I have recently attended convocation – the gathering of the Methodist Diaconal Order (MDO). As the name would suggest Methodist deacons, as well as being an order of ministry, are also members of a religious order – a dispersed community. We gather for convocation each year – whether we are a student, an active deacon or one of the retired Wesley deaconesses – we are all part of the Methodist Diaconal Order.
Of course, this year we couldn’t gather physically so we gathered virtually and for the past four days I have been sharing my study with 200 other deacons as we discussed prayed and engaged in bible study together. I was, if I’m honest, a little sceptical as to how this would work – how would it feel? would it feel real? That said, I needn’t have worried for I found it to be a truly special week where I felt connected to those brothers and sisters who share a similar calling to ordained diaconal ministry and who, like us all, are trying to work out what the Coronavirus pandemic means for us personally, the churches we worship at and the communities in which we live.
For me a particularly significant time has been the late evening prayer. At 8.45pm we have all gathered for evening prayer and on this occasion, we have focussed on the Daily Examen – part of the Ignatian tradition. The Daily Examen is a style of prayerful reflection on the events of the day. It is an ancient practice of the Church that can help us detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.
To gather with 200 deacons from all over the UK in prayer was a very special time, a time of real blessing, oneness and a deep peace. St Ignatius Loyola’s Examen is one style of prayer for the end of the day, however there are many other ways in which we can gather together for prayer. Indeed, I notice that the ‘Off the Point’ house group have been looking at prayer and inviting us all to consider some of the different ways of praying.
Interestingly we are approaching a time of global prayer through the ‘Thy kingdom come’ initiative which covers the 11 days between Ascension and Pentecost and was first launched 4 years ago. This initiative invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus, to deepen their own relationship and to pray for the empowerment of the holy spirit that we would be more effective in our witness.
During the time of ‘Thy Kingdom come’ between the 21st and 31st May I would like to invite us all to come together for a time of quiet reflective evening prayer at 8.30pm (hopefully utilising zoom and lasting approx. 15 minutes). This will be shared with Kingswood and if there are any folk who would welcome leading a session then I’d love to hear from you or if you would like more information then please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring 8776296.
We, the Church, in a similar way to the MDO, find ourselves, through our current experience, living as a dispersed community. Is this ‘Thy kingdom come’ initiative an opportunity for us to come together each evening in prayer?
I believe it is and I look forward to joining with you at the close of each day (21st -31st May) to commit ourselves and those we love to God’ loving care.