Christian LivingMinistry

Why attend CMS Summer School this year? A chat with Dr Andrew Shead on the Psalms

It speaks volumes that the most popular conference for Sydney Anglican clergy to network with each other (not forgetting the many others who also attend!) is a missionary conference. The good news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ is for the whole world, and right now our world needs to hear of Jesus just as much as ever.

So why sign up for CMS Summer School’s livestream talks this year? Aside from the fact that it’s easy, and the kids’ and youth program is this year entirely free, there is a great treasure in store as we are taken through the Psalms with Moore College’s Head of Old Testament Dr Andrew Shead.

The ACR managed to grab a quick chat with Andrew to ask him how his preparation is going and to see what we’re in for…

ACR: Why have you chosen the Psalms for your talks? And will you be taking us through all 150 of them?! (it could be a long week!)

Andrew: I was asked to speak on the Psalms because of their power to bring consolation and encouragement at the end of a difficult couple of years. Mostly we will study just one psalm a day, though I’ll also be getting us to think a bit about the book as a whole.

ACR: What could the ancient poetry of the Psalms possibly have to say to us in our current situation as Christians in Sydney in January 2022? 

Andrew: I think that everyone who has read the Psalms knows the answer to that! And what’s so different about 2022? We are still humans. So the verdicts of the past still stand. Athanasius, for example: “For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in a human being.” 

ACR: CMS Summer School is where we commission new missionaries and re-dedicate our existing ones. What could the Psalms have to say about mission and sending missionaries in the 21st century?

Andrew: The Psalms make us faithful for the long haul; they teach us about Jesus; they show us what the gospel is and what it feels like to be forgiven; they model faithfulness and endurance in hard times; they uncover the purpose of life and point us through hardship to enduring joy. Their vision of the nations bowing before the risen King is the vision of mission. But if I had to choose one thing, I would choose Calvin’s assessment: “The Psalms principally teach and train us to bear the cross.”

ACR: Do you have a favourite psalm from your preparation? What will you be taking away from this time spent in this book?

Andrew: My favourite is whatever psalm I am working on when the question is asked! I have appreciated not just the deep insights of the psalms into the human condition, but their uniquely rich and nuanced revelation of the character of God.

ACR: Thank you so much for taking the time to give us this preview. Looking forward to hearing more at Summer School!