Soul Training

Now that we are a good few weeks into Lent, I wonder how you are progressing with the spiritual formation exercises in the book we are reading together (‘The Good and Beautiful God’ by James Bryan Smith)? I know for some of us (perhaps many of us) the task of reading a chapter a week will be a challenge in itself. And yet the principle that nothing is achieved without hard work and effort is true for spiritual formation as much as for any other area of our lives.

Chapter 1 invited us to enter into the discipline of sleep and try to find an opportunity to sleep ‘until you cannot sleep any more’ (explains why Sunday attendance was so low the other week!). For those with small children this will seem like an elusive dream, but perhaps parents or grandparents can support one another to facilitate at least one long lie-in and thereby enter into this discipline?


Chapter 2 encouraged us to enter into silence and an appreciation of creation. ‘Our world is noisy and hurried, and few of us stop to be still. The God who is good can only reach us when we are quiet’ – ‘Be still and know that I am God’ psalm 46:10. He suggests we look for little spaces in our day, such as a break between activities in order to enter into stillness. If you drive to work, choose to have silence in the car (avoid the temptation to play music or listen to the radio) and spend the time inviting the Lord to speak to you. Embrace the silence, enjoy it and savour it.


Last Sunday (Chapter 8) we were invited into solitude, spending time apart from other people, choosing to be alone with ourselves and with God. I find walking the dog a good time to do this. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one or just go for a walk and intentionally welcome Jesus to walk with you.  All these soul training exercises are intended to grow in us a deeper walk with Christ, a deeper awareness of his presence and foster within us a delight in him.

Making space to invest in our spiritual life in this way is perhaps the most important investment we can make as it has eternal consequences. The important thing is not to try and do too much but do what you can, when you can and not to feel guilty about what you can’t do.

Looking Ahead to March

As we enter into a new month there is much for us to be praying about:

·        12 children will be away on a residential weekend this weekend with Lucy and her leaders.

·        16thMarch the teenagers will be away on their residential weekend with Sam and the youth leaders.

Both these weekends away are key occasions for the growing of friendships and growth in faith for our children and young people. Please pray for their protection, good health, good fun and a growing and deepening walk with Jesus.


Prayer Gathering- On Wednesday 14thMarch 7.30pm we have our quarterly church family prayer gathering. This is the place of power in which we listen and engage with the Lord in intercession. There will be no evening Life groups that week – we will all be together to pray so do make it a date and come along.


Palm Sunday visit of Bishop Rachel- This will be the first visit of Bishop Rachel to a Sunday morning service, so a significant occasion for us as we welcome our Diocesan Bishop to our church family. To celebrate the occasion and the commitment of those who have been Baptised/Confirmed, we are planning a lunch after the service. Bishop Rachel will then be walking to Ashchurch as the final ‘leg’ of her pilgrimage for Lent around the Diocese and delivering a short message at St Nicholas’ Church. Everyone is invited to walk with her and share in the short service.


Maundy Thursday – As usual we will have a Maundy Thursday Taize service with Holy Communion at 7.30pm; always a very poignant and reflective start to the journey towards the cross.


Good Friday – This follows our normal pattern of a Family Service at 10 am followed by the procession of witness through the town to the east end of the Abbey and the open air service. In the afternoon we walk up Bredon Hill and gather with 200 other folk from churches around the hill for the short service at the top.


Easter Day begins with the sunrise service (6.30am this year) on Bredon hill, leaving from Charles and Lesley Archers farm in Ashton under Hill for the tractor ride up (further details to follow). Our regular morning Easter Day celebration for all the family will begin at the normal time of 10 am. So lots to look forward to in March!