Lectionary Reading Blog for 12 June: 3rd Sunday After Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityThe setting of this story reminds us once again of the cultural and historical distance between ourselves and the story.

Can you imagine a “sinful women” wandering into your house while you are giving a dinner party or having a meal with friends? Can you imagine her washing and anointing your guests feet? Even if leaving out the tears and hair that make an even more disturbing picture the basic premise of this story is completely alien to us. Before we jump to easily to conclusions on what this story might mean for us we need to be aware how much of it is rooted in a way of life we do not understand.

Clearly for Luke’s first readers the women being there is not an issue; the sharp distinction between the public space of the street and the private space of the house is not known at that time. The dining room is a public space. The big question (apart from the cultural ones about the difference between public and private space) this story raises for me is who Luke invites us to identify with. Is it the named Pharisee, Simon, who invites Jesus into his home, who judges rightly, who has little debt and maybe little love? Or is it the “sinful women”, unnamed, unloved, with many tears and much hair, who is forgiven and loves?

12 June 2016
Luke 7: 36-8: 3

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 5 June: 2nd Sunday After Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityLike in the story of the servant of the centurion (Lk. 7:1-10) it seems as if the protagonist is not the most important person.

The other story was not really about the servant who got healed; this story is not really about the young man of Nain. We know virtually nothing about him: not what he died of; not even what he said when he started speaking after Jesus raised him.

Unlike the story of the servant of the centurion, faith has no role in this story. Jesus’ compassion with the widow is all that is necessary. Widows were very vulnerable especially if they had no family. It was up their children to care for them. This widow was not only losing a child but also losing her only form of income. I wonder why there was such a large crowd. Was the young man well known, were there many friends of the widow? I wonder how difficult it was for Jesus to touch the bier and stop the procession. I wonder how it was for the young man to return to his life. But mostly I delight that Jesus’ compassion is stronger than death.

5 June 2016
Luke 7:11-17

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 May: 1st Sunday After Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityThe centurion in our story evokes other characters from other stories. Not least the contrast with the widow in Nain in the following story.

Luke often pairs contrasting characters like this. But also the centurion in Acts 10, Cornelius, who becomes the first gentile convert. What strikes me most about the story in Luke 7 is the amount of other people involved in the healing of the slave.

You do wonder what he would have thought and said. The slave seems miles removed from Jesus, he does not even get to hear what Jesus might have said to heal him. Even we do not get to hear that. It is the faith of his master that is communicated through two groups of emissaries. First Jewish elders telling that the centurion built the synagogue and second ‘friends’ of the captain that bring over his own words. Jesus speaks to the crowd rather than to these emissaries. Even though the slave (unlike the crowd) is many relationships removed from Jesus, he is the one that receives healing from Jesus.

What is the relationship between the Jewish elders and Jesus; what is the relationship between the captain’s friends and Jesus; what is the relationship between the centurion and Jesus; what is the relationship between the slave and Jesus?

29 May 2016
Luke 7:1-10

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 22 May: Trinity Sunday

LiturgyandSpiritualityJohn brings in verse 15 together the Father, Jesus and the Spirit of truth. And he says something about their relationships.

“All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he [the Spirit] will take what is mine and declare it to you”.

There are many questions that this text raises. What are these things that the disciples then could not bear? How can the Spirit “take” from what the Father and Christ own in common to declare it? Why would the Spirit declare things that God “has”. What kind of things do the Father and Jesus own together?

Clearly John writes long before the Church discusses: persons, substance and processions to talk about the relationships between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I would suggest that we preach long after these terms have any power to make sense. Therefore I do not think that the full truth that the Spirit since has guided us in is in some way restricted to the official doctrines of the Church including the doctrine of the Trinity.

The central sense in the few verses from John is that the Spirit will “glorify” Jesus, to honour him. Interestingly this glorifying seems to be mutual. Jesus does it to the Spirit and the Father in the way he talks of them. There is a relationship of mutual honour in which we are invited to participate. Bless the Lord, oh my Soul.

22 May 2016
John 16:12-15

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

Training Tomorrow’s Lay Leaders

Sarum College trains lay leaders in a variety of ways, one of which is a partnership with Salisbury Diocese.

In 2015, 10 candidates for LLM ministry enrolled on our HE Diploma course alongside our ordinands. Several of these LLM students are on placements in a variety of expressions of Christian ministry and mission around the diocese.

“These are exciting times for the church as the continued development of creative lay ministry to serve the local context is enabling men and women discover and use their gifts in a multitude of ways, and enabling the Christian story be made known,” says the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne.

“Reader/LLM ministry has demonstrated over 150 years the rich contribution licensed ministers make as those with one foot in the church and one foot in the world. LLMs trained locally are involved in ministries that include Open the Book, Messy Church, chaplaincy, baptism preparation and social action projects.

The part Sarum College plays and will play in the equipping and training of individuals for lay ministry is significant and I look forward to seeing how we can develop this further in years to come.”

To mark the 150th anniversary of Reader ministry, we are celebrating this vocation through profiles of our students to highlight their aspirations for lay ministry, and the role to which they have been called.

7 Christoper Cox - cropped headshotMeet Chris Cox, first year Licensed Lay Ministry student »

Book of the Month: May 2016

51dd3tMw7gLGood Disagreement? Grace and Truth in a Divided Church by Andrew Atherstone

There is a little bit of the playground and its visceral realities still in all of us. We prefer to get our own way and sometimes go to some lengths to achieve that. We easily dismiss, obstruct, even ostracise those who do not suit our world view. Indeed if no one is looking any one of us have it within us to inflict harm on others who inconveniently do not see the world as we do. This playground politics is played out at almost every level of our living and loving. We still go to war. We still have a dark capacity for destruction. Political dialogue is fraught with conflict and contestation. In the world of journalism it’s sometimes impossible to know who is telling the truth.

It is not surprising therefore that the turmoil that comes from failure to live in harmony is a reality at every level of church life. Archbishop Justin Welby has asked us to seek to transform bad disagreement into good disagreement. This is the core subject matter for this book.

There are ten chapters. There is a distinctly evangelical bias but what holds the persuasiveness of the narrative together is the illustration of how Christians can engage with one another and their profound (and destructive) differences. Chapters Two, three and four deal with the new Testament. Ian Paul looks at reconciliation; Michael Thompson at division and discipline; and Tom Wright at Paul. Chapter Four opens up the disagreements that stand at the heart of the Reformation and there are subsequent chapters on ecumenical disagreement and disagreement between religions. The final three chapters move into some personal material as a number of authors look at how good disagreement might take shape between people and in various contexts.

It is absolutely inevitable that such a book should raise more questions than it answers. This is a mark of its skill and intelligence. We do not find out whether there is something deep within the religious psyche that disables us from a different sort of harmony. Again and again we are confronted with the gap between theory and practice in the nurture of peace. This is a fundamental need is at every level of society and this book makes a good start in introducing some of the questions and opportunities that lie ahead of us. I would recommend it to a Christian community seeking to explore reconciliation. All of us will need some help in putting some of the questions at the end of each chapter to work. The editors are to be congratulated on drawing together some interesting and stimulating essays.

Reviewed by James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College

Special price of £8.99 in the shop (posted out for free) or buy online for £6.99 + postage until 31 May 2016. RRP £9.99.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 15 May: Pentecost

LiturgyandSpiritualityBabel is the city where people babble: not only a pun in English but also in Hebrew.

The story we read today has a dialogue that is not a dialogue at its heart. The people of Shinar talk to each other yet it is not clear whether God hears them or not. God speaks but the people do not seem to hear. Maybe God is also speaking to ‘each other’ as the ‘us’ of verse 7 might imply.

The people of Shinar would like to make a ‘name’ for themselves. This makes a contrast with Gen 12:2 where God promises to make a ‘name’ for Abraham. They are also worried to be scattered. This is a theme that will return again and again in the stories that follow: scattered in Egypt, scattered in exile, scattered in diaspora; brought home by God (Exodus), returned by Cyrus (2 Chron. 36:23), gathered by the Messiah (Christ in Greek).

It is not clear why God objects to what they do. It is left to our imagination whether the tower really had a top in heaven that disturbed God who then decided to come down and have a look around.

At Pentecost God takes the initiative to make another ‘name’: the name of Jesus Christ. The tower with the tip in heaven is turned upside down and the movement is from God to us. The misunderstanding of Babel is taken away, those separated are brought together, but not in one language but in diversity.

15 May 2016
Gen. 11:1-9

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