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Friends Bulletin Number 4 Advent 2009

Bishop Michael writes......

As we come to the close of 2009, we can reflect with thanksgiving on the completion of just one year of SPA's ministry located at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch - a ministry that was inaugurated at a special evening on January 15th Much has happened since then not only at the Friday Bible Reading and Prayer times, but also in the maintenance of the ministry of Soon Han Choi and myself throughout the week when the church is open for a Prayer Office both at lunchtimes and evenings. (1.00 - 1.30pm and 5.00 - 5.30pm) The Friday sessions have been especially blessed with attendances ranging from 15 to 20 drawn each week from a larger number of those who belong to the SPA Fellowship.

In the light of the continuing ministry of SPA we decided to hold a QUIET DAY on Saturday, November 14th at St. Michael's Convent, Ham Common, attended by fourteen of our members. The whole day entitled 'The Word and the words: Bible Study with a difference' was given over to teaching about the practice of 'Lectio Divina' and 'Centering Prayer' with plenty of time for praying and reflection between the three teaching and meditation sessions. As on Fridays, Soon Han Choi played and sang many of his prayer songs which help tremendously to open the ears and eyes of our hearts to the Holy Spirit and all that the Spirit wants to give us. We all felt by the end of the day that we should repeat such days from time to time and seek that refreshment which comes from a time away from it all, to rest in the presence of God as well as to encourage each other to persevere in our daily commitment to the practice of Bible reading with prayer.

Quiet Day at St Michael's

HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR BOOKS giving Daily Bible Readings throughout the year; many people find it so difficult to know where to begin with reading the Bible daily as a basis for praying the scriptures.

The suggested list below may be helpful:-

"The Daily Reader for Contemplative Prayer" by Fr Thomas Keating. Pub. Continuum.
"A Year with Jesus - Daily Readings" by Eugene Peterson. Pub. Harper.
"Cover to Cover Bible Study" by Keith Hacking. Pub. CWR (Crusade for World Revival)
"John Stott Bible Studies" Pub. Inter-Varsity Press.

The Need For a 'Contemplative' Spirituality in Today's World 'The spirituality of the future must be a contemplative spirituality. It must lay stress on stillness, silence and attention to God. If this contemplative spirit is missing, religion is bound to become another form of restless activity, an appendage to the life of power, business and competition. We are in a period when a mutant of spirituality itself, a spirituality of a private and conformist type, is being utilised by big business for its own purposes. The times are indeed upon us, as Daniel Berrigan predicted years ago, when the pursuit of contemplation is likely to become subversive activity. Only a contemplative Church, a praying Church, a Church which attends to the skies, to the hidden voice of God in the movements of history, can hope to respond to the deepest needs of humankind in this terrible phase of its history.
Closely related to contemplation is solitude, that deep encounter with the self and with God which is so threatened by the dominance of technology and by the noise which seeks to enforce superficiality and conformity. Against such demonic distortions of human destiny, only the recovery of solitude can prevail.....There will be no spiritual renewal unless Christian people recognise that their quest for union with God in the ground of their being is a vital part of their discipleship. And such recognition is of crucial importance in pastoral work, for only those who have discovered themselves in solitude can hope to be of service to others.' Kenneth Leech

The many people who have experienced over the past years the ministry of Soon Han Choi, will be delighted to know that his calling to the ministry has now been recognised and authorised by the Bishop of London who has agreed to ordain Soon to the Diaconate at the Ordination in St. Paul's Cathedral at Petertide, July 3rd 2010. Soon has exercised a greatly blessed ministry in service and pastoral care over many years, at St Luke's Redcliffe Gardens, St Cuthbert's Philbeach Gardens, St Mary Abbots Kensington, Holy Trinity, Sloane Square and presently as Lay Pastoral Assistant at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch where the ministry of SPA is presently based. Some years ago Soon achieved an MA in Biblical & Theological Studies. More recently, he has exercised a remarkable music ministry. Keep Soon in your prayers in these months of further study leading up to his ordination.

Bishop Michael Marshall

If you want to read previous bulletins click the appropriate link.
Bulletin No. 1, December 2008
Bulletin No. 2, January 2009
Bulletin No. 3, March 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.