Diocese of Norwich Clergy Conference 2017

 

Every four years our Norwich Diocese has a ‘Big Get Together’. This year from 11th – 14th September 2017 we (I think about 200) met at University of Hertfordshire for 3 days and 3 nights.

There were some amazing speakers, both in Key Note Addresses and in the workshops. The days were spent in a mixture of listening, worship and meeting up with friends, as well as some excellent meals, sports sessions  and evenings together.

Worship is always a major part in our days together and we shared in Eucharist, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline, so lots of time to allow for the spirit to get to work!

Personally I came away refreshed and reinvigorated, with a clearer sense of direction in my next steps in ministry. Change is always a challenge, especially when you can’t see the way ahead.

Highlights for myself at the conference were the Key Note speakers, Peter Wilson, Bridget Kendall, MBE and Dr Iain McGilchrist. The following short pieces are my reflections from notes on their lectures. All three had a faith involvement but this was not the main reason for their critiques and all the more stimulating to consider from a wider angle than clergy can sometimes perceive.

Peter Wilson

Peter has been the Chief Executive of Theatre Royal in Norwich for many years and has transformed the theatre into a community based theatre with a huge range of productions which are enjoyed by so many people in Norwich and Norfolk.

His background is an actor and director among other things, with a constant supply of different projects on the go at the same time. He was famously involved in The Woman in Black , now one of the longest running theatre productions in London. He was also instrumental in developing J.B. Priestley’s, An Inspector Calls, and the touring carried on many years after the original South Bank performances.

He very passionately described the way the family, in An Inspector Calls is on stage in the isolated room. Depicting life after the First World War, but written in 1945, after the Second World War, the play looks at how we can find a more compassionate society and a hope for the future.

Peter had an aim for the theatre to be a community space; somewhere people can meet, can enjoy, can communicate. Theatre Royal is now certainly that and the ever booming productions show how well it is received. One example of the care for community is the Get Together Group, people can meet as friends and enjoy going out to a performance which they may not have done alone.

There were many interesting questions; it made me reflect on the similarity of attending a performance and attending a church service, expectations, delivery, performance maybe, a message, indeed!

Bridget Kendall MBE

Bridget is now Master of Peterhouse College in Cambridge. Previously she was BBC correspondent in Moscow at the break-up of the Soviet Union, BBC’s Washington correspondent, and correspondent in Iraq at the time of the invasion, amongst other missions.

She talked about the change since the 1980’s when devoted listeners and viewers would make a regular commitment to newspapers and 6 or 10 O Clock news. Over time this has changed to a plethora of news feeds, social media where most people now dip into for updates to news. But they are usually only listening to the things they want to hear, they follow people and articles of similar minds, they are closed to different views. She said that young people have a Pick and Mix approach to what they need to hear.

It is a change from, ‘What we ought to know, to what we want to know’, and politicians play on this, feeding people with news and comments that they will want to hear, rather than situations as they really are.

Bridget said  it is hard for authorities, especially the Kremlin to have control over the news broadcast to the people as they receive news from all over the world and from all over their own country.

Dr Iain McGilchrist

Iain Mc Gilchrist is a former Fellow of All Saints College, Oxford, Fellow of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and former consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at Bethlem Royal Maudsley Hospital, London.

He has recently published a book called, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

Over a series of two lectures Ian explained the reasons behind the theory that the two hemispheres of the brain are not simply; emotion on the right and reason on the left, but a complex interdependence acting as one but with two very separate parts. The right hemisphere acting as the master, and the left as the emissary. Neither hemisphere can act alone, they need each other for making connections.

He described it as like a bird pecking at seeds of grain on a gravel path.

The birds need the left side of the brain to let it know which is the grain. The right hemisphere is aware of the surroundings, the need to keep watch. So together the messages are passed through the Corpus callosum as one.

The left hemisphere can be described very simply as dealing with order, mechanics, linear relationships. It has simple version of the world, yet is very confident. The right hemisphere has a wider view, deals with ambiguity, truth, beauty, morality, music, art, relationships, love, trust.

The RSA Animate lecture is brilliant at explanation.

A fundamental problem arising in today’s world is the rise of the left side way of working, the analytical reasoning , mechanistic approaches in so much of our lives, a fundamentalism and authoritarian delivery which makes sense to those where the right side of the brain is not engaged so much.

An example Ian used was of learning a musical instrument; we have to practice each piece, and then we can use that process to support the performance, which is more than the sum of the practises.

An amazing theory and supporting research in finding truths and seeking an understanding of not only the function of the brain but how that influences our world and civilisations.

Much to think about and delighted to leave conference having spent time listening to others with amazing stories, and to finding new direction and onward travel.

Rev’d Sue Martin

 

 

 

Diocese of Norwich

 

 

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Barcelona 18th July 2017

How can anyone commit these atrocities and drive into people? Where is there any element of faith in the scenes as they unfolded?

I would really like to put my head in the sand and be an ostrich right now. If I thought that was possible and that when I came up for air, then all this turmoil, evil happenings , awful things being said would have gone away, then I may have tried that approach.

But it hasn’t and there have been such dreadful events that they are now impossible to ignore. They continue to create fear, despair, upset and rage and then what happens next?

If we can in our prayers, be with all those in Barcelona at the dreadful killings in Las Ramblas and also with those in Charlottesville USA.

Oh how I wish I knew what could be done to stop this build up of hatred and vengeance from taking hold. It is not a matter of faith, this is a matter of vengeance and control, hatred and evil

Feeling bewildered…

Rev’d Sue Martin

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Rocky ground, thorns and good soil

The Parable of the Sower – Rocky ground, thorns and good soil. We all have time with rocky ground, thorns and good soil.

I would like to tell you about my garden.

Living in a new house for nearly a year now, and builders are great but they are not gardeners! The garden is, well let’s say it’s getting there!

On visits and walks in this village and other villages I see gardens of all sorts.

I have a little categorisation going on in my mind about gardens:

There are those where everything seems to remain in neat and tidy order all the time. How does that work? I’m never really sure how that can happen?

And then there are gardens where disorder has taken over completely, it could be in design, or not sure how to make a garden, or that life has become hard and the long worked over garden has just got out of control.

And then there are  gardens where plants are purchased from the garden centre at least twice a year and order is restored, or the gardens where shrubs and everlasting plants are intertwined with gravel paths and maintenance is very low, but the effect is okay, nothing needed to be done.

And finally the garden where children’s games and toys are everywhere, plants are battling with the  Buzz Light Year toy in the shrubs or tennis balls and footballs long ago punctured scattered across the garden. A grass lawn is usually there too, but with patches and areas where too many ball games have even worn down the grass.

The Parable of the Sower is a bit like modern day gardens. Jesus tells the story of how and where God can find his word present and alive. Jesus used parables as a way to explain the unexplainable, to give a picture in people’s minds of how God can be alive in everyone and how sometimes we are all a little deaf to His voice.

Read more in Sermons 2017

Rev’d Sue Martin

PS The swing is very important for daily reflection… and for looking over the hedge!

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Ascension

Church of the Transfiguration

Looking to the cloud at the Church of the Transfiguration

Sunday after Ascension

May 28th 2017

Readings Acts 1:6-14,  1 Peter,4:12-14, 5:6-11, Gospel John 17:1-11


‘Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him strong in the faith.’  1Peter:5-8

The epistle this week is from Peter, who holds such a strong role although a fiery character by all accounts.

But  we move on to Acts and find out just how the disciples move forward themselves, from Jesus being with them, to the resurrection and then into heaven.

What was going through their minds I wonder, when 40 days after the resurrection he led them to Bethany by the Mount of Olives.

And then he is raised up into the sky and and to be seen then with two men in white robes.

What were the disciples thinking?

‘Come back, don’t leave us now, I want to know a bit more….’

‘You’ll fall!’

And what did they hear from the  men in the sky,

‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Read more in Sermons 2017

 

Rev’d Sue Martin

 

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Mary Magdalene and the women by the cross

Mary Magdalene from Aeon Byte The God AboveMary Magdalene is of high importance in the story of Jesus, not just for the role she played as one of the women by the cross , but throughout all the gospels she appears and is seen with Jesus and the disciples.

This week, after reading the Easter story again and again, I have been wondering even more about Mary Magdalene, who she was, what did she do and do we have a good image and picture of her?

I came across a very interesting website, The Junia Project,with a recent blog, called The Women Who Stood by the Cross, by Gail Wallace. The words below are taken from the blog, which makes excellent reading;

“Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.” (Mark 15:40-41)

We know from all four gospel writers that a number of women were present at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, and that some of those women were also at the burial and the empty tomb. Who are these women who stood near the cross, and what can we learn from their example of discipleship?”

It has long been argued that Mary Magdalene is wrongly portrayed and the emphasis has been on her femininity, rather than in her devotion and support of Jesus in his teaching and throughout his life.

There is a recorded Gospel of St Mary, which was found in Egypt in  1896, and was not included in the canon.

It is widely though that Mary went to France after the crucifixion and from the book Mary Magdalene by Esther de Boer it concludes that many of her relics are at the Benedctine Abbey in Vezeley, France.

Mary Magdalene remains for me a central character, disciple and apostle of Jesus. Worthy of spending some time in research to look at her role from a woman living in Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to follower of Christ.

Rev’d Sue Martin

 

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Easter Sunday April 16th 2017

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Quite a story, starting with the triumphal ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the humble donkey. Crowded streets, the place packed with people preparing for the feast of the Passover, Jesus turning over the tables in the temple, the Last Supper in the upstairs room, for fear of being found, the long night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the capture by the soldiers, Jesus coming before Pontius Pilate, the crowds calling for him to be crucified and the release of Barabbas.

And then the crucifixion.

Saturday, the holy day for the Jews.

And so to today, the good news that Jesus is risen. Alleluia!

This is the good news, the news we all share even today 2000 years after the event and it hasn’t changed, He is risen indeed Alleluia!

Full sermon on Easter page

Rev’d Sue Martin

 

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In the Wilderness  

  There seem to be many times when we find ourselves in the wilderness, or is it just me!!

Wandering, walking through the country, wondering which direction we should be travelling in, seeking God’s call, trying hard to get on with our lives when all around us is caving slowly in.

The first Sunday in Lent, a time to reflect.

Rev’d Sue Martin

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Hurricane Doris and the Sunday before Lent

Looking to the cloud at the Church of the Transfiguration

A lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts

Hurricane Doris was horrendous, lights went out across the country, buses blown off the roads, trees crashed to the ground and homes and gardens strewn around. I hope that there wasn’t too much damage for each of you.

Seeing is believing some people say.

But that is not the whole story is it? Our readings this week are wonderful and give us a real picture of things that we can’t always see. But we have been told!

We can’t see the wind. We can feel it’s effect, every day we know which direction the wind is blowing from, how strong it is and what kind of weather it will bring along the way.

Evidence, readings, disciples, Mt Sinai… read more in the sermon for the Sunday before Lent.

Rev’d Sue Martin

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Angela Tilby Thought for the day

Thought for the Day by Angela TilbyPerspective on the Co-Operative Bank by Angela Tilby

 

Thought for the Day, Radio 4 14.2.17

Trust is a precious social capital as considered by the original founders of the Co-Operative movement.

The gospels tell us that a trust filled life is a potential blessing.

A beautiful perspective on changes in society and how implicitly it effects us all.

Rev’d Sue Martin

Norwich Diocese

 

 

 

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Epiphany 2017

The Visit of the Magi

1st Sunday in Epiphany Jan 8th 2017

The Magi travel from the East and follow the star to Bethlehem. One of the most magical images of the time of the Nativity. We have ttried more and more, to put all the Christmas story into one neat package around Christmas Day.

But in Matthew Ch 2 we know that this event happened after Jesus was born and it is linked to the twlefth day of Christmas or the start of Epiphany, January 6th.

Time to take the decorations down, that is if they have survived this long! Most people have already taken down the decorations, tidied up the house, started thinking about the New Year, have a resolution or two set for at least the next month, if not the year ahead.

I find myself taking out the tree, on Jan6th, with needles shedding all over the floor and on any unsuspecting person or animal, many of the decorations have already reached the floor by this stage and sometimes I look admiringly on people who take out Christmas as soon as possible.

But we can’t really do that, can we? Christmas is here to stay, Jesus is born to us all. We can’t just say,’ Oh, that was nice’,  and move on to the sales and shops and carry on as if nothing has happened.

We carry with us that spirit and love, whether it remains within us or stays for a brief time, like a Christmas tree needle, left on the jumper for a short while only.

The Collect for today;

Creator of the heavens, who led the Magi by a star,

So worship the Christ child, guide and sustain us

That we may find our journey’s end

In Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Rev’d Sue Martin

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