Lectionary Reading Blog for 12 March: 2nd Sunday of Lent

The call of Abram in Genesis 12:1 is not really the beginning of the story.

The story really starts with his father, Terah (Gen. 11: 27). Terah gets his children later in life: he is seventy unlike his father and grandfather who got children when they were 29 and 30. I wonder why?

One of his sons, Haran, dies young and another son, Abram marries a barren wife. Then Terah takes the orphaned grandson, Lot and Abram the son without children on a long journey to Canaan. Again I wonder why?

Half-way they stop and settle and Terah dies. That is the context into which the call from God comes to Abram. God tells him to leave his father’s house to go to Canaan. Just like his father had done; he is to finish the journey that his father began. When he goes he takes Lot with him, just as his father had done. I wonder how Abram recognised God’s voice. I wonder whether the content of the call helped.

The call on Abram to depart is an amazing combination of both something completely new that leaves everything behind and a continuation of a family tradition. He leaves his father’s house to fulfil his father’s dream. The blessing is equally double sided. Abram is to become a great nation and in him all other families (nations) shall be blessed. A great nation that will not be an all consuming colonial empire but a blessing to others.

12 March 2017
Genesis 12:1-4a

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

Thirsting for Water: Celebrating 30 years of Wells for India

Thirsting-for-WaterJoin Sarum College Bookshop for an illustrated talk with Nicholas and Mary Grey celebrating 30 years of the charity Wells for India.

Monday 20 March 2017 from 4pm

Wells for India is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Nicholas and Mary Grey after their visit to Rajasthan, which was then in the grip of a terrible drought.

The charity has provided grant funding and technical support for water-based rural development projects in India since 1987 which has brought sustainable supplies of drinking water to 1.5 million people in one of the most demanding regions of the world.

Nicholas and Mary will be launching their recently published book, Thirsting For Water, which tells the story of the charity over the past 30 years.

Free and open to all, refreshments provided
RSVP to 01722 326899 or bookshop@dev.sarum.ac.uk

Review of 2017 Lent Books

Sarum College Bookshop has a wide range of Lent books in stock. Below, Principal James Woodward reviews some of the books available this Lent.

9781472929778Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace by Justin Welby

This short book is well organised into six chapters and offers the possibility of a basis for Lent study on the challenging question of what might a Christian make of money and materialism. It is focused and grounded in Scripture and asks persistent and searching questions of the reader. How do we handle the power of money? Who will direct our actions and attitudes and how does following Jesus bring hope and freedom in a world ever obsessed with individualism, consumerism and materialism?

9781848259171Wilderness Taunts: Revealing Your Light by Ian Adams

This is an attractive collection of 20 meditations in word and image focused around the theme of being a hopeful human being. Adams asks his reader to listen to their fears, embrace and name them and in doing so work towards transformation. He is ingenious and creative in using the 40 days in the wilderness of Jesus as a springboard for exploring taunts and difficulties that face us today and so often throw us off balance.

9781472934284Glimpses of Glory: The Mowbray Lent Book 2017 by David Bryant

This is a wonderful book written after the author was diagnosed with terminal cancer and published following his death. He draws widely on poetry, literature, art and music. The text is grounded, refreshing, moving and revealing. Forty short chapters cover a very wide range of themes such as kindness, laughter, guilt, alienation, peace, voyaging and possessions. There is an intensity and focus which you will find transformative. The book will work well for a home group at any time of the year.

9781848259041Let Me Go There: The Spirit of Lent by Paula Gooder

Sarum College Bookshop supporters will be familiar with Paula’s work and approach to opening up Scripture. This completes her series of short books tackling the seasons of the church year. The question for us is this: how does God meet us in the desert? Written certainly with an eye to providing resource material for Lent groups each of the chapters offers a focus of questions for discussion and pointers for further reflection. Accessible, clear and engaging – are part of this writer’s attraction for the general reader.

9781848259072Hanging by a Thread: The Questions of the Cross by Samuel Wells

The arresting and compelling organising theme of this book is this ‘there was a time when the cross was an answer – today the cross is a question’. This short, tightly argued but fluent book considers the risk, cost and suffering of the cross in the light of six key contemporary concerns. They are the reliability of history; the fragility of trust; mortality; meaning; the nature of power; and, the character of love. Rich, engaged and stimulating – this book would make a good base for a study group at any time of the year. It is easy to see why Wells is such a popular communicator in today’s church.

9780281077038A Good Year edited by Mark Oakley

Talks do not easily translate themselves into the written word but Oakley has gathered together seven bishops who explore the simple question: what can we do to make the seasons good? Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost are all looked at from a rich diversity of perspectives. The final chapter on Pentecost is offered by our own Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne. Stimulating and mostly helpful this book could be profitably used for private study or as a base upon which to explore our journey through the seasons of the churches year.

9780281076239The Things He Did: The Story of Holy Week by Stephen Cottrell

Cottrell continues to engage and communicate with an energy and connectivity which are attractive and stimulating. Six chapters concentrate on the events around Holy Week from Palm Sunday through to Good Friday. The writing is focused and reflective and digs deeply into Scripture. There are helpful pointers for reflection around passages of Scripture at the end of each chapter.

1501535-coverNo Body but Yours: Lent Reflections on a Prayer by Teresa of Avila by Paul Cox

For the reader who wants to put their Christian faith into practice this may well be the book that enables and empowers such social action. Cox users the prayer of Teresa of Avila to open up the simple but profound question: how do we show Jesus? This book is written specifically for groups and includes a short act of quiet and worship. Scripture is often used to be read dramatically and for the participants to reconnect with familiar passages. At all points the reader within the study group is asked to think about action.

9780857465122The Living Cross: Exploring God’s Gift of Forgiveness and New Life by Amy Boucher Pye

This carefully organised and well written book attempts to get inside the freeing and changing nature of forgiveness. Forty Seven reflections cover the whole of Lent grounded in Scripture and tradition offering a searching and challenging engagement with the heart of our faith.






Lectionary Reading Blog for 5 March: 1st Sunday of Lent

Read in combination with Matthew 4 and Romans 5 and a long Christian tradition it is rather easy to read Genesis 2 and 3 as a story of ‘sin’ and ‘punishment’; a story of ‘temptation’, ‘disobedience’ and ‘the fall’.

But this reading does not really fit t:he text of Genesis 2 and 3 (maybe that is why the lectionary only chooses part of the story). None of these words: ‘sin’, ‘disobedience’, ‘punishment’ actually feature in the story. What does feature are two trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, both in the middle of a garden. Adam is to ’till’ (abad is really ‘serve’) and ‘keep’ (shamar is ‘keep’ in the sense of ‘watch’ or ‘guard’ or ‘preserve’) the garden and presumably these two trees. I have always been very surprised that God forbids Adam to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I thought morality and conscience were good things; I further thought they might be what makes humanity different from other animals; what is more I thought conscience might be what makes us in the image of God. But then this is the God who makes animals and thinks that they can be a partner for Adam. Now the tree of life I am less sure about. Immortality and the hankering after it do not seem virtues in the same way. The combination of the two trees is indeed divinity.

5 March 2017
Gen.2:15-17; 3:1-7

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

Lectionary Reading Blog for 26th February: Sunday Before Lent

Six days is a long time to wait. I wonder whether the six days in Matt. 17:1 are to remind us of the six days of nothingness that Moses had to wait through. The seventh day is the day that God rested from creating.

Now the seventh day is the day that God calls. Six days is a long time to wait. The disciples waited for ten days for the coming of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of Acts after forty days of appearances of Jesus. In Exodus we have had ten days to get to Sinai and now forty days and forty nights on the mountain where God’s glory appears as a devouring fire. What does the cloud do? Hide God’s glory? Protect Moses from being devoured? Is Moses in the cloud or in front of it? Six days is a long time to wait. I wonder what God called on the seventh day. Or is it just everything God goes on to say from chapter 25? God settles (shakan) on Mount Sinai (v.16). When God starts talking the first thing he talks about is a place to settle (shakan) among the people of Israel. Six days is a long time to wait but on the seventh day we hear: God wants to live among us. Can we wait?

26 February 2017
Ex. 24:12-end

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

Bookshop Bestsellers: January 2017

  1. Sarum College BookshopThe Splash of Words by Mark Oakley, Canterbury Press Norwich £12.99
  2. The Word in the Wilderness by Malcolm Guite, Canterbury Press Norwich £12.99
  3. Being Disciples by Rowan Williams, SPCK £8.99
  4. Dethroning Mammon by Justin Welby, Bloomsbury £9.99
  5. Let Me Go There by Paula Gooder, Canterbury Press Norwich £8.99
  6. A Good Year edited by Mark Oakley, SPCK £9.99
  7. The Way of Christlikeness by Michael Perham, Canterbury Press Norwich £16.99
  8. The Divine Dance: Trinity & Transformation by Richard Rohr, SPCK £9.99
  9. God With Us by Rowan Williams, SPCK £8.99
  10. The Churchwarden’s Yearbook 2017, Churchwarden Publication Ltd £13.95

Lectionary Reading Blog for 19th February: 2nd Sunday Before Lent

LiturgyandSpiritualityThis text is so rich it is hard to know whether to go for the ‘dark deep’ (v.2) the ‘dragons’ (v.21) or ‘dominion’ (v.28) or the ultimate relationship between all those.

But I think that the real sting is in the tail end. So much so that even the chapter numbers want us to stop reading after six days, but there are seven days in this creation story. “… and he rested on the seventh day (…) on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” (2: 2-3) What does that mean: “God rested”? What happens if God rests?

The Hebrew word for ‘rest’ that is used here is shabath this means to rest or to cease, desist. For example in Lamentation 5:14, 15 we find this word: old men ‘leaving’ the city gate, young men ‘ceasing’ their music. It seems to me the letting go of power and control, the letting go of worry, maybe. The writer of Hebrews 4 urges us to join God in his rest. I wonder whether Jesus is doing the same in Matthew 6. Both in Matthew 6 and in Hebrews 4 this is a very difficult thing. It requires a lot of trust. To cease the good work of creating is not easy. How difficult to let go of work, to let go of control, to trust. But God gives us an example and he blesses it. The deep trust God shows us in his resting is a blessing.

19 February 2017
Gen. 1:1-2:3

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.