Saturday, November 22, 2008

Celebrating Sandy without a complaint

Feelings are something you feel, they are hard to describe. Today I participated in the celebration of a young women's life. She lived some forty years and never complained at all. Most of us complain about the weather all the time. Sandy was dying and never complained. She never questioned God, or had her doubts like Saint Thomas, or if she did they were very private. Openly she was very aware and mindful of the frailty of the life she had left to live. Sandy lived life accepting the hand that was dealt her.
She gave of her strength and faith to those around her. Those who crowded into St George's, family and friends, were graciously met with all that she had prepared for those she loved. She chose the hymns. One that reminds us of the glory of resurrection - Morning Has Broken. And Jesus Loves Me which speaks to us whether we are young or ageing that we are loved at every point of our lives. Lastly she chose All things Bright and Beautiful, which is a glorious hymn of wonder and hope.
In moments like these our feelings and emotions flood to the surface and they are often expressed freely and openly. Freely and openly before the world “God so loved.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Country Vicar - Chapter 6 - Twelve Apostles

In this chapter Osborne sets out various expectations that are placed upon the country parson. Drawing upon the terms used by St Paul and the Church, as well as a twentieth century one, Osborne describes how the country parson might attempt to fulfil the various roles expected.

Osborne does come around to the conclusion most would expect, that the country parson is not likely to fill all roles equally well.

No vicar is going to get by taking on just one of these roles. Some roles will be thrust on unsuspecting ministers against their wishes. The vicar who wants to sees herself as the pastor of the flocks will have to spend some time dealing with paper, filing, forms, registers, correspondence and phone calls attending to matters of gravestones, wedding music, attendance figures and faculties. The chaplain who wishes to stay quietly available, a specialist in corner conversations about 113significant matters, will sometimes have to step forward and represent the church to the local radio or press. The evangelist who sees himself as one of the church, a friend and companion with a particular gift for helping people come to know Christ in a personal way, will find that at times he has to be formal and up front, representing God and the church as the parish priest.

There might be other roles, chosen by or thrust upon the country vicar. The vicar might be everyone’s uncle, an agony aunt, a social worker, a saviour, or the new romantic interest in a tight-knit community. The vicar might be seen and treated as a fool or a freeloader. Some of these the vicar might resent. Some they might be happy with. Some roles they might take reluctantly but realise the roles are necessary for the time or that plenty of people before them were cast in the same role, including perhaps Jesus and the apostles.

This chapter closes out with an episode called the “Trainers”, a story about a curate who wore red trainers hatching, matching and dispatching! You get the picture.

Apples at Salvage

Today I picked apples at Salvage. This tree in a picture, of apples still on the tree, sent to me was taken today by Hector.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Country Vicar - Chapter 4 - Myth of the Country Parson

If you have read A Priest to the Temple, or the Country Parson this chapter will help to view the country parson from a different view. At times Osborne is almost critical it seem of Herbert's Country Parson. The short tale entitled “The Move” also gives a glimpse into the different perspectives that are held of the country parson — by the parson – by the overseers – by the parishioners.

The chapter begins with a brief summary of the word parson, it's origins, and it's implications for ministry.

Osborne points out George Herbert's position when he wrote the Country Parson, noting that it was not published till years after his death. Herbert was the vicar of the Parish of Bemerton in Wiltshire. According to Osborne, Herbert wrote “about what he was trying to achieve.” And there appears to be no confirmation that Herbert was able to live up to his own ideals, but they were certainly his ideals. Possibly most clerics would whole up for themselves similar ideals for their vocation and ministry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Books about the Small Church and Small Town

Clergy in rural ministry often have very little time for the luxury of reading, and thankfully for them here two are short and readable books. To many of us have a stack of half read tomes anyway. Both of these books offer helpful insight and encouragement for ministry in rural settings.

Two ‘small’ books worth reading by anyone living in a small town, and participating in a rural church, are a couple of books published by the Alban Institute published in 2000.

Dynamics of Small Town Ministry by Lawrence W Farris (2000, pages 89).

This book is divided into two parts (Discovering the Small Town and Ministering in the Small Town) which is subdivided into seven chapters with an average page length of 9 pages.

Farris suggests that getting to know the small town first will lead to a better understanding of the congregation. He quotes from Emilia E. Martinez-Brawley who wrote that “small-town culture is like a map deeply embedded in the cognitive structure of those who have lived in it.”

Chapter One concludes with this paragraph:

It has been said, “[K]nowing who you are is impossible without knowing where you are.” The small-town minister who takes the time needed to learn the landscape will come to know his people more quickly and deeply.

Farris at Alban

Farris at G-Books

Entering the World of the Small Church by Anthony G Pappas (2000, pages 142).

Pappas at Alban

Pappas at G-Books