[When Elijah was in a cave on a mountain] there was a great wind, such that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before God; but God was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but God was not in the fire; and after the fire, a sound of sheer silence. (1 Kings 19:11-2)
I have rarely heard such deep silence as we knew on Sunday. So quiet, we could hear a pen scratch across paper, and the intake of breath, and the rustle of fabric as someone shifted gently in their seat.
I know I am not the only one to have noticed the richness of this quiet, which settled across us as we spent time reflecting on this land, and the word, and the places we have encountered God in this God-breathed God-filled country. I hope many of you who were there sensed the presence of the Spirit and found it a fruitful, even healing, time.
I have already been deeply moved by some of the reflections which arose out of that session, and am very much looking forward to seeing those contributions which have been taken home for further polishing.
If you haven’t already drafted something for this year’s Lent Book, there’s still time. Submissions are due this Sunday 12 February: so why not set aside half an hour or so between now and then for prayer and reflection, and see what emerges.
Parents, we love reflections from kids and teens. If you live with a younger person, we’d love it if you facilitated them to come up with a few sentences or a story or drawing from them about a special location.
If you need a prompt, there are some below. Run your eye down the list, and if a landscape feature jumps out at you, don’t think too hard; just go with it! Of course, the below is by no means a comprehensive list. The God who dwells among us knows and loves rivers and rocks, gardens and paddocks, streets and wells and forests and footpaths and so much more. But I hope these prompts get your creative and prayerful juices flowing.
Whatever you do, help us see the world in new ways. Give us stories and prayers anchored to particular places, so that when we go there, we experience them afresh. Help us remember that we live in a God-breathed God-filled land. And if you’re still not sure what we’re doing or why, you’ll find more detail (and a story!) in Sunday’s brief reflection (here).
Anything from a simple sentence to a six line poem to an 800 word reflection would be great; also drawings, paintings, photographs, Tiktoks, or however you can best express the significance of these sites. As always, to protect privacy everything will go on our website anonymously, unless you ask for your name to be specifically attached. And as always, if you have questions or need a bit of coaching or encouragement, just ask!
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)
The oaks of Mamre were so well known, and so important, that they are named in the story. Have you ever encountered God, had a significant prayer time, or realized something important about God at or near a specific tree? What type of tree was it? Where does it stand? Tell us about the tree and your experience.
You shall go out with joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills shall erupt with joy! (Isaiah 55:12) — or read Psalm 18: The volcano psalm
Many of us live in volcano country. Is one of the hills particularly significant for you? Which one? What’s special about it? Do you walk or pray there? When did it last erupt? How does it link to your faith? Tell us about it.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness … At daybreak Jesus left and went to a deserted place … Jesus went out to the mountain to pray … He was praying in a certain place … [get the idea?]
How do you think of wilderness: as a national park? Bushland? A shopping centre carpark? An industrial estate? Does the word imply to you an absence of humans or an industrial wasteland? Where is a wilderness near you? Would Jesus pray differently in different types of wildernesses? What about you? Tell us what you think.
The city has no need for sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light … Its gates will never be shut. (Revelation 22:23-25)
When have you felt aware of God’s presence in the public places of a city? Which city? Where were you? Tell us about it, whether it’s a one-off experience or a more general awareness.
And the word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood. (John 1:14, MSG) + Your ancient ruins will be rebuilt … you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. (Isaiah 58:12)
Where do you live? Describe your neighbourhood: its physical location, any geographic features. Tell us how you see God alive and at work there.
and especially for kids … picnic!
Now there was great deal of grass in that place, so they sat down … Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he gave them to those who were seated; also the fish, as much as they wanted. (John 6:10-11)
Jesus loves picnics! Tell us about a special picnic. Where did you go? Who were you with? What did you eat? Was there enough food, even more than enough? Did anything make you think of Jesus?
Emailed to Sanctuary 8 February 2023 © Sanctuary, 2023. Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash. Sanctuary is based on Peek Wurrung country. Acknowledgement of country here.
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