Thursday, 20 October 2011

On Retreating

I am deeply indebted to the Retreat Movement for the way it has enhanced and deepened my own spiritual journey over these last twenty years.

Baptists can be a noisey people - and the formation of the Baptist Union Retreat Group (BURG) in 1988 brought something fresh to many of us - an opportunity to share, along with other Baptist friends, Quiet Days and Retreats where silence rather than worship songs became the norm.  If Baptists brought anything to 'the table' when it came to Quiet Prayer it has been our love of scripture. 

I joined BURG soon after its formation and have served on its Committee now for a number of years and currently have the privilege of being its Chair. 

A number of 'threads' have come together in my own mind on the theme of 'retreating' over recent weeks.

...Brian Howden, the Secretary of The Baptist Union Retreat Group, has written a brilliant article in our current Journal about his experience of leading, alongside a team of others, a week of Guided Prayer in a prison.  His article offers a wonderful insight into the way God can speak through Quiet Prayer in what, for us, may be the most unusual of contexts.

...The Yeovil team offering Accompanied Prayer spent last week at Hillfield Friary in Dorset offering Guided Prayer to over fifteen people - I'm told it was a demanding and thrilling week.




All Saints Pastoral Centre
   ...The Baptist Order - an embryonic group of Baptist Ministers came together last week at All Saints Pastoral Centre near St Albans for a Convocation.  At that gathering we committed ourselves to: praying a Daily Office, going on Retreat once a year, engaging with a Spiritual Director and meeting in regional Cell Groups four to six times a year.  Such an order - still in 'draft' format - were it to become established - would be in the stream of 'New Monastacism' which is proving to be a significant development in the world church.



So a lot is going on, quietly and sincerely - people wanting to stand before God not with a shopping list of requests but with an open heart - seeking the humility to listen in prayer before speaking.

And I suppose I'm retreating next week - to the New Forest for a family hoiliday!

With best wishes,

Ian

ps We had a wonderful Sunday Evening with The Redmans telling us about their Ugandan summer last week.  This week we have 'in house' preachers at both services - I'm grateful to them and I hope you will enjoy and be encouraged through their ministry.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Moments of Grace

Moments of grace – those times when there is a sensing of God’s presence among us – come at unexpected times.

Two such moments dawned on me during the service last Sunday.

The first was at the presentation of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. As members of the church family made their way up the aisle smiling and carrying a box it felt as if a wave of love and compassion was gently flowing through us.

The second moment came during the intercessions, led last Sunday by members of Junior Church. One of the youngsters stumbled over a word. He bravely battled on and eventually got it right, to be rewarded by a spontaneous round of applause by a grateful congregation. Clapping during prayers! Why not – we are meant to be a fellowship of encouragement and that’s exactly what was going on. I felt it was a touching moment.I do thank God for moments like these – especially in the context of worship. I think they gladden our hearts – and I dare to believe they make God smile too.

This weekend we look forward to the evening service and hearing from Chris, Roger and Joshua about their summer expedition with Mission Direct in Uganda.

With best wishes,

Ian

Who is up there?!

We were in Lisbon over half term and enjoyed glorious sunny days throughout our visit. The city has many squares, almost all with statue...