Water Lilies and Theories of the Atonement?


It’s funny what you can find on the internet. I’ve gotten myself into some crazy situations by researching things online. Sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Like the time recently when I was reading and learning about growing water lilies. Seems you can grow them in a large pot of water, no pond needed. So, I decided to try it. Ordered a lily, found a great old metal tub to put it in, and then my sweet husband and I harvested some cattails from our lake cabin area. Put it all together, according to the instructions, but, to put it mildly, it didn’t work. Epic fail.  Dead plants. 

But it doesn’t always end up that way. In fact, God can open up opportunities to us that we never dreamed of. Never even considered doing, and yet it can be the most exciting idea yet. A couple of years ago, I was looking around online for a way to increase my knowledge about God, scripture and the church. I looked into master of divinity programs at various institutions, local and not, in person or online. End result was that I couldn’t justify the tuition cost at my age. 

While on the website of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, I happened to see something called a Certificate in Ministry (CIM). It’s a non-degree online program for people to learn more about the exact things I wanted to. As I looked at the class list, I saw several classes that would help me in ministry activities I was already involved in. There was a class in pastoral care, and I serve as a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital. There was a class in Christian Education, and one of my passions is teaching scripture. There was a class in worship and preaching, and I love to be a “substitute preacher” occasionally when churches are without a pastor for a while or when a pastor is on vacation. 

In order to apply for the CIM, I needed a pastor’s signature, so I took the application in to my pastor, the Rev. Cliff Stewart at First Central Presbyterian Church. He took one look at it and said, “This certificate would qualify you to be a commissioned pastor (of a small church) in the Presbyterian church!”  My mind was blown!  I had never considered such a thing, but the more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, the more excited I became. 

Fast forward to this past June, and I have completed the CIM. And the current plan is for me to be an interim preacher for the First Presbyterian Church in Snyder, Texas, while they search for a pastor (which usually takes a year or so). Had you told me two years ago that I would be doing this, I would not have believed you! Like I said, it’s funny….and challenging…..and exciting what can happen when you look around on the internet!  

Sara Core is a member of First Central Presbyterian Church, retired veterinarian, and a spiritual director

“Pink Water Lily” by Jeffrey Rolinc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One comment

  • Congratulations on finding such a fulfilling opportunity. And I’m sure it will be even better than growing a water lily!


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