North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

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Worship in the Wilderness   -  Bible reading: Luke 4: 1-13

Dear Friends,

Today’s title is: How to Worship with a KISS. Worship in the sense that God is Worth It, of our time, energy, passion, purpose, and love. KISS standing for Keep It Simple, Simple.

When Jesus stepped into the Wilderness landscape, sand filtering though his shoes, He had a plan and purpose. Deliberately selecting the self-imposed constraints of the desert as an opportunity to journey deeper, closer, stronger to His Heavenly Father. A vital need as Jesus was on the cusp of changing world history for good and your destiny for eternity.

Today, our pandemic landscape is like shifting sands, moving our society on many levels. It’s never been more important that we have an ongoing deeper, closer, stronger relationship with our Heavenly Father.

So how can we imaginatively recreate Wilderness Worship in our homes? Here are three helpful ways to explore Worship with a KISS.

1: Solitude
Alone time with our Heavenly Father aids perception (Isaiah 40: 26 -31) We start to see a bigger perspective which helps us regain and be refreshed with hope. That sure confident hope that comes with knowing that His promises are true and can be trusted.

For Susannah Wesley (the mother of John and Charles Wesley) solitude for her was very simplified indeed. Because she had so many children, she would sit down, throw a blanket over her head, while warning the children to leave her in peace, as she was about to spend time with her Heavenly Father.

For my wife (Monica) and I, we have a special armchair in a quiet corner of the house. Clear of distractions including the kids!

2: Simplicity
Jesus travelled light, only taking enough belongings into the wilderness to enable his survival. He kept it as simple as possible.

Through simplicity our reliance on physical trappings and securities of life, can potentially shift towards the spiritual, inner heart provisions of our Heavenly Father, who nevertheless recognises and provides for all are physical needs.

Through simplicity we create the space and margin to think clearly and coherently.

Through simplicity we enter the presence of the Almighty in an open, honest, and real way (the Psalms example this so well). We can unload unwanted baggage that drags down our daily lives.

Practically, simplicity might be exampled in our clearing out of cupboards and giving unnecessary items away. Or it might mean tidying up the clutter that just seems to grow and grow around the house?

You might like to try my favourite book of last year? The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Its by the Christian author, Mark Comer. The sub-heading being; How to stay emotionally and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world.

3: Fasting
Towards the end of the 40 days in the wilderness, the Devil whispers cynically in his ear, ‘If you are the Son of God, then tell these stones to turn into bread’. It’s a dart at Jesus’ identity. He counters quoting Deuteronomy 8 ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God’.

Although Jesus was so hungry, He kept his feet firmly planted in scripture and the eyes on His Heavenly Father. Jesus was confident in His Identity, mission and life purpose.

Fasting relates to identity. It is a reminder that even more important than food is our life in God. The one who created you, loves you and has compassion and concern for you. Fasting is not however a way to try and push God to do your will in your way.

A Lent Fast could be anything that is liable to steal your identity or dependence on the Lord. Ideas could include, turning of the News Feed on your mobile phone, or cutting out the 8 cups of caffeinated coffee which seem to have become your main source of energy!

Through Lent, I would encourage you to try one or more of these Wilderness practices. Keeping It Simple Simple (KISS) and remembering that restrictions can be opportunities to release your creative imaginations and bring focused attention onto what really matters.

At the end of the 40 days in the Wilderness, the gospel writer Matthew explained that angels came and attended Jesus. May we also be attended to by angels as we fix our identity, values and focus on our Heavenly Father.

Every blessing

Andrew Bird