Acts of renewal and hope

sharon unitingwomen


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had one of those patches where life and its demands threatens to overwhelm me.

My diary was fuller than I would like, there were difficult conversations to have as November, the anniversary month of my partner’s death, loomed. I felt that I was running on empty or close to it.

I’m sure most of you have had weeks or months or years like this, not the same issues but that feeling there is nothing left in the tank and you are not quite sure what will sustain hope and discipleship.

This feeling of dryness caused me to pause and reflect on what sustains me. How can I draw again on the practices of life and faith that will give me strength for the work I need to complete and hope for the future?

For me, one of key practices of faith is gathering for worship and I’ve continued to gather with the Christian community week by week.

In the past, this has been with the congregation I belong to but now due to the nature of being Moderator this means it is often a different community each week.

Each week, whoever I gather with and whatever the occasion being marked by the congregation, I have been enriched by their faithfulness in prayer and in the opening of Scripture.

The rhythm and discipline of gathering Sunday by Sunday to listen for God’s word, to give thanks, confess, sing and pray for others anchors me in the story of God’s saving works and reminds me that I am part of a story much bigger than me which holds me and renews me.

So often when we gather for worship the regret I have is that we don’t celebrate Holy Communion weekly.

I particularly feel this in times of spiritual and emotional dryness when I long to hold out my hand and have placed in it the body of Christ, to take into myself the nourishment of Christ’s presence.

At the table, Christ feeds us so that we might live as his followers in the world. We live undernourished as disciples when we do not gather regularly around the table.

I’ve also been walking the dog more, which has been an unexpected spiritual blessing. As I’ve walked, often in the early evening, I’ve enjoyed the smells of the changing season, the citrus blossom and the jasmine and I’ve marvelled at the glory of creation and the Creator.

I’ve stopped and smelt the roses, literally, and given thanks for those who planted them and those who tend them in the hope that beauty will blossom each spring.

I’ve seen a shrub planted in the most improbably small piece of dirt, an act of hope by the one who planted it that life can be nurtured in the most unlikely of places.

For me it has become a sign. Every time I walk past this plant I am invited to look out for signs of life and growth and reminded of the way the Spirit of Jesus brings life when we should not expect it. I can hope that the Spirit can renew even me. Gentle walking seems to help me notice God and helps me to pray.

I try to maintain a practice of prayer, to take time each day to open myself up to God. In prayer I am able to see myself more truly, to see myself with the eyes of God which judge me, restore me and help me see myself as a beloved child of God

In prayer I am reminded that each of us is held in love by the God of love.

As I lean into those practices and habits I find they ground me again and again in God’s goodness and love which binds me up and sends me out into the world.

Sharon Hollis


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