January 2019: Thought For The Month
Challenge for 2019: regular reflection!
When was the last time you allowed yourself time to sit down, for a whole hour, and really think about what’s important in life? Not the everyday, but the really big questions?
(Maybe you have been able to do this over the festive season, through spending time with relatives, or by attending a Christmas carol service or concert?).
At the turning of the year, after all the chaos (good or not!) of Christmas, it is perhaps a good time to reflect, and I would like to challenge you to think about doing that at your local place of worship sometime in 2019. This could be on a Sunday or during the week - you could come to a service, or perhaps just drop in when the church is open and empty, for some quiet time.
I am one of those people who seem to rush around all the time, more than I would like - I work full time and have a family, both of which I am so lucky to have, but which keep me extremely busy. I know that if I didn’t have that one hour a week on a Sunday then I would never manage to stop and meaningfully consider my life – what’s going well, and what I need to change.
I have been going to Staple Hill Methodist Church (the one in the High Street) since moving to Bristol a few years ago. I and my family have always felt warmly welcomed, and the church itself is a beautiful space in which to contemplate. In a typical Sunday service I personally find it very beneficial to sit down, close my eyes during the prayers (luxury!), enjoy the music, listen to the words of wisdom from Bible readings and the person leading the service, but also let my thoughts wander a little bit on to good things I could do to make a difference to others.
Our worship is in the Methodist style; we sit in pews, and have hymns, traditional and modern, with our wonderful organ. The main focus is the address, from a variety of interesting preachers, who often counter what is happening in the news today, with pointers from the non-judgmental and loving way in which Jesus led his life. In prayers we are invited to think of others who need help, and to say sorry in silence to God for anything we have done wrong. (My list invariably includes ways in which I have fallen short as a parent!).
With this calm and structured hour, where I am free from domestic distractions, I always come away feeling “spiritually refreshed” and keen to try again. (What I don’t have, or want, is all the answers – in fact more questions are raised – but it’s really healthy to keep asking them!)
Life is rarely straightforward, and the Church, and centres of other faiths, have always been there to support the community in whatever struggles people find themselves faced with. There are several churches of differing styles in our community, but we are all here to do the same thing, which is to welcome everyone, and afford them the same equal treatment as Jesus, unusually for his time, advocated.
So for 2019, why not make time in your schedule very soon, to reflect, and pop along to your local place of worship. You will be made very welcome.