A chat with Rowan Williams
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, addressed the United Reformed Church Ministers’ Gathering in May. Afterwards, he spoke to Reform
For Christians who want to start deepening their faith, it helps to try to create a regular discipline, a rhythm regular enough that you gradually absorb wisdom. This will take time to acquire. One of the most challenging things we face – because we have, all of us in western Christianity, largely forgotten this – is how we build up a background of domestic practice.
It’s a question of what we do in our homes, what we do daily – the pauses we make for prayer and reflection, the words we say, the texts we read. Without wanting to get obsessional about discipline, or saying: ‘This is my rule of life,’ we just need to recognise that we need a bit of a rhythm. We need things that gently reconnect us, day by day, with what matters. We need people around us who are willing to explore with us, to see how what we do day by day gradually broadens out into what we might grow into year by year.
I think the discipline to start with is the pauses – the space we make. If we’re ready to think of a rhythm where we give even ten minutes a day to being intentionally with God and being quiet and watching our breath and sitting still and listening – that’s a start. That conscious decision to step aside from the pressure and routine, and say: ‘Actually I have got space to breathe here, I don’t have to be choked by the duties, I can make that time.’ And if I can make that time, maybe something of the sense of being with God in that time spills over into my work as I take it up again.
But for that discipline to take root and develop, we need a bit of a framework, a brief form of words – the Lord’s Prayer or ‘Glory be to the Father,’ for example – and perhaps a few words from the Gospel.
Then the second thing to develop is reading the Gospel. Unsurprisingly for a Christian, there’s really no substitute. That’s how you grow in the company of Jesus. …
This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2018 edition of Reform