A balanced diet ..
Some of us are trying to budget our food so we go less often to the shops. Some are dependent on others to bring food, and some are struggling to find the money for food. There is a phrase going around – “same storm but different boats!” And putting something in a parish magazine is therefore difficult because we are all coping rather differently with the current storm.
But I wonder how we are doing with our spiritual diet. A classic Christian diet is made up of several basic foods – prayer, worship (including hymns, songs, praise), Holy Communion, the reading of the Bible, silent times for quiet reflection and fellowship (being together and being encouraged by our Christian family). I might add that we also have festivals, feasts when we particularly celebrate.
Some of these elements have been removed now for several weeks. We could not celebrate Easter or Ascension or Pentecost as we would have liked; we have not been able to receive Communion, nor to share fellowship; we can listen to hymns and songs but we would prefer to join in with them in church. We are rather restricted to our own prayer life, and to our Bible reading, but Anglicans are not always good at reading their Bible on their own – they tend to make do with a weekly serving on a Sunday!
So what have the last few weeks taught us spiritually? I hope we have found sustenance in prayer, I hope we have found sustenance in the Bible, however, we have “accessed” it, whether daily passages, using the psalms or the Sunday readings; stories like the story of Job, the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness or in exile can help us reflect on the current situation; I hope we have been able to “be still and know that God is God”. But we will have missed the fellowship and we will have missed Communion (and I hope we have really missed these as they are good for us!). This leaner diet I trust is sustaining us – a little bit like a longer Lenten fast and we will look forward with renewed appreciation to the joys of shared worship, fellowship, communion.
One other thing that many of us will have found hard is a regular diet. God has given us the seven day week and the occasional festivals to provide a weekly and annual rhythm. Many say that each day feels rather like the last; the marker points in our week, Sunday, Lunch Club, Coffee Morning as well as work or meetings or school or whatever, have rather gone.
As we move into what we call “ordinary time” after the festivals of Ascension and Pentecost and Trinity, I hope we can pay attention to our daily and weekly diet, we can eat sensibly and well, we can give to the Grub Tub or however to ensure others have food, we can offer to do shopping, but we can also look at our spiritual diet, which may be prayer, Bible and silence with some recorded hymns and services for a few more weeks at least.
Prayer and time with God and his Word is more than sufficient as a diet, though it may take a bit of getting used to. As with all diets there is a temptation to give up.
Pray God we are fed in the coming weeks, let us commit to prayer and make time for his Word. And let us look forward to being able to celebrate together. Ordinary time can be special when we know God is with us.
Revd Peter Reiss 22nd May 2020