SILENCE : DISCOVERING & EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
The idea of linking silence with prayer may sound like an out-and- out contradiction to many Christians. We are accustomed to thinking of the familiar forms of prayer that people use when they join to worship or ask God for something. These forms almost follow a lead given in the past. They are shaped by words set down in the Bible, particularly the psalms, or by other poetry and by the liturgy. They can vary from the words that come spontaneously in the simplest service to the most elaborate prayers that have grown up around the Eucharist and other Sacraments and may be used in private devotions. Of course, there is no question about the value and importance of this way of turning to God, but it is not the only prayer we need.
There is another, equally important way of praying in which a person becomes silent and tries to listen, instead of speaking.
My wife Christine and I made a covenant to hear the Bible in a year. We listen to a part of a Psalm or part of the Book of Proverbs followed by a reading from the New Testament and a longer reading from the Old Testament all read to us by David Suchet. It takes about twenty or so minutes per day. As you might imagine there are catch-up days. It’s better to learn how to be disciplined with the daily readings.
Having someone read to you tests out your listening skills. You will remember Jesus and his disciples who kept falling asleep at the most difficult time in his ministry. You probably like me will know how difficult it is to be silent and to concentrate for longer than a few minutes without the rush of unwanted thoughts. So, when we pray using Lectio 365 we pray “As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God”.
To read whole passages of Scripture at once has the advantage over just selecting what you prefer to hear or use. So, you have to deal with the turbulence and bloodshed in the OT.
The children of Israel had their prophets who listened to Yahweh and passed on instruction to God’s own people. The big question for us today is – where do we see or hear the words of God from the lips of those who are in a relationship with both God and His people.
Silence in prayer is a discipline in which the more we pray the deeper our relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit, becomes and the more likely we are to know and experience His presence with us.
THIS WEEK PRAY WITHOUT SPEAKING – JUST WORK AT BEING COMFORTABLE & FOCUS ON JESUS FOR A WHILE, LISTENING AND GETTING TO KNOW HIS VOICE.
Join us in church or online for Sunday morning worship as we celebrate Father’s Day. Today we will be giving thanks for all Dads, Grandads and anyone else who cares for us including of course God, our Father in heaven! All welcome!
9:30am – St Bartholomew’s – Meltham (can be joined via YouTube) 9:30am – St James’ – Meltham Mills 11:15am – St Mary’s – Wilshaw (can be joined via Zoom from 11am) 11:15am – Christ Church – Helme
Over the past months, many articles have been written, numerous television programmes made, all around the subject of the Coronavirus Pandemic and this coming Friday there is a TV programme called ‘A Pandemic Poem – Where Did The World Go?’ This is based around a Poem written by Poet Laureate -Simon Armitage, a Colne Valley man who many of us will have heard of.
These are some of his thoughts about his Pandemic Poem
‘There is a message to be learnt about taking things easy and being patient and trusting the Earth and maybe coming through this slightly slower and wiser – given that one thing that’s accelerated the problem is our hectic lives and our proximities and the frantic ways we go about things. Poetry is by definition consoling because it often asks us just to focus and think and be contemplative.’
To learn more of his thoughts – Friday evening 9.0pm
The following poem is written by Gary Clayton a member of Hayes Lane Baptist Church.
As we read it, we ask that God will help us to focus on what is said
In the year of plague, in the year of COVID, Like seeking our Daily Bread day-by-day, Each day we looked to God to provide, Each day we looked to God, to survive. Each day we shopped to live, not lived to shop.
In the year of grace, in the year of COVID, We didn’t ‘Give up church’ for Lent, But learned to ‘do’ church differently, Discovered that buildings close and meetings end, But the Church – the Body, not the building, goes on.
In the year of contact, in the year of COVID, Email, phone, letters, Skype, Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp, Microsoft Meetings, These manmade messengers came into their own, Carrying our voices, words, thoughts and prayers To the homes of those – like us – forced to endure, Stay at home, or sally forth briefly, Hoping against hope that all would be well.
In the year of trial, in the year of COVID, Some comfort ate, and some got fit, Some went for a walk – or a run. Some sofa-surfed on crisp-strewn couches, Some grew their hair, while others grew apart.
In the year of fear, in the year of COVID, We saw far fewer cars, and even less people, Covered our noses and concealed our mouths. Felt dread when we coughed, Our eyes watered, or we felt unwell.
In the year, in the year, in the year 2020, We lost friends. Lost family. Lost contact, But gained something too. But when the time’s ended, And when the plague, the epidemic, the pandemic, The outbreak ends – will we have learned? Will we have changed? Or will we just… go back to normal?
Let us continue to pray that God will give wisdom to each one of us, to the churches, to our nation and to the world that we can all learn from the experience of this pandemic and that we can go into the future seeing things in a new way and much more from God’s perspective.
Saturday 12th June – Calmlands Graveyard – Grass cutting and shrub clearing.
DO YOU feel like some exercise that is cost free, in the open air and where the chat and laughter is as important as the work? If so, then you are most welcome to join our band of merry helpers. We aim for this to be an informal group, where friendships can grow as the weeds are subdued!!
Feel free just to turn up, for all or a part of the session. We have a good chat and a laugh as well as work. As we are outside, it is always weather dependent, here’s trusting for a long hot summer.
Other dates for your diary: 26th June – Calmlands Bush and undergrowth cutting. 10th July & 24th July (locations to be advised)
If you want to be included in up to date emails etc. please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
All groups run from about 9:30am to 12:30pm but don’t feel you have to be there the whole time. Please bring own tea/coffee and tools.
Please contact Mike on 07867 951512 for further details, or to let him know you can help.
The graveyard is at the top of Wetlands Rd, Meltham, next to the allotment field.
Unconditional Acceptance – Pete Greig – leading a short reflection on the App – Lectio 365
This week I am consciously making space for the Holy Spirit to challenge my lifestyle… … and shape my attitude towards the great biblical priority of hospitality.
As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.
Pause and pray
Prayer of Approach A prayer from the fifth century AD by Augustine of Hippo: Grant me, even me, my dearest Lord, to know you, and love you, and rejoice in you… Let the love of you grow every day more and more in me, that my joy may be full in you.*
Rejoice and Reflect I choose to rejoice today in the place God has planted me in, and the faith he has planted in me, joining with the ancient praise of all God’s people in the words of Psalm 52: I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.
Pause and pray
Today’s reading opens a new vista, calling me to cultivate an equally accommodating attitude towards my brothers and sisters in Christ…. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7 In this beautiful benediction, the apostle Paul prays that my attitude towards other Christians would be as accepting as Christ’s attitude towards me. This is an extraordinarily low bar! Our unity is not to be based on believing precisely the same things; that would make us a sect; nor on behaving in precisely the same ways; that would make us a cult; but rather on belonging to the same Father through the unconditional acceptance of his son Jesus Christ: that is what makes us a family. As Nicky Gumbel says, ‘I used to look at other types of Christians and ask “What’s wrong with them?” But these days I ask “What’s right with them?” What can I learn from them? What do they have that I need?’ Why is it that I sometimes have more grace for non-Christians than I do for my brothers and sisters in Christ? Thinking now of a Christian who annoys me, I ask You Lord to give me eyes to see them the way You see them, and an ability to accept them the way You do too.
Pause and pray I thank God now for a church or a denomination other than my own, asking the Father to bless them, and enjoying the smile on His face as I do so. These days I ask “What’s right with them?” What can I learn from them? What do they have that I need?’
Yield As I return to the passage, I open my ears to hear Your Word, and my heart to yield to Your will once again. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7 It’s easy to miss the two key hinge phrases in this passage: ‘so that’ and ‘in order to’. Paul prays for unity ‘so that’ with one mind and voice we may glorify God and ‘in order to’ bring him praise. Whenever we acknowledge that there are indeed other rooms in the House of God, and other branches in his family tree, the result is praise and glory to the Lord. As the apostle John puts it, ‘If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’
(1 John 4:12)
Pause and pray
Yielding Prayer Father, I give my front door key to You. My house is Your home. Bring whoever You want, whenever You want into my private space this week. Jesus, I relinquish my schedule to You. My days are in Your hands. Help me to welcome interruptions this week as gifts from You. Spirit, I surrender my possessions to You. All my stuff belongs to You. Help me this week to ‘share with the Lord’s people who are in need.’ (Rom. 12:13)
Yielding Promise And now, as I prepare to take this time of prayer into the coming day, the Lord who loves me speaks to me saying: Trust in me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to me, and I will make your paths straight.
Closing Prayer Father, help me to live this day to the full, being true to You, in every way. Jesus, help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet. Spirit, help me to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do and say. Amen.
* Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, ed. J. Manning Potts, 1953
Over a year ago we began to feel and experience the impact of the Covid 19 Virus Pandemic. The pandemic might be unique in our experience, but it is not unique in history. It comes with a hard impact on life, worship and community. Very quickly we were drawn together to pray for ourselves and peoples of every faith and nation of our world. Lockdown offered us an opportunity to read the scriptures afresh, seeing through the lens of those writers and poets who lived lives very different from ours but conscious of their mortality and the fragility of life.
And people stayed at home
And read books > And they rested >And did exercises > And made art and played >
And learnt new ways of being > And stopped and listened >More deeply >
Someone meditated > someone prayed > Someone met their shadow >
And people began to think differently > And people healed >
And in the absence of people who > Lived in ignorant ways > Dangerous > meaningless and heartless >
The earth also began to heal > And when the danger ended > and People found themselves >
They grieved for the dead > And made new choices > And dreamed of new visions >
And created new ways of living > And completely healed the earth > Just as they were healed.
This is supposed to have been written by Kathleen O’Mara in 1869 for the then pandemic of typhus then reprinted for the Spanish influenza of 1920, the outbreak of which killed more people than the entire losses of the First World War!
We are living with the variants of the virus and at the same time trying to get to something like normal in commerce, business. and communal living.
In the many and various circles of life, people are accepting that we are entering a journey towards a new normal. New because change has already set in and will continue to change and develop. We need to ask the Question what will the New World look like and what might it be like for each of us ?
When this is all over
Lord, when this is over, may we never again take for granted:
The handshake with a stranger,
Full shelves at the store,
Conversations with neighbours,
A crowded theatre,
The taste of Communion,
A routine check up,
The school rush each morning,
Coffee with a friend,
The stadium roaring,
Each deep breath,
A boring Tuesday,
Lord when this ends may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were able to be, we hoped to be and may we stay this way – better for each other because of the worst.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO PLEAD TO THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR OURSELVES– BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY TO PRAY FOR THOSE IN THE POORER NATIONS. OUR OWN HEALING IS DEPENDENT ON JUSTICE AND THE SUPORT EXTENDED TO THESE NATIONS.