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Greetings

Dear Friends,

During these three months we will be continuing our journey through Lent and then celebrating Easter and much beyond! From May, my journey will take me out of Circuit Life as I begin my Sabbatical for three months. As part of this I will be going on a retreat at St Beunos in North Wales. I will be leaving the regular world of noise and conversation and busyness and entering a week of guided silence and prayer. To some this might sound like luxury. To others a total nightmare!

As we all go through this time, whatever we are doing, we might want to question the meaning in the hymn “Rock of Ages’. As I work out who I am before God, surely I have something to give? And how healthy is it to think of myself or anybody as foul?!

Even as we place ourselves more fully into God’s hands doesn’t he work through the gifts and graces which he has lavished on us in the first place? As we seek the confidence to share our faith as the people of this Circuit through “Everyone an Evangelist”, isn’t there something of God working through our characters that helps us to connect with others?

Some years ago there was a brilliant BBC series called “The Monastery” which involved a deep kind of renunciation for five people from very different backgrounds. All of them felt in some way a lack of depth, direction and purpose in their lives. Their shared hope was that their time in the monastery might help. So they entered the unusual rhythm of prayer, silence and work of each monastic day. They were even asked to give up their mobile phones. How hard was that?! All but one agreed.

As the programme unfolded, the inner journeys which they undertook struck a real chord with many people watching on. Our lives revolving around constant communication and information technology have led many of us to be increasingly busy and stressful. Our lives have become often out of kilter. The participants on The Monastery discovered a sense of real freedom and the viewers really got it.

Even the Church is not immune from the worst distractions of the world. We have a tendency to over activity and the need to be successful and relevant. We aren’t so good at modelling the view of life which Jesus lived out. He showed us radically different values that help us towards a more authentic way of being in the world.

So we all have a need for space – healing, renewing, revitalising space – in which our spirits can be fed and that is not so quenched by the noisy demands of so much of modern life. As we share faith with others this might just be something so counter cultural that it becomes really appealing.

“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy Cross I cling.” Perhaps there is a deep wisdom in these words after all. In learning a new and deep dependence on God we can find real freedom. We can open our eyes and seek out God everywhere and learn to renounce those false idols which we attempt to put in his place and which lead us off down so many blind alleys.

So, in our House and Church Groups and on our own at home, Lent is an invitation to live life differently. To focus on what is most important to us before God and to share that with others!

“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8: 35)

Every blessing

Nick

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