Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Time: 15 minutes
Stone 300g cherries into a heatproof tray, sprinkle lightly with sugar and place under grill for 15 minutes, and warm small bowls or plates to serve.
Meanwhile, take 200g mascarpone and mix in 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 2 teaspoons honey. Melt 50g of dark chocolate (easy method: microwave; or use a bain marie), mix well with the mascarpone.
Spoon out the mascarpone onto the center of each serving bowls/plate, sprinkle the hot cherries on top and pour over the (small amount of) cherry juice from the tray. Serve.
Option: after dividing the cherries flame a tablespoon of brandy and mix with the juice before pouring over.
Friday, 7 December 2007
I was lost until you led me
From the misery of my own poverty
I knew nothing till you taught me
Your free gift of grace has brought me
The great riches of your kingly royalty
Thank you for your royalty
Though this song of mine's so terse
Every time you sing this verse
20p goes in my purse
From your royalty
Bought a guitar, learned to strum it
Wrote a tune so you could hum it
Then I had to find some words you'd love to hear
Words like 'love' and 'peace' and 'holy'
Then some rhymes like 'cease' and 'soul'....y
And a bit to sing up high - like this bit here
Chorus (last time)
I just love this royalty
I'm so glad, Lord, to know you
'Many mansions' - yes, it's true
It's not bad, what you can do
With the earnings that accrue
From ten songs and a year or two
Copyright © 2007 Jeremy Parsons
Friday, 30 November 2007
It pleased the eye, the mouth, the hand
As juices flowed that warmed my throat
I ate, and flesh gave way to flesh
As what grew treasure now was food
I tasted, and declared it good
And now I truly know the sweet,
For sweet it was, and ripe, and good,
And sweet the sharing that we had
This first we could call ours alone
So all fruit else at last we know
Is less, is loss, is least, is low
Now all our labour shows itself
Misguided, for our hands have worked
To plant the seed of bitter herbs
To train the branch for sour fruit
And all because we have believed
The one in whom we were deceived
No lie will stand against the truth
No one is just, not even one
All power, seen rightly, is abuse
At last, at last our eyes see clear.
Footsteps betray him that draws nigh:
Our faithless master come to spy
Thursday, 29 November 2007
So what profound thoughts and reflections do I have?
It's strange, though in some ways strangely comforting, to be mildly infantilised again. There are relatively few choices to make; there is in the main a kind of assumption that we all need to go back to the beginning - justified, I suppose, even if occasionally frustrating.
But something is lost, too. We arrive, fully connected to the world around us. And one by one, the ties are cut. And the danger is, of course, that we become churchy people, not Jesusy people.
So that's the challenge, I suppose. To remember - and act on the knowledge - that Jesus mixed with all the wrong people, held all the wrong opinions, said all the wrong things. Yet, "anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Not to communicate is to protect oneself from risk; not to communicate is to deny the value of humanity. These two are equivalent.
Most of us are called to be communicators: to share the word; to share the Word; to be relay stations on the Eternet so that the Blogos can be made known.
Hmmm. On reflection that was ghastly on so many levels. But maybe that’s the point too. So I choose not to unsay (delete) it. (How would you know what else I am not saying?)
Speaking as a priest in embryo, I believe that communication is one of the foundational challenges I will meet when I (trust that I will) become a priest in fact. And the heart of that challenge is expressed by this question:
How can I hear what those in my care want to say to God?
It’s true, too, that I will need to communicate with all sorts of people at all sorts of times – some published in the church calendar, others in the diary. I hope very much to become good enough at that, and I trust to the God who uses shattered cases to hold his greatest treasures to overcome both my confidences and my weaknesses and speak through me.
But that is the lesser challenge.
A blog is a dialogue. Always. Even if the only person who sees it is its author. And whatever it happens to be called: most aren’t called blogs, they often don’t have names but they are born, grow and die in places like bebo, facebook, faceparty, flickr, myspace, youtube. Wherever they are, these meeting places, they inhabit a dangerous space. By definition, and also in fact.
My own view is that virtually everyone in ministry should choose to participate in this zone of democratised communication, primarily because of the challenge I mentioned above. To hear people, go somewhere where people talk, and be willing to talk yourself. I hold this view very strongly indeed, and I would love to discuss it with you. Online, for preference.
A view I hold nearly as strongly is that those in training for ministry should become familiar with this zone too, so that it’s a natural step once on the ‘outside’ and separated from some of the support available in the learning environment.
Now, that was a whole lot of ‘I,’ wasn’t it?
It lacked evidence (I was tempted to include some of the intriguing information on the demographics of democratised communication, but decided it didn’t warrant the time ;) ).
It may have lacked objectivity (maybe I should have mentioned that I worked more often in this area than any other in my final year before coming here, so that you would have understood that my subjectivity is at least a highly socialised and debated subjectivity).
Most definitely, it did lack your input. Are you interested in engaging in discussion on this?
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Had much I knew and much I'd seen
And wise was I for all that I
Had read, had thought,
Had said, had bought,
Had learnt, had taught,
Had done, had been
And all my creed
Was: I will lead
Now I am young and see that he
Is boundless Adam, man indeed
And great is he for all that he
Has made, has shown,
Has dared, has done,
Has seen, has come,
Has felt, has freed
And I must go
So: Lead me now
It's been too long since I was here - sorry!
For a change I've put some public photos on facebook - if you want to see more I usually make them friends only so you'll have to join, but these you should be able to see regardless: http://cambridge.facebook.com/album.php?aid=20836&l=99e65&id=670216802Things that have happened recently include:
- My first deaconing (i.e. assisting up front for the service, on this occasion robed, a real thrill :) )
- My first preaching slot at my attachment slot (as far as I know, no-one stormed out afterwards)
- My first proper essay (OK, OK, you had it much tougher)
The college communion service was very interesting, as I was on the planning team. Happily I didn't have anything too responsible to do, so I was able to have fun taking piccies, some of which were used in various guises. Here's a selection.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
- 1 large (250g+) packet of Digestives or Rich Tea biscuits
Line tin with Bake-o-glide or grease well.
Break biscuits into small chunks (don’t crush – aim for lots of chunks, not lots of crumbs!) and put into a large mixing bowl.
- 2 large handfuls of raisins, 2 of quartered glace cherries, ½ of mixed peel (or grated zest of one orange), 2 of coconut
Mix well in to the smashed biscuits
- 100g butter, 4 tbs Golden Syrup, 200g chocolate, 1 tbs cocoa powder
Melt gently together in a saucepan.
Pour onto the dry ingredients and stir well to make sure the biscuits are coated and the fruit well distributed.
Spread into the tin and press well down – essential to make it cut well later!
Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Cut into squares or bars to taste
Use soft brown sugar instead of chocolate in the mix; use 1 handful of halved almonds (or whole hazelnuts) instead of some of the fruit. After chilling for at least an hour melt 300g of chocolate in a bain marie and pour over the top. Return to the fridge to set.
Use half and half Golden Syrup and Black Treacle; instead of raisins use a mix of dried tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya).
This recipe is a great base to experiment! The only rule is to use dry ingredients in pieces of roughly the same size to make it easy to mix everything well. Let me know if you come up with a winning combination!
Monday, 29 October 2007
Strictly speaking I'm now in one of my primes, but am no longer the age (according to DNA001 mark one) of the answer.
Should have thought to get a picture of all of us at staircase fellowship group, but here is some evidence of festivities on 'H'.
Looking forward to cake at home later. (And backward to yesterday - when I had my camera but forgot to use it. Bah!)
By the way, I had the pleasure of leading 'alternative morning prayer' on the staircase last week, which I thoroughly enjoyed, except (note to self) with a little time pressure I cut the mention of King 'Cakes' Alfred, forgetting he was there in the collect.
Back at the farm, tooth fairies continue their raids.
Autumn continues to charm.
We continue to enjoy pleasant company.
One of my courses this term is Pastoral Skills for Mission and Ministry (I'll try and give you another later on): like a number of our courses, this is dual purpose, being a module of both the Anglia Ruskin University B.A. and the University of Cambridge BTh and CTM courses (same teaching, different assessment).
Key texts are
- Fiddes, P (2000) Participating in God: A Pastoral Theology of the Trinity, London: DLT
- Long, Anne (1990) Listening, London: DLT
- Lynch, Gordon (2003) Pastoral Care and Counselling, London: Sage
- Whitehead, J D and Whitehead, E (1995) Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry (Revised edition), Kansas City: Sheed and Ward
- Woodward, J and Pattison, S (2001) Blackwell Reader in Practical and Pastoral Theology, Oxford: Blackwell
- Willows and Swinton (2001) Spiritual Dimensions of Pastoral Care, London: Jessica Kingsley
Plus I've borrowed
- Graham, E, Walton, H and Ward, F (2005) Theological Reflection: Methods, London: SCM
- Graham, E, Walton, H and Ward, F (2007) Theological Reflection: Sources, London: SCM
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Well, a week has gone by and I'm still only able to tell my story in pictures. I promise I'll practise some theological reflection online soon (but bear in mind that theologically speaking, 'soon' is a bit of a flexible term...).
Two toothsome pix, then: one of R with some of his splendid creations courtesy of the lovely people at Arch. and Anth., the other of L displaying his new and draughtier smile.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Fortunately I'd brought in some tiffin I made last night, so all was not lost. (And OK, I went home for lunch. But that's later)
Morning prayer mainly follows Common Worship: if you want to see today's service in full including the psalm for the day, readings appointed in the lectionary see this link. Sometimes these services feature music and sometimes not, although there's music in the poetry of the Psalms and the Canticles.
We've been following through a passion narrative: this reminded me of my first attempt in a long time to rediscover my joy in creative writing in 2003, which is gradually becoming part of my life again. It's exciting to me that quite a few people here at Ridley have a real interest in reuniting faith and the arts.
Next off for the first lecture in Church History, which was very enjoyable, making some helpful connections between events in the Roman Empire and in the first days of the Church.
I'll admit to mixed feelings about football. I love to play though, as with singing, I bring rather more gusto than skill.
Unlike singing, said gusto then fades rather rapidly, to be relaced with resigned yet dogged determination to survive.
We at 'H' made achieved a glorious first round exit. (Then a draw.)
Then I had agreed to referee a later match, and somehow found myself playing instead. This old body didn't take so kindly to 20 more minutes of football... Great fun, though.
To quote the original DNA001 (clue! clue!) I felt like a military academy - bits of me kept passing out.
Then home, before we headed off again to see that once every three years Cambridge treat the Greek play - Medea performed in Greek with surtitles.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as our seats were on stage so we had the action 'up close and personal.'
My New Testament Greek is at a pretty early stage, so I was delighted to find that I was picking up words and phrases and felt my ear was tuned in. Anna came too and enjoyed the experience, though a fun-filled-feelgood-family-feast it isn't.
Continuing the Greek theme, we stopped by at the very nice Greek takeaway for falafel and chips. Then chatted over a glass of wine with our very kind neighbour who babysat. And so to bed.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
IF(with apologies to R.K.)
If you can spring from bed when every neighbour
Thinks Morning Prayer's a crazy thing to do,
If liturgy's a herculean labour,
Yet still you treat the Canticle as new,
If you can don and doff surplice or cassock
Or do without liturgical disguise,
And sit on chair, then stand, then kneel on hassock
With look most beatific in your eyes:
If you can bellow hymn then in your best sot-
-to voce breathe prayer only God may hear;
Raise hands at Ridley, thurible at Westcott,
With tact and grace and always most sincere;
If you can bear to hear both pop and chanting
And follow either path to praise your Lord,
Or hear the preacher wiffling or ranting
And never once betray that you are bored:
If you can mine the gold that's in the scriptures
And never merely bend them to your will,
And turn your hard work into felt-tip pictures
For nine year olds who never can sit still;
If you can study dusty books by Germans
When others to the pub have long adjourned,
And, knowing none of it will help your sermons,
Yet be resolved to keep what you have learned;
If you can talk to drunkards, dons and dustmen,
To students who weren't born when you left school,
And turn to each a patient ear and just, when
You'll come across as one more Holy Fool,
If two hard years of work leave you believing
The word of life's good news for Everyman,
You'll have deserved the honour you're receiving,
And -- which is more -- you'll be an Anglican.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
As the termcard lectures get going, I'm starting to get more of a feel of how my time will be spent. As a mathematician by first degree, the whole business of essay research, planning and writing at University level is new to me, but the whole system is geared to getting us all used to it. The atmosphere is friendly, with people from a wide range of backgrounds.
So let me tell you a little about the course I'm on, the University of Cambridge Bachelor of Theology for Ministry (B.Th). It's a vocational degree - similar for instance to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) - designed to provide both the academic and practical knowledge a prospective Christian minister needs.
Teaching is delivered by the Theological Federation, which I've mentioned before, as well as by the Divinity Faculty. In the case of Faculty lectures, the resulting work is again within the Federation.
Each of the Federation Houses (Ridley Hall is one of these) has its particular denominational allegiance and distinctive emphases, which result in the specific experience of students (mainly but not exclusively ordinands like me) attending each. So, for instance, there are Ridley-specific activities - some are compulsory, some are optional. Happily there are Directors of Studies making sure that course structures overall and the programme for each individual meet the requisite needs of course and church.
Some of the work is study-based, some is experience and reflection-based. In the latter category is the Pastoral Portfolio, a substantial piece of work resting on actual activities we undertake and our theological reflections on them. Speaking personally, this is the least familiar but probably the most vital area of preparation for ministry, as we have the opportunity now to work in unfamiliar contexts under supervision and with joint reflection and so develop our abilities (not least our lifelong learning abilities) in real-life situations of need.
So now let me give you an idea of the pattern of a typical week and of life between terms. (I may be wrong on all sorts of important details, though!)
Weekdays in the University term, mornings start with a service of morning prayer followed by timetabled lectures and seminars, afternoons are mainly geared to study, then some evenings involve specific commitments. Saturday is generally kept free, and on Sundays we will be involved with the specific church to which we're attached (we've all been visiting prospective attachment churches and this is being finalised over the next couple of weeks).
We get an extra period before and after the University term when there are additional lectures, other short courses and so on, plus several vacations will be punctuated by activities, notably mission, church placement (a block period of weeks to live and work in another place) and in some cases block period Social Context Placement.
Oh, yes, and of course at various times there will be exams. Mustn't forget that particular blessing.
My general impression is that, as we expected, it's demanding in time without destroying the possibility of family life in the process. And Cambridge itself as a backdrop and workplace is a very pleasant bonus.
There. Now you know all I do. And you're perhaps getting a sense of why at this rather early hour I'm now more than ready for bed.
Good night :)
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Tired, but happy at least.
More to follow, but meanwhile here's proof of matriculation - or at least that the three of us first years attached to Sidney made it to chapel!
Friday, 28 September 2007
So many faces, so many impressions, so many hints and happenings...
Let me offer you just a sketch of life and events here.
First, some basics.
One important focus of Ridley life is the staircase. We live in, study in or are otherwise attached to one - in my case, it's the second of those options, sharing a study with Toby, another married ordinand.
So this morning, for instance, we had morning prayer on the staircase. Christina led, and as this is the day for alternative approaches she chose an Iona-influenced style, simple and reflective.
I wonder whether I'll find more time and space to write while I'm here... In any case, the following brief verse came to me while we were choosing and reflecting on a single word in prayer.
In hope and expectation we arrive.
Our hearts cry out to you our deepest need:
Pour out your love that we may grow and thrive.
In stillness hear the softest voice: "now, feed."
In joyful expectation we are sent
Into the field where you have scattered seed
And some grows strong; and some is bruised and bent.
In stillness hear the softest voice: "now, feed."
Some time I'll put something about our first foundation lecture, which also included a time of commissioning. It's quite personal, so you'll have to wait until I've digested more thoroughly.
From today's, though, I heard something from Jeremy (another one - there are several of us here!) that struck me as the starting-point for ministry. I won't have his words exactly right, but anyway, in the context of what it is to receive the grace of God shown in Jesus Christ, he said something like this,
So, back to the much more mundane, but still important, topic of food. Like most prizes of great worth, this treasure is guarded most fiercely as you can see here.
"Sometimes people talk about grace and faith as if it boiled down to presents
we receive or will receive from God. Well, we get bored of gifts.
But we never get bored of someone who loves us."
Everything hinges on getting used to signing up in advance for meals. There is a superficially simple system involving index cards, plastic boxes and paper clips: these can be dealt with on previous days, or at latest by breakfast time. (I have got the hang of breakfast, by the way :) )
Like chess, there are a few basic moves to the game, but the appearance of simplicity is exceptionally misleading. Novices like myself fall prey very easily to the subtleties.
There is grace in the system, though: the end of the queue, behind those successful signer-uppers, is a place of optimism that is generally justified.
Suffice it to say that I now regard the advanced players with great esteem.
Well, that was maybe not a very structured reflection. But then, it is noughth week (to me, at least) and so life feels a little chaotic. By a couple of weeks hence, the regular timetable will have well and truly kicked in, and everything will be relatively neat and tidy I'm sure.
Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my time more than I can say. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be trained for full time ordained ministry, and delighted to find myself in the company of such an interesting and varied group of people.
The next few days will be quite busy, as there are events and functions to do with college. I'm rather looking forward to matriculation - my first chance to wear that MA gown, which I'm amazed but delighted to find has survived the ravages of time.
As a slightly older student, it's rather reassuring to see that the rhythm of University life is drawn by the same force. The tides ebb and flow, regular and predictable in an overall sense, yet close-up there is never the same pattern left on the sands by stones that are washed up and exposed, then washed out and disappear from view.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
The overwhelming sense I have of Ridley so far is of a genuine and warm feeling of community. The student body is very mixed in terms of age, experience and background and in some contexts I can imagine that leading to all sorts of awkwardness, but I see every evidence to the contrary here.
Of course, we're still in a slightly artificial time. Our term has begun, as has some of our teaching, but the typical pattern of life is still a week or two away.
We had the Federation introduction session today. This was hardly the first time we've mixed as a Federation - the New Testament Greek introductory course has plenty of people from all around, for instance - but it was the first time we've gathered specifically to meet one another.
We all (as far as I could tell) co-operated by mixing like mad. My report is: there are plenty of people at least as odd as me, we're all oozing goodwill and ecumenism, and if we keep it up there's a very real danger we'll catch a glimpse of the one holy, catholic and apostolic church.
If we do, we may well get to change the world.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
Today was the welcome day - getting together as a staircase and as a whole community, ready for the new term.
I've now met my 'study buddy' - see above :)
The week ahead is full of introductions, reviews and admin, plus some work before the full term begins next week. I will also be a member of Sidney Sussex College, so I'm doubly a fresher.
Gulp. Here we go...
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Friday, 21 September 2007
The question of which church I'll be attached to is still uppermost in my mind, so this and Howard, a former colleague and friend from a previous church, set me thinking about the trail of churches I've spent at least a few months attending came to mind.
Here they are, starting with the most recent and working back to when I became a Christian. (Ruth - please correct me if I've made any major blunders!)
Loudwater - St Peter's
Warfield - St Michael the Archangel
Beaverton - St Bartholomew's
All places I've found the love of Christ present in his people and where I've learnt important lessons of any and every kind. So what's to be next?
Thursday, 20 September 2007
"Margaret, are you grieving over Goldengrove unleaving? Leaves, like the things
of man, you with your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! As the heart grows
older it will come to such sights colder by and by, nor spare a sigh though
worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie. Yet you will weep, and know why.
Now, no matter, child, the name: sorrow's springs are the same. Nor mouth
had, no, nor mind, expressed what heart heard of, ghost guessed: it is the
blight man was born for: it is Margaret you mourn for." GMH
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
So cycle I did. And here are some highlights of my journey to fetch the paper (and today's free book, from the Horrible Science series).
This is an important year, marking the bicentenary of the passing of the Act of Parliament that outlawed slavery and slave trafficking throughout the British Empire, and effectively throughout a large part of the world as British sea power was such that it acted as something of a global policing service.
There are issues for us Brits as we contemplate the age of empire, but this is one area where we can be unreservedly proud of our contribution in the past.
That should also inspire us to get out and do something - just signing the online petition is a start - to bring that great work to a conclusion.
I'm not a great fan of this little corner of Cambridge. After the wild exuberance of King's College, it's a bit derivative and lame. But I like the lettering on this doorway.
You're never too far from a stack of bicycles here. Unfortunately, a favourite pastime of some late night wanderers is mild or major vandalism of bikes. I only noticed today that someone has kindly removed the handle of the basket on the front of my bike.
After my comments about looking up, here's another delight!
It's the gold leaf that makes this one particularly thrilling, in my opinion at least.
I've never yet had occasion to use the Park Street Cycle Park, but I'm glad it's there. (Maybe I should use it more often. Fewer petty vandalisms.)
Back, now, to looking up. I'm very fond of Cambridge's many and varied crosses. They're particularly stunning on such a clear day. Carved stone against an azure sky is a wonderful thing.
So here's one...
...and here's another. (Admittedly this isn't against the sky, but the composition might tell you which well-known church building we're at.)
So there you are. It's great being forced out in the morning!
(And a bit later too: Ruth and I took the opportunity of a stop in Costa Coffee en route to Sainsbury's, to shop for this evening's meal.
There you are. Bang up to date. Must go: stock's a-bubbling.