Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. (Matthew 14 v.13).
This is what Jesus did after he heard of the death of John the Baptist and before he performed the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes. The only way he could go from a moment of great sorrow to one where he was preaching energetically to a ‘great crowd’ was by taking time to be on his own, to come to terms with what had happened to his cousin, to reflect upon his own imminent death perhaps and to pray.
While in France in September, I visited the community of Taize again. At one time, I would visit annually and stay in a tent for four days during the Whitsun half term, joining in the bible study groups, attending services three times a day and just ‘being’ . I always came back refreshed. What attracted me to the Taize style of worship, a medley of singing the chants ,being still, sitting cross legged and praying in a ten minute space of silence in what could only be described as a barn?
This is an unusual barn, it is true ,where the congregation faces what can only be described as a bank of candles in front of a backdrop of red fabric sails extending from the ceiling to the floor and representing the flames of Pentecost.
I did ask the question in last month’s magazine as to what made a church a place of worship and of course many things to make a place of worship and as we are all different, different aspects appeal to different people. It could be the colour of the stained glass, the imagery of the statues, paintings, frescoes. It may be the music and the singing. It could be the scent of flowers, of candles, of incense – or the promise of hot coffee . It could be the welcome of others who come to the church. Perhaps it is the feeling of shelter, of light, of safety, of ‘coming home’ . It may be all of these- or just one or two that attracts you.
And what about escape? I am sure that is what Jesus needed to do at the time Matthew described but he knew he would have to face life again, as we must all do when we have had to face a really rough time in our lives. We all need ,as Jesus did, to escape for a while into
ourselves and into God’s presence so that we can renew our inner being, our spirit. . Jesus went to “a deserted place, by himself “. I can escape sitting crosslegged among people in silence in a barn of a building .
Where are you able to renew your spirit?