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Friends Bulletin Number 5 Easter 2010

Bishop Michael writes......
The first Easter presented those first disciples with a special challenge. It was one thing to discover that the tomb was empty, inevitably raising the question of what had happened to the physical body of Jesus. 'They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him,' cries Mary outside the empty tomb. But then when she turned round she heard Jesus call her by name, although she did not immediately recognize him.

As she reached out to embrace him, Jesus says: 'Do not grasp hold of me. I must ascend to your Father and mine. Go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee where I have gone ahead to meet them.'

And so it is that the relationship between Mary and indeed the other disciples had radically changed from being one that relied upon the proximity of physical presence, - a presence that communicated through the senses - to a new and even deeper and more intimate relationship with the risen and ascended Christ. And so it is with us, as we travel on the spiritual journey of prayer and worship. For the spiritual journey progresses from the outward forms of spirituality and the senses to the inner life of the Spirit, as we come to 'know' Christ and relate to him from within our deepest selves.

For Christian discipleship changes like all living relationships must change and deepen if they are to grow and not degenerate into formalism and wither. It doesn't matter how far we go with Jesus, as on the road to Emmaus, he always 'wants to go further' with us. (Luke 24:28) But like Mary outside the tomb, there is always the temptation to look back to the 'honeymoon' period of the early and perhaps exciting days of our spiritual journey, rather than reaching forward into an ever deepening relationship that is less reliant on images, our senses, words and forms of prayer.

Our daily times of silent, personal prayer with the Risen Lord are so precious in developing our Christian discipleship, centred in the One who is himself the centre of everything. This Christ who is as St. Paul tells us 'all in all' calls out to us through the words of scripture, leading us on as we travel from the 'old' to the 'new'; from the outward forms of prayer to the inner life of the silent prayer of the heart so that we may 'evermore dwell in him and he in us.' (Prayer of Humble Access BCP).

FRIDAY SPA PRAYER MEETINGS The last Friday lunchtime meeting of SPA was held on the Friday before Holy Week - Friday, 26th March concluding our Spring 'term.'

We begin again with a special Eastertide meeting at the Church of the Annunciation, but on that one Friday NOT as usual from 1.00pm until 1.30pm. ON FRIDAY APRIL 16TH WE WILL MEET IN THE EVENING AT 6.00PM UNTIL 6.30PM for our usual prayer time, followed by a simple meal in the crypt and for a time of discussion and reflection together. Please try and make a special effort to kick off the new summer term together which will continue on Fridays through until FRIDAY, 23rd JULY, 2010, AT THE CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION

Even during the cold and difficult days of winter, the numbers at our weekly SPA meetings have steadily grown until now when we generally have around twenty people present out of a pool of twenty five or so. The meetings are open to members of any church where they principally worship on Sundays or at any other time. If you are finding the practice of Centering Prayer such as we share on Fridays helpful, you might want to invite a friend to come along to see if Centering Prayer might be helpful for them in developing their inner life of prayer. SPACES FOR SILENCE by Eric Abbott, formerly Dean of Westminster.

'Whatever we may say about particular times and methods of prayer, this much is essential, that each day should have some dedicated silence in it. This is the gift of our time to God. We are to put ourselves at God's disposal in the quietness. The prayer will be dispersed throughout the day, throughout our activity, but there will be some dedicated spaces of silence.' (Invitations to Prayer)

As many of you already know Soon Han Choi is to be ordained by the Bishop of London in St. Paul's cathedral on Saturday, 3rd July at 3.00pm. In the weeks running up to his ordination we will all be keeping a special place in our prayers for Soon as he approaches this next chapter in an already very special ministry.

'A Deeper Love: An Introduction to Centering Prayer' by Elizabeth Smith & Joseph Chalmers, published by Continuum Press
This is really an excellent book by way of introduction to the practice of praying the scriptures (lectio divina), leading the reader through meditation to Centering, wordless prayer (the prayer of the heart) and opening up to the gift of Contemplative Prayer.

Noli me Tangere by Titian (1495-1576)

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
Bulletin No. 4, December 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.