Tim Erridge Bleadon ChurchReflections - Rector's Letter

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

We continue our journey, with the Wise men, through the period of epiphany. The 17th of January we also remember Anthony of Egypt (251-356 AD). Anthony is known for his life of seclusion and is considered the father of monasticism. The way he led his life drew others to him to listen for the still small voice of God.

This week, journeying with both wise men and St Anthony, we delve deeply for the silence for which comes the ability to listen for the directions God is giving us.

We Pray together the prayer of St. Anthony of Egypt:

Dear God,

St. Anthony accepted your call to renounce the world and to love you above all things, by faith may we do likewise.

He faithfully served you in the solitude of the desert by fasting, prayer, humility and good works, by faith may we do likewise.

In the Sign of The Cross, he triumphed over the Devil, by faith may we do likewise.

Through his intercession, may we learn to love you better; with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strength and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Amen

Bible Reading:

1 Samuel 3:1-10

The Lord Calls Samuel

3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Thinking together:

What skills are needed to be a good listener?

I am slowly succeeding with driving my family mad with my word puns. The other day my wife said she’d stop me. I asked her how. She said “Any means necessary.” I said, “No, it doesn’t.”

Jokes aside, any relationship needs good communication. Eli recognised that God was speaking to Samuel, but Samuel needed to listen and then respond. Only by listening can we know how to respond.

Anthony of Egypt, knew that God would talk with him, if only he could find enough peace and solitude to listen. Sometimes we need to get rid of the distractions to listen better.

You don’t have to be a priest like Samuel or a hermit like Anthony, but you do have to listen. Filling our lives with all the drama, sights, sounds and activity that we think is so important drowns out the word of God in our lives.

Step 1: Take a time out. Set aside 5, 10 15 minutes of your day and give it to God. Make sure there are no distractions. If Anthony needed a lifetime in the desert we should be able to handle a few minutes. Maybe pick a time when you are already searching for peace such as bedtime, like Samuel.

Step 2: Centre yourself in the Bible. Read a passage or a chapter from the Bible. Ask God to speak through the words you have read. You may need to reread it several times before you discover what God is trying to say.

Step 3: Listen. When we pray we often think that we need fancy words or make very specific requests to God. Samuel clearly demonstrates this is not the case. Allow God to speak through the silence.

Praying together

I am not going to ask you to pray today. Simple sit in silence, on your own or together and await God to speak to you. Reread today’s passage if you feel the need.

Once you have given yourself a moment....

Is God saying something to you today?

Is God calling to you?

Where do you see God at work?

These things we can pray about.

Let’s pray the Lord’s prayer and the Grace together:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

May you discover the joy of silence. May you hear the whisper of the Almighty in your ear, calling you by name.

God bless you,