Online Ministry Teaching Day

Sarum College 28th March 2020, by James Woodward, Principal

The Team asked me to say a few words before our adventure into an online teaching day begins. I am glad to do so but first to thank all those at Sarum College who have and are working so hard to sustain our life – the building may be closed for the time being but our community continues to support, encourage and ensure some measure of safety and continuity. Three cheers for all of the Sarum Team.  

So – three things to share …. 

We live in and for faith, hope and love. At our baptism we began a pilgrimage of faith. This journey is taking us into uncertain and challenging soil. Let us walk together. As we travel into these coming days let us nurture in hope and remember that whatever the hours bring, we live in the certainty of the presence of Jesus Christ. He is as our companion. Jesus will guide us and sustain us. We are a Kingdom people called to live hopefully.  

Second. We are human. We are bounded. We experience anxiety, fear, anger and sometimes despair. We need to be honest about these realities and feelings. I remember a Compline address at my theological College in 1984 when the preacher reminded us that our Vocation is a process where all our facades and veneers are stripped off to be our true selves before Christ. I made a note of it – but this may be the time to live it – to be open to those emotions that remind us about the richness and complexity of life. To discard those distractions and irrelevances and noise that inhibit our growth in grace. ‘God Bless this Mess’ is a prayer that we can make our own. We are bound up and into that. So let us be careful about a religiosity that binds and covers our woundedness and wonderful, beautiful humanness. There is much to do but we must also try to be real.  

Third. From your Team, Jill, Julia, Paul, Ann, Sonia, Annette and Beth – please ensure that you take good care of yourselves. This pandemic is far from over these days and weeks will bring much that  will be the cause of anxiety and grief. I hope that you will also carve out time for spiritual refreshment and  at what will nurture  your hope and imagination.  

Some of you are preparing for ordination. In Durham Cathedral we gathered in the Galilee Chapel before the service – it is a place that I return to in person and heart often. In this Chapel Bede is buried and above his tomb these words are captured – and with them I will end : 

Christ is the morning star who, when the night of this world is past brings to his saints the promise of the life and opens everlasting day.  

I hope you have a good day. Thank you for listening. 

James Woodward 

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