Lectionary Reading Blog for 8 January: The Baptism of Christ

LiturgyandSpiritualityIn the first four verses we hear the word ‘justice’ (mishpat) three times.

The coming of the servant is about bringing about what is right. This term, justice (mishpat), has a very broad meaning that has roots in legal and governmental decision making. It can be used in the context of jurisprudence or customs, sometimes it refers to consequences and punishment. In this text it is used in verse four to resonate with ‘teaching’ (torah).

The other words that are repeated in the first four verses of Isaiah 42 are the words for ‘bruised’ or ‘crushed’ and ‘dimly burning’ or ‘growing faint’. The justice of God’s Spirit-filled servant protects the bruised and dimly burning. At the same time the servant and the justice he (dare we think ‘she’?) brings is not going to be bruised or burn dimly. It seems odd this justice that will be established. It comes without a lot of noise.

Do we know examples of justice that come quietly? Do we know justice that is not crushing that does not snuff out all the light? So often bad behaviour finds its root in pain. This seems to be the kind of justice that heals perpetrator as well as victim, quietly. We, as Christians, recognise Jesus in this description. What would it take for people to recognise the church in this image?

8 January 2017
Isaiah 42:1-9


This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anna-Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Coordinator for the Centre for Encountering the Bible and Director of Studies for the Centre for Formation in Ministry.

Happy Christmas From Sarum College

christmas2016

From everyone at Sarum College we wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.

Over Christmas and new year Sarum College will be closed from 5pm on Friday 23 December and will reopen at 9am on Tuesday 3 January.

All messages and emails will be responded to in the new year.

01722 424800  |  info@dev.sarum.ac.uk


The first king was on horseback.
The second a pillion rider.
The third came by plane.

Where was the god-child?
He was in the manger
with the beasts, all looking

the other way where fourth
was a slow dawning because
wisdom must come on foot.

R. S. Thomas, Counterpoint (1990)

Book Launch with Michael Perham: The Way of Christ-Likeness

michael-perham-3Bishop Michael Perham gave an interesting talk to an audience of around 50 people on Thursday evening as he launched his new book The Way of Christ-Likeness.

Michael has a lifelong love of liturgy and has published very widely. His books are among the most popular of their genre. He has embraced the remarkable developments born of the liturgical movement and translated them into pastoral and practically rooted support for clergy and laity alike.

A new book from Michael is always a cause for excitement, and the sizeable crowd was testament to that. David Shervington representing the publisher Canterbury Press was there and also spoke. Prosecco and seasonal refreshments were provided by the publisher and enjoyed by all.

The Splash of Words – Poetry Reading & Book Launch with Mark Oakley

mark-oakleyJoin Sarum College Bookshop for an evening of poetry reading and a book launch with Mark Oakley.

Friday 20 January at 6.30pm

Mark Oakley is Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. He’ll be launching his new poetry collection, The Splash of Words, which includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

Tickets are £5 to include a glass of wine
Telephone 01722 326899 or email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk for tickets

Lectionary Reading Blog for 1 January: 2nd Sunday of Christmas

LiturgyandSpiritualityIn the Hebrew of this passage there are two odd things to note.

The first is in verse 7 that begins with the ‘gracious deeds’ (hasde from hesed) of the Lord. This word is hard to translate and we come across it in our English bibles often as ‘loving kindness’ or ‘mercy’. You could also think of ‘goodness’, ‘friendship’ or ‘keeping the covenant’.

The Hebrew bible uses this word a lot but hardly ever in plural: ‘kindnesses’. The plural seems to echo the ‘ages’ (olam) at the end of verse 9. This Hebrew word does not only indicate the past as the translation ‘of old’ references but also carries into the future. This is a plural of time as the ‘gracious deeds’ are a plural of attitude. In both there is a sense of overflowing.

The other thing to note is that the Hebrew in the beginning of verse 9 is unclear. The Masoretes (Jewish scholars between 6th and 10th century) read: “In all their distress he was distressed; the angel of his presence saved them”; while the Septuagint (Jewish scholars before the Common Era who translated the text into Greek) read: “It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them.” I wonder whether we can preserve some of both these interpretations as we think of Joseph’s dream and the flight to Egypt (Matt. 2:13-23).

1 January 2017
Isaiah 63: 7-9


This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anna-Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Coordinator for the Centre for Encountering the Bible and Director of Studies for the Centre for Formation in Ministry.

The Living Cross: Talk & Book Launch with Amy Boucher Pye

Unfortunately the book launch with Amy Boucher Pye on Friday 6 January has been postponed. Please contact the bookshop on 01722 326899 or bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk for all enquiries.

cz59rzqxaaamuyaJoin Sarum College Bookshop for the launch of Amy Boucher Pye’s latest book, The Living Cross.

Friday 6 January at 6.30pm

Amy Boucher Pye is an author and speaker whose award-winning book Finding Myself in Britain: Our Search for Faith, Home & True Identity looks at life in the UK through an American’s eyes.

Her second book, The Living Cross: Exploring God’s Gift of Forgiveness and New Life engages with biblical and modern-day stories of forgiveness and freedom in a Lenten devotional.

Amy runs the Woman Alive book club and writes for publications such as Our Daily Bread and Day by Day with God.

Tickets for this evening are £3 to include a glass of wine.
For tickets telephone 01722 326899 or email bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk.

2017 Sarum Lectures – Origins of Spirituality: The Forgotten Anglican Innovators

Dr Jane Shaw, Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University is the speaker for the 2017 Sarum Lectures.

The lectures, organised in partnership with Salisbury Cathedral, will look at four Anglicans from the early twentieth-century Church of England who revived spirituality at a time when people were questioning institutional religion. Their work resonates with our own ‘spiritual but not religious’ age.


Tuesday 25 April 2017
Percy Dearmer: The Sarum Rite, Art and ‘English Tradition’

Thursday 27 April 2017
Evelyn Underhill: Practical Mysticism and the Rise of Retreats

Tuesday 2 May 2017
Reginald Somerset Ward: Prayer and a Rule of Life

Thursday 4 May 2017
Rose Macaulay: “What a Heritage We Have. I Mean, We Anglicans”

Friday 5 May 2017
Seminar: Anglican Spirituality in a ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Age


The four lectures take place in Salisbury Cathedral, 7pm to 8pm. The seminar takes place at Sarum College, 11am to 1pm.

bed in Sarum College guest roomEach lecture is £8 or £27 for the series of four. The seminar is £12.

Those attending the lectures can stay B&B at Sarum College for the reduced price of £51 per night for a single en-suite room or £79 per night for a double/twin en-suite room.

For all booking enquiries telephone 01722 424800 or email courses@dev.sarum.ac.uk.

Lectionary Reading Blog for 25 December: Christmas Day

LiturgyandSpiritualityThe lyrics of Awesome God begin with “When he rolls up his sleeves”. These lyrics later continue with “There is thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fists”.

This is about God as mighty warrior rather than God as little baby. The first impression of our Isaiah reading is of peace, joy and salvation: very suitable for Christmas.

But then in verse 10 God “bares his holy arm”. Suddenly I also notice the ruins of Jerusalem, the sentinels and of course the message of peace. These are all markers of war. The messenger comes to report from a battle. Only in conflict does the message of peace make sense. This passage reflects Ps. 98 where we also hear of God’s holy arm giving victory. Is the bare holy arm in verse 10 really the arm of the warrior God who only has to show his sword for his enemies to scatter? The imagery of war is present but implicit.

In Isaiah 53:1 we have a very different arm “revealed” although the word for bare or uncover in Hebrew in these two verses is different, the image is the same. If we read Is.52:10 in the context of Is. 53:1 the question becomes, ‘what do we see when God shows his arm?’. The nations in 52:10 see ‘salvation’ or ‘help’ (yeshuah – like Jesus); in 53:1 it is only the servant, “the man of sorrow acquainted with grief”, who understands what it means when God reveals his arm. I think when God rolls up his sleeves (shows his power) we might see a baby rather than a sword. Awesome indeed.

25 December 2016
Isaiah 52: 7-10


This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anna-Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Coordinator for the Centre for Encountering the Bible and Director of Studies for the Centre for Formation in Ministry.

Book of the Month: December 2016

Enriching Our Vision of Reality by Alister McGrath

Post-truth was the Oxford English Dictionaries’ 2016 Word of the Year. Given the level of debate around the UK’s EU referendum and the US presidential election, you can see their point. Against this background, an author who thoughtfully engages in conversation between two disciplines is surely to be welcomed.

The author is Alister McGrath, and the disciplines are Christian theology and natural sciences. McGrath holds Oxford doctorates in biology and theology: he is a respected author and debater, and acknowledges the ‘collegiality’ of the latter-day trinity of Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens. Enriching Our Vison of Reality is written for scientists interested in theology, and theologians interested in science. McGrath uses Ben Nevis to illustrate how two perspectives can illuminate the same phenomenon: a ‘huge grassy slope’ from the south and ‘rugged rock buttresses’ from the north.

The Ben Nevis illustration comes from Charles Coulson, theoretical chemist and Methodist lay preacher. He is one of three figures, whom McGrath uses to approach his subject. The others are the Scottish theologian Thomas Torrance and John Polkinghorne, theoretical physicist and Anglican priest. The biographical exploration of the developing views of these figures is one of the book’s great attractions.

McGrath then explores six topics through his two disciplines. The first chapter explores the interplay between theories and reality. Subsequent chapters look at questions of faith and proof, and of models and reality. The biographical approach reappears with Charles Darwin. A chapter on human identity touches on neuroscience, before a final chapter returns to more traditional ground with natural theology.

The book is rounded off by thirty pages of notes and suggestions for further reading, which makes the absence of an index all the more surprising.

Throughout, McGrath is scrupulously polite. One of the few occasions when his guard slips is when he criticises Ian G Barbour. The source of this irritation is Barbour’s search for an integrative approach between science and theology, rather than the enriching interplay favoured by McGrath.

Having started with the contemporary ring of post-truth, McGrath’s book is a throwback to an earlier era. For those inhabiting a rational Cartesian world, whether in Faculties of Science or Theology, there is plenty to stimulate their thinking. For those looking for something more exploratory, Catherine Keller’s Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming is a good departure point.

Reviewed by Tim Harle, Programme Leader for Sarum’s MA in Christian Approaches to Leadership.

Buy Enriching Our Vision of Reality at the special price of £9.50 in the shop or buy online for £7.50 + postage until 31 December 2016. Please note if ordered after 22 December 2016 it will not be posted until January 3rd 2017. RRP £10.99.