Lectionary Reading Blog for 8 May: 7th Sunday of Easter

LiturgyandSpiritualityWho is set free in this passage? Is it the girl (without name) who cannot hope for Paul’s compassion but finds herself at the wrong end of his annoyance?

The only other people that are in this particular way annoyed in Acts are the Sadducees in 4:2 who are annoyed with Peter’s teaching about Jesus!

Her bondage does not seem to be to the ‘spirit of divination’ called after the Pythian serpent who guarded the oracle at Delphi and is linked to the Greek god Apollo. Rather, her bondage is more to her slave owners.

It is not clear that Paul’s exorcism really frees her from this economic exploitation. It is not clear that she wanted to loose the Spirit. Or is it Paul and Silas who are set free from their imprisonment?

Verse 25 implies that whether in or out of prison Paul and Silas are always free to worship God. Maybe it is the jailor (also without name) who washes Paul’s wounds and is baptised who finds freedom when he becomes a believer in God.

The contrast between the celebration with the jailor and the accusation following the girl’s episode make me wonder; Why is Paul so annoyed? Is her witness not effective? Why did Luke tell her story? Why did it not have a happy end? Why do we not hear of her again? Is she just a contrast to the hospitable Lydia who does not prophecy? Why have women so little voice in Acts?

8 May 2016
Acts 16:16-34

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

Paula Gooder’s Latest Book Exclusively on Sale at Sarum College Prior to Publication

Paul-Gooder-'the-Body'-jacket-webThe eagerly anticipated book, The Body: Biblical Spirituality for the Whole Person, based on the 2013 Sarum Theological Lectures by Paula Gooder, will be available ahead of publication exclusively to Sarum College Bookshop for the 2016 Sarum Lectures.

There is a lurking influence of Neo-Platonism within Christian thinking that tends to assume that the material is bad and the spiritual good; that there is a gaping hole between our inner and our outer selves and that the proper location of devotion is our inner being. There is a further assumption that, especially in the writings of Paul, the soul/spirit is to be placed in the ‘good’ category while opposite it, in the ‘bad’ category, is the body/flesh – leaving the question of what is meant by heart and mind largely ignored.

Paula Gooder explores what these six key concepts mean in the Bible, especially in the writings of Paul, before moving on to explore what Paul intended by the contrasts he drew, and what implications this all has for the way we think and speak about our spirituality today.

Copies of the book may be ordered from the bookshop and collected at any of the May Sarum Lectures in Salisbury Cathedral on Wednesday 4, 11 and 18 May for £9.99. The first lecture in the series is on Wednesday 27 April at 7pm.

Contact the bookshop on 01722 326899 or bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk to reserve your copy. General publication by SPCK begins this summer.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 1 May: 6th Sunday of Easter

LiturgyandSpiritualitySuch a pity that the lectionary begins in the middle of a paragraph: so that we miss the sense that many doors had been closed to them and they were really at the end of knowing what to do when the call to Macedonia came.

It is interesting to read of this crossing from (what is now) Turkey to (what is now) Greece when in our time many are trying to make a similar crossing. But clearly the lectionary would like us to concentrate on what happens in Philippi.

There is no synagogue in this Roman colony in Macedonia. But outside the gates by the river women meet to pray. Can faith get more marginalised than that? The place, where they pray, is on the margin but also on the threshold; a place that might be called liminal, where change is possible. And change there is.

The cosmopolitan woman from Thyatira in Turkey, dealer in purple, becomes the first recorded disciple of Jesus in Europe. She is ‘faithful to the Lord’. Again the story starts with women, just as by the empty tomb. I wonder whether she became the leader of the church in Philippi.

1 May 2016
Acts 16:9-15

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 April: 5th Sunday of Easter

LiturgyandSpiritualityIt seems curious that this passage is almost word for word a repeat from the previous chapter.

At a time when paper and ink were very valuable and compared with today little was written every word must have been weighed before put down.  The only conclusion can be that this story is of utmost importance. Like the main point of a sermon repeated so you cannot forget it.

One of the main discussions of the time was whether the gentiles had to be circumcised to become believers in Jesus Christ. This is clear from Galatians and Romans and here it is Peter who defends not circumcising gentiles. Peter clearly did not have undisputable authority. The Jewish believers can questions his actions. Peter does not respond with a theological argument like those of Paul from his letters but he explains his experience. I imagine that allowing the gentiles to remain uncircumcised when they became followers of Jesus meant that the church could grow. And grow it did: especially among the gentiles!

I wonder what obstacles we put in people’s way that makes it difficult for them to commit to Christ. I wonder which of our discussions can be decided both from experience and theology to make growth possible.

24 April 2016
Acts 11:1-18

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

Bookshop Bestsellers: March 2016

  1. NewBookshop2The Real Easter Egg, The Meaningful Chocolate Company, £3.99
  2. Palm Crosses (Bag of 50), African Palm Ltd, £9.99
  3. Abraham: A Journey Through Lent by Meg Warner, SPCK £7.99
  4. Unfurling: Poems by Ian Adams, Canterbury Press Norwich £9.99
  5. Pilgrim: The Eucharist by Steven Croft et al, Church House Publishing £5.99
  6. This Risen Existence by Paula Gooder, Canterbury Press Norwich £8.99
  7. Life in the Psalms: Contemporary Meaning in Modern Texts by Patrick Woodhouse, Bloomsbury £12.99
  8. Running Over Rocks by Ian Adams, Canterbury Press Norwich £9.99
  9. The Lion Storyteller Bible by Bob Hartman and Krisztina Kallai Nagy, Lion Hudson £15.99
  10. Our Last Awakening by Janet Morley, SPCK £9.99

Shakespeare Day at Sarum College Bookshop

shakespeare400Visit Sarum College Bookshop on Saturday 23 April for a day celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare.

There will be a good collection of books about Shakespeare, special offers, and a prize quiz – can you tell which sayings come from Shakespeare, and which from the Bible? (Harder
than it sounds!)

Do come and take the challenge!

Murder in the Cloisters: A Talk with Author Kate Charles

Kate-Charles-webJoin Sarum College Bookshop for a talk with author Kate Charles on why crime novels with church backgrounds are so enduringly popular.

Tuesday 5 July at 6.30pm

Kate has a special interest and expertise in clerical mysteries, and lectures on crime novels with church backgrounds. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Barbara Pym Society. Her latest book False Tongues was published by Marylebone House in May last year.

Tickets are £4 in advance (£5 on the door) to include to a glass a wine.
Email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899 for tickets.

Gratitude and Grace: Reflections on the Writings of Michael Mayne

gratitudeandgraceJoin Sarum College Bookshop for a talk with Father Joel Huffstetler on the writings of Michael Mayne.

Thursday 5 May at 4pm

The Very Reverend Michael Mayne was Dean of Westminster and earlier Head of Religious Programmes at the BBC. He retired to Salisbury and was the author of a number of books.

Father Joel Huffstetler is the leading scholar of Michael Mayne’s work. The author will talk about his interest in and work on Michael’s books and papers, and tell us about his current work on previously unpublished material.

Joel is rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Tennesse. He and his wife Debbie are frequent, nearly annual visitors to Salisbury, including time here during their honeymoon in 1997!

He is editor of To Trust and to Love: Sermons and Addresses; God’s Consoling Love: Sermons and Addresses; and Prayer, all by Michael Mayne. He is also author of the critically acclaimed literary biography of Michael Mayne, Gratitude and Grace, as well as three other books and numerous articles and reviews.

This is a free ticketed event to include tea and cake.
Email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899 to reserve your place.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 17 April: 4th Sunday of Easter

LiturgyandSpiritualityTabitha, which means antelope or gazelle in Aramaic, is remembered for her good works and acts of charity: for the clothes she has made for widows.

She is one of the very few people who come back or wake up from death. The story reminds us of Jairus’ daughter, who Jesus calls: Talitha, which means little girl in Aramaic. In that story there is also a crowd of weeping people who are put outside. Both Jesus and Peter take the hand of the girl and of the woman.

The big difference in the stories is that with Talitha nobody is to know about it while in Tabitha’s story it becomes known and many believed in the Lord. Now that Jesus has suffered and is exalted (different from the getting up that Tabitha and Talitha do) the secret is out and everybody may know about it.

I cannot help wondering what it is like to have to come back from death to continue good works and be a marvel for many. Maybe Tabitha’s second sacrifice (her getting up from death) is bigger than her first (her acts of charity). What sacrifice is asked of us as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

17 April 2016
Acts 9:36-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

Book of the Month: April 2016

drinkdeadlyA Drink of Deadly Wine by Kate Charles

(Marylebone House 2015, originally published 1991)

Our book of the month for April is not new – it was originally published twenty-four years ago – but it has been recently published under the new ‘Marylebone House’ fiction imprint from SPCK. So as the author points out in her introduction to this edition there are no mobile phones, home computers or e-readers.  I didn’t miss them.

This is the first book by Kate Charles that I’ve read, and I loved it.  Given the current vogue for crime fiction within a clerical setting, this new edition is timely as well as attractively produced.

‘A Drink of Deadly Wine’ is well written, with believable characters, and deserving of its description by the Guardian of ‘A blood stained version of the world of Barbara Pym’ (although actually there isn’t too much blood).

The main protagonists are Father Gabriel Neville, who seems to have everything, including promotion to Archdeacon within his reach, and David Middleton-Brown, whom he has not seen for some years, but whom he must now call upon for help when his equilibrium is suddenly disturbed.

Blackmail is the cause of the upset.  But who is the blackmailer, and what do they know? There are plenty of possible suspects among the congregation, all beautifully drawn and described.

As well as the mystery of the blackmail to clear up, we see a number of relationships- some very touching, some not what they seem on the outside – as we are drawn into the lives and longings of the characters.

At the end, the mystery is cleared up, but we are left wanting more.  We have been drawn into a world it is hard to leave.

Happily there are more titles in the ‘Book of Psalms mystery’ series with the same sleuths, so if you like this one (and I’m sure you will) there are more to enjoy.

Reviewed by Jenny Monds, Director of Learning Resources Sarum College

Date for the diary – There will be a chance to meet Kate Charles over a glass of (hopefully not deadly) wine at Sarum College on Tuesday 5 July at 6.30pm when she will give a talk entitled ‘Murder in the Cloisters’. Tickets on sale now from the bookshop. Not to be missed!

Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £6.99 + postage until 3o April 2016. RRP £9.99.