Thursday, January 17, 2013

Silence and Stillness

Here's what we're encouraging our Parish into this Lent...


Archbishop Kalistos Ware tells a story of a peasant had formed a habit of slipping into a certain church at a certain time of day with clockwork regularity. There, day by day, he would sit and, apparently, do nothing. The parish priest observed this regular, silent visitor.

One day, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, he asked the old man why he came to the church, alone, day in, day out. Why waste his time in this way?

The old man looked at the priest and with a loving twinkle in his eye gave this explanation: ‘I look at Him. He looks at me. And we tell each other that we love each other.’

We aren’t good at sitting still and being quiet. We still tell our children sometimes that’s what we want them to do, but we really struggle to model it for them as we rush to the next event scheduled in our crammed diary, answering the email that is shouting for our attention, aware of pressing deadlines, ignoring our ringing mobile phone... If this is life for us, and for many people it is, it’s no wonder we grapple and grasp for God and long for deeper faith?

Lent is time set aside by The Church to prepare for Easter, but often we read that as 40 days of Lent study groups, extra services, fasting, extra reading and reflection on the Scriptures and so on. All of that is good and worthwhile but it can transform this period of getting ready into a time of exhausting, frenetic activity. Let our Lent be different.

This Lent, I would like every single one of us to give God at least 5 minutes of our time, to pray for ourselves, the church we usually attend and our shared life as a parish, to reflect on some scripture and to listen to Him.

From Ash Wednesday, prayer cards will be available for each of you with the following prayer on it. Please commit yourself to use it every day.  If you are comfortable using it on your own then do. If you would rather meet to pray with a friend then do that. Use it on your way to work, at your desk, in your lunch break, stick it to your fridge, have one by your bed, have it in your handbag or in your jacket pocket. The prayer will also be used as a Post Communion prayer each time we gather to share the Eucharist.  It reads:

Heavenly Father,
your Son Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness
and through it, grew closer to you.
Help us to use these days of Lent:
to grow in wisdom and prayer
and discover afresh your will for us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the back of the prayer card you’ll find some short verses of scripture. I encourage you to read them prayerfully. Through both, try to reflect on where God is leading us as individuals, as individual churches and as a Parish. Please do write down any thoughts or feelings that come to you - these could be specific like a project or a way to engage with the wide community. They could equally be something non specific like a desire for a deeper faith in God or a greater understanding of the scriptures or prayer. We will gather and share and reflect on these during the Easter season.

This Lent, come and be still in God’s presence. Look at Him, He’ll look at you and in quietness tell each other of your love, for ‘...silence brings: peace amidst chatter, stillness amongst clatter, essence at the end of incessance and space for God’s eloquence...’ This Lent, may God give us all space for His eloquence.

1 comment:

Madge said...

I know this story and it resonates with me very much - to know deeply that I am loved by God and that he gives me the ability to love him back is awesome.