and get back into the car and head to the seminary where I would register for school and be assigned a dorm room.

We were gone from the car for less than 7 minutes. When we returned to the car, everything in it had been stolen. My typewriter, guitar, luggage, their luggage, everything. So I began Seminary with nothing and my friends flew home empty handed with no souvenirs or luggage. I had exactly $50 dollars to my name and with that I bought a lamp, so I could see to study, a pair of jeans, a pen, pencil and some toothpaste.

In many ways it was very humbling experience. I was to begin that Sunday, in a Field Education church assignment in a large Presbyterian Church in northern New Jersey but I had no Sunday clothes to wear. I needed a dress and shoes. When I told my dorm mates my story and dilemma, they took it upon themselves to bring out clothes from their closets and select the best fitted dress and shoes for that Sunday.

COMMUNITY began in the hallway, with no money, new friends and a crisis that brought us together. On that Sunday I had a borrowed dress, borrowed shoes, no money and a lot of new books that I would pay for “over time.” (When I told the church what happened, as part of my story, they put a plan in place and as a surprise to me the next week, furnished me with new a new wardrobe. The clothes they bought for me, were better than the clothes I had lost).

So when I think of May I think of new beginnings, community, learning and humility. I began Princeton Theological Seminary with the clothes on my back, new friends and a theological education that prepared me to serve God’s people for the past 30 years. May is a wonderful month. What does May mean to you? What are God’s blessings for you? What gives you HOPE and sustains you?

Pastor Joanne