Monday, September 07, 2009

Clergy school (1)

Tonight I'm posting from Oxford, in a room at St Anne's College, where the Llandaff Diocesan Clergy school is taking place until Thursday. In the distance the sound of the St Giles-tide fair is filling the night air, and blocking off the Woodstock road outside to through traffic. We arrived mid-afternoon after a leisurely coach journey from Cardiff, and were assigned well appointed hotel style single rooms, with ethernet terminals and login codes thrown in as part of the deal.

Worship is taking place in St Giles Parish Church, whose environs are at the moment engulfed by the fairground rides and stalls. We were enjoined to accept the background noise as another mundane context in which to offer up the life of the world in prayer. But it's not distracting noise, it's distressing noise that reduces ones capacity to hear what's being said. Maybe that just says my hearing is not as good as it used to be and I haven't noticed.

We had Ken Leech addressing us after Evensong, telling stories about formative people and situations in his early life and reflecting upon them. It was good to hear him again after twenty years. I didn't recognise him when he arrived. Not that he's changed that much, but I failed to make the connection when I saw him, even though I knew he was coming. After supper Prof Martin Percy, principal of Cuddeston theological college addressed us. It was a thoughtful session, from a theologian who is also a sociologist of religion. He delivered his material in a hilarious way, maybe to make it seem non-threateningly strange or overly familiar stuff. He'd come with some penetrating insights to share about ministry, and stared by putting us all at ease. He could earn a good living as a stand up comic, I'm sure.

We're thinking about identity in these few days, about diversity and commonality and how that works as part of divine providence. I'm too tired to go out to the pub tonight, and really appreciative of a quiet room and the promise of a full night's sleep. I didn't get one last night as such a long Sunday left me over tired. It's called getting old, I guess. Such a shame when there's so much that's interesting going on.

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