“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. . . . He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.” (Ps. 18:6, 11) Continue reading
It is so often out of silence that God speaks. That is true for us in worship and for our personal leading – but also for ‘tuning’ in to what God is saying over much bigger issues.
This is an opportunity to watch a really special film. Unusually it has neither background music nor conventional ‘plot’. Rather, it sensitively provides us with a precious glimpse into the inner life of the most contemplative of all monastic traditions: the Carthusians. As such it demonstrates beautifully that silence is much more than the absence of noise: it is a profound inner stillness and oneness with the Lord.
Into Great Silence is an opportunity to step away from our normal expectation of constant ‘action’ and to draw deeply into the Lord’s presence in ‘great silence’ ourselves.* As it is quite long, you may want to make a note of where you got to and keep coming back to it rather than trying to watch it all at one go.
Shot on location in the Grand Chartreuse in 1984, the young German film director had to wait thirteen years after his initial request to film inside it before permission was granted. There are many things in life we have to wait for and to hold before the Lord before the release comes!
This full length film may not appeal to everyone, but it represents a precious invitation to move beyond fast food to richer fare, as we savour the silence and wait on the Lord to see what He may have to show us through it. As someone wisely put it, “We cannot contain Christ within our words and our theology.”Don’t be deterred by the extremely slow start! This is a time to go slow!
*’Great Silence’ is the term used in monasteries to describe the silence that is held in monasteries every evening from compline onwards.
- Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Festival.
- European Film Awards 2006, Documentary – Prix Arte
- Bavarian Film Award best documentary film on Friday, 13. January 2006
- Film Award of the German Association of Film Critics, best documentary film, 2006
- Film Award of the German Film Critics, best documentary film, 2006
- Film Award German Camera, best camera in a documentary film, 2006
- Jury Film Award for the best documentary film in the international festival contest of São Paulo / Rio de Janeiro
- International Ennio Flaiano Award of Pescara in Italy for best camera and best film
This is a prayer for those who are going through times of near intolerable pressure.
If the Lord is moving the stage sets of our lives around, it is only because He is changing the scenery – and by His mercy the new scenarios will be good. By His grace may we let Him do whatever it takes to keep us moving forward.
To those who are feeling overwrought and pummelled,
and only just keeping going,
the Lord would say:
Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’
says the LORD Almighty.
“What are you, O mighty mountain? You will become level ground.
Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of `God bless it! Grace to it!’
“Don’t despise the day of small beginnings!” (Zech. 4:6-7,10)
My children, many have come
and many have gone
without finding the place of inner release.
There are reasons for the blocks
that keep them from standing on the Rock.
Some plans miscarry through
insufficient tarrying in My presence
and failing to seek My purposes.
So come, My child,
over the shards, through the narrow places
and across the broad slow plains
until you find some quickening ray
as you pray;
for I too am paying a heavy cost
to keep you in the fray.
Lord, with joy I receive Your love,
for nothing else can satisfy my heart,
and nothing less shall fill my day.
I receive Your love;
deep within my soul.
You do not give us a spirit of timidity,
but of power and love and self control.
Rally our defences when the devil intrudes;
challenge our complacency
when we are tempted to go our own way.
You want us to seek You,
even in the most ordinary of events.
Therefore as you go,
may you know His power in your life;
as you live, may you yield up more of your heart
and so receive His love –
which nurtures like a mother
and teaches like a father.
An Advent Offering
In the midst of what is, for all too many people, an intensely busy season, let’s make it our aim to celebrate the coming of Christ this Advent, and to prepare our hearts for Him to come to us in fresh ways. Advent starts on December 3rd and finishes on Christmas Eve.
May the words that the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary resonate deeply in our hearts: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. (Luke 1:35) Continue reading
The second piece of music we are featuring as a piece we can use to pray with, is the stunning second movement of Joaquim de Rodrigo’s Concierto d’Aranjuez. Many would claim that this is the most beautiful piece of music ever written by a Spanish composer!
Concerning its origin, Rodrigo, who became blind at the age of three, wrote:
I heard a voice inside me singing the entire theme of the Adagio at one go, without hesitation. And immediately afterwards, without a break, the theme of the third movement. I realized quickly that the work was done. Our intuition does not deceive us in these things . . .
The music sings with the beauty of Continue reading
A garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness and despair . . . (Is. 61:3)
I wrote Clean Air with a view to bringing a touch of the Lord’s freedom and fragrance wherever a spirit of heaviness and oppression is predominating. I had in mind personal, family, business and even church situations – but why not for nations too? Continue reading
As Abbot of Bec, Anselm wrote a great deal while he was directing the growing community at Bec Hellouin in the late eleventh century, which rose to become one of the leading centres of intellectual and spiritual thought in medieval Europe. He managed to combine those demanding roles with an extensive correspondence with rulers and nobles all over Europe as their spiritual adviser and counsellor. Continue reading
Michael and Esther have a remarkable testimony of being carried by the Lord through many extremely dangerous and challenging situations. So too in a completely different way does the writer of this remarkable song, our dear friend Carol Sampson from Malvern. We think you will find her deeply candid testimony extremely moving and will probably want to pass it on to others.
Rising from the depths of her being, this burst of praise and thanksgiving came from the heart of a dear friend who lives in Jersey, Anne Laure Jackson. She joined us in Malvern a few months ago to record this and a number of other songs. Sally has prepared an exquisite YouTube to draw us yet deeper into worship. Anne writes:
“I wrote this song at a time when I was overcome with praise and thanks by how much we receive from the Lord when all we can give in return is just to love Him. From that simple act of surrender and letting go of everything else in order to trust, rest and love Him, we get so much in return!
I know, it’s by no means always easy, but it is simple! He made us, He knows us, and He meets us in those deepest places that are so precious and that make life worth living. All of this just for loving Him . . . So beautiful and powerful . . .”
Long before Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand, the prophet Daniel declared that the Lord’s kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). The first reference to Heaven’s Kingdom in the Old English language is in a hymn dating back to the seventh century, in which the songwriter-poet Caedmon declares that “the Eternal Lord, the guardian of mankind, established Heaven as a roof for the children of men, and created middle earth, and appointed lands for people.” He urges us to “praise the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom, the might of the Creator and His purposes, the work of the Father of glory.”
Unlike Daniel, Caedmon was neither literate nor musical. He was, in fact, a farm hand, who cared for the animals at Hilda’s great double monastery in Whitby. Bede, the earliest English historian, tells us that he dreaded the feast days when people sang and made music on the harp. In order to avoid having to take part, he sidled away one day and hid in the stables.
As Psalm 139:7ff reminds us, however, it is not so easy to escape from the Lord! Falling asleep amongst the horses, Caedmon met an unknown person in a dream, who took no notice whatsoever of his protestations concerning his lack of musical skill but commanded him instead just to sing. Obeying reluctantly the farm hand opened his mouth – and out flowed a beautiful song about creation, which he remembered clearly on waking. Continue reading