Thursday, 31 March 2011

Hearing God's word

This morning I read the scriptures for Morning prayer. The lectionary is working its way through Jeremiah and John's Gospel at the moment and as often happens it was possible to see a link in the two readings. It's not often that as I read out loud for a service I become especially attuned to what God is saying- I suppose because I'm usually concentrating too hard on not making a mess of the reading - but today the words imprinted themselves on me as I read. (Jeremiah chapter 14) Here Jeremiah is told not to pray for the people and to prophesy that God will punish them. Jeremiah argues that others are prophesying that God will bless the people and not punish them. God then says: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name, I did not send them nor did I command them or send them" What struck me was how easy it may be to tell people good news, and to say what you know they want to hear rather than listening for what hod is actually wanting to say. Then in the Gospel Jesus challenges the Jews for not listening to what He says and not recognising that He is speaking the word from the Father. Again I ask myself do I listen to what Jesus is saying and recognise it is from the Father. Something to think about as I look to the future

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Keep on going

Back to work yesterday in the library and made some head way on my next essay. Kept going today as well and hope to finish this portfolio before we go away at the weekend. Then we are away for 5 days visiting my mum first and then meeting up with my summer placement supervisor. I'm looking forward to a few days in lancashire and possibly a day up in the Lake District and then 24 hours in Derbyshire. It will be good to have time with my husband away from books computers etc. I shall also enjoy the lovely scenery, time with my Mum and getting excited about my summer placement. Life is good :)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Lazy day

Not much to blog today. Got up for morning prayer but was so shattered after the weekend away that I actually went back to bed when I returned home. Got up an hour later and after breakfast went to get some groceries in. Spent what was left of the afternoon reading and watching tv. Did manage to go to the lent bible study and now I;m ready to go back to bed. Tomorrow I will actually do some work!
Perhaps by tomorrow I'll have something worth reflecting on.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Home again

I've been away for a few days visiting my sister in Derbyshire and then spent yesterday with a friend up in Lancashire. I didn't get to see the placement supervisor but I had a wonderful time with a friend who is in his first year of curacy and as a result learnt so much which will help when I do get to organise my summer placement.
I also enjoyed a restful time with my sister- I'd bought her a spa day for her Christmas present and so we went together and were pampered for the day. I don;t get many opportunities to spend quality time with her these days so we really enjoyed catching up.
Saturday was spent with an old college friend. Again it was lovely to have some time with her as we don;t get together very often. We first met over 30 years ago and lost tough for many years before finding each other on Friends Reunited. Since we've met a few times and yesterday I felt as if we were really getting back to how we were so many years ago. now I'm looking forward to her visiting me here in Cuddesdon and touring Oxford.
Then this morning I was training to be Church Sacristan for my next 12 months placement. Oh and I got my second essay back and I'm satisfied with my mark though I hope to do better on my next one as I think I'm getting a better feel for what is expected.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More of the same

My journey toward training was one of false starts, long waits and cancellations.Patience had to become one of my virtues!!! Now its started again. A few weeks ago I made arrangements to visit my summer placement supervisor in Derbyshire, tomorrow. As I was going up there I made plans to also see a friend who is in his first curacy and to spend time with my sister. Now I've had an email to say there is sickness at the vicarage so the meeting is cancelled. I appreciate that this can't be helped and I'm grateful that the vicar has let me know so I don't risk catching it but now I have to arrange a second visit north. The whole thing just feels very familiar and I trust that I have learnt patience :)
Despite all that I am looking forward to seeing my friends and my sister and in particular the spa treat I have organised as her Christmas treat.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Not sure what happened to yesterday-I seem to spend all day tidying up and filing and then went to a lent bible study so didn't get to post.
Today I've been to visit my placement supervisor for the last time. I've really enjoyed my placement although its been very much an observation one. I have led intercessions and helped with one All Age service but the priority for this placement was to observe and reflect. So here I am reflecting.
What did I learn from this placement.
1. A welcoming church is lovely but can cause problems at the peace if the reason the church is welcoming is that it likes to chat
2. Church buildings - especially ancient ones can really undermine how worship is led and how creative you can be with services. Not that it isn't possible but it does need a lot of thought.
3. Coming into a church as leader where others already exercise some form of ministry can be a blessing but can also lead to tension and problems. If those who are lay readers etc are recognised by the church bu are struggling in some areas it can be very difficult to actually do anything as a new comer.
4. Worship is not something you merely do- it has to be from the heart. Merely changing the musicians from organ and choir to a modern music group will not achieve this.
I'm sure I've learnt a lot more but these were the points which I discussed with my supervisor today.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

different but the same!

Yesterday I didn't post as I was away all day visiting my wonderful boys.
Today as I am between placement churches I decided to visit somewhere different. With that in mind I went into Oxford and worshipped at a large Evangelical church there. It was different from the middle of the road style church I have just been worshipping with and will be worshipping with for the next year. However having spent 20+ years worshipping with a charismatic/evangelical free church I found it all too familiar. Long time of worship followed by a sermon. I was actually surprised the sermon wasn't longer- the lady sitting next to me suggested a length of an hour but as it happens it was only 25 minutes.
Being back in that environment I was surprised by own reaction. For years this was what fed me but today I left dissatisfied. the worship seemed repetitive and quite boring. The sermon was on the sower and I didn't hear anything new- which is perhaps not so surprising when I think about it as it seemed mainly aimed at those who were seeking God and those beginning to walk with Christ. My own spirituality had changed as I've aged. This isn't a criticism of the church I was at this morning, rather a comment on my own spirituality and recognition that God has done things in me over the past 10 years which make me more comfortable in a middle of the road church with a weekly Eucharist and a variety of musical worship. Just as well really I doubt that many rural churches are like the church I was at this morning :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

end of term

Didn't get round to blogging yesterday as I spent the evening at our end of term Bright hour. This is a fun time when students let their hair down and entertain the rest of us with comic topical sketches songs etc. As always it was great fun and I ache today from laughing so much yesterday!!
Today is the last day of term and I'm ready for the break. I have two essays to finish over the holidays but am also looking forward to a couple of weekends away visiting family and friends.
I have just been to an all age service and as so frequently happens came out thinking how I would have done it differently. I had begun to feel guilty about this tendency to critique every service I go to but then reading a book for my ministry essay today I realised that its a normal part of this life. I also realised that I'm not being critical so much as seeking to learn and to consider how I can develop my own skills.
Well time for last dinner of term and then a quiet evening.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Tonight I have been out with a group of friends from college. We are all of a certain age and a mix of those doing one year before staring as NSM curates and the rest doing the MA over two years. it was one of the groups birthday and so we went for a meal and a drink together. It was a wonderful evening of chatting through situations and ministry issues at a much greater depth than we would in college and at the same time laughing and having fun. This is the truly positive side of the community life here. I shall miss the three who will leave in June and start their curacies.
Earlier those of us doing the Ma had a research methods seminar where we discussed the possible dissertation subjects we will study. It was awazing to hear the differant subjects- I wanted to do them all!! however I'm happy with the topic I've chosen. Strangely I came with a definite view of what I would do and that has changed over time but my tutor was quite excited at my choice so I hope it will prove to be a positve experience.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Lovely day out today- I went to Kenilworth with friends who are leaving this summer and so needed to order stoles. I had briefly looked at the different stoles offered by various crafts people at the tat fair and would love to make my own. Today I saw some lovely designs and got inspired again to think about making my own. Now I just need to get on with my essays so I can justify the time to sew!
The weather was lovely by the time we arrived back and so the three of us went and had lunch at Waterperry Gardens- sitting outside to enjoy the spring sunshine.
Now I'm watching TV - Biblical Secrets and I'm not convinced by the presenter.

Monday, 14 March 2011

doubt and faith

Tonight I went to a fellow students home to the lent bible study. It was based on the York lent course and dealt with the inheritance left by Jesus after the resurrection. We spent much of the evening discussing how life comes out of death and our own experiences of death, resurrection, doubt and faith. It was very moving and helpful to hear others experiences of Gods blessing that comes out of times or trial and desolation.
I really enjoyed being back in a bible study group. Its been 3 years since I was last in a home group and I really miss the intimacy of studying the bible in small groups. I shall make the most of these next 5 weeks and look to opportunities in the future.
Off tomorrow to Kenilworth with a couple of the students to look at stoles. Great time out.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

being rather than doing

Today I had my last visit to my placement church. It has been a lovely 6 months and I've really enjoyed myself at the church. However I was only there to be, to observe and become part of the congregation. I wasn't expected to do anything- and in fact apart from leading intercessions on a couple of occasions and helping with All Age worship last week I have just sat and been part of the congregation. So I was amazed today when I had more than one person come and thank me for being there and saying how much they would miss me. I was also told I'd helped a few people which surprised me though I realised that what they were grateful for was that I had spent time listening to them. This got me reflecting on my role as a priest- there is often a debate about whether what makes one a priest is what you do- ie the sacraments, or is it something you are- an ontological change which God brings about. My experience at my placement church would suggest that there is a large element of being.
Since getting home we have taken advantage of the beautiful spring weather and had a long walk out through the fields and woodlands round here. I never tire of being here. Oh and the daffodils are out which raises my spirits even more. I don;t think theres a better symbol of God's goodness

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day out

When we first moved to Devon and I started working for the church we got into the habit of using one of my days off for trips out to explore. Now I'm at college we have maintained that habit and spend Saturday's out exploring the Cotswold. We have gone back to a number of places that we visited on our honeymoon but today went somewhere new. We had a lovely day in Malmesbury and then an hour of Tetbury. Both are lovely towns and we had a really pleasant day exploring the towns.
In some ways this is an opportunity for Sabbath rest- a time of refreshment and time to enjoy each others company and also enjoy God's presence. It is my plan to maintain this as we move into my curacy next year.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Normal service resumed

Today has been a normal day and I've had possession of the computer for most of it- working on an essay. I had vainly imagined I could write 2 portfolios of 7000 words each before we finished for Easter. In the event I have managed 1500 on one and 850 on the second, plus some reading so my Easter break will be spent writing essays again. At least I've made a start which is more than I had when we began our Christmas break. Other than that the only major thing today was the worship committee meeting. As church sacristan I am now part of the committee. It was a good experience for parish ministry giving me insight to how worked up people can get about worship issues. Particularly issues that seem so minor to me. I was very impressed by the way in which the tutor chaired the meeting.
Time now to go and relax and think about where to spend tomorrow- Saturday is always a day away from college for K and myself. A time of normality :)

Accompanying towards God

Didn't get to blog yesterday as K had the computer. So here are my reflections from yesterday.
We have come to the end of six months of hospital placement. I think of all that I have done since coming to college this placement has been the most formational, enjoyable and spiritually sustaining. We have had a mixture of classroom teaching and ward visiting. The teaching has been very good and has included a mixture of information and real life stories. Yesterday we had Michael Welham author of My Donkey Body talking about disability. This was followed by a question and answer session with all the chaplains. One of the questions asked was -" What do you ( the chaplains) see the difference being between being a chaplain and a parish priest? The answer that sticks with me was that they felt parish ministry should be the same as Chaplaincy in that it should be about accompanying people on their journey. This really resonated with me, as more than anything I feel called as a priest to accompany people as they make their own journey's towards God. Having been with these chaplains as they have walked the wards and talked with people I hope I have learned new skills for pastoral care. I have also realised that though i feel very strongly called to rural parish ministry I could also be very happy in hospital chaplaincy if that is where God wants me.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Reflection is a large part of our life at college and not one I find easy to do on a daily basis so for my lent discipline I am going to reflect on my blog daily. (Well that's my intention anyway!)
I've been reflecting today on the connections we make in the Christian church- and how small the Church of England is!!! Yesterday chatting to the student who acts as driver for us all when we go into Oxford I discovered that he had been a Church Army youth worker at my sisters church- and she had helped him with the Toddler group. Then today I discovered that one of our lecturers is a good friend of a very old friend of mine, someone who was very instrumental in my being born again and also encouraged me a great deal when I felt the call to ordained ministry. S and his wife are both ordained and though I don't see them very often I do count them as very good friends.
I suppose what I have taken from these two events is the interconnectedness of the Christian life. As John Donne put it no man is an island and we all have influence on one another. The influence then spreads out like ripples on a pond. Or as Paul said we are all the body of Christ and no part can say to another we don;t need you.
It is also a joy when I realise people in my new life have connections with people in my old life.
Off to do some work now- another lent discipline!!!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Music- food for the soul

Yesterday we had a marvelous Eucharist- A Jazz service. The music was wonderful and the joy and thrill at the end when we sang How great thou art was extraordinary. We ended with spontaneous applause for God and the band - something unusual in Cuddesdon. I have always loved the worship but I felt lifted to a new place yesterday.
I had also really enjoyed a couple of the lectures yesterday where we engaged with Biblical text. Surprisingly being at Theological College has not meant more Bible study- as I have a degree I'm doing an MA in Mission and Ministry so have less than many others on the Bible. But yesterday morning was our Oxford lecture on Mission and Ministry and it was taught by our Principal and was one of the best lectures I've had since being here- and we have had some good ones! He spoke about us being the salt for the earth and gave a whole new understanidng of the phrase. Then in the afternoon we had Biblical perspective and looked at the whole question of the god of the OT versus the God of the NT. Again we engaged with the text and I really enjoyed thinking about it in a new way.
Today I deaconed at the morning Eucharist and as I read the Gospel new thoughts hit me- God is really speaking.
I have had the privelege of being invited to be Church Sacristan in the village for the cvollege for the next 12 months. This involves serving both college and church community by looking after the church and helping to train others to set up for services and to take their part in the Eucharist. This will be my Sunday and mid week placement for the next year.