Lent 2019 Letter

Lent 2019 Letter

Lenten Listen

How do you approach Lent? A season of gloomy music? No flowers? A long face and melancholic haul to Easter? A time to give up everything (or at least chocolate and biscuits)? Or do you use it as a time to step back and re

flect on your walk of faith and live life differently as we prepare for the great mystery of Easter?

 

How will you make this Lent different from the normality of your week?  Are you positive in your use of the traditional Lenten disciplines of fasting, praying and giving? Do you use it as a time to slow down and refocus?

How about introducing a ‘Lenten Listen’ to your daily or weekly routine? We may all be familiar with the notion of having a ‘Quiet Time’ spending time in a structured daily Bible reading, with a thought for the day and a prayer at the beginning of the day. This is great discipline for our lives as disciples, but how about taking this a stage further by spending a few minutes or maybe a half hour each day (or whenever you can) to be quiet? To stop and simply listen. To stop altogether and come to rest in the direction of God. A time to be with. In the Psalms there is a lot of ‘delight’ in the Lord and ‘meditation’ upon the Law of the Lord. This is about spending quality time with God. It is about being together.

 

Meditation starts with an attempt to slow the mind and heart rate. Sit in a comfortable yet alert position, in a chair with feet on the ground, eyes cl

osed, hands (and heart) open and simply become aware of our breathing; slowing down and slowly breathing in and out aware of each breath that we take in and exhale. Try breathing in for 5 seconds and then breathe out slowly. Do this for a few minutes and relax. In this rhythmic breathing it is a time to clear the mind of the incessant clatter and clutter of our minds. To stop, to look within and listen. This in itself is a discipline or art of stopping. Our minds will wander, that’s guaranteed, but when we recognise this, we simply come back and refocus. Instead of saying prayers to Jesus, we focus our thoughts upon Jesus, simply asking him to show himself in our life. It means to be aware of his presence and by the Holy Spirit to experience God close by.

 

From this stillness one could to meditate upon an image, like a photograph or an Icon. Looking deeply into the picture and allowing it to catch our imagination. Or maybe focus upon just a few words of scripture or a hymn or worship song. It could be to meditate on anything that would help us to focus on Jesus for that matter. It could be to close our eyes and imagine ourselves in an event from the Bible, perhaps as one of Jesus’ disciples watching on.

 

Going a stage further, we listen. What might God be saying to you? The outcomes of this discipline could take us through different stages, su

ch as becoming aware and convicted about wrongs in our lives that Christ wants to heal or deal with, be that relational, physical, emotional or spiritual. It could be recognising areas in our lives where God may already be working by helping us to hear him calling and directing us. It may lead us to be thankful and it could be a time to be lost in ‘wonder, love and praise’. Maybe you feel God prompting you into action in the life of the church or community. Explore these thoughts and feelings and pray to discern God’s call.

 

Ok this is not going to be for everyone, but find whatever works for you in connecting with God. Throughout Lent there will be the midweek Lent course at St Mary’s, a Lent lunchtime devotional at the Methodist church and a frugal lunch each Sunday at St John’s w

hich will all encourage us.

 

However, if you would like to spend some time to simply be with as outlined above, you can do this in the comfort of your own home, or perhaps you would like to join me in St Oswald’s Church throughout Lent on Monday mornings at 9am, to spend 30 minutes in quiet meditation. A time of listening and coming to rest in the direction of our Lord Jesus. The stilling atmosphere and quietness in church is a real blessing when it comes to spending time with God in this way. It would be a blessing to me too, if you would join me.

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of his glory and grace.

 

May God enrich you this Lent.

 

Nigel Chapman

Vicar