Corrie Cabes, our former Youth Minister writes a letter to St. Martin’s from seminary school in Austin. This summer, Corrie & her family moved to Austin so that she could attend the Seminary of the Southwest.

Dear St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church and School,
I’m writing with a great sense of gratitude for the many blessings and steadfast presence of God in my life. My family is doing great in Austin! Clay really likes his high school and has three other teens whose parents are seminarians that he goes to school with and hangs out with a lot—and they live on our street! He loves history, is taking classes on video game designing and bowling at his school. Olivia is flourishing at her school as well. She has a friend from a seminary family who is in her class. They walk to school together and she is delighted to take care of a little kindergartner from the seminary—she walks her to and from school and loves to baby sit for this family (with four little girls). Richard has become involved with SPOTS—a group for spouses/partners of seminarians. He’s found time to golf with seminarians at a municipal golf course and participate in the recent Polity Bowl at the seminary—a football game with our sister seminary–Presbyterian Seminary vs. Seminary of the Southwest. SSW lost by 1 point and I know the “Presbys” are terrified for next year’s game! I’m also happy to say that I will be reunited with my parents as they will move to Austin soon.
In addition to my studies, I’ve joined the choir at Seminary of the Southwest and I help the children of seminarians as they craft prayers that are said in a special worship service held each month at the seminary. We pray these “community prayers”— people write prayers on paper prayer dolls— to especially remember children and teens and their families who are experiencing homelessness. We started this after I joined a group at Clay’s high school—MACares—this organization works with a social worker, parent volunteers and area churches and organizations to help students in local Austin public schools who are homeless. I spoke to SSW families about MACares and the children wanted to get involved and so they started by creating artwork and praying for their fellow students who are struggling. I cannot tell you how life-giving this has been to be a part of MACares and see the children at the seminary reach out and pray for their local community.
I wanted to share a special moment from my first semester at SSW with you that I think is appropriate as we turn our attention to the holy family and our place in God’s kingdom. For my final exam in biblical studies, I was tasked with memorizing a piece of the Gospel of Mark. Then we all gathered as a class and each student stood and acted out their part,  this resulted in a passionate retelling of Jesus’ life, ministry, death—and resurrection.
My passage was Mark 3:31-35. Jesus returns home and sees his family–and he is swimming in a sea of people who have come to hear him teach and preach. I found it very poignant when the crowd calls to Jesus, telling him that his family was outside asking for him. I’m sure Jesus wanted to push through the crowd and embrace his family.  But even in that moment, he is about his Father’s business, and continues to instruct the crowd around him. He realizes how important his mission is and encourages the crowd to join him as a part of God’s family–“whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
I really thought about that passage as I memorized it. If you read the verses quickly, it seems that Jesus might be renouncing his family. But, I do not believe that is the case, do you? I feel that Jesus is opening the family circle wider, and his words are like an invitation to the table that he will gather the disciples around at the Last Supper. These verses seem to lift the veil just a bit to let the everlasting kingdom shine through, where all will have a place. It’s an “arms wide open, love in abundance” kind of moment in Mark, and a call to action–to do God’s work– and it certainly speaks to us today. And although the people that surrounded Jesus must have been hungry in many ways, there is no talk of scarcity in God’s family. Learning this passage and performing it with my class was a wonderful way to end a semester, entering the season of Advent and Christmas, a time that reminds me that we are all a part of a holy family, full of unfathomable love.
Speaking of love, I want to thank you again for your prayers, phone calls, care packages, letters and financial support in 2017. You have truly made a difference as I learn to navigate this new part of my spiritual journey.
I will wrap it up by giving you a preview of the things I will be involved in for winter/spring/summer 2018. In January, I will take part in Encuentro, a Hispanic borderlands ministry course with class time in Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo. In the spring, I’ll have the second half of biblical studies, craft of ministry, history, music, and two new courses–leading for mission and theology. This summer I will take part in a clinical pastoral care program at Seton Hospital in Austin. Exciting times!
God bless y’all!–Corrie