Routines and rhythms


It’s Friday and Fridays begin with my weekly notices letter!

“But”, said Jacqui, “there are no weekly notices to distribute – you sent out two weeks worth last Friday.”

However, I am a person who needs routine – and today is Friday.  So I get typing!

We need routines and rhythms to our lives, daily and weekly, termly and annually.  They give structure and nurture discipline.  US evangelist Mike Murdock observes that “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” He’s right.

When previous curate Mark Stanford left us for Toxteth in 2002 (thanks for the Facebook birthday greeting, Mark!), he was surprised to discover how much he missed morning prayer in church each weekday at 9.00 am.  By our standards quite liturgical and I don’t think we hit the spiritual heights very often.  But there is something about beginning the day together in act of worship. It makes a statement.

Jesus showed a rhythm to his life.  It was how he was brought up.

Luke shows this in his nativity narratives once the angels and the shepherds have left.  He is circumcised at day 8, he is presented at the temple once Mary’s purification period was over. Then, during his childhood, regular visits to the Jerusalem festivals.  We read:  “It was every year Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover – they went up as they always did for the Feast.”

Jesus carried this rhythm into his ministry. So right at the outset, in  Nazareth, Luke informs us:  “As Jesus always did on the Sabbath, he went to the synagogue”.  All the gospel writers make much of his regular visits to Jerusalem as part of the Jewish cadence.

But you have to keep routine in its place.  It is so easy – at least this is my experience – that when routine is interrupted or even shattered, we feel uneasy, unsure.  “You need to learn to minister in situations of uncertainty” advised the chaplain of the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where I did some of my ordination training.

And I have written before about the remarkable way Jesus allowed his routine to be taken over by people uninvited.  Taking much-needed time out with his disciples, Jesus found the crowd had beaten him to it – and were waiting for him en masse.  He fed them – in every sense of the word.

Jairus asked for  immediate attention for his dying daughter and even this interruption was interrupted by the woman with a flow of blood.

It wasn’t just that Jesus healed her, he stopped to give her time. Even in situations of fluidity and loss of control, Jesus flourished. It didn’t seem to unsettle him.

So as a new year begins we need to look at our routines and rhythms, individual and corporate, so to allow the Holy Spirit to nurture a discipline so that we grow together as disciples of the Lord of the years.  But above all to keep in step not with our routines but with the Holy Spirit of God himself (Galatians 5:25)!