Saturday, March 07, 2015

Into the Wilderness - revisited part 1

I'm fast becoming the most absent blogger of all time - but a while ago I promised to write about the Lenten prayer stations we offered at "Later" - the Cathedral's Sunday evening informal service...
None of the material was new - I first produced "Into the wilderness" for the youth groups of St Mary's Charlton Kings 10 years ago now - but as always local environment and the particular needs of the regular congregation impacted on how I presented the stations - not least because prayer stations at all are relatively unfamiliar for this group, who have been used to a regular "praise sandwich".

So - I began by offering a gentle introduction to Lent itself (many of this group are new to church - or come for a bit of refreshment from churches which sit very lightly to the liturgical calendar)...It felt odd to be explaining alternative worship - but with a group of non readers present, I couldn't simply let the stations speak for themselves. I introduced the wilderness with the Godly Play script about the desert, shaping, smoothing, reshaping the sand in my big bowl as I did so.

Welcome to Lent....the 40 days that lead the Church to Easter...time to remember Jesus's own experience in the desert before he began his ministry...time to think about the temptations that he faced, and those we are facing ourselves.

A time of preparation for the solemn journey of Holy Week and the Easter joy to come...

There's far more to Lent than giving up chocolate – indeed, the good news is that there is no rule ANYWHERE that states that this is what you should do – but Lent is a good time for stock taking, for having a good hard look at what's going on inside you and asking God to help you change the things you don't like.

It's also a good time for decluttering your life, for helping you remember what's really important and what might just be a waste of the precious gift of time that God has given you, a time to rethink priorities.

A kind of spring cleaning time for your soul – and of course spring-cleaning happens in spring – when new life suddenly emerges in places that looked dead and hopeless.
Even the wilderness.
Even your soul.
So Lent is a time to celebrate – not sombre and solemn and unhappy but quietly joyful, carrying the expectation that with Easter the world will be transformed and we will be transformed with it..

So many reasons to bother with Lent!
We do it because we know we need it..
We do it because even Jesus, who surely hadn't any overdue spring-cleaning whatsoever, did it
And as we do it, we can learn more about ourselves and more about the God of love who meets us in whatever wilderness we may find ourselves – and meeting us, brings us hope

So – there are several stations designed to help you with this process of thinking about yourself, of clearing out the rubbish, getting back on track and being loved and cherished by God.

Take your time to explore – there's no right or wrong order, though you may feel that the bread which represents refreshment in the wilderness is a treat to take just before the end.

As always, if none of the stations work for you, then just spend the time resting in God's presence.
A wilderness is a place with few distractions – a bit like an empty hour in a quiet Cathedral.

Let God meet you here.

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