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Matt Wollam-Berens, Master of Divinity Connections

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Matt Wollam-Berens
(MDiv Connections)

MattIsaiah 55:1-3
"Everyone who thirsts,
come to the water . . .
Why spend your money
for what is not bread,
and your labor for that
which does not satisfy?"

For me, discovering Bethany was like finding a stream of living water in the desert. Jesus walked out of the desert after being baptized by his cousin John and proclaimed, "Reform your lives, the Kingdom of God is here!" And then he called his first disciples. He did not first make them recite a creed, he did not give them dogma, or theology. He simply said, "Follow me."

At Bethany, I found that same Spirit. There is openness to those of any faith, with a vision large enough to embrace any approach, any person who has been called to God to follow the way of Jesus. At Bethany, I found people who follow, teach, and live that way: people such as the Church of the Brethren and the Quakers. They are a living witness to the way of Jesus: they practice patience, love of one's enemies, forgiveness, humility, hospitality, and community.

Just as at Bethany in the Bible, Jesus calls us to not be so busy in the world (story of Martha) that we forget to pay attention to what is truly important. So I will be leaving my old job (that paid very well!) to follow after this Nazarene. I don't know where that journey will end, but I know now where it begins.

Coming to Bethany, after years of wandering in the desert, is like finding a stream of living water in the desert. I intend to drink deeply from these waters!

Matt Boersma
Master of Arts

MattMy thesis began its journey while learning Hebrew at the University of Notre Dame, back when I was an employee in the Information Technology department. Among the many Hebrew texts read, it was the Song of Songs in particular that caught my attention. I knew that historically it had been interpreted as an allegorical text exploring God's love of Israel (or the church), but I had not encountered the deeply sensual nature of the images and the erotic tone of the text. Reading through the book, the unabashed sexuality of the words struck me as completely different than how the rest of the Bible treats sex. During the previous semester we had read selections of Ezekiel, where sex and female desire is cast as idolatrous and evil. In the Song, it is unashamed and extolled.