Rest in the Lord

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

Recently, Jane and I were hugely privileged to spend a week in the south of France. It’s a part of the world that I had not previously visited and I was overwhelmed by just how beautiful it was.

We had made a conscious decision not to rush to a different place each day but, rather, simply to enjoy our surroundings in a way which normal day-to-day life often does not allow. Strolling at a gentle pace and taking in the Anglican church where, for that rare occasion, we could simply be a part of a congregation with no duties, expectations or responsibilities. It was wonderful!

Our journey by train (all the way from Alnmouth to Nice) was equally rewarding – but most definitely at a different pace. London in just over three hours, Paris by Eurostar in no time at all and then a most amazing journey on the high speed ‘TGV’ sitting ‘upstairs’ and watching fields of sunflowers whizzing by.

But, despite the high speed of our travel, we were still completely relaxed because, apart from making sure we were on the correct train, we had, for a short time, left all responsibilities behind. We were able to enjoy each other’s company, slow down and simply ‘be’.

Coming home was a rather rude awakening for both of us as, within four hours of getting back to the Vicarage, we were both sitting in our respective Parochial Church Council meetings and well and truly ‘back to business’!

We were, however, ‘back to business’ having been refreshed and renewed. We had taken the opportunity to ‘Rest in the Lord’ without the strain and stress of everyday life.

This is something we all need to do – but it takes effort and determination. We don’t need to travel great distances; in fact we don’t need to leave Alnwick! We do, however, need to make time for God and for each other.

Each person’s lifestyle is determined by individual circumstances but if we cease to ‘Rest in the Lord’ on a regular – even daily – basis our lives and our relationships with God and with each other will suffer.

‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden’ said Jesus. That invitation is offered to each and every one of us and is renewed each day. It is up to us to accept or refuse at our peril.

Yes, the south of France was lovely – and we would certainly repeat the experience but, more importantly, finding a regular pattern of renewal in God and resting on him is one of the greatest challenges of our modern age.

I speak as much to myself as to all of you when I make a plea to you to take as your guide this lovely prayer from the ancient office of Compline and make it yours each day:

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we, who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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