James Woodward Speaks to Graham Rogers on BBC Radio Wiltshire

BBCWiltshireSarum College Principal James Woodward was the guest on the Graham Rogers breakfast show on BBC Radio Wiltshire on Sunday 24 January 2016.

James spoke about his first few months as Principal of Sarum College and life in the city of Salisbury. He also delivered the morning thought of the day and spoke about his interest in health and healing, old age and end of life care.

The show is available to listen to on BBC iPlayer until the end of February.

Click here to listen »

Lectionary Reading Blog for 7 February: Sunday Next Before Lent

LiturgyandSpiritualityMountains are good places to pray. We are told more than once that Jesus goes there to pray (Lk 6:12; Mk 6:46; Mt 14:23).

I always used to think that Jesus sought the quietness and nature but mountains are special in other ways. Moses meets God on the mountain. Jews and Samaritans discuss which mountain you should pray on (John 4:20). Mountains are clearly distinct from ‘high places’ on which the idol worship took place (Lev. 26:9; 1 Kings 14:23). I wonder in what ways?

These special places for meeting God are called ‘thin’ places by the Celts. They are spaces where God’s presence is near and heaven seems so close as to kiss earth. We know places like this, but the experience of Moses and Jesus is even more intense. It seems as if the encounter with God enters their clothes and their very skin. Odd that for Jesus this is visible only on top of the mountain but Moses takes it down with him.

Clearly that is too much for the people to bear and he wears a veil; so even with Moses the encounter with God becomes hidden. Elijah and Moses talk with Jesus about his ‘departure’, his ‘exodus’. It is this exodus that remains of the experience, the exodus is not hidden, the freedom both from Pharaoh (Moses) and from death (Jesus) extends beyond the ‘thin place’ into our own lives.

7 February 2016
Lk. 9: 28-36; Ex. 34: 29-end

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 31 January: Candlemas: Presentation of Christ in the Temple

LiturgyandSpiritualitySimeon blesses (speaks well of) God before he blesses the young family. This blessing is all inclusive salvation, light and glory (30-32).

Then he blesses the family and especially Mary but now his words are mixed: there is resurrection but also falling, there is a sign but there is also opposition, there is revelation but it seems to come at the cost of a sword through the soul (34-35).

Reading the two blessings together I wonder whether the ‘light for revelation of the Gentiles’ is similar to ‘the revelation of the reasons of many hearts’. What will this light reveal?

I wonder whether glory only comes when you rise after you have fallen. I wonder whether the salvation that is being prepared is a sign that will be opposed. The sign of salvation that we are given is a cross: a torture tool. Even for the devout (Mary or you?) this might be a bit much: is it a sword in the soul or do we gainsay (oppose) it with Peter?

This salvation, this light and this glory that Simeon speaks of holds within itself the judgement that the reading from Malachi (3:1-5) speaks of: the way of the cross.

31 January 2016
Lk. 2: 22-40

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 24 January: 3rd Sunday of Epiphany

LiturgyandSpiritualityJesus’ mission statement in Luke, nothing short of a revolution:

Good news for the poor (is that bad news for the rich?); freedom for prisoners of war (are those terrorists?); sight for the blind (how much do we not see?); set the crushed free (who is being crushed here?); ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’ (what does that mean?). What would happen if churches were to join Jesus in this programme of renewal?

The year of the Lord’s favour also translated as ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’ or ‘the favourable year of the Lord’. Peterson paraphrases: ‘This is God’s year to act’. I also found ‘a welcome year of the Lord’ (in a Dutch translation by Oussoren). Although this year sounds a bit like a Jubilee (Leviticus 25), Isaiah (61:2) and Luke do not use that word. Maybe this year could be every year rather than having to be only once every fifty years. It is a time that is acceptable to God, a time that God welcomes, like when Jesus ministered. Can we follow in his way?

24 January 2016
Lk. 4:14-21

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

Unfurling: Poems of Life, Love and Faith with Ian Adams

Ian Adams WebIan Adams was in Sarum College Bookshop for an evening of poetry. Ian entertained and engaged a crowd with his poetry readings.

We all dream of a better world – more peaceful, more harmonious, more caring and more celebratory. Such a peaceful world must first take shape within us.

In poems, reflection and conversation, Ian Adams will suggest how we might discover, nurture and then live out from our deep inner peace.

Ian is a poet, photographer, writer and Anglican priest, creator of the daily Morning Bell on social media, co-founder of Beloved Life, director of StillPoint and author of Cave Refectory Road: Monastic Rhythms for Contemporary Living; Running Over Rocks: Spiritual Practices to Transform Tough Times and Unfurling: Poems (Canterbury Press).


From Venice to Istanbul: An Evening with Harry Bucknall

DOLPHINSWAKE front cover 5 May 2011 WebSarum College Bookshop was proud to host an evening with Harry Bucknall. Harry delighted a crowd with his adventures, based on his book, In the Dolphin’s Wake. Which tells the tale of his incredible 5,500 mile journey from Venice in the west to Istanbul in the east.

This is a journey that included the glories of Mount Athos; 36 islands and every island chain in the Greek Archipelago; 57 sea passages on 35 ferries; 4 landing crafts; 3 hydrofoils; a fishing caique; a sea plane; 11 buses; 2 trains; an open top Land Rover and a duck egg blue 1961 Morris Oxford.

In the Dolphin’s Wake recounts his journey with humour, pathos and at times drama. This is not only a journey through the Greek islands but also a journey through Greek history, mythology, custom and folklore – a Greek Island companion loaded with adventure, mishap and laughter offering the reader a contemporary image of Aegean life today.

“Harry Bucknall carries us by magic flights from the thousand birds of St Mark’s to the far distant Symplegades… It’s a lovely book.”

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor

A very popular speaker at literary festivals, events, and indeed last year here at Sarum College, Harry has also appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday with Clare Balding, Radio 4’s Saturday Live and Excess Baggage. He has written variously for, amongst others, The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, The Scotsman, Irish Independent, Country Life, The Lady and Dorset Life.


Lectionary Reading Blog for 17 January: 2nd Sunday of Epiphany

LiturgyandSpiritualityThis is the first ‘sign’ in John, what does it signify? What is its meaning?

Jesus question to his mother: “What is that to me and to you?” is a literal quotation or repeat of the question of the widow of Zarephath to Elijah in 1 Kings 17:18. This convergence gets lost in translation but is there in Greek.

The widow goes on to blame Elijah of the death of her son while Jesus continues with “my hour has not yet come”. Interestingly in John Jesus’ “hour” tends to refer to the hour of the cross, the time when Jesus is completely powerless, the hour of his death (cp. 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 24). In Kings a story of transformation from death to life follows in John a story of transformation from water into wine follows.

Maybe John wants to remind us of the flour and oil that did not run out in Zarephath, just like the wine does not run out in Cana. The miracle of the flowing oil does not prevent the danger of death. In Cana even more emphatically it seems that the wine pre-figures the cup of the new covenant that is Jesus blood. The water of purification (baptism?) changes into the wine of thanksgiving (Eucharist?) Does this miracle point us to Jesus’ death or (with Elijah in Zaraphath) beyond death to the wine of the Feast of Lamb?

17 January 2016
John 2: 1-11

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

Book of the Month: January 2016

bein huamn picBeing Human by Steve Chalke

Prolific author and Baptist minister Steve Chalke is a model of how to take control of your life story and continue to shape it in word and deed. Having founded the successful youth charity Oasis Trust 30 years ago, his experiences have led him to become a bold defender of inclusion at the expense of castigation and criticism from his peers.

Subtitled, “How to become the person you were meant to be”, Being Human is the perfect January read. Clearly written without dense or complex arguments, Chalke describes how narrative shapes who we are and what we believe. When paired with the Aristotelian idea of character formation through habit, we start to take control of our life, he says, calling on readers to use story and action to deal with what he asserts is our most basic fear – inconsequence.

The book’s focus is narrow but the scope is wide, dipping in and out of motivational speak, biblical interpretation and theology in 25 bite-sized chapters with copious footnotes.

Kicking off with stirring allegories, real life tales and personal experience, Chalke describes how we limit our own potential through the stories we are told and then repeat to ourselves.

In one dramatic example he tells how dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel’s shock at reading his own obituary, accidentally printed upon his brother’s death, altered his life legacy. The headline calling him the ‘merchant of death’ lead him to found the Nobel prizes so that he would be remembered otherwise.

In the second half of the book he cites how the Bible has been invoked for good and ill and offers generous and empowering commentaries of several biblical stories.

This book is an inspiring read for young people, seekers and all of us who need to be reminded that in the tale of our lives, we are the storytellers.

Reviewed by Christine Nielsen-Craig, Deputy Principal and Director of Development and Marketing at Sarum College.

Special price of £11.50 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £9.50 + postage until 31st January 2016. RRP £12.99.