Lectionary Reading Blog for 10 January: Baptism of Christ

LiturgyandSpiritualityBeing called, being called by name, being loved and being called by God’s name. The name is significant in this.

The passage sets being called by name in the context of security, it is a comforting passage rather than a challenging one – I can imagine being called by name both as a comfort and as a challenge. Naming assumes power.

This is especially evident in new born babies; the people that name a child generally have a lot of power over that child. In this passage that power is also very clear. God’s power over those he calls by name is great. Are we comfortable with that?

We need to note that the people being called in Isaiah are a community, a nation and not an individual. The comfort is for the community of faith, the community that is called by God’s name. In anxious times of decline it seems to me that it would be a good thing if the church could really hear the comfort and security of this passage.

Many times in the past year we have heard on the news (in Britain) the phrase: “so called Islamic State” or “self-styled Islamic State”. Although the BBC does not want to call them Islamic State, they did not start using another name for this group until the beginning of December. Now like the Arab speaking world they use ‘Daesh’. In a sense ‘IS’ was (and is?) nameless. I wonder whether that also means a certain powerless in the face of IS.

10 January 2016
Isaiah 43: 1-7


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 3 January: Epiphany

LiturgyandSpiritualityIsn’t it wonderful to find the camels of our nativity back in Isaiah?

Clearly Isaiah 60 somehow belongs to Matthew 2: 1-12. Both texts have a universal message: this little boy is not just for the Jews; the Holy One of Israel is not just God for Israel but for “all flesh” (Is. 66:23).

Reading the two texts together there is the image of the nations flooding with gifts to this ‘son of Israel’ who is also the ‘glory of the Lord’. In Isaiah there is also the theme of returning home, children returning home. At the same time there seems to be a shadow. In Matthew the shadow is Herod, clearly not all have come to pay homage. In Isaiah the shadow is more ambiguous and diffuse.

It seems as if the nations do not come in freedom but in servitude (7, 12, 14), although those text are outside our reading today. It seems as if the gifts that the nations are bringing are just a blessing for Israel and almost a punishment for the nations. Let us pray that all will come in freedom and joy to bring gifts and proclaim the praise of the Lord.

3 January 2016
Isaiah 60: 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 27 December: John, Apostle and Evangelist

LiturgyandSpiritualityThe image this short passage paints is arrestingly beautiful: people standing and bowing at the entrance of their tents, while Moses walks and talks with God.

A community at home with itself yet always at the entrance: coming and going. And even God stands at the entrance.

These few verses, evoking a strong yearning for the presence of God, cut across the dramatic tale of the ‘golden calf’ and the intense negotiations between Moses and God on the nature of God’s involvement with his people: will he wipe them out or will he leave them in the lurch or not?

That story has not ended yet but in the middle here we are given hope. Hope for God’s immediate availability, the presence of the Holy one, a physical place to meet Eternity.

Unexpectedly this ‘tent of meeting’, the place to meet God, is outside the camp, at the boundary of the community, liminal. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” A ‘friend’ could also be translated as ‘neighbour’. The word harbours a deep reciprocity, mutuality even as it is often used in ‘one to another’. A similar sense of reciprocity we get from the description of the relationship between John and Jesus.

27 December 2015
Exodus 33: 7-11a


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 25 December: Christmas

LiturgyandSpiritualityHowever familiar this text becomes it remains mysterious.

Not long ago somebody told me enthusiastically about their bible study group. They had ‘done’ John’s gospel and some of the members of the group had for the first time understood this text that they had heard all their life on Christmas but never before grasped.

I wanted to ask: what was it that was understood, but I dared not. For me after years of study it remains a mystery.

How does God have the courage to eliminate the unbreachable separation between the divine and the human? This is blasphemous: it makes what is sacred into something profane. How can God become flesh and pitch a tent (‘lived among us’ – the NRSV translates boringly) without not being God anymore, without forever changing.

Luckily the Church and religion have quickly reinstated the chasm that divides us from God. But every Christmas (and every time I see a new born baby – which never fails to remind me of ‘a child has been born for us’ Is. 9:5) the security of having holiness in one box and secular life in another box is shattered.

The wonderful, awe inspiring but also scary and simply incomprehensible realisation: everything has been infected with holiness even the darkest corners of humanities evils.

25 December 2015
John 1: 1-14


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 20 December: 4 Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityThis beautiful story (so touchingly represented in one of the windows in Taizé’s church of Reconciliation) is a comfort to all who grow up in faith.

In the beginning of Luke’s gospel there are some amazing encounters: here between Mary and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is the first in the gospel of Luke to be filled with the Spirit some of the ancient manuscripts of this text even ascribe the Magnificat (the song of Mary which follows this passage) to her. Not only Mary and Elizabeth meet, their sons have an encounter as well. John meets Jesus for the first time before he is born.

Sometimes when people grow up in faithful households they (like me) do not remember a time when they did not believe. They do not have a conversion experience or they cannot remember when they were first touched by the encounter with Jesus or God.

John also meets Jesus and responds to that encounter at a time in his life he will not remember but will radiate throughout his life. Simeon and Anna a chapter later meet Jesus at the other end of life: in very old age. All these encounters are equally precious.

20 December 2015
Lk. 1:39-45


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

Re-launch of Colin Greene’s Christology in Cultural Perspective

Christology-in-Cultural-Perspective-WebJoin Sarum College Bookshop for the re-launch of Colin Greene’s Christology in Cultural Perspective.

Thursday 10 December at 12.30pm

Colin Greene is Programme Leader for Sarum College’s MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture. His background, teaching experience and research interests cover the areas of modern systematic theology, the history of doctrine, biblical and philosophical hermeneutics, biblical and cultural engagement and theology and ethics.

This unique volume, in line with developments in modern cultural theory, explores the interfaces between successive cultural contexts and the story of Jesus to which the scriptures bear witness.

Free entry, tea and cake, all welcome.
Please contact the bookshop in advance to reserve your place.
Email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899.

Book Launch with Patrick Woodhouse

LifeInThePslamsWeb Join Sarum College Bookshop for the launch of Canon Patrick Woodhouse’s latest book, Life in the Psalms: Contemporary Meaning in Ancient Texts, the Mowbray Lent Book for 2016.

Thursday 7 January 2016 at 4pm

Patrick is a writer and Anglican priest who was for thirteen years a Canon of Wells Cathedral.

His new book, Life in the Psalms, offers three introductory chapters followed by reflections on thirty Psalms (one for each weekday of Lent), which aim to illuminate the text and help those in search of a more contemplative spirituality to discover, in the midst of the hard realities of a secular twenty-first century world, a deep consciousness of the healing mystery of God.

Free entry, tea and cake, all welcome.
Please contact the bookshop in advance to reserve your place.
Email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899.

Book of the Month: December 2015

waiting on the word picWaiting on the Word: A Poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany by Malcolm Guite

We are never very good at waiting, at being patient. It’s hard enough when we adults are waiting for a train or a bus. For children the waiting for your birthday treat stretches patience beyond all time. Waiting can be a fraught process framed by the moment beforehand and the moment to come. Time, anticipation, hope, expectation are all enfolded into one.

The season of Advent falls when the days are the shortest and darkness competes with the cold of early frosts. Yet we are expectant of a brightness which will transform all darkness.

This new anthology by Malcolm Guite, framed by his earlier work for Lent and Easter, takes as its starting point the Prayer Book Advent collect – the casting away of the works of darkness, and the putting on of the armour of light in preparation for the coming of the Word – the Logos.

If we are not very good at waiting then we are perhaps not very good at using our imaginations in the waiting rooms we inhabit. Good news: this anthology will guide us well for it is “a sweet original joy”.

A poem a day fires our imagination opening the reader to the potential of the waiting. Many of the poems are well known but the wait for the new or less familiar is delightful. Each poem is amplified and explored by a meditation creating a depth of connection founded on deep insight and love of words and rhythm.

Waiting is indeed a transforming business. This anthology enlightens the possibilities of the imagination of the waiting and our perception of the Incarnation. This is far from an everyday encounter with the mystery of the stable or the challenge of the Epiphany. The words sustain the reader in their form and flow – and take Malcolm’s advice be subversive and read aloud the poems enabling the truthful flow of the Word to fill the moment as the Light fills the world in the power of the Logos. This is a wonderful accompaniment towards the Light.

Reviewed by Revd Jonathan Plows

Special price of £9.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £7.99 + postage until 31st December 2015. RRP £10.99.

Please note that online orders received after 22nd December 2015 won’t be posted out until 4th January 2016.