Lectionary Reading Blog for 13 November: 2nd Sunday Before Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityScripture never ceases to surprise me: “they will put some of you to death. (…) But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (v.16b, 18-19)

How can somebody be put to death without a hair of their head perishing? What does it mean to gain our souls? But far more disturbing is the question whether the lack of persecution indicates a lack of properly living out the name of Jesus Christ.

Current culture is intrigued by apocalypse; many films show the earthquakes, famines, plagues, dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. In a certain sense there is a feel that it might be “near” (in more senses than just time) and there is fear.

In this passage Jesus warns against talking about “the time is near”; Jesus also warns against being terrified. Those who come in Jesus’ name do not make great claims about themselves, they do not point to the end and they are not afraid, not even of persecution. Persecution will just give them the opportunity to witness and gain their life (better translation for psuché than soul).

The deep safety that comes with following Jesus that reaches beyond the chaos of war and famine, or Brexit and climate change; that reaches beyond persecution and even death is in the experience of your hairs being counted (Luke 12:7) and the recognition that losing your life is a sure way to gain it (Luke 9:24).

13 November 2016
Luke 21: 5-19

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

Enkindling Love: Author Talk with Gillian Ahlgren

gillian-ahlgrenJoin Sarum College Bookshop for an author talk with Gillian Ahlgren, author of Enkindling Love: The Legacy of Teresa of Avila.

Wednesday 30 November at 5pm

Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, two of Christianity’s great spiritual teachers, communicate insights about human creativity and resilience that challenge many of our habits and assumptions. How do their insights give us access to more effective ways of growing in wisdom and character and facing life’s challenges together?

Gillian Ahlgren is Professor of Theology at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio), and also the Founding Director of the Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice. A specialist in the Christian mystical tradition, she develops resources for personal and communal renewal and lectures widely on spiritual practices for the transformation of self and society. She is the author of six books, most recently Enkindling Love: The Legacy of Teresa of Avila (read full review by the Washington Independent Review of Books).

This event is free and open to all
RSVP by emailing bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or by telephoning 01722 326899

This event is preceded by the the showing of an Arts Council funded film, The Soul at 3.45pm. All welcome. See here for details.

The Little Book of Prayer Experiments: Book Launch with Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

miranda-threlfall-holmesJoin Sarum College Bookshop for an evening with vicar, historian and writer Miranda Threlfall-Holmes who will be talking about her new book The Little Book of Prayer Experiments.

Monday 14 November at 6.30pm

Commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Revd Kate Bottley (‘the Gogglebox vicar’), The Little Book of Prayer Experiments was written in response to numerous requests for a book that brought the playful, experiential approach to prayer, and the simple, no-jargon explanations, of The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook to a wider audience.

Miranda is the author of a number of books – including The Essential History of Christianity and The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook (co-authored with her teenager son Noah) – her writing focuses on making complex ideas clear and bringing out the riches of the Christian tradition to new audiences.

Tickets £3 to include a glass of wine
Email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899

Stepping Into Grace: Talk and Book Launch with Paul Bradbury

webJoin Sarum College Bookshop for a talk and book launch with Pioneer Minister Paul Bradbury.

Friday 25 November at 4pm in Sarum College and Wednesday 30 November at 7.45pm at SML Church Centre, Poole.

Based in Poole, Paul Bradbury is an ordained pioneer minister in the Diocese of Salisbury. He is vicar of Reconnect, a missional community with a vision to connect with unchurched people, and leads Poole Missional Communities which aims to enable and support others in Pioneer Mission.

He is also author of Sowing in Tears: How to Lament in a Church of Praise (Grove 2008) and Life from Death Emerging (SPCK 2002).

Both of these events are free and open to all

To RSVP to the event at Sarum College, email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk or telephone 01722 326899. To RSVP to the event in Poole, email admin@poolemc.org.uk or telephone 07941 126738.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 6 November: 3rd Sunday Before Advent

LiturgyandSpiritualityJoel Green in his commentary on Luke (1997, 718) claims that this dispute between the Sadducees and Jesus is about scriptural interpretation.

The Sadducees ask Jesus: ‘do you follow Moses’. But Jesus takes the question away from obedience to the scripture to the interpretation of scripture. Who can interpret Moses faithfully?

Both the conversation around the resurrection and the conversation around the authority and interpretation of scripture are alive. The way we would go about discussing these issues is very different. Although both the question of the Sadducees and Jesus’ interpretation of Moses at the burning bush use logic they also both have an element of enjoyment and fun: it might even seem frivolous. The Sadducees are creative in their reading of scripture and Jesus uses his imagination in his interpretation.

In the conversation around the resurrection it is interesting how intertwined identity is with relationship. Although in life a woman’s identity is defined by her relationship with her husband, in the resurrection this is not the case anymore. In the resurrection a woman’s identity just as a man’s identity is defined by her relationship with God. “Those who are considered worthy of a place (…) in the resurrection (… ) are children of God.”

6 November 2016
Luke 20:27-38

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

Dr Andrew Todd to Join Sarum College

andrew-toddSarum College is pleased to announce the appointment* of The Revd Canon Dr Andrew Todd as Programme Leader in Christian Spirituality.

Dr Todd will oversee Sarum College’s thriving ecumenical MA in Christian Spirituality programme and support the development of learning opportunities within its Centre for Contemporary Spirituality.

Sarum is widely known for its excellence in the area of Christian Spirituality. The MA programme occupies a high-profile position within the Centre for Contemporary
Spirituality. It is the College’s longest running MA programme and has the largest enrolment of its postgraduate programmes. With nine optional and three co-validated modules, it offers a breadth of study in the field of Christian Spirituality unrivalled in the UK.

“Andrew brings a national and international reputation for teaching and research
excellence,” says The Revd Canon Dr James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College. “I am
looking forward to working and learning alongside him.”

Dr Todd is presently Director of Research & Postgraduate Programmes at St. Padarn’s
Institute, and Director of the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies. He has 20 years’
experience of developing, delivering and managing postgraduate programmes in theology.

“I am delighted to be joining Sarum College,” says Dr Todd. “I look forward to further
exploring the interaction between Christian spirituality and contemporary popular and
public spirituality, with colleagues, students on the MA and the wider learning community
that Sarum is gathering and enabling.”

Dr Todd is expected to take up the post in early 2017.

*The appointment is subject to enhanced DBS clearance.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 30 October: All Saints’ Day

LiturgyandSpiritualityThis reading is very difficult for people like me: rich, full (just ate a Sarum lunch – they are good), happy and with a lot of people who speak well of me the ‘woes’ sound a grave warning signal.

The following verses are even more challenging: can we love enemies, offer the other cheek and give both our coat and our shirt? We would be naked. Verse 31 is a relief, it seems finally reasonable. How can we read this?

Calling somebody blessed or happy (makarios) is also done in other literature of the time in which Luke is writing. But the beatitudes in Luke are different, they bring a strange paradox. The poor, the hungry, the weeping and the hated are happy and carefree that is really rather contradictory. Reading this on All Saints’ Day brings the next fascinating leap in association that they are not only happy but also ‘saints’. Luke points to the past as evidence for his contradictory ideas and to the future for the fulfilment of blessing. If we take him for one moment at his word, how different would our world look?

30 October 2016
Luke 6: 20-31

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 23 October: Last Sunday after Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityJesus draws for us the image of a person who is righteous.

The Pharisee’s righteousness is not in question, it is impressive. The unrighteousness of the tax-collector is also not in doubt.

This is one of those parables where Jesus turns the world up-side down: the good do not find favour with God; the bad do find favour with God.

Jesus tries to explain this up-side down-ness by giving us a glimpse into the private prayer life of these people. The prayers Jesus tells us about are odd, they seem out of character. Who would ever pray: “Thank you God that I am not that bad”? Since this parable we have of course not stopped praying: “Lord, have mercy”. I wonder whether our “Lord, have mercy” is more like the two times fasting every week of the Pharisee than like the prayer of tax-collector.

Ultimately I think the parable is about the surprises that the Kingdom of God holds and about how we regard people. Everybody, also those nasty bullies, are God’s children. Viewing yourself, or your beliefs (Christianity), or your values as superior to others is a sure way of falling out of favour with God.

23 October 2016
Luke 18:9-14

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

Bookshop Bestsellers: September 2016

Sarum College Bookshop1. Common Worship Lectionary 2016-2017, Church House Publishing £4.99

2. Being Disciples by Rowan Williams, SPCK £8.99

3. Christ: The First 2000 Years by Martyn Whittock, Lion Books £9.99

4. Listening to Your Life by Julia Mourant, Canterbury Press Norwich £12.99

5. Reflections for Daily Prayer 2016-2017, Church House Publishing £16.99

6. Advent for Everyone: A Journey Through Matthew by Tom Wright, SPCK £8.99

7. SPCK Common Worship and Book of Common Prayer Lectionary 2016-2017, SPCK  £4.99

8. Church Book and Desk Diary 2017, Canterbury Press Norwich £19.99

9. Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry by Mark Oakley, Canterbury Press Norwich £12.99

10. Body: Biblical Spirituality for the Whole Person by Paula Gooder, SPCK £9.99

Lectionary Reading Blog for 16 October: 21st Sunday after Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityHow does Luke dare to compare God with an ‘unjust judge’?

Is this not blasphemous in the extreme in scripture? How does that work?

Even so, thinking about it, the image of God as someone who neither fears God nor respects people is rather widespread. I believe God to be a just judge but that is a contested idea. Why is there so much suffering if God is just? Why would the supreme mystery “fear God and respect people”?

Luke seems to be saying that even if you have this image of a fierce and unjust God (not an image that the Gospel of Luke gives) still there will be justice. The Greek word used for ‘grant justice’ is ekdikeo which is the verb for ‘to avenge’ or ‘to vindicate’.

Do we cry day and night? Do we cry for justice for the poor and the oppressed? Do we believe we will be heard? What does it mean almost 2000 years after these words were written that God’s justice, God’s vindication of the poor will come quickly? Have we lost heart? Will the Son of Man, when he comes, find faith?

16 October 2016
Luke 18:1-8

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