Tuesday, 12 February 2013
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
Getting to know someone, and getting to know them really well, takes time. Lent gives us that opportunity to get to know God and to get to know ourselves too. One of the most useful pieces of advice I was given as a married man training for the ministry was to be sure to take time out every week to spend with my wife so that our time together could ensure that we stayed connected and that our relationship didn't suffer as a result of the busyness of Parish life. That advice applies to every Christian and their God too.
The following article makes a plea to try and keep Lent in the way it was always meant to be kept, as an opportunity to stop doing the usual things and to spend more time with God:
"Chocolate and coffee are typical sacrifices during the period of Lent but one clergyman is challenging people to give up being busy. The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Cherry is encouraging people to push their schedules to one side, even if it's just for half an hour, and discover the simple joy of doing nothing.
In breaking the relentless rush and activity, Dr Cherry believes the daily quiet time will help people to review their priorities and become more spiritually alert.
“This is a way of taking Jesus message that ‘time is made for people not people for time’, right out into the marketplace, the workplace, the home and the shopping centre," he said. "In all these places people have allowed themselves to get caught in a process of seemingly endless acceleration. People feel stressed and out of control. They find that the faster they run the faster life seems to pass them by.
“Lent is an excellent time to do this. The season of forty days and forty nights reminds Christian people of the time Jesus went into the wilderness. "This was after his baptism but before the energetic time of his ministry of teaching and healing. But even at his busiest Jesus punctuated his time of activity and service with regular time to withdraw and recuperate.”
He believes that taking time out may even have a knock on positive effect on relationships, he believes, as people become more patient and generous with each other.
Dr Cherry, of Durham Cathedral, is author of the recently published Time Wisdom For Ministry, in which he gives clergy useful tips on how to avoid the burnout from busyness and better manage the demands placed on them. When Lent gets under way on Ash Wednesday - 13 February 13 - he hopes people will make a small change to get through the day without becoming a victim to the busyness syndrome.
"The idea of actively trying to give up busyness in Lent struck me as a really good one," he said. "Time is so much more important than chocolate. Many people today talk of experiencing ‘time poverty’ when the reality is that there is plenty of time, we have just not learnt how to live will with its limits.”
A special website - www.notbusy.co.uk - has been set up to support those ready to give the challenge a go.
Dr Cherry will be publishing a very short ebook, Beyond Busyness: Time Wisdom in an Hour, with useful time management advice.
Dr Cherry adds: “Many people today who find it impossible to connect with organised religion are finding that spirituality is attractive, helpful and transformative. By giving up busyness, people are taking a step from the observance of religious ritual or duty – giving up chocolate or whatever - and going for a real spiritual challenge.”