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A quiet place (29-09-22)

Bible Readings: The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6. 30 – 32)

Yet the news about Jesus spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

(Luke 5. 15 – 16)

A Thought We have recently returned from a holiday in the east of Scotland not far from Balmoral Castle. This is an area we had not explored before with its quiet beaches and rolling farmland near the coast and then dense woodland and mountains further inland. Villages are small and towns relatively few and far between.

Our holiday sadly coincided with the death of the Queen at Balmoral and all the activity that has followed in laying one monarch to rest and announcing the reign of another. Members of the royal family, particularly the new King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla, have been busier than ever whilst at the same time personally grieving the loss of ‘a darling Mama’. Tens of thousands of people turned out to file past the Queen’s coffin as it lay in state in Edinburgh and in London, and the televised state funeral has been watched by millions around the world quite apart from those who gathered to line the route and those invited to Westminster Abbey to participate in the service.

As we explored this area of Scotland, I have been struck again and again by how easy it is to get away from it all. No wonder the Queen and the royal family have found the Balmoral estate such an important place of retreat and solace far away from the constant public gaze. It seems only fitting that the Queen should spend her final days here in a quiet place of privacy and peace.

Jesus too knew what it was to be followed around by the crowds. He also knew the importance of withdrawal for himself and his disciples. Jesus needed solitude, so he often got up early and withdrew to a lonely place to pray. Similarly he made provision for his disciples, getting them to sail to a quiet spot where they could eat and rest undisturbed.

Withdrawal and solitude are a healthy antidote to a busy, stressful lifestyle. We can create our own special quiet place within our homes or out in the countryside locally. We can use our church buildings as places of solace. The Queen faithfully followed Jesus’ example and recognized the value of withdrawal, solitude, prayer and rest. We can do the same.

A Prayer Lord Jesus, help us to still our hearts and minds,

to draw aside and find solitude and rest in you. Amen.

To be in your presence, Noel Richards

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