Friday, August 31, 2007

Educational stuff

This weekend, starting tonight, the Uniting Church Assembly's Ministerial Education Committee is meeting at the CTM here in Melbourne. So, members of this committee, (including principals of all Uniting Church Theological Colleges) from around the country, started arriving in Melbourne this afternoon.

It was great to see some familiar faces like Bronwyn from my home congregation in Hobart, Peter Gunn (also from Hobart in the past, but now working at Parkin Wesley College in Adelaide). It was also great to meet some people for the first time who I had heard of (and read their books).

So some of these folks were around today for our usual College Worship and then during drinks after worship, more of them arrived. Over drinks, I had a couple of really delightful conversations with principals of two different colleges- Andrew Dutney from Parkin Wesley College, and Lee Levett-Olsen from Coolamon College (UCA's distance education college) also based in Adelaide.

As I was talking to Andrew about how excited I get over my studies (something that regular readers will be quite familiar with!) the conversation also wandered onto how my interpretation of Scripture has changed since I commenced study, and especially the buzz I got from my very first unit of study, back in Hobart that I did through Coolamon College as part of my Period of Discernment.

This unit was an introduction to the Old Testament, and was designed and written by Lee Levett-Olsen, and at the point when I started waxing lyrical about how significant it was for me to do that unit of study, and how it opened my eyes to a whole lot of aspects of Scripture interpretation that I had never heard about before, Andrew dragged Lee into the conversation so he could hear what I was saying. It was rather special to be able to share with Lee how significant his course had been for me, and how much I appreciated the insights I gained from it, and the discoveries I made.

I think this experience brings me back again to dwell on the sense of privilege I have mentioned before, and feel so strongly, to be in the position to be studying theology full time- engaging my faith with my intellect- and having conversations like this with teachers and scholars who are highly regarded in their fields of study.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gotta love those Benedictines!

I am conscious that I have not blogged for a while, and that I have promised to write more about my New Norcia experience, and am still yet to do so. Hopefully this will stop the gap just a little (but only a little, as I have other writing - of a study nature- to which I need to attend more urgently and diligently).

One of the things that I really loved about my time in New Norcia was joining with the monks in their daily Holy Offices (times of communal prayer). In New Norcia, there are 7 Offices observed throughout the day, which are: Vigils (5:15am), Lauds (6:45am), Mass (7:30am), Midday Prayer (12pm), Afternoon Prayer (2:30pm), Vespers (6:30pm) and Compline (8:15pm).

And yes, I did attend all of these each day, AND coped with getting up at 5am each morning!

The style of prayer, which consisted mostly of psalmody (Gregorian chant of the Psalms) as well as some other readings, anthems and canticles for the different liturgies, took a little while to get used to, but once I started to recognise and feel comfortable with the rhythm of it all, there was a lovely sense of just relaxing, and letting the words ascend to God.

There were five UCA candidates in the group who went to New Norcia, and when we returned to Melbourne we were all keen to share some of the prayer we had learned with our community here at the theological college. So the first Friday of second semester, we led morning prayer as a group, and set up the CTM chapel in 'choir formation' (two rows facing each other) and used the Friday Lauds liturgy from New Norcia (which Fr John kindly emailed to me with advice on how we might adapt it to our circumstance.).

That was well received (although with only a single experience, it was probably less than ideal for those who had never experienced such prayer before... after all, those of us who went to New Norcia felt that after a week, we were just starting to get the hang of it). Hopefully we will have the opportunity to do it again sometime.

Tonight, I had another reason the thank the Benedictines. I was asked to lead Evening Prayer at Queen's College Chapel tonight (I was asked this last Sunday, when it became evident that the person who had been lined up to preach and preside had pulled out at short notice, and the chapel coordinator was going to be away). It was suggested that instead of working on a sermon for the night, that we have a service of readings- from Scripture and selected poetry. Then one of the choir suggested that it would be nice to do a Lectio Divina style reading in lieu of a sermon, and this is what I ended up doing.

I basically followed the standard Evening Prayer order of service that is used each week at Queen's, but before the Gospel reading, I gave a brief introduction to the method and aims of Lectio Divina (sacred reading), and then had two sizeable chunks of silence after each of the two readings of the Gospel passage, finishing up with a blessing. After this, I resumed the standard order of service.

The feedback I received from people was that most had appreciated the opportunity to be silent and meditate on the reading (because, let's face it, in the Uniting Church we really don't do silence enough... or well). A number of people also suggested that it would be good to do something similar again sometime.

So once again, I find myself indebted to Fr John from New Norcia, who led our group in two sessions on Lectio Divina whilst we were there; the first to outline the hows and whys of Lectio Divina, and the second to actually DO it in the group. This experience was invaluable for me in preparing to lead tonight's service.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The last, and best!

Woo-hoo! I think I can die happy now... I am my idol! :-)

You Are Miss Piggy

A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.
You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.
You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.
Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift!
The Muppet Personality Test

and, in the words of the pink and porky one herself:

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

damn... I knew I shouldn't have started with the blog quiz thingies

The academic snob in me couldn't resist this one:

Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

More silly blog quiz thingies

Ok... I probably should set the scene here. It's late. I had a class tonight, and am not quite wound down enough to go to bed yet, so I thought I would look in on some friends' blogs.

Of course, I headed to Louise's blog - mainly to see if she has put up any more pics of her little "Peanut" (well, Lou, you did insist on naming him Linus! ...although my Benedictine novice friend was quite excited that he was also named after St Benedict :-)... unfortunately, all I found on Lou's blog was another quiz that she had done, on "What colour should your blog be?"

So I tootled on over to that site to see what it would say about my blog (blue and calming, but not really interesting enough to post the details)... then I saw another quiz "Can you make anyone fall in love with you?" (it claimed I should have a 70% hit rate of making my 'crushes' fall in love with me ... well, we all know that's bullshit, so I didn't bother to post that one on the blog either)..

But then I found it.... the quiz that is made for ME!

What Your Latte Says About You

You are easygoing and pretty simple to please. You don't put up a fuss... ever.

You are a very serious person. You don't have time for silly antics.

You have a good deal of energy, but you pace yourself. You never burn out too fast.

You're addicted to caffeine. There's no denying it.

You are responsible, mature, and truly an adult. You're occasionally playful, but you find it hard to be carefree.

You are exotic and cosmopolitan, but you are never a show off.

What Does Your Latte Say About You?

How true... it seems my work here is done. I think I need to go and have a coffee now and think about going to bed!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sorry BB! :-P

Ok, just remember you asked for it!

You Are 20% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!
How Evil Are You?

Sickening, aren't I? :-)
(and that's even giving myself the benefit/disadvantage of the doubt, by ticking some of the boxes where I thought "I can't actually remember ever doing this, but reckon I must have at some stage or other")

Weather- we've had a lot of it lately

... so I got sucked into doing another one of those blog-quiz thingies (thanks heaps Brendan! :-)

So in answer to: What kind of weather are you? here followeth my descriptor:

You Are Sunshine

Soothing and calm
You are often held up by others as the ideal
But too much of you, and they'll get burned

You are best known for: your warmth

Your dominant state: connecting