Well, this is new. We often think we like new things but really, very often, we find new things unsettling and disturbing. Ask any new vicar coming into a parish where the previous bloke’s been around for 12 years!
I wonder how often Jesus had spent weeks in the desert as he’s been doing through these last few weeks in Lent? How new an experience was it for him to spend day after day cut off from everyone he loved and was close to? As far as the gospel stories are concerned, it was a one off event, this period of preparation for his ministry, out on his own, with not enough to eat, with no friends to visit him, with no gatherings of family or neighbours to cheer his spirit. This is Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Life stops. It’s just him. It’s just him…..and God.
How is your time in this virus filled wilderness? As always, I hope you will feel yourself assured of one another’s prayers. Other than knocking out emails and having a go at the technology of distance vicar-ing, prayer is just about all that’s left of my ministry, of all our ministries.
But actually, even though we wouldn’t have chosen this, there is good to come from this as well as all the obvious bad. God has not, of course sent this virus to test, or punish us or any such rubbish – what a heresy that idea is – but here is an opportunity for us to be truly Lenten. We have no choice, most of us, to stop, be still, stay where we are. Where we are might feel like a real wilderness but, like any desert, it is not without life.
If prayer is all we have, what a gift! If our days are filled with unusual quiet, what a treat. If there is more space for listening to music, reading, knitting, cake making, weeding, sending each other messages, what flowers in the desert are these.
I do not, in ‘normal’ life pray enough. I do not, when there are things to do, listen for God enough, I do not when there is a list to be got through, sit still often enough. Now I have no choice. Perhaps these coming days will be a real chance for us to practice the presence of God; by which I mean realise that God is with us (he must be Richard says he is!) and practice the process of recognising the fact, in the light, in the stillness, in the birdsong, in the memory, in the Wagner overture (or whatever), in the love you feel for your children.
There’s no doubt this week that we’re in the wilderness with Christ but God is as with us as she was with Jesus. See you (as it were) next week.
Lots of love and go steady with that loo roll…..