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Friends Bulletin Number 3 March 2009

Bishop Michael writes......

Bishop Michael writes? Have you ever had the experience of coming across a new word for the first time - a word which, as far as you can recall, you've never heard before - and then within a matter, of only a day or so, you hear the same word again and perhaps even several times repeatedly within a very short time? I think it was Victor Hugo who referred to something rather similar when he spoke of an 'idea whose hour had come.'
I think that is what we have been experiencing in the ministry and mission of SPA, since the day of its conception. Silent, or contemplative or centering prayer seems to be popping up all over the place. Delia Smith who is a household name for her cooking skills has produced a Lent Course focusing on the supreme importance of times of silent prayer in solitude each and every day. Apparently she has been committed to such a practice of half-an-hour of silent prayer every morning and evening for many years.
In her introduction to the 40-day course, she is more open than ever before about the profound Christian commitment that, for the past decade, has led her to spend an hour a day in silence, seeking what she calls "union with God".
"We all have a need sometimes to be by ourselves and be still. I know that making that sort of commitment can be very difficult, so what I suggest is that you build it up gradually, over years. Start with 20 minutes a day." There is a typically practical tip from Delia: "How to know when 20 minutes has passed? The simplest way is a kitchen timer!"

SPA with its emphasis upon scripturally informed times of silent, wordless, contemplative prayer seems to be in some way, very much where the Holy Spirit is leading Christians of all denominations at the present time. Since January 15th Soon Han Choi and I have enabled the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch to remain open Monday to Friday most of the day. Each day from Monday to Thursday we hold a time of prayers and meditation at lunch time as well as from 5.30pm until 6.00pm when the church is closed. Each and every Friday between ten and twenty regulars gather for the weekly SPA gathering of biblically-based meditation and centering prayer. Perhaps we should not be surprised now that we are discovering the wonderful way in which so many people have found their way into the church building throughout the week either to sit or be still and silent; to pray or light a candle or to speak with one or other of us about what is on their hearts.

The Church of the Annunciation has proved to be a friendly and welcoming prayer base throughout the week, as well as being our spiritual home for worship on Sunday mornings at 11.00am. Soon has continued his work as a Lay Pastoral Assistant as well as acting as Verger, in much the same way as he did at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square.

A FEW WORDS FROM ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE SPA FELLOWSHIP A new member of the SPA fellowship made a donation to the ministry of SPA which was duly acknowledged personally with an Email thanking the donor for his gift. Immediately Bishop Michael received the following note: 'That's very kind of you, Michael. But honestly, I have received far more than I have given. I've been looking for a 'Catholic' prayer group for some time, not least to help nourish a heartbeat of prayer, which I try to keep going through the day. I really do believe that keeping the church open like this, (as you are doing at the Annunciation), and keeping the prayer going during the day, is a wonderful statement that Church is not just for Sundays, and prayer is not just for last thing at night.'

Bishop Michael Marshall

If you want to read previous bulletins click the appropriate link.
Bulletin No. 1, December 2008
Bulletin No. 2, January 2009
The Church of the Annunciation
Bryanston Street
Marble Arch

May I
Know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day.

Saint Richard of Chichester
The Church of the Annunciation

All Saints Margaret Street

The Oxford Street Oasis of Churches

The work of SPA is with the encouragement of the parish priest, the church wardens and PCC of the Annunciation.