St Martins Church Ashton Upon Mersey

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Dear friends,

 

This year Easter falls quite late, on 21st April, (the latest Easter can fall is April 25th) which means the season of Lent doesn’t begin until 6th March (Ash Wednesday). The members of the Parochial Church Council were asked at their last meeting to consider whether this year, early in Lent, we might hold a Quiet Day. It’s something I’ve been hoping to do for a couple of years now, ideally in Lent or Advent. After some discussion it was agreed that we should hold this in the Church Hall rather than book another venue.

 

Usually a Quiet Day involves travelling to somewhere else and this part of the day can be important in itself as it marks a distinct ‘moving away’ from our normal life and where we live it out to another, different, place. However. it’s not essential that this happens and the PCC felt that as many people might not have experienced a quiet day before it might be better this time to hold an unfamiliar ‘event’ in a familiar place which could assist in ‘easing’ the way into the day/experience for those who attend.

 

A Quiet Day is simply an opportunity to spend some time with God away from the usual busyness and pressure of life. There will be some opening and closing worship and a couple of addresses (usually on a theme set for the day) which might give those participating something to consider and reflect upon. Of course, some people will also have their own thoughts they might want to ponder, or use the quiet time between addresses and worship to pray, read their Bible or another spiritual book, spend some time outside (if the weather is clement), write poetry, do some ‘holy’ knitting or drawing (ie some craft activity they are good at but in a very conscious way before the presence of God (not necessarily drawing or knitting holy items!).

 

Jesus regularly tried to find time in his life to spend periods in quiet contemplation and prayer (although we read in the Gospels that his efforts to do this were sometimes interrupted by other people seeking him out!). He knew that it was vital to spend time with his Heavenly Father in a very deliberate and conscious way as it was essential for a healthy growing relationship with his Father. This is true for us, too. A helpful analogy might be found in cleaning. We often run the vacuum cleaner around and do a bit of dusting and polishing. But every now and then we need to put in a bit more effort, moving heavier furniture, washing the curtains etc – having a good ‘spring clean’. Our relationship with God could be considered in the same way: we might attend worship regularly, pray and read our Bibles daily/weekly, but sometimes we need to stop and take stock in a more focussed way. A quiet day or a retreat can be our spiritual equivalent of a ‘spring clean’.

 

Retreats – especially silent ones – can sometimes feel much more daunting if we have had no experience of one before: a number of days trying to place ourselves very firmly before God and focus on him and little else. Many people find, when they do this, they also find themselves facing things about themselves, too, that normally we hide from or shrug off because we don’t want to deal with them or be challenged by them.

  

A quiet day is maybe a little less scary. Apart from not being as long a period of time, it usually doesn’t give as much chance for these difficult bits of ourselves to surface (although they might!). But it does give both us and God opportunity to connect in ways which our normal patterns of living and worshiping don’t always allow for.

 

We will be holding our Quiet Day in St Martin’s Community Hall on Saturday 9th March – the first Saturday in Lent – from 10.00am until 3.00pm. You’re invited to bring your own packed lunch – tea, coffee and squash will be available all day in the kitchen for those attending to help themselves. I will be conducting the day around the theme of ‘The Wilderness’ (the Gospel reading set for the following day is Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness). If you would like to attend, then please sign the list which will be in church - and if you have any questions about what to expect (or anything else about a quiet day) then don’t hesitate to ask me. I do encourage you all to think about coming along, though: our lives might be full and busy but sometimes we need to find the time just to stand outside of all this and know God’s loving gaze upon us in a new or different way.

 

With my prayers,

 
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The Methodist Covenant Prayer

 

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

 to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

 

"BE PREPARED"  Our Lord tells us that he will come again... but he doesn't say when!  For over 2000 years people have been waiting but it could be tomorrow!

 
 

  

St Martin's Church, Church Lane,  Ashton-upon-Mersey,  Sale,  Cheshire ,    M33 5QQ  

0161 976 4086 
0161 973 4204