We had a great day yesterday in Sheffield where the staff teams of St Thomas’ Crookes, St George’s Leeds and The Belfrey got together to worship, pray, hang out and share good practice. Mick Woodhead and the Sheffield team were great hosts and it was fantastic to see their new church extension and training centre. Inspiring stuff! I was asked to share some things happening in York and so, amongst other things I talked about slowing down and I quoted the opening line of Wilfred Peterson’s poem:
Slow me down, Lord,
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

The leaders at The Belfrey believe that we’re beginning to turn a corner as a church. We’re still heading North but turning onto a slightly different route in that direction (see my blog Round the Corner). That is good and exciting. We’re looking forward to the journey and I hope will enjoy the view. But to take that corner we need to slow down. We need not only individuals to slow down, but much of church life to slow down too. After all, you can’t take a corner at full speed. If you do, you will crash.

Do you need to slow down?

Today is Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent. Lent is a season when we’re encouraged to contemplate, take stock and pray. Whilst there’s a place to do what people often do and give things up at Lent, I want to suggest a slightly different focus. And that’s to simply slow down. For most of us who live in a pressurised world of competing demands, that’s how we’ll get the most out of this season.

Let’s be honest. For many of us, life is rushed. We are in a hurry far too often. Much is missed. Important things – like God and people – can be avoided and neglected. So as I awoke this morning and stumbled into the shower I heard the voice of God whisper to me, ‘slow down’. I need to hear that voice time and time again – and I welcome that voice this Lent.

Do you need to slow down? Lent is an opportune time. You have six and a half weeks between now and Easter when you can do that. Why not use the time? Slow down your pace. Clear space in your diary. Space for prayer. Space to read the bible. Space for people. That’s what I’m going to be doing. If you do that, I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the outcome.