Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Big Rocks

Someone said that if you want to fill a container with rocks and sand, put the rocks in first and the sand will fill the gaps. If you put the sand in first, you may not be able to get the rocks in.

I guess that ideally the rocks in our lives are our priorities, but for me recently they have been the non-negotiables. So October saw my being away for three days on District Ministers Retreat. We had Prof Roderick Hewitt from UKZN speak to us. We also had Fees Must Fall protests happening - so our group work time was spent applying what Prof Hewitt was teaching to our understanding of the protests. We left the retreat a few hours early to go and be on the university campuses.

I also spent two days in Johannesburg on a workshop presented by the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit (EMMU) of the MCSA. This because I have been assisting with the School of Vocation in our district. The SoV is intended to help people refine their understanding of their own call - whether it be to full time ministry or otherwise. I think this is a helpful function.

It's strange how these total only five days, but in terms of ministry they mean the loss of almost two weeks work. I don't regret the time . . . Just some of the stuff I have been doing. Perhaps I will unpack some of it on the blog later.



Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Three Prompts and You're In

I said,

"When I have finished my PhD I'll get back on to social media."

I said,

"Until then no distractions allowed."

I'm not quite finished - but all being well it is just a matter of weeks. It has been a long and sometimes hard journey and so I don't want to speak too soon.

On Friday I wondered whether I should update my blog - if my thesis was close enough to finished.
On Saturday someone mentioned he had discovered my blog and had enjoyed it.
On Tuesday faithful blogger Steve Hayes left a prompting comment on my blog.

I guess that's three prompts and in (rather than three strikes and out.)

The last six weeks have been absolutely crazy - and not because of the thesis. There has been way too much crammed into my life. It is just the grace of God that there were no pastoral emergencies at the church.

The benefit of using time for writing that is not driven by deadlines (such as a personal blog) is that it fills space 'softly'. A church minister needs to have time built into his or her schedule to deal with the unexpected and to be able to get to a hospital when needed. Writing allows me to use time productively, but that time is still available if it is needed elsewhere.

I need to commit to keeping that space in my life and my days - and not to feel guilty on the many days that it is not needed for emergencies!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wrestling Bears

I am still actually trying to write a PhD thesis. It is taking me far too long. It is just plain difficult to find large blocks of time in which to work. When I have momentum I can work reasonably well, but when that momentum is lost I spend time first wrestling the bear into the cage. Catch it. Force an arm into the cage. Duck as it snaps at you. Wrestle the whole top part in. Jump back as it forces its way out. Take a deep breath and body slam the bear backwards. Push the door shut, lean your shoulder against it, lock it and then you are working.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Fresh Expressions, fresh blogging

I started attending the Mission Shaped Ministry Course being run in Cape Town this morning. One of the suggestions for the course is that participants find a way of reinforcing what they have learnt - by journalling, sharing with others, blogging, . . . So I thought maybe this blog could come back to life for a bit.

Fresh Expressions is this thing that I have heard bandied about in the context of the British Methodist Church and while I've felt sure I could guess what it was about I haven't been sure. So when I heard that this course was happening in Cape Town I thought I would give it a go.

I was a bit hesitant because I have always been in favour of alternative ways of doing church - and have tried a few ways myself and I wondered if I would find much in the course that was new. Also - I am afraid that society and culture are changing so fast that I'm not sure our courses can keep up with them! However, I also thought that it wouldn't hurt to be reminded and to be challenged again - and of course, there was always the chance that there would be plenty of new stuff!

The best thing about today was the networking. I didn't anticipate this, and perhaps I should have. The Methodist Church is strong because of its reliance on the fellowship within circuits, but today I was reminded of the ecumenical fellowship. I don't want to be disloyal to my fellow Methodists, but I can see some interesting partnerships in the future.

I am reminded that I have a tendency to let authority figures have undue influence on my well-being and my willingness to innovate. I wonder if I can be bold enough to step beyond that?

The material covered today suggests that what the course teaches will be 'old ground' for me, but it was really good to be with people talking about this stuff. I have so many ideas, so much I want to do in church, such a shortage of my own time and energy, but with this as a motivation I hope that I will manage to put more into practice.

The last few months have been such a good time of refreshing and revitalising after the demands of probation. I am coming back to myself. I think this is going to be a good part of the journey.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Twenty One

My daughter turned 21 a week ago. She had friends and family around over the weekend. We had a beautiful day for it.

Transport to church

This was parked at the back of the Ravensmead Church last Sunday. The rain has eventually stopped (mostly) in Cape Town and church attendance is picking up. It is also actually light when the early services start.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blaauwberg Nature Reserve


Wednesday was a public holiday and our family went exploring up the West Coast. We did a 4km walk in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve and saw many pretty flowers.

A House in Gugulethu


Just an ordinary house in a quiet street in Gugulethu in Cape Town. The day after my ordination the man who lived here was stabbed to death. His brother is a faithful member of one of the societies I pastor and I came to see him here on Tuesday. Too many questions . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ordained


Well that was the moment. The words said were "Lord, send your Holy Spirit upon Jenny Hillebrand for the office and work of a Minister in the Church of Christ."

The ministers who laid hands on me were the Presiding Bishop, Rev Zipho Siwa, the General Secretary Rev Vido Nyobole, the General Secretary elect Rev Charmaine Morgan, a past Presiding Bishop Rev Mvume Dandala, the Bishop of the District where I serve Rev Michel Hansrod. Two presbyters were of my own choosing, Rev John Bailie and Rev Simanga Kumalo.

I feel privileged to have had such a group pray for me!

Otherwise, how do I feel? Very tired - almost drained. It has been emotionally taxing. But I also have a sense of lightness and hope that this is now a beginning of something good.

God is always good.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nearly Ordination

Today was the last day of our retreat in preparation for the ordination service tomorrow. In the afternoon we appeared before the Methodist Church Conference (the national synod if you like) and were accepted into 'full connexion'. This basically means that we have gone through all the necessary hoops and the Methodist people are now happy to accept us as ministers. Some of us are presbyters who will administer the sacraments and others are deacons who perform a more strictly pastoral role. Tomorrow, all going well, we will be ordained.

The photo shows all the ladies in the ordination group. There were a total of 35 people, eleven of whom were women. Of the eleven, six are presbyters and five deacons.

Apart from a difference in role, presbyters are in training for at least six years, including time at seminary, while deacons spend at least three years in training.