My dear friends,

Silence is Golden

 

The timetable sternly proclaims ‘7:45 a.m. (silence begins)’.  Silence is golden goes the old phrase.  Sometimes I want to be alone with God in silence.  Yesterday afternoon I sat on a wooded ridge overlooking the Cheshire plain, listening in the stillness for God’s voice lost in thought.

Mealtimes however are an entirely different story.  Our silence began at breakfast.  We sit in a large Victorian dining room, its faded grandeur almost totally overcome by 1970s wallpaper and  impossibly flowery carpets .  The silence necessitates we play a form of charades to gain access to the toast or teapot.  Classical background music rather unfortunately brings to mind a flickering black-and-white silent comedy.  I catch the eye of my neighbour and smiles break out on both our faces as we desperately try to suppress a giggle.

And yet here we are, 20 women and men locked away in a house in the hills of Frodsham, to contemplate and seek God, before our imminent ordination.  My book for the retreat ‘Being a Priest Today’ talks of the relationship between Church and Pastor. The Church is described as:

 ‘  .  .  .  a people called to make music for the world, a music that sounds freedom in all the corners of the earth.  The music of Jesus Christ - God’s gift of life to the world. The pastors of God’s people are called to help the church enthral the world with the sound of Christ.  Sometimes they are like the person who sweeps the floor making the place ready from the performance.  Other times they are like the restorer, who repairs the instruments when they have been damaged.  All of the time they are like the conductor whose overriding passion is to bring the sounds of each uniquely gifted person into an ordered whole, so that the people of God can play the score of God's mercy truth and goodness, to a world battered by its own noise but starved of the sound of God.’[1]

While I continue my rôle, to use the book’s metaphor, as conductor in training I can’t help the feeling I am often wearing clothes too big for me. It reminds me of primary school days, putting on a new school uniform that has built-in growing room. If I have one desire in all this however, it is to help people meet and get to know Jesus Christ for the first time. For me Christianity is not firstly about actions or traditions but about a relationship with Jesus.  From this relationship our actions and traditions develop and grow. It is through our relationship with Jesus Christ that others will glimpse the truth of his love for them.

Thank you again for your support and patience with me over this past year: it has been very much appreciated. As I look forward to the coming years at Astbury and Smallwood I hope that together we may continue to strive to seek to know Christ better and through that relationship reach out to others.

 

Yours in Christ,

Ralph


 

[1] Cocksworth C. & Brown R., Being a Priest Today (2002) Canterbury Press, Norwich


 




 

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