While I was visiting friends this weekend, a few people quizzed me about the mystery life of a curate. We all know ministers work on Sundays, but what about the other six days of the week? You know, all those days off…
Posts tagged ‘Ministry’
Today is World Cancer Day. This morning my social media streams contained a steady drip of reminders about it. Some were stories of hope and healing, but more were of battle and bereavement.
Even the word “cancer” is difficult. As a descriptor of illness it’s so incredibly general as to be practically semantically empty, but simultaneously its utterance has an almost unparalleled power to conjure deep fears about our mortality and the inescapability of death. Of course, not all cancer stories end that way, and I’m glad to know many who have battled and won. But the fear reaction still prevails, doesn’t it?
Everyone seems to have a personal cancer story of some sort. Mine is of the loss of my father. Read more
All I want for Christmas, just about now, is a break! I read somewhere in the last few days that being ordained really messes with your family Christmas traditions, and I can testify to that.
I will still get a holiday – it’ll just happen when every else goes back to work. Before that, though, I have to finish and submit my last essay for 2015 (yup, last year) for my MLitt. It’s about postmodern biblical interpretation, and I’ve been doing some reading on the subject of Queer Theology for it. It probably isn’t about to become my new favourite topic, but it does have its moments, and when I came across this quote I thought it was too good to ignore.
“That the divine immersed itself in flesh and that flesh is now divine is Queer Theology at its peak. There can be no sanitization here or something of the divine essence will be lost—it is not the genetically modified, metaphysical son of god that declares the divine human con- junction but the screaming baby born amidst the cow shit and fleas, covered in his birthing blood and received into the uncertain arms of his child/mother that declares salvation for all. Male theologians have preferred to distance themselves from these all too earthy moments and in so doing have missed the point—the divine is earthy, messy and partial and is to be found there in all its glory, not in splendid doctrine stripped of all humanness.”
– Marcella Althaus-Reid and Lisa Isherwood “Thinking Theology and Queer Theory.” Feminist Theology 15(3) (2007): pp.302-14, 310.
A belated, messy, glorious Merry Christmas to you.
On Friday I was part of a team that spent the morning at a local primary school with a Scripture Union worker, running an interactive session on Advent and Christmas, called Bubblegum’n’Fluff. We had over 2 hours with around thirty P6 children, playing games, doing crafts, and telling stories that would help to refresh and deepen their knowledge of the Christian tradition surrounding the birth of Jesus.
There was a lot of fun, laughter and noise, and they engaged brilliantly in everything from watching puppet theatre, learning a song and receiving a visit from the “Nutty Professor of Presentology”, to making mosaic tiles of presents and candles. In the final session, though, the atmosphere changed from frivolous to something different. They started to listen incredibly attentively as three short bible stories were told. You could have heard a pin drop as they heard about Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter, and the Christian hope that Jesus came to heal the brokenness of our lives and our world.
At the end of the morning, each young person took a paper candle. We invited them to think about their biggest hopes for this Christmas, to write them on a candle and to attach the candle to an advent wreath. Here are some of the things they wrote:
“I hope for peace on earth”
“To cure all illnesses”
“Clean food and water around the world”
“For my family and children in the war camps to be safe this Christmas”
“I’d like my friend to get better from cancer”
“I hope Paris reforms big and strong”
“I hope my mum and dad get back together”.
I came away from the school feeling that I received much more from these young people than I gave.
Then on Saturday I was at a training day to help leaders in my diocese reconsider what it means to work with our youth – both those who have a church connection, and those who don’t. One of the most important outcomes for me was the reminder that the Bible is full of positive depictions of young people as people of faith, insight and ability, whom God uses in powerful ways.
We reflected on how we tend to work with young people, and on whether we need to get away from dictating to them. There’s just no point trying to “do stuff to” young people. Instead, we need to let them have their voice – to invite them to speak, not only because if we ignore them we’re very likely lose them (although that’s true), but because they have unique gifts to give to us. They’re concerned about this world of theirs, and they have important truths to teach us. The question for us is how to give them the space they need and deserve, and whether we’re prepared to listen and to learn.
The picture is from Sunday morning, early doors. A turnout of, I reckon, 500-odd at the early morning ecumenical service. Not bad for a town this size, imho. And Easter day would have been a brilliant moment to start blogging again, I guess. Except… I didn’t. I spent the morning in a gloriously decorated church with wonderful musicians and heart-lifting worship, the afternoon at a wonderful Easter lunch and the evening in a delighted but exhausted heap. Read more