Ask just about anyone how they are and as likely as not they will say they are busy. This is true of those who have ‘retired’ from paid work just as much as those who are in the thick of it. I was recently party to a conversation among vicars and the key theme of the dialogue was how busy they are. This is particularly true as in both church and society we are engaged in the necessary, but seemingly endless, stream of policy changes along with their resultant ‘action plans’. Planning and progress are important and we need to think and work for a better future.
But how many of us make space in our busy lives to plan for our eternal future? Busyness can be a mask for the pain of facing up to ourselves and the first order questions of life and death. It is true that God can be found in the cut and thrust of life because he is living and active, but as all religions agree, God is most often found in prayer, silence, stillness, solitude and rest. In psalm 46 God says ‘be still and know that I am God’. The primary requirement to know God and his presence is to just be still. It’s that simple, but it’s not easy. Making space for God requires planning and discipline. It takes time to still our busy minds. It takes time to let go of our over scheduled lives. It’s not without reason that this process is called ‘waiting on’ God. It sounds easy but like anything worth doing it requires practice and some instruction.
The catechism asks the question, ‘what is the chief end of man?’ The answer it supplies is ‘to know God and to enjoy him for ever’. Knowing God and enjoying God begins by us making space for him in and among the busyness and rush of life. Paradoxically, a good place to learn to explore creating space for God in your life is not on your own but with others who are seeking the same thing. This church has a deep heritage in contemplative prayer and an experiential knowledge of God. If you would like some signposts about how to develop stillness through engagement with God for yourself, then a good place to start is here in the Church. The 8 am Holy Communion service is designed for this very purpose of quiet contemplation in the presence of God. You are most welcome to come and see for yourself.
Rev Dr Christopher Noble
Rector – St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo