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Keeping Silence

Today is, according to a Radio 2 Pause for Thought this last week from a Baptist minister, so it must be right (sorry whoever you were I've forgotten your name), Refreshment Sunday.  The fourth Sunday in Lent is one when people were given respite from their Lenten abstinences for one day before they continued on towards Holy Week.

We focused our thoughts on the Markan account of Jesus being anointed at Bethany (Mark 14) and I tried to explore something about how the home of the leper Simon (how did manage to retain a home if he had this disease - was he wealthy?  Was he a lonely man with few friends/visitors because of his disease and consequent ritual uncleanliness?) provided a place of refreshment for Jesus, and the significance of the moment when Jesus allowed himself to receive the refreshing of anointing by an unnamed woman.  We pondered whether we would actually be like those who berated her for waste and found themselves shocked that Jesus, the advocate for the poor, praised her actions.  There is a tension between doing what Jesus calls us to do and being refreshed for that service.  Sometimes, I concluded what we need is not more words but less; sometimes what we don't need is another hymn or song but a time of silence.  So we did just that - we spent three minutes (the average length of a hymn)  in silence, after which I read a few verses from 2 Corinthians 4 (treasure in clay pots) and gave everyone a lovely illustrated text of 2 Cor 4:7 I'd found online.

It seemed to do whatever was needful - some shed a few tears, others simply relaxed in the stillness.  Baptists are not known for our use of silence or stillness; sometimes I think maybe we fear it.  Whatever the truth may be, for us today needing refreshment for our own journeys, it was the right thing to have done.

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