by Jade Zerk, Hope Baptist Church Minister
And while it may not feel hopeful, my prayer is that the light of Christmas continues. In eastern Orthodox churches Christmas has just begun, as they celebrate Christmas at the time the Magi reached Jesus with gifts. During Christmas at Hope, we stripped back the Nativity from the picture-perfect scene and looked at the raw and gritty world Christ entered.
The first Sunday in January we reflected on what we were thankful for from the last year and what are we hopeful for in the year to come, looking at Luke 2:21 -39. Simeon and the Prophetess Anne recognised the Christ, the Babe that we celebrate at Christmas is also the Christ. With this I posed the question… recognising that we make room for the babe at Christmas and that it is culturally acceptable to celebrate… do we recognise the Christ, the Messiah and make room for him in our lives?
That question leads us nicely into the theme for this edition, spiritual disciplines. As part of Ministerial Training, we have a weekly session called Spirituality. Previously Ministers would journey through Richard Fosters a Celebration of Discipline (a great book!), this year however we are journeying through Pilgrims Progress (another great book!) with very similar discussions around Spirituality. The reason the college changed the text is because if we are not careful spiritual disciplines become like new year’s resolutions, something we don’t fully embrace, another tick box exercise or something we try for a little while and fail.
Spiritual Disciplines are tools to help our Christian walk each day, it might be that you use different tools at different times but are you aware of all that is available. I love approaches like the prayer of Examen, Lectio Divina, Written and Creative Journaling, Walks in Nature as ways to keep my heart in check and to keep in tune with God. The word discipline is often used as a negative nowadays and so too are spiritual disciplines, but these are merely tools to aid us on the journey, spaces where we make Christ the focus.
Among a few of us at Hope there is an understanding that we hear the ‘whispers of God,’ when you are out and about and suddenly you become aware of God’s presence with you. Those encounters when you know you are in the right place at the right time, where you felt a gentle prompting, a whisper. ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21.
As we continue into this new year, may we each tune into to hear God’s whisper. May you continue in well-trodden spiritual disciplines with renewed enthusiasm, seek new disciplines or return to monastic traditions. If you have any questions about spiritual disciplines, engaging in or finding a new on, I am always happy to encourage and share resources.
Just remember, the Christ, the one who taught us how to live, needed time alone with the Father, if Christ needed it, so do we!
May you start each day with eyes upwards
and as you journey through the day,
May you see where heaven and earth meet.
May you not be afraid to be alone with God who knows your heart and mind,
May the silence speak,
and your soul find its worth,
As it does,
May you help others see their worth too
For Jesus himself said:
‘I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my father
I have made known to you.’