Sunday, 23 September 2012

Back to basics

Mark 12: 28-31

'One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ '

Isn't it a bit inflexible to command that someone love you?
Or is Jesus saying 'You shall love the Lord your God...' as in: 'this is a promise'?
Hopefully with a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone, we will love God; love is the fruit of the Spirit, the first listed in Galatians 5: 'For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.'

We began looking at the 'fruits of the Spirit' at our All Age service today; one fruit each fortnight should keep us going till next year...
Far from being an inflexible command, love of God is the life spring of everything we do as Christians.
But the well occasionally runs dry (more than occasionally sometimes).
I have been wanting to 'up the anti' recently in my prayer life; something to do with a challenge presented to me on retreat - to spend some time in the middle of the day in contemplation, as well as the usual morning prayer (in which I rush through the daily readings before getting up...)
This would be 'extra'; agenda-less; unhurried; focussed entirely on drawing near to Christ.
How would I do this? Where would I start?
Well, I have a 'prayer corner'; the Russians called it a 'poustinia', a special place where contemplation (attempts) to take place.
It's a small chair in the study so I have to be careful to keep thoughts of computers, emails and admin out of my head in order just to contemplate.
The comfort of the chair helps; a candle, a cross, any visual or tactile aid helps to focus on God.

I was encouraged in it all this week by an amazing story of healing (honestly, I don't often major on these; this one however is completely authentic and happened to someone I know).

The special place where the healing took place was a retreat centre in Wales where loving the presence of God is sometimes so strong that people cannot move from the place where they're standing or sitting. To be reminded of this loving powerful presence pervading the world is to be encouraged to keep on entering into the still centre. You can read about the retreat centre in the book by Roy Godwin.

But we don't need to be in a charismatic/contemplative/Celtic retreat centre to experience the well of God's love never running dry. A small corner of a study will do...Come down O Love Divine...

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