The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week during the time that we are closed. Even though we cannot currently join together for our usual Friday lunchtime Communion service in the chapel, we hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s reflection is from the Revd David Weeks, a retired Methodist minister who lives in Bristol.
John 4. 27-42
We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world (v. 27)
The most important thing I’ve re-learned in the lockdown: the importance of spiritual self-reliance. It’s too easy to become over-dependent on external props and inputs in the life of faith. Before the lockdown we went to special buildings and shared in public services week by week; we listened to accredited preachers giving ‘authentic’ interpretations of the faith. That’s all gone. Many have turned to Zoom, Facebook or TV services to fill the gap – a shadow of the real thing.
The key to spiritual growth is not to keep on needing inputs all the time. We need more self-reliance. Like the Samaritan villagers: ‘We no longer rely on someone’s testimony; we have heard Jesus for ourselves and we know he is the Saviour of the world’.
How does this come about? Short, dedicated times of silence built into everyday life – to read a brief passage of scripture and to think it through; to draw out of our memory a verse of a hymn or a classic prayer that crystallises our faith; and to recall someone who lived the Christian life compellingly. Above all, to allow our reflections and memories, interwoven with the stresses and worries of everyday life, to come to a focus before Jesus. He ‘did the will of God’ (i.e. gave of himself to everyone he met, to nourish their life and wellbeing) and he ‘completed his work’ (paid whatever it cost – his very life – to stay consistently loving in the face of his enemies). [John 4.34.]
Self-reliance in prayer and reflection will strengthen us to serve our neighbours in need. And it will help us to bring new depth to church services whenever they resume. The balance will be better. Less dependent on ‘inputs’ from others; more to share of what we have learned and heard for ourselves in the life of private prayer.
Holy Spirit, sow in my heart the seeds of your grace and bring forth in me a harvest of love and joy and peace. Amen