Over 40 parishioners in Battyeford are expected to take part in Christ the King’s 40-day retreat this Lent which will see members of the community take it in turns to spend a day or part of a day in prayer, reflection and meditation.
The Revd Chris Swift, Head of Chaplaincy Services at Leeds Hospitals Trust, explained the initiative at one of Christ the King’s ‘Eat, Learn and Pray’ evenings and parishioners have already started to quickly fill in the sign-up sheet.
The retreat will involve at least one person spending part or all of a day in prayerful reflection, ‘retreating from the everyday cares of life and making time for God’.
The Revd Chris Swift says, “I hope those signing up will get a sense of sharing something together.
“People will be asked to pray for the parish as well as the person who will be spending time on retreat the following day.
“Perhaps a bit like the Advent 'Posada', where the nativity figures travel around the parish, we hope that the retreat will be passed on so that people's sense of community is also strengthened.”
Those involved are advised to find a quiet place away from their daily routine where they may reflect on a couple of verses from the Gospel as the basis for meditation and prayer.
Revd Chris adds, “We are providing guidance for those involved but have also suggested people ask another member of the congregation for something to focus on.
“Perhaps they will be given a few verses of the Bible, a poem, a piece of music, or even a picture.”
An article to appear in the parish magazine explains that, “With so many individual personalities involved each retreat will be different, but parishioners will all be aware that on each day of Lent somebody they know is praying about them and for them as well as reflecting on their own relationship with the parish, its people, and with God.
“For the retreat it will be best to find stillness in a quiet place and to be aware of how your body is feeling, perhaps using something like a stone, a leaf or a feather, and thinking about why it pleases you.
“The idea of the retreat is to be still and ground ourselves in the reality of God's loving presence.
“Perhaps best of all about this retreat is that there’s no expectation for people to report back.
“No flip charts, no competition to see who did most praying. It’s personal – just between us and God.”
The Revd Canon Maggie McLean, Vicar of Christ the King, adds, “This is a new venture for Christ the King, and the initial response has been great.
“I hope that the full 40 days of Lent will be covered, and I am 'intensely relaxed' about the prospect of some dates being double-booked.
“Later this year we have a parish pilgrimage to Iona, and both initiatives are part of our spiritual journey together as a congregation.”
Revd Chris says, “Lent and Holy Week offer Christians a substantial period during the year to focus on their faith and what that means in the world.
“Throughout Christian history this time has been used for both renewal and a deepening of faith.
“It is intended that people can manage this commitment according to their own spirituality; some spending the whole day in prayer while for others it may just be an hour.
“A key theme for our Lent at Christ the King is participation and we hope that the idea of a retreat shared across the parish will encourage people to try something which takes seriously their own prayer-life.
“It is also a commitment which can be made by those not normally able to be in church due to illness - enabling everyone to offer a time of prayer for the parish.”
If you are interested in taking part in Christ the King’s 40-day retreat, or if you would like some more information, please contact Christ the King’s Communications Officer, Bill Jones, at: bill.jones.75 [at] btinternet.com