Trinity is a joint URC / Methodist church. It is an active member of the Church in Abingdon – a thriving ecumenical project.
As I write, I am looking forward to a short break beside the sea. It is something that I really feel the need to be beside at least once a year; maybe because I need to check it is still there; or maybe it has more to do with having vivid and happy memories of times spent on beaches, or perhaps it is just because I am in need of a rest and I find being beside lapping water as restful? I suspect the latter!
Society today, on the whole, is not very good at resting. There always seems to be a need to press on, to not waste precious time and to pack too much into a single day, but for us as Christians, rest is part of our theology rooted in the Old Testament scripture firstly in Genesis, and later, exemplified in the life of Jesus, as he encourages his disciples to “come away to a quiet place.”
Ann Lewin, whose work I have been reading, meditates on the first day of rest. She writes: “Thus heavens and earth were finished, and were good. But in the middle of the night, God woke. ‘It might be burdensome,’ he thought. ‘to give dominion over all created things to earthling folk: lest they should take themselves too seriously, I’ll give them music and a sense of fun, to lighten duty and enliven praise.’ So in wise mercy did Creator God rest, all the seventh day, well content.”
If you turn to the book of Psalms, some bible translations have the word “Selah” at the end of some of the lines, which is thought to be an indication to pause in preparation for the next verse. The Amplified Bible interprets it as “pause, and calmly think of that.”
These past two years the Methodist Diaconal Order has been conferring and has now altered the rule of life by which we are called to live, and rest and relaxation and the setting of days apart to be with God, remain firmly within it. In many Monastic traditions, and in some church traditions too, there is a practice of saying the Daily Office, a time when the community stops what it is doing, so that they may reorientate themselves towards God in prayer.
Within that rhythm is the practice of “statio” which is the commitment to stop one thing and pause, before beginning another, to rest in the moment in order to allow the soul to “catch up with itself,” much as we do when we prepare ourselves for worship. Whilst a frenetic society might regard such times as wasted moments and an inconvenience, Celtic monks saw these pauses as sacred thresholds and moments of possibility. I have been trying to put this into practice, so that I might leave what I have just completed in thankfulness, and to be better prepared and more fully focussed on and committed to, the next “task” whatever that might be.
My prayer for you all, is that whether or not you take a break away from home, that you will be able to find some “statio” moments where you can rest in thankfulness and just “be.”
With love and blessings to you all.