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Letter for February/March 2013

posted 25 Apr 2013, 11:08 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne

Dear Friends,

Prayer - The Life - Blood of Our Faith

As you read this, we shall shortly be beginning the season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday is on 13th February, when those who receive ashes on their foreheads as a sign of penitence will hear these stark words:

'Remember that you are dust
and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin
and be faithful to Christ.'

This timely reminder helps us to see what is really important: aligning ourselves with Christ and his ways as we journey through life, to use the comparatively brief span that is our earthly life for good among those we live with, and to actively resist and turn our backs on anything that is contrary to this.  These are sobering thoughts, that some in societies like our own seem inclined to want to play down or to dismiss as just 'too miserable'!  Yet as Christians, we are called to a different way of being in the world, and for life to include a more serious and reflective side.  Each year, Lent allows us the opportunity to do this; and it is good to approach Lent in a positive spirit, as something that can be useful to us as disciples of Jesus.

Each year, we are encouraged to observe ' a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy word'  (from the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday).  And this year, and in the light of Bishop Bob's sessions on prayer held in Ballater last autumn, I thought that this Lent provided an appropriate time to look more closely at prayer as individuals and as members of Christian congregations.  Elsewhere in this [month's Tattler] you will find details of this year's Lent Course entitled Life Source.  This is made up of five sessions on differing aspects of prayer:

  • Prayer as Relationship
  • Prayer as Enjoying God
  • Prayer as Listening
  • Prayer as Honesty
  • Prayer as Care
The course will include a combination of Bible study, discussion, and a creative, hands-on exploration of five patterns of prayer drawn from our Christian heritage.  The overall aim of the course is "to discover a new-found joy and delight in prayer, to find that it really is our 'Life source' ... For Christ, and his followers, prayer is not an end in itself but the means to a greater end, namely, living in the reality of the presence of God," as the Introduction to the course puts it.  Here is an opportunity for us to pay more than lip service to a belief in the importance of prayer, but actually to learn more about what it might involve for us and how we might each develop our prayer life further.

My hope is to offer two opportunities to take part in this course for all who would like to, or alternatively people can buy a copy of the course book and read it privately.  So during the weeks of Lent the course will take place on:

Wednesday afternoons at 1.30 pm at the Rectory in Ballater and on Wednesday evenings at 7.30 pm in the annexe at Warren and Sue Burgess' home, Tanardale, Barclay Park, Aboyne.

My hope is that people will also learn some new things that they can incorporate into their prayer lives.  So, this Lent - and especially if you have not done so before - why not take the opportunity to come along to some or all of these sessions?

In thinking about prayer, I was very struck by this image offered by the Bishop of Oxford, Bishop John Pritchard:

'Maybe prayer is the hidden wiring of the human life
that connects us to the world wide web of the Spirit.'
(from 'How to Pray', p.xiv).

Together, let us seek to come to know what an amazing gift and source of spiritual joy, support, and fulfilment prayer can be, either as a discovery of this for the first time, or as the reinvigoration of something that has delighted us in the past - but may need a fresh injection of enthusiasm!

'Prayer is the soul's sincere desire
Uttered or unexpressed.
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.'
(James Montgomery (1771 - 1854))

A very holy, prayerful, and fulfilling Lent to you all.

James Curry