30 November 2014

Hymn Writing Assignment

One of the assignments this term in my United Church Worship class was to, "choose a familiar, traditional hymn and write a new version (at least four verses).  Employ language and images accessible to all members of the congregation and describe your theological and pastoral choices."  Here is the hymn that I wrote (don't worry - I won't inflict my 4 1/2 pages of theological and pastoral reflection on you!).  If you want to hear the tune that it is set to, you can find it here.

I heard (or read) once that the definition of a hymn was third-rate poetry set to second-rate music (possibly a Margaret Atwood-ism?); so I guess that this was my attempt at writing third-rate poetry!

Springs Gush Forth (Psalm 104)

Tune:   Blaenwern

Springs gush forth in every valley;
            rivers flow beside the hill.
Animals may come to drink there –
            all of them may drink their fill.
God takes care of every creature
            of the earth, both wild and tame.
We will sing God’s praises always,
            we will praise God’s holy name.

Oceans full of living creatures;
            winds that blow the ships above;
Earth renewed by blowing spirit;
            all created through God’s love.
Rocks and trees and plants and seasons,
            all the chaos, God o’ercame
We will sing God’s praises always,
            we will praise God’s holy name.

God created earth and heavens;
            God created day and night.
God creates each day that follows –
            holy darkness, shining light.
Sun and moon and stars above us,
            lantern, candle, fire, and flame.
We will sing God’s praises always,
            we will praise God’s holy name.

We, God’s church, gather together
            singing praises, seeking God.
When we look at God’s creation
            full of glory – we are awed.
By God’s grace, we tend the planet;
            love creation is our aim.
We will sing God’s praises always,

            we will praise God’s holy name.

(I guess the professor liked it!)

23 November 2014

Entering the Home Stretch

I think that I missed a week on this blog.  I'm going to blame the fact that it's November - approaching the end of the term with papers due, dreary weather, and short days.

Since I am up to my eyeballs in papers these days, I thought that I would let you know what I'm working on between now and the end of term.

Due This Week:
Pastoral Foundations, Intense Reflection - This is a 1000 word reflection on anything.  In class, we were talking about and reading about loss, grief, and mourning.  I got thinking about contemporary Canadian rituals for mourning (? and the lack thereof?).  I first of all came up with a definition for ritual (the intersection of symbol and action) and reflected on my own experiences both after Grandma died and then after Mum died.  I then threw the question out on Facebook and was astounded by the response generated - I was able to incorporate some of the themes that came up there in to my paper.  And finally, I did a bit of research to determine the purpose of mourning rituals, and reflected on how a pastoral minister might be involved with both formal and informal rituals with people.

Pastoral Foundations, Glossary (part 3 of 3) - We have had 3 Glossaries due over the course of the term, each consisting of 5 terms (we have to come up with the terms too) and our definitions (3-ish sentences) as they relate to pastoral ministry.  This time around, my terms are "trauma," "vulnerable," "shame," "grief," and "hope."

Due Next Week:
United Church Worship, Advent Service - We had to choose the lectionary readings for one of the Sundays in Advent this year (I chose Advent III, December 14) and design a full service including either communion or a baptism (I chose communion).  I've started working on this - I've got my sermon outline done and the music chosen.  I'm a bit intimidated by writing my first communion liturgy for this.

Biblical Foundations, Short Paper - We are to pick a passage of 10-20 verses from anywhere in the Old Testament, write an exegesis (what is the passage saying), describe the historical context of the text, and then reflect on contemporary resonance of the text.  All in 5-7 pages.  I chose Jeremiah 32:1-15, but when I proposed this to the professor, she was worried that by only working on the first part of the chapter, I would miss the "punch-line."  She has encouraged me to work on all of Jeremiah 32 - all 44 verses.  Here's hoping that it's manageable.

Due the Last Week:
Research Foundations, Research Proposal - This is a continuation of something we have been working on all term.  We have already had to pick a research topic, write a 2-page introduction to our topic, and prepare an annotated bibliography (4 books, 4 journal articles).  Now we are writing the 10-page research proposal for a qualitative research study including the research problem, theoretical framework, modified literature review, Sample Selection, Data Collection, Data Analysis, Validity and Reliability, Ethical Considerations, Researcher Bias and Assumptions, and Practical Implications.  After all of this, I'm almost wishing that we actually got to do the research!  My topic is "The Effect of Working in Palliative Care on the Spiritual Understanding of Health Care Professionals."

Theological Foundations, Essay - 2000 words on a topic of our choice, either chosen from a list given to us by the professor or negotiated with the professor.  I am writing on "Feminist Critique and Reconstruction of the Trinity."

As well as these 6 papers that remain, I also have one group presentation (December 4) in Pastoral Foundations, and an oral exam in Biblical Foundations (to be scheduled for December 1-3).  And then on December 9, the term is over!

No picture this week - I couldn't think of anything interesting to snap related to all of these papers.  If I could train the cats to manipulate a camera (i.e. if they had opposable thumbs), they could take a picture of me sitting at my desk since it seems like that is all I do these days!  At least my desk chair is comfortable :-)

An appropriate photo opportunity came up this evening, so I can't resist.

Lily, helping me with my next paper.

9 November 2014

Beginning the Count-down

Not much to write about this week.  I've spent the weekend working on research for my Pastoral Foundations paper.  We weren't given many guidelines for this paper beyond being edgy, relevant, and finding resonance with the author.  And so, after much deliberation, I have decided to write on "Congregational Healing after Conflict."  (Some blog-readers may make the connection as to why this topic resonates with me.)  I think that I will tie it all together using a physiological wound-healing analogy (write about what you know, right?!) and use my own experiences with congregational conflict to make it relevant.

Also this weekend, I made Christmas Cakes (which are now ripening in my pantry) and roasted my Hallowe'en pumpkin so I have several containers of pumpkin-y goodness in my freezer now.

Last week, a couple of class-mates were pointing out how few weeks of school we have left - 4 1/2 to be exact.  My last class of the semester will be on December 9, with my last paper due on December 11 (fingers crossed it will be done before then).  And so, despite some resistance on my part, I have made up a mental to-do list of everything to get done before the end of the semester…

  • 8 papers to write (5 big ones, 3 smaller ones)
  • 1 group presentation
  • 1 oral exam
And then I will have not-quite-a-full-month off for Christmas holidays.  My plans include driving back to Ontario to visit family, and reading lots of novels!

Remembrance Day is a public holiday, so I won't have any classes on Tuesday this week.

And that's about all that is going on in my world for this week.


4 November 2014

Last week

Last week was a busy week - I was glad that the week before had been reading week, since I felt somewhat caught up on reading and assignments, rather than feeling like I was hopelessly falling behind!

I had 3 assignments due:

  • A response to one of the readings we did about Communion (8 pages)
  • An exegesis on Genesis 32:22-32 (5 pages)
  • A Pastoral Glossary, part 2/3 (5 terms each time - we pick the terms and write the definitions)
I also had one midterm exam in Theological Foundations - my first exam of any sort in 15+ years.  Now that it is over, I am feeling OK with how I did, but I am still waiting for my mark.  There were 7 essay questions (all based on the lectures), and I had to choose 4 to answer in 1 hour.  I ended up writing 14 pages (double-spaced), and had a few minutes left at the end to re-read my answers, and cross out and re-print any words where I couldn't read my own handwriting.  Here's hoping that the professor can read my scrawl!

Wednesday afternoon is usually our Formation group - where we get together with our denominational peers and discuss issues specific to our denomination.  Last week, the Anglican and United Church formation groups got together and had a day-long workshop in Ministry with Seniors.  Since I come from a background of working with seniors in the health care sector, I didn't find the morning session very helpful (it was focused on the practical needs of seniors) - though it was interesting to learn how the services are different in this province as compared with my home province.  But the afternoon session focused on the spiritual needs of seniors was much more interesting from my perspective.

Anyways, with papers and exams and regular classes and extra classes, on Thursday I was a bad student and I skipped the student union meeting (and I felt bad afterwards when I found out that they just needed one more student to make quorum…).  But I was feeling a bit weary, and even the thought of sitting in a meeting for an hour exhausted me.  So instead, I headed back in to the chapel and spent an hour practicing on the pipe organ :-)

We also had a couple of arts events last week at the school.  There was a photography display up in the library on the theme of "Houses of Worship" - mostly churches, but trying to include other religions across Canada and the US.  On Monday after chapel, the photographer gave a talk in the library which was very interesting.  And then on Thursday evening, there was a talk on "Poetry and Preaching" in the chapel, and that was amazing!  We had the poet laureate of Halifax, El Jones, along with a former graduate of the school.  The poet recited several of her (very powerful) spoken word poems, and then the preacher gave us a spoken word sermon based on the upcoming Sunday's lectionary.

I have been recruited to sit on the school's Arts and Theology Committee, though I won't be able to attend any meetings until next term due to a conflict with my class schedule.

And one final "arts" encounter.  On Tuesday, when I got off the ferry and was rushing to catch my bus, there was a busker in the ferry terminal.  I couldn't stop and listen for long - it was the morning of my midterm exam so I really didn't want to miss my bus connection - but it definitely gave me pause as I rushed up the stairs behind him.  Hearing one of the Bach solo cello suites echoing around the ferry terminal helped to calm my mind and put me in a good state for my exam.  I was hoping all week that he would be back so that I could stop and thank him; but then I found out at the end of the week that it was an experiment and the busker was the principal cellist for Symphony Nova Scotia.

And that was my week last week!