Lectionary Reading Blog for 13 December: 3 Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityIt is always the ‘little’ words that make the difference.

This passage starts (second word in Greek) with ‘therefore’ or ‘so’ or ‘then’ (in the meaning that what comes follows necessarily from what went before). Sadly not all our translations have it.

This little word links the “salvation of God” from verse 6 very closely with the “wrath to come” of verse 7. ‘Are they the same thing?’ you have to wonder and ‘how are they the same?’ John makes the “way of the Lord”, the “straight paths” the “filled valleys” the “low mountains” the “crooked” that becomes “straight” and the “rough” that will be “smooth” all very concrete in his demand for sharing your coats and food and being content. It is amazing that for John and his hearers clearly the “burning of the chaff” (v17) is “good news” (v18).

Clearly the peaceful messiah we are awaiting also comes with judgement. I wonder: what is the judgement he comes with to us this Christmas. I wonder how that judgement is good news for us. I wonder how John would have responded to our question: “What then (the little word again) should we do?” I imagine that it will depend on our context just as in the text he has a different answers for soldiers and tax-collectors.

13 December 2015
Lk. 3:7-18

This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.

Lectionary Blog  |  Ministry at Sarum College

Congratulations to our 2015 Ministry Graduates

Photographs by Rachel Noel

Congratulations to the ministry students who graduated from Sarum College on Saturday 21 November.

The Presentation ceremony was held at St Thomas and St Edmund Church in Salisbury. Sarum College’s Principal, The Revd Canon Dr James Woodward welcomed the group and thanked the following people for their contribution to the course: Margaret Jones (Methodist oversight tutor); Jackie Lowe (URC associate member of staff), and Andy Edmonds (associate tutor). Dr Woodward also congratulated Sr Mairead Quigley, Sarum College chaplain, on her 80th birthday.

The Revd Dr Andrew Wood, Chair of the Southampton District Methodist Church and member of the Sarum College Board of Trustees, gave an address on mission and unity in today’s church.

Warmest congratulations to all!

Foundation Degree in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Denise Binks
Lynn Joan Bowerman
Stephen Edward Dent
Gary James Edmunds (in absentia)
Alison Dawn Handcock
Joy Elizabeth Hawes
Kathryn Elizabeth Marlow (in absentia)
Lena Phillips
Christopher Edward Richardson
Jon Riding
Martin Slocombe
Patrick David Stonehewer
Caroline Mary Easdale Strudwick
Amy Lavina Webb
Maureen Sheila Pearl Willis
Simon Mark Young

BA in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Susan Elizabeth Snashall

BA (Hons) in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Rachel Lesley Hope
David Townsend (in absentia)

MA in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Simon John Bale
Irene Euphenia Smale (in absentia)
Margaret Ann Stirling Troy
Carys Ruth Walsh (in absentia)

The achievements of the following students who have been studying for University of Durham Awards also were celebrated:

Higher Education Certificate in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Stephen George Brown
Mark Anthony Russell (in absentia)

MA in Theology for Christian Ministry and Mission

Ruth Katherine Midcalf

2015 Magna Carta Lectures Audio Recordings

MagnaCartaThe Magna Carta Lecture series by Salisbury Cathedral and Sarum College celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and its resonance for today.

The series of eight lectures with Neil MacGregorDominic GrieveRobin Griffith-JonesChris DyerNicholas VincentDick HowardLord Igor Judge and Lesley Smith took place between March and July 2015 in Salisbury Cathedral.

Audio recordings from some of the lectures are below.


Lectionary Reading Blog for 6 December: 2 Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityLooking up quotations in their original is always an interesting experience even more so within scripture. It often transpires that the quotation is more interpretation than simple reference.

Luke 3:4-6 being an excellent example of this. In Isaiah the “highway” for God is “in the desert” something Luke leaves out; while Isaiah’s revelation of “the glory of the Lord” has become in Luke the “salvation of God”.

But when you study the text a bit better you find out that Luke might be quoting the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament from around 200 BCE) and just missing out the first half of the sentence as the Septuagint has both “the glory of the Lord” and “the salvation of God”.

Whatever text Luke had to quote from it is clear that he uses the quotation creatively. Just as in Isaiah he puts the text in the context of forgiven sins. He suggests that John is preparing the way for Jesus. He is also reminding his readers of the Exodus and the return from Exile. This is freedom that leads into the desert where an encounter with God is now, through Jesus, possible for all. Do we dare to go this way?

6 December 2015
Lk. 3:1-6

This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.

Lectionary Blog  |  Ministry at Sarum College

Lectionary Reading Blog for 29 November: 1 Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityThis is a strange reading; not only because ‘this generation will not pass away’ until people will see the ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ but also because it is littered with unusual words.

Already in verse 25 both the ‘distress’ and the ‘confused’ of the nations (NRSV) are in Greek words that only come once in the whole New Testament. The noun that is translated as distress comes from a verb that literally means ‘to hold (tight) together’.

Therefore it is used metaphorically for distress, affliction, oppression, detention. Confused could also mean ‘perplexed’ as the Greek indicates that there is no way out or through. I think of ‘throngs of nations in despair’ because there is no way out. Images of Syrian and other refugees battling the waves of the Mediterranean spring immediately to mind as do predictions of rising sea levels.

But rather than fear we are asked to lift our heads, rather than worry we should be alert and pray. Our redemption is near. Suddenly a text that is so strange, so incomprehensible, so ‘other’ seems to speak straight into our situation. Whatever is meant by ‘this generation’ and whether or not that is a ‘mistake’ becomes irrelevant as we live in expectation to see the power and great glory of the Son of Man.

29 November 2015
Lk. 21:25-36

This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.

Lectionary Blog  |  Ministry at Sarum College

A Country Parson for the 21st Century

Rural-Church-WebSarum College Proposes New Training Pathway for Rural Ministry.

Responding to the national call for specialised training for ministers working across the country’s 10,000-plus Anglican rural churches, Sarum College in Salisbury has proposed a new training pathway now under review by the Ministry Council.

The new pathway aims to train rural ministers for work in multi-parish benefices so that these faith communities realise their potential for mission and growth. It will be offered from September 2016, subject to approval by the Ministry Division.

“These are exciting and innovative times for all of us involved in ministerial formation and education as we attempt together to respond imaginatively to the context and culture within which ministry is exercised,” says The Revd Canon James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College. “This rural pathway will give Sarum College a unique opportunity to prepare and equip ordination candidates for work in different rural contexts.

“We are mindful of the rural nature of ministry to be found in many places in our diocese and region and from which a significant number of our existing ordination candidates are drawn. Sarum College wishes to support mission and renewal in imaginative ministry in these contexts. We hope to be able to work with others in providing resource for all those who would seek to strengthen the witness of the Church.”

The proposed pathway has been welcomed by the Church of England’s National Rural Officer, Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson, who says:

“Mission and ministry in rural communities is both challenging and rewarding, requiring skills and expertise in managing complexity, leadership and encouraging and developing the ministry of others. It is an urgent priority and a potentially fertile field but there is an absence of relevant contextual training and many Ordinands receive little, if any, training that equips and resources them for work in rural areas. This initiative from Sarum College will provide Ordinands with the experience, understanding and skills that are needed to focus on mission and growth, spirituality and discipleship and the training and education of others in rural multi-church groups.”

Calling attention to the important role this specialised training will have on the flourishing of faith throughout the country, Canon Woodward welcomes the contribution of knowledge and expertise in this area.

“I look forward to working with colleagues on the creation of this new pathway and welcome any feedback or questions for us to consider as we continue to work together to equip and enable a new generation of ministers through our ministry training programmes.”

In January 2015 the Church of England issued Released for Mission: Growing the Rural Church, a report which detailed the context and need for specialised training for ministers who work in countryside parishes.

The provision of locally accessible training and development for lay people and clergy working in rural multi-church groups was among the recommendations which followed.

PDFXsmallSarum College Rural Pathway News Release

PDFXsmallChurch of England Released for Mission Report

15x15BlankChurch of England News Release on Released for Mission Report

Lectionary Reading Blog for 22 November: Christ the King

LiturgyandSpiritualityThe fascinating feature of the reading from John is that the whole passage long Jesus seems to be avoiding rather than claiming kingship.

“Who says that Jesus is king?” seems to be the question in the heart of the passage. Jesus asks Pilate whether the idea of Jesus as king comes from Pilate himself. Pilate disowns it. He is clearly surprised and thought that this claim was Jesus’ own. But now Pilate has to refer to “your nation and chief priests”.

But we know that they did not think Jesus was king. Jesus then goes on to speak of “my kingdom”. Do you have to be king to speak of “my kingdom”? I speak of “my country” without any responsibility in government. Does Jesus say: “my kingdom” as in “the place where I am king” or does he say: “my kingdom” as in “the place where I belong”? When Pilate challenges him and repeats “So you are king”. Jesus avoids claiming this title again. He came not to be “king” but to “testify to the truth”. Now “truth” in John’s gospel comes through Jesus Christ (1:17), is Jesus Christ (14:6), the word of God (17:17) and is something the disciples will be guided into by the Spirit of truth (16:13) after the events of our passage.

But whether or not it is true that Jesus is king: this is not a truth Jesus testifies to in this passage. Jesus does not claim to be king; rather he seems to be asking: Do you want me to be king?

22 November 2015
Jn. 18:33-37

This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.

Lectionary Blog  |  Ministry at Sarum College

Bookshop Bestsellers: October 2015

Sarum College Bookshop1. Common Worship Lectionary 2015-2016, Church House Publishing £4.99

2. Journey to the Manger by Paula Gooder, Canterbury Press Norwich £12.99

3. Waiting on the Word by Malcolm Guite, Canterbury Press Norwich £10.99

4. SPCK Common Worship & Book of Common Prayer Lectionary, SPCK £4.99

5. Theology and Economics by Jeremy Kidwell and Sean Doherty, Palgrave Macmillan £63

6. Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis, Catholic Truth Society £4.95 

7. Reflections for Daily Prayer 2015/2016, Church House Publishing £16.99

8. Waiting in Joyful Hope 2015-2016 by Genevieve Glen and Jerome Kodell, Liturgical Press 99p

9. Taize 2016 Calendar, Pauline Books and Media £1.99 

10. Barefoot Ways by Stephen Cherry, SPCK £9.99

Book of the Month: November 2015

BarefootWaysBarefoot Ways by Stephen Cherry

One of the tasks of good writing is to subvert our perceptions; to see nothing as ordinary, and ordinariness as the door at the back of the wardrobe. Stephen Cherry does this in spades.

Following Barefoot Disciple and Barefoot Prayers, in Barefoot Ways: Praying through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany (SPCK, £9.99), the Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, offers a prayer, poem or meditation for each of the days of those seasons. All are profound:  many frame an insight that catches the breath. As he writes in ‘Seeing’, the entry for January 5th, ‘The question of what we see is an important and spiritual one. It’s not quite the same as what we choose to look at – where we direct our attention – though that matters too.’

And what he ‘sees’ on many of the 64 days is so often unexpected. In ‘Beatitudes for the New Year’ I was startled to read the counter-intuitive

Let me be happy when others take the trouble to belittle or defame me, ridicule or bad-mouth me. The ‘Examen for the Year’s End’ contains a plea to be grateful for those who, by giving me some unwittingly difficult word wounded and saved me.

Colours lead our thoughts beyond the grayscale of winter: ‘We thank you’, on January 10th, ‘for the green of Islam’, on the 11th ‘All that is blue out there, and all that is blue within,’ and on the 12th the ‘Warning and delight’ of red.

On January 18th the prayers is for ‘Difficult People’ and thought-provokingly ends ‘Jesus Christ our Lord, the most difficult person of all’.

For every day of the Church’s four winter Seasons a new or different thought; a challenge; an inspiration. At the end is Candlemas and the sword prepared for Mary; but the final prayer is for grace and light – and Spring appears.

Reviewed by Julia Taylor

Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £6.99 + postage until 30th November 2015. RRP £9.99.