Tag Archives: quiet

Spirituality

Chapter 9 of Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ book, Total Church, talks about Biblical spirituality. They claim, rightly, that spirituality is word-based, and focussed on the person of Jesus.

“Union with Christ is not the goal of spirituality, it is the foundation on spirituality. It is not attained through disciplines or stages; it is given through childlike faith”

This, I agree with. As Christian’s we are not trying to be spritual in order to get to God, this path has been opened up to us through Jesus. Spirituality can therefore be seen as an engagement with the world rather than a detatchment from it. Timmis and Chester give an excellent example of a young Christian trying to do this, by remaining integrated with non-Christian friends and groups.

This is true, but at the same time, Chester an Timmis seem to see spending time in solitude and silence as and irrelevant part of spirituality. I certainly agree that it is not the entirety of spirituality, and it is also not a means by which to get to God, but surely by clearing our schedules and setting aside time, it enables us to focus our minds on God. I am also not suggesting that this quiet should be divorced from scripture, or that we go in search of an inner spiritual identity. Likewise, God will give us an extra revelation of himself to sit over and above scripture. But we do not have to choose between solitude and scripture.

But, the time to meditate on God’s words in the Bible, to clear our minds or preoccupations so that we can get to the heart of some issues and in short, engage with God. We clear our schedules so we can hear his voice speaking through scripture and through others. This is part of a biblical picture of spirituality. Didn’t God speak to Elijah through the stillness? Didn’t Jesus retreat away from the crowds on his own?

In this chapter, Chester and Timmis say a lot of good things, but I think they have missed a trick by dismissing stillness and solitude so easily.

Quiet

I’ve just had a lovely 3 day retreat in the tranquil surroundings of buckfast abbey. The quiet was wonderful as I was able to get away from the pressures of a busy church and relax, read, pray, and enjoy the good weather, home cooked food, and beautiful surroundings.

In a chapel at the back of the abbey is a quiet space with the most amazing stained glass window – probably my favourite anywhere. It was put in by a monk who learned how to be a glass worker. But the reason I like it is the image of Jesus that it portrays – Jesus stading over the communion table as the giver and centre of the eucharistic family meal.

This window is directly behind the actual communion table in the chapel, so it looks like Jesus is the presider. You cannot even sit in that chapel without realising that it is he who breaks the bread and shares the wine and distribute it to us. I spent a qhile just sitting and meditating on the gift of God in Jesus. He is, after all, Emanuel – God With Us.