Thursday 19th March

On the Wilderness

Thinking this virus is going to be for a long time? Well at least it won’t be forty years in the
wilderness. But maybe longer than the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness.
1/ Forty days and forty nights thou was fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights tempted, and yet underfiled:
2/ Sunbeams scorching all the day; chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
prowling beasts (virus?) about thy way; stone thy pillow, earth thy bed.
3/ Shall not we thy sorrows share, and from earthly joys abstain (restrict those purchases),
fasting with unceasing prayer, glad with thee to suffer pain? (tough call)
4/ And if Satan, vexing sore, flesh or spirit should assail,
thou, his vanquisher before, grant we may not faint nor fail. (a great prayer)
5/ So shall we have peace divine, holier gladness ours shall be;
round us too shall angels shine, such as ministered to thee. (Christ’s guardian angel looking
over and looking after you)
6/ Keep, O keep us, Saviour dear, ever constant by thy side;
that with thee we may appear at the eternal Eastertide.

George Hunt Smyttan (1822-1870) and Francis Pott (1832-1909)

“So shall we have peace divine…v5” Revd Ian Bussell, who looks after curates in the
Gloucester Diocese, encourages us to look at the wilderness as a really positive place. Can
we? He writes:
The wilderness was the place the early Christians chose to go to in order to meet God. The
wilderness is spacious (not empty), quiet, unstructured, disorientating. It's a place where our
normal means of navigating the world don't work - no phones, no email, no titles, no badges
of honour, no fashion, no keys, no passwords. It is where we put down our habitual ways of
being and learn new ways of being. And in the disorientation we discover God in places and
ways we had never expected. It seems we are now in a wilderness not of our choosing, but
let's choose it anyway. Let's look for the gifts as well as seeing the tragedies, let's notice God
in surprising places and ways. Let's dig deep in the hope we have because people really need
us to have something more. And that means not running about manically trying to help
people, it means finding that still place within us every day, from which we minister with calm
confidence. Time in prayer, rest, talking to friends, reassuring family, sleep, are all still part
of our disciplines so please don't neglect them… I hope you can find ways of maintaining your

Parodox for our times:
In Hebrews 10v24,25 we read “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love
and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
encouraging one another”.

I think we have lots of potential today to “meet together” in virtual space by email etc. And
what about sending things that make us laugh too.
Special prayer:
For our schools and for our businesses.

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