Spirituality concerns the very core of our being, who we are, what we believe, our identity, our relationships, including our relationship with God, and how these affect our lives and everything around us. It is something deeply personal, but it is also something which must be shared, not least as it is both shaped by and influencing to others

Maintaining a sense of spiritual direction can help a person deepen their connection with God. Sometimes this can involve retreats and quiet days or one to one work with a Spiritual Director. For others, the community of their local church, the fellowship of friends or reading particular books can help to provide nourishment and guidance. As with many things in the life of the United Reformed Church, there are many different ways of exploring, engaging and growing our spirituality and connecting it with others around us.

The items shared through this page will help you to explore Spirituality in innovative and fresh ways, perhaps encouraging you to try something different in order to develop different aspects of your spirituality or give you an opportunity to consider source of spiritual nourishment which you may not have thought of previously.

Some suggestions to get you started will be posted here soon.

By Keith Forecast

reformedI was brought up within the Reformed Tradition, with three principal influences, namely, a practising Christian family, a liberal Congregational Church and a Crusader class. From the first influence, I learned the value of Church-going and the ethical practicalities of Christian living. In the context of the second influence, I became involved in dignified and restrained corporate worship which drew me consciously into the presence of God and encouraged me to think about my faith and its implications. Under the third influence, I developed a knowledge of and love for the Scriptures and the value of a daily ‘quiet time with the Lord’. I don’t think I ever heard or used the term ‘spirituality’, either during my upbringing or, for that matter, during many years of ministry. Today, it is used much more widely and freely and can denote anything from a vague yearning for the infinite to the daily exercises of the priest or the religious community.

So what is ‘spirituality’ and is there such a thing as ‘Reformed Spirituality’?

Read more: Spirituality in the Reformed tradition

Sarah Moore

waiting‘Do you crave for space in the midst of your busyness and wonder whether there must be more to life?’

‘The great need of our time is for people to be connected to spirit; for people to be connected in themselves that makes their lives vital and full of meaning, that makes life a mystery to be uncovered.’ (Harold Stone, Sandplay).

So went two statements on the publicity material drawn up for the weekly meditation group at Central URC, Darwen, Lancashire, when I was minister there. The group gathers for around 45 minutes and, other than sometimes some gentle music in the background, gathers in silence. No verbal prayer, no Bible readings, no teaching or exposition, no hymns. This group pushes the boundaries of what might be understood as worship in the Reformed Tradition but perhaps not in ways that one might predict. A brief centring exercise to open and close the space, beyond and between which participants receive an open invitation to use the time as they wish and need.

Read more: Waiting for God in silence

By David Helyar

old‘Is it a mistake that you are still alive?’ Perhaps not the kind of question you expect to face when you attend a Synod residential retreat! But a real and a searching question, nevertheless. Should you dare to respond that ‘it certainly is no mistake!’, then the next question is just as searching, ‘So, what are you alive for?’

For two days at the Emmaus Centre in West Wickham, we were challenged to consider what it means for us to grow old. Using Bible passages, poems, stories, music, videos and plenty of silence, we were enabled, in a down-to-earth but spiritually uplifting way, to face the reality of old age. Admittedly, most of us were old already, so it was a fitting and challenging theme which even the one or two slightly younger members found to be an enriching and stimulating focus for reflection.

Read more: Facing old age

By David Parkin

wildernessA number of years ago, I was invited to be part of a retreat at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire, the basic theme being ‘On The Edge’. Early on we met individually with the retreat facilitator and in my session I said that I had a picture of a sign in my mind, a sign that read ‘Way Out’, and I wasn’t sure if I simply wanted a way out of the retreat or if it signified something deeper. I remembered my time driving in Cyprus and being entranced that the motorway exit signs which read ‘Exodus’. My underlying theme for the retreat was settled. Exodus, the ‘way out’ for the people of Israel, was initially to the wilderness, a time of wandering that, despite an occasional wish to return to Egypt, was to lead to positive outcomes, not least a new understanding of the God they worshipped.

Read more: Come into the wilderness

By Mark Argent

ShockMy eye was caught a little while back by an anecdote from someone returning to the USA to teach in a theological college, who was taken aback by the first student sermon he heard, which boiled down to ‘God is love. God loves us, so we should love each other’. What he missed were central Christian themes like the death and resurrection of Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit or a call to be more Christ-like. The theologian was subsequently shocked to find how often he was hearing the Gospel reduced to proclamation of love.

The anecdote probably reveals something of the theologian’s own doctrinal position, but he is right to warn. The love of God makes sense in the context of the Christian story, but leaving out the awkward bits misses something important.

Read more: Shock, horror
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