A NOTE FROM MARION THOMAS
I thank God that we live in ecumenical times. The prospect of further union at a denominational level may be fading, but Christians share with each other in all sorts of ways that enrich us all. This is particularly true in the area of spirituality. Historically our tradition has tended to be “wordy”, and to avoid the use of the visual in worship, and in many ways we have been the poorer for it. I rejoice that it is now quite common to find a candle or an appropriate image used as a focus for prayer. And on Quiet Days and Retreats people are finding how liberating it can be to do something creative as they spend time with God. This is all very good, and I want to encourage you to use all your senses and abilities in your journey of prayer.
But there is always more…. The more ancient Christian traditions found many ways of enabling ordinary people to engage in worship, not only by the use of beautiful imagery in Church but also by encouraging them to take time apart to journey more literally along the way of faith. Last year we had an afternoon in the Synod on using a labyrinth as an aid to prayer - a circular design marked out on the ground with a pathway that takes the pray-er to the centre and back out again with pauses for reflection along the way. It has been suggested that they were used as a substitute by those who would have liked to go on pilgrimage but were unable to get away.
Pilgrimage to a holy site was a huge undertaking at a time when transport was both difficult and dangerous. Now things are much easier, and there has been a rediscovery of the value of undertaking a journey with the aim of deepening our relationship with God. You may have heard about the major initiative “Walking the Way” being launched by the URC next year with the aim of encouraging us all to deepen our discipleship. As part of this Synod’s response we are hoping to hold a pilgrimage event next summer when we literally walk the way of prayer at a venue suitable for all abilities. There will be planned walks of differing lengths, including stops for prayer and reflection, ending up at a central point for a picnic and worship together. Come to as much or as little as you are able, but please come to share in our Synod pilgrimage of faith together. Watch this space for more details….
And in the meantime, I pray for God’s blessing on you as you seek to love and serve Him in your life day by day.
Synod Silence and Retreats Co-ordinator
click images to read pdf files