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Monday, 19 February 2018
WE are told that we live a 24/7 lifestyle and we can see that with shops open seven days a week and some supermarkets open 24 hours a day.
With pubs and clubs open into the early hours, the streets of our major towns and cities are busy all night.
We had cause recently to drive along the M4 to South Wales overnight and such a journey brings home what 24/7 means.
Because of the lighter traffic, it is the time when roadworks are carried out, many of them.
At a time when you wouldn’t expect many lorries, there they were delivering overnight to satisfy our needs the next day.
Shift working is nothing new, whether it’s at roadworks, in service industries or in factories, but not having done it myself, I can only imagine the way it affects lives, both from the need to get sufficient sleep and the disruption to family life when sleep is necessary with the sun shining, or with other people going about their daily tasks.
One result of this is that we experience the need to organise our lives, to set aside a particular time to do something, whether it is eating, sleeping or shopping.
A time for everything, although sadly we might fall into the trap of setting aside Sunday morning for our religious activities when really we should remember that religion doesn’t start and stop with an act of worship.
God plays a part in our lives 24/7, not just on Sundays, it’s during Lent, it’s at Easter, it’s at Christmas and indeed every other day of the year.
But the hustle and bustle of our lives makes it difficult to step aside and listen, to listen to what God is saying to us.
Where do we find that space to just listen? Where can we be at peace? We know that Jesus tried to get to quiet places, away from the crowds. On the eve of the Crucifixion he went to find a quiet spot in the Garden of Gethsemane, somewhere quiet where he could pray and prepare for what was to come.
It is difficult willingly to live through next week with Jesus. If we say we are journeying with Jesus through Lent to Easter, then we are saying that we will also endure Holy Week with him.
We might identify with the cheering on Palm Sunday, but we also have to share in the rest of the week those days of pain and abandonment.
During Lent our church has been open one evening a week for us to experience a time of quiet and stillness. You might think that easy but it isn’t. There are still noises; there is the traffic outside, there are the other sounds you get in older churches.
It is, though, a very valuable time, which takes us away from everyday life — no telephone, no television, no emails. It gives a time for thought, for private prayer and a way of preparing ourselves for the events of Holy Week and Easter.
Will we be part of them, will we let them be part of us, or will we be too busy leading that 24/7 life?
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