Throughout Lent, our Sunday services have begun with the following liturgy:
Merciful God, give us courage to follow Jesus,
By your Spirit make us brave to love. Make us brave to love.
Merciful God, we gather this Lent intent to follow Jesus to Jerusalem.
May your Spirit give us courage to name and to engage the principalities and powers.
Merciful God, we gather this Lent to follow you through the wilderness of silence, stillness
May your Spirit give us courage to name and to engage our own inner demons that surface in the silence, seek our attention in the stillness and keep us company in the solitude.
These words of call remind us that we are always on two journeys at the same time. The journey inward and the journey outward. They cannot be separated. Just as one cannot separate breathing in from breathing out without denying breath and dying. No one asks the question: which is more important – breathing in or breathing out? Because we all know the answer: both!
The oneness of these two journeys is a recognition that we are part of the whole and the whole is part of us. To change ourselves is to change the whole and changing the whole changes ourselves. I mention this to remind us that our journey into stillness, silence and solitude is not an escape or denial of the world we live in, but rather a specific place from which to engage the world. Repeatedly surrendering to the practice of silence, stillness and solitude gradually gifts us with a new knowing – a different knowing of ourselves and world. This is certainly the testimony of people of all contemplative traditions throughout the ages.
What makes this surrendering so difficult when on the surface it is so simple (I mean who can’t be quiet and still and alone?) is that when we are quiet, still and alone we are visited by a legion of “voices” demanding our immediate attention. What we thought would be a peaceful affair turns out to be a war. But here is the thing – if we are attentive to this war within us, over time we may be less tempted to go to war outside of us. With a deeper knowing of who we are we may confess: “We have met the enemy and they are us”.
Contemplatives within the Christian tradition – those who hangout in monasteries, etc. – all have one thing in common: they read, sing or chant the Psalms on a daily basis. Some go through the entire psalter each week while others do so each month. The Psalms honour the legions of voices within us. The Psalms voice every possible voice imaginable – the embarrassing, judgemental, murderous, othering, shameful, greedy, proud voices, etc. all get to speak. By going through the Psalter, we are invited to own each voice. In owning these voices without denying them, they paradoxically lose their power and influence within us.
On Wednesday 17th March at 20h00 we will continue our Lenten journey of silence, stillness and solitude by reflecting on a number of psalms. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link if you do not receive in via WhatsApp.
We hope to be opening up for in-person Sunday Services on Palm Sunday (28th March) and for Holy Week services. I will share more details with you about this on Sunday during the service. We will be limited to 75 people within the Sanctuary. But as I say – more details will follow. If you would like to be part of a smaller “trial run” on Sunday 21st March, please email email@example.com.
As we try and navigate this change – I hope you will be patient with us. It is inevitable that when we are trying to connect with people online and people in the sanctuary that both groups may feel short changed. We are open to any suggestions you may have in this regard and we are certainly open to any help you can offer.