The call of Abram is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. I have moved quite a lot, and the experience of packing up my life in England to move to the U.S. nearly three years ago is still fresh in my memory. The challenges that face Abram and his family are exciting, probably daunting, but certainly not without their cost. I love the way the call is vague about the destination: it seems that getting moving is more important than knowing the final details.
The Transfiguration has a hundred sermons in it; it is packed with hints about the identity of Jesus Christ, the relationship of the Trinity, and the story of salvation. But to me the most touching element is the subplot: a moment when three ordinary people are overwhelmed in the presence of greatness.
I have lived in the U.S. for nearly three years now, and there is so much to love: the beauty and the grandeur of the landscape, the welcome and hospitality I’ve found in one city after another, and so many new friends.
When I was a college chaplain, I served tea and cakes after chapel whenever a student had a birthday. But my own birthday fell in Lent, when several in the chapel group had given up chocolate and cakes.
Recently my son and I read one of Roald Dahl’s fantastic stories for children—The BFG. Everyone knows, don’t they, that giants are terrible, bloodthirsty creatures? So when little Sophie is kidnapped by a giant in the middle of the night and carried far away to a land where giants live, naturally she is terrified. “He is getting ready to eat me, she tells herself.
Some years ago I worked in central London with an organization that reached out to people living on the streets. For most, all we could offer was food, clean clothes and a listening ear, but every now and then we met someone who wanted to find a new life. We ran a halfway house with a simple rule of life where a few people at a time could relearn how to live indoors.
This year in Great Britain we marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The media have been full of documentaries and reflections, books have been published, plays performed and the movie Amazing Grace released.
What we want theological education to look like depends on what sort of church we want, and on what we think ministers are for. Do we want highly trained leaders who know how to lead, recruit and motivate? Or do we want pastors and priests who know God, and know how to connect other people to God?