About Me

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I was commissioned as a Church Army Officer in 2000, and spent 9 years working in parishes, mainly with children and families. In 2009, I began ordination training at Ripon College Cuddesdon. I married Clare in July 2000, and our first child, Nathan, arrived on September 22nd 2010.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Advent Sunday

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season, and also the beginning of the new Church Year. This morning, Clare & Nathan came with me to the Eucharist at my placement, Exeter College, and I will be going back this evening for Choral Evensong, which I expect to be hugely impressive, as always!

One tradition we have in our household is to light an Advent candle. I don't mean one like we often see in churches - the Advent wreaths which have 4 or more candles to count down the Sundays, but one in which we light it for a certain amount of time each day, until it burns away to the appropriate number. It's a simple, yet effective way of preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ, and is a great way to have a short quiet time together every day.

This year, Advent will be especially meaningful for us. Not only does it lead up to Nathan's first Christmas (not that he will know much about it!), but it is also my last Advent before ordination. This time next year we will be preparing for Christmas in a new home and new parish. Exciting times ahead, but in the meantime, we still our hearts and prepare for the coming of our Lord.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Reflections on Job

This week, I have been writing an essay with the title, "What solution, if any, does the book of Job give to the question of suffering".

It's an issue which has been around as long as humanity, and one which will never go away this side of the parousia (did you notice the technical word that slipped in there?!) There are many different interpretations of Job - some people say that the problem Job faced (and incidentally, he almost certainly wasn't a historical character, but a 'patriarchal hero' of a folktale, used by the author as the basis for the issue he wanted to explore) -the problem wasn't so much the suffering itself, dreadful as that was, but rather the apparent absence of God in the midst of it. That is why he called out so often to God to come and meet him, to give him an answer, because he needed the reassurance of God's presence in the midst of his devastation.

It has been especially poignant writing this essay now, as a couple of friends (who will obviously remain nameless) are going through some tough times at the moment, and I am left wondering how best to support them. Job's friends spent most of their time telling Job why he was suffering - and indeed, in ancient Israel, theodicy (the defence of God in the face of evil) was often seen as a solace to those in pain, enabling them to turn back to God and be restored. The problem in this case was that it wasn't what Job needed to hear at all.

In Job 13:5, he suggests, with some sarcasm, that the only wisdom his friends have is in their silence. There is great truth in that. What is often missed is that when the friends first arrived, they spent a week with Job sitting with him in his sorrow, without saying a  word.

That suggests to me the answer to how I can support those who are struggling. Often, it is simply a case of sitting with someone in their sorrow that is the greatest help, lending a listening ear, without trying to offer solutions. Yes, there is a time to speak, and at such times we must trust God for the right words to say. But sit in silence first.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

More academic results

I've had my results back for the two Long Essays I wrote over the summer, so here they are:

For my essay on the Reformation, I got a 2:1, so very happy with that. But for my essay on The Role of the Ordained Christian in the Workplace, I got a first!! Lots of different feelings going on - gobsmacked being high on the list! As I've said before, the degree is not the main reason that I'm here, but there is nothing wrong with being pleased about this achievement.

As long as I don't let it go to my head...but considering that I'm really struggling to get my head around a course I'm in the middle of called Pastoral Psychology, I don't think there's much danger of that!