Keeping in Touch 38: A Little Wilderness

Dear Friends,

We are fast coming round to two anniversaries. One is the anniversary of the first National Lockdown, the other is the anniversary of the first of these weekly ramblings, thoughts and reflections from me. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement, I will keep writing!

In one of my earliest messages, I borrowed some words from a friend about prayer, which are worth repeating at the start of Lent: Little and often is a good way to approach prayer, rather than saving it up for one “big” pray on a Sunday or in times of crisis!  By building up a pattern of regular prayer we are more able to weather the storms and tests of life.

Lent is a really good time to have a look at our patterns of prayer and reflection, of rest and recreation. It isn’t all about giving things up (a rescue mission for a wavering New Year’s resolution?!) but about giving yourself space for a spiritual MOT. That’s the point of the imagery of going into the desert with Jesus. It’s not about starving ourselves, or depriving ourselves in an effort to be better. It’s an image of detachment, of space, of big horizons, of being alone in the wilderness with Jesus – and that being a refreshing, life-giving, restorative thing, not a punishment. In the desert Jesus gets clarity about his mission (symbolised by the temptations he faces) and in the desert we can reconnect with him and with our calling to be his disciples.

So, this Lent I wonder if you can make some little wilderness spaces in your week, between the “big” pray on a Sunday. Can you find a little time to be restored and refreshed in the presence of Jesus? It might be that you can use the #LiveLent booklet to help you do this, or you can download the app. There are prayer resources on our website too which you might find useful. If you would like some help thinking about this, please let me know. And of course, we have the Churches Together Lent course (not too late to sign up!) and Celtic Evening Prayer from next week.

For myself, I am finding that I am missing the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer, which has been an important part of my spiritual life. My favourite service growing up was Choral Evensong from the Prayer Book, and the service I enjoyed most when I was a ‘Root’ at St Albans Cathedral was the Choral Eucharist – not Prayer Book, but with the same traditional language. To reconnect with that, I’m going to say Compline in traditional language at 9.30pm Tuesday – Friday in Lent and you are welcome to join me via Facebook. You can find the order of service here.

Compline (from the Latin Completorium, ‘completion’) lasts between 5 and 10 minutes and gives a reflective close to the day. The words will be much the same every time, but I think that is a helpful thing – a rhythm to be held in, a space to hold open for Christ, a little bit of time in the restorative wilderness to help us weather the season we find ourselves in, and to grow as God’s people.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 18th February 2021