12 Dec
The final step in the candidacy process leading up to graduation and ordination –
The last approval interview is done with the candidacy committee in one’s home synod.  For me, that meant a trip back to Madison for my meeting on Friday afternoon.  *deep breath*
I walked into the conference room at the synod and found ten people around the table, the seat at the head of the table reserved for me.  *gulp*
Other colleagues of mine who have already gone through approval told me tales of three people.  Four people maybe.  There were definitely ten around this table.  Let the interrogation begin.
We talked about internship – the joys and the frustrations.  We talked about where I was hoping to be placed.  About how I handle conflict and about cardigan sweaters.  (No joke.  Cardigan sweaters came up – but it wasn’t me beginning that conversation.  I only contributed.  And was wearing one.)
Then this young pastor on the committee leaned forward with his large black-rimmed glasses and asked, “What is God up to?”
What is God up to?  I repeated back to him.  It’s a question we ask a lot here at seminary but one often asked within a specific context, not within the world in general.  Holy big question, Batman!
I know what my answer was (and I suppose it was satisfactory since I was approved by the committee); what’s yours?  What is God up to?  In the world?  In your church?  In your life?  Where do you see God working?
An appropriate question at any time, I suppose now it is all too appropriate with the approaching of the Christmas celebration when we call our focus to Immanuel, God with us.  The coming of God into this world.  God is up to a lot through the incarnation, work and person of his son, Jesus.  This holiday season we celebrate God with us and the light that shines in the darkness.  
It’s your turn to answer.  What the heck is God up to?
[Sidenote: As my Grace co-workers knew all too well, my connections between real world and tv/movie land are frequent, sometimes unwelcomed, and often met with blank stares.  Nevertheless, we’ve reached the explanation of a connection again.  Being approved can only make me think of the Target lady skits from SNL, in which the Target employee will yell in a nasal tone with enthusiastic hand gestures, “You’re approved!” when credit card payments go through.  Ignore the credit card payment part and yell with me, “You’re approved!”  Hey.  Thanks.]

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