What they don't teach you (at theological college)

Published on Thu, 14 May 2020 14:54
Vicar's Blog

Today's newsletter is even later than my usual ones, I think.  That's because this morning, I've been to the monthly curates' training (via Zoom).  As part of that, I spent some time with others alongside whom I was ordained and have spent almost two years learning and journeying with.  We were reflecting on our experiences of the past weeks and it's clear that we are all navigating new ground.

These Unprecedented Times (a phrase used so much I think it's become a proper noun!) are certainly not something that we were prepared for or taught about in theological college...  Even when I turn to the book 'Rules for Reverends' - an ordination gift - I find no advice on Zoom worship or what you do during a pandemic that closes the buildings (but there are valuable insights such as 'What they don't teach you at theological college is how to hold a plate and a glass of wine and a fork at the same time.  They really should.').

Of course, as priests we are not alone in navigating new ground or finding that usual sources of advice and insight don't quite relate to our current situation.  I think it's a fairly universal experience.  Even the tech savvy, or those who regularly engaged with forms of online church before lockdown, were unlikely to be thoroughly prepared for where we currently find ourselves.

I think these Unprecedented Times are what they don't teach you...anywhere!  After all, just a few short months ago, we did not expect this situation.

We are all navigating new ground, finding new ways to be Church and hopefully, finding a new sense of community and journeying alongside each other in that.

I was struck by the reading from Acts at Morning Prayer today and particularly these verses:

They all gave full attention to the teaching of the apostles and to the common life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers...  All of those who believed came together and held everything in common...  Day be day they were all together attending the Temple.  They broke the bread in their various houses, and ate their food with glad and sincere hearts, praising God. 

(Acts 2:42, 44, 46-47)

The new believers (who these verses refer to) also found themselves in Unprecedented Times and were navigating new ground.  Earlier in the chapter, 'the day of Pentecost had finally arrived' (Acts 2:1) and the gift of the Holy Spirit emboldened the apostles to proclaim the Gospel message, bringing many to faith in Christ.  This meant that the apostles and the new believers had to find a way to be Church, find a new sense of community and journey alongside each other in that.

We cannot physically come together as they did but perhaps as our new way of being Church develops as theirs did, we too can:

- look to the teaching of the apostles.

- give attention to our common (though socially distanced) life, holding in common and sharing our experiences of these Unprecedented Times.

- pray both individually and together, sharing too in Spiritual Communion.

- in our various houses, praise God and know that, although separated for now, we share in this life, the life of the Church, together.

With prayers and good wishes,


14 May 2020

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