Passing On My Grandmother’s Blessing

I admit that I was uncomfortable when I was given an information sheet for Calvin Theological Seminary students who preach on “Seminary Sundays.” I wasn’t so sure this was something I wanted to do.

I agreed that the denomination should be encouraging people who have gifts for ministry, but I wondered if there were a more discreet way to present the challenge. I tucked the sheet beside my sermon manuscript and planned to read through it a few times before Sunday, when I and several other seminary students would preach in churches in and near London, Ontario.

On Sunday morning after breakfast I pulled out the information sheet. It included suggestions for renewing a “culture of calling” in the Christian Reformed Church—reminding congregations and members of their important role in identifying people with gifts for ministry and encouraging them to consider ministry as a vocation.

As I read, I began to recall all the people through the years who told me that I had gifts for ministry. Now I was motivated to speak about renewing this culture of calling. I decided to tell the story about my grandmother’s blessing.

I told the congregation that during my last year at Calvin College I had been struggling with what to do after graduation but was quite sure that I wanted to pursue further education. I was looking at starting a master’s program in sacred music or possibly enrolling at Calvin Theological Seminary.

I did not tell my grandmother about this because she was dealing with some health issues, and I didn’t know how she felt about women in the ministry. But as I visited her one afternoon she said, out of the clear blue, “Jana, it’s okay if you go to seminary. I know that you have gifts for the ministry.”

While studying at Calvin Seminary, I have worshiped with many Christian Reformed congregations. Many of the parishioners are genuine encouragers who are helping to keep the “culture of calling” alive.

On a Seminary Sunday weekend, students from Calvin Theological Seminary travel to Christian Reformed churches in the United States or Canada, stay in parishioners’ homes, and preach during the morning or evening services. To inquire about holding a Seminary Sunday in your area, contact the discernment office at CTS: dyc@calvinseminary.edu.

About the Author

Jana Vander Laan is a master-of-divinity student at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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