Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Little Moan

The start of the year also means the reloading of our assignment expectations. So I have three assignments, one trial service, two exegeses and one self-assessment portfolio to complete before various due dates in the first half of the year.
The thing is that I have got used to having all my time for church work and my PhD and it is a bit stressful trying to reclaim space.
But the best thing to do is just to get it all done. Some things, however important, will just have to wait.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I think one of the hardest parts of Methodist ministry is waiting and wondering about your next station or posting. I saw my mentor in Johannesburg a week ago and he said you might think you're not feeling it, but it hangs there at the back of your mind the whole time.
Now as the hints and rumours are coming, I am feeling increasingly edgy . . .
Trust God. Try to do it by choice, not because there is no alternative!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Contemporary Theology

I am reading A Conspiracy of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith. The books in this series of his contain gentle philosophical ramblings. Here is what he says at one point:

They realised that belief of whatever sort - whether it was the faith in History or State, as in the shattered halls of communism, or faith in a particular theology - at least made it possible to get through the day. And if one felt better  in the belief that one's life made sense in these terms, then what was wrong with that? Was it weakness to allow oneself the pleasure of thinking that one counted in some way? And did this engagement not result, on balance, in greater human happiness? No, said the atheists, it did not. And yet where, William wondered, were the great works of those who believed in nothing at all? We had to believe, he thought, whether it was in some power beyond us, or in love, or art, or beauty. The need to believe was always there, and it would find expression, even if it attached itself to something paltry and shallow such as celebrity culture. And for millions that was where their spiritual energy went - into a fascination with fashion and the lives of narcissistic entertainers. Viewed in this light, he considered, Hello! magazine was a religious tract, a work of theology.

(McCall Smith, Alexander 2012 A Conspiracy of Friends Abacus:London pg 22)

Monday, January 28, 2013


The water has gone down a little - but this is one hardworking windmill that I see on the road to Stellenbosch where I use the university theology library.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Setting Goals

I occasionally wonder whether I ought to have an intentional social networking policy. At the moment I blog when I have something to say and am not under too much pressure, tweet occasionally and Facebook  and Google plus never. There are schools of thought which say that one should carefully determine how often you update each of these and what sort of content you put where. There is some appeal to the idea.
Only I am not sure that it matters enough to me to build my own brand on the internet. Perhaps I should wait until I really feel that I have something I need to say . . . or maybe that will be too late!
In a sense I need to build my connection network in my congregations. Other people (minister and lay) build networks at a District level or even connexional. I suppose that some manage all three (local, District and internet). 
It is important to decide where to invest the sort of emotional energy that this requires of me!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not all roses

The last full day of our seminar was less encouraging. The topic was diversity management and our speaker spoke wisely and compassionately and I really hoped for motivation and encouragement and ideas for working in my society to encourage people to work across human boundaries and prejudices. It seemed to me that the session was hijacked and it became unpleasant with a lot of crying 'I am a victim'. Perhaps we are ourselves not sufficiently healed to bring healing to our country. Or perhaps we seriously need to allow Jesus to work through and in spite of our brokenness.
I refuse to be discouraged, but the session did not fill me with hope. (Obviously my thoughts and opinions, others may have seen this otherwise!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And more hope

Our student ministers' seminar (we don't seem to be called probationers anymore) had another good day. We spoke about Marikana and similar recent events with the question 'what does God think of our economy'. It was really cool and engaging.
However, I am beginning to fear that while I enjoy the sessions there are many who don't quite keep up and so perhaps enjoy it less. I hope that the church keeps giving enough to enable those who can excel to do so - and perhaps create a stream for those who see themselves strictly as pastors and never as prophets.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Much Hope

I enjoyed today at our probationers' seminar. It started with great cross-cultural worship. The rest of the day was spent talking about "Spirituality of Leadership" with the speaker addressing both spirituality and leadership and then bringing them together. All my problems about logic from yesterday were absent and I was able to properly engage with the presentations. I have hope for the future of the church after today's programme!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Good Enough

I am attending the first probationers' (student ministers') training for the year. It has been an interesting day. We listened to two enthusiastic expositions of two passages. And necessarily one asks oneself whether they were good expositions or not (only in private, as I am the student and these were given by the teachers - or in observation on a blog!)
I did my theology degree at a college that expected a high degree of academic rigour and of course I have a post-grad degree (but I try to forget that as much as I can at times like these) and I do struggle with the actual logic of some exegeses. We've had our science-degree-studying daughters home over the holidays and one is reminded to say what you mean and to say it correctly. And more than that, many educated young people today expect that sort of accuracy.
So were the expositions today good? Yes they were, but the perfectionist in me cries quietly in the depths and I know that many university students would mourn the lack of credibility that Christianity sometimes presents. On the other hand many of those listening today were challenged to look more deeply into the Bible text and to look for fresh understanding. I wish we could all be perfect, but I guess that sometimes we settle for good enough. Even rejoice in good enough. And pray for the few that will truly demonstrate excellence.
And be glad that I am not the focus, but wonder where I fit?

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Holiday Time

Things have already been slow and restful around here, which has been nice. Not exactly on holiday, but plenty of time for family and some outings. Next week I am actually on leave and heading for the Hermanus area where we will be camping for a few days. This will be good, but I must admit that I am already rested and champing at the bit to get going with the new year! God is awesomely good.