Don't know if I mentioned that last week's conference was in Merville, France (Nord Pas-de-Calais) so the title might not make much sense - not that i am making any claims about making sense anyway!
The title i chose for my last post on these things sums things up really 'random acts of theology'. The week seemed to be a week of small explosive bits of theological reflection and revelation. We had a series of Bible Studies/readings by the Rector of Guildford, Revd David Bracewell, which took the story of Jonah and verses from 2 Corinthians and, via lots of anecdotes and jokes and stories, used them to guide some reflection on the conference theme 'the hope of our calling'. Some (many?) didn't like David's style, but for me it was enjoyable and had both depth and levity in it. Sessions one and four were excellent, two was good, and three happened but didn't stand out quite as much as the others!
The theological reflection by the Bishop of Huntingdon, Rt Revd Dr John Inge, which opened our conference series of Keynote speeches was, as always, excellent and filled with hope. Anne Dyer, Warden of Cramner Hall, Durham presented a powerful and moving reflection on 'being broken in ministry' using contemporary and classical works of art to guide our thinking. I was disappointed to miss Jean Vanier talking about his experience in the making of the L'Arche Communities and challenging us to consider our attitudeds to disability. It was rather more theological than that and again was, I am told, challenging and moving but i was too tired to make it through. Likewise I felt ill as Prof. Ann Loades spoke about worship, so had to leave (this was not a response to what was excellent Theological stuff, but probably due to having a bit of a bug which although minor has taken a few days to shake off).
The Worship was enjoyable and refreshing, though i did miss Morning Prayer as I was making the most of being away from small children that wake me early every day. There was a rich tapestry of worship styles, including Taize style night prayer, Common Worship services, BCP (1662) Evensong, 'Fresh Expressions' style and an informal evening worship which i enjoyed preparing and leading, but was terrified about. I know that all worship is for an audience of one (!) but the congregation were pretty well up on this leading worship business and not reknowned for holding back comments about what they don't like - plus trying to play in a beautiful but echoey chapel brought a whole new dimension to the music...
Anyway, all this together plus and opportunity to have some quiet, to pray, to talk and to enjoy the company of some pretty fantastic colleagues meant that the level of reflection and general responsiveness to what God might be trying to say was pretty high really. And some of the deepest and most challenging revalations came in conversation and over mealtimes. My thoughts about being a different person since my last conference came from talking to one of my colleagues from my own ministry team and reflections about the nature of ministry and our calling to be leaders came from a variety of encounters and engagements over the week.
As you can probably tell, the issues, ideas and hopes of this past week are spinning around my head at high speed, so i will go on thinking and praying - but as I've generally blurbed about the conference i will try not to keep coming back to it, after all you weren't there so you're probably bored of hearing about it!