The Second Sunday of Advent
9th December 2023
I write having just dropped Joseph at the gym. It's chest and triceps today, part of a routine which serves to remind me of my own lack of fitness and tone. I don't remember ever having been to a gym (voluntarily), and although I used to be a regular at the swimming baths, for years now exercise has been limited to brisk walks, chopping wood and mowing grass. Perhaps it's time to make a change, mindful, as I suspect we all are these days, of the complex relationship between body, mind and spirit. None exists in isolation, and wellbeing in one area is limited without appropriate attention to the others.
This is Advent, a busy time of year; your busy time Rector, as people often say, usually with very little idea of what clergy life actually entails. And yes it is busy, but for all of us, busy is a word easily used but little understood. Are we fully engaged in activities essential to our own wellbeing and that of those around us, or are we trapped in routines dominated by activities of little overall worth? As the years go by, I'm too busy suggests to me distraction, inattention to the things that really matter. When the to-do list is long to the extent that it becomes impossible even to prioritise, anxiety presses us to pile-in, work manically and just hope for the best. But ultimately that doesn't benefit us or indeed anyone. There is however a spiritual tradition, exemplified by biblical figures and saints, of responding to increasing pressures from the world by spending more time in prayerful reflection. This may seem perverse, an approach that can only make things worse. But, it's tried and tested and it works. The greater the pressure, the more important it is to be centred in that peace which passes all understanding, and being so centred, the pressures of the world are seen in a rather different perspective.
As I write, physician heal thyself are the words that come to mind. But of course we cannot heal ourselves. We can however make a first step in cooperating with the grace of God. So I invite you to join with me this Advent in taking time each day to spend in quiet and prayerful reflection remembering that I'm too busy is no excuse.
May Christ's peace be with you,
The Pew Sheet with psalms and readings for Daily Prayer is attached as is also an Order for Daily Prayer during Advent. Time for reflection on thanksgiving could be incorporated into this. If you would like to catch up on wider news and look at Advent resources the weekly diocesan publication The Grapevine can be found at www.salisbury.anglican.org/publications.
Date for your dairies - on Saturday 13th January there will be a Vision Day at St. Mark's which will take the form of a drop in coffee morning (10.30-12.30). More details to follow but start thinking about what makes the church in West Parley special to you, why you worship here and what you think we have to offer that is distinctive and valuable.
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