Recently I have started going to the outdoor gym on the Orsett Recreation Ground, for ten minutes a day, as I am conscious that I have been doing very little exercise of late and have begun to get rather unfit. Whenever I have joined the gym in the past I have never managed to keep it up for longer than about a month, and my great plans to ride my bike or walk to places often get thwarted because I always find another job to do, an email to send or a phone call to make.
So, for me, the outdoor gym is ideal because I like being outside, it’s free and what’s even better is it’s only about 100 metres from our front door! As I sit on the gym equipment in the park, I see other people exercising- running or playing cricket, bowls or rounders and that encourages me.
God calls us to look after the physical bodies he has given us. And he also calls us to exercise our spiritual muscles.
Recently the Bishop of Bradwell spoke to the clergy of Thurrock, stressing the importance of four things in our Christian lives: Prayer, Study, Fellowship and Worship.
Prayer is talking to God, but it isn’t just presenting our requests to him, it is about aligning our will with that of our Heavenly Father, so that our lives begin to reflect more of him in what we think, do and say. Of course, none of us are perfect and we all get it wrong and stray off the path at times, but because God loves us, when we say sorry, he welcomes us back and puts us back on track again.
In order to stay close to God and keep on track, it is important that we know what God has to say about things so it is important to study God’s word and read the Bible. There are many different translations of the Bible now, both in traditional and contemporary language, including apps that you can download on your phone. Familiarity with the stories and characters in the Bible can help us both on a day to day basis and serve to sustain when we are going through the tough times.
Similarly, it is important to meet and share fellowship, so that we can encourage, support, and challenge each other in order to grow in faith and build up the life of the church, both within and outside the buildings.
And we need to worship God. Worship means ‘worthship’ and it is important that we give ‘worth’ to God by attending church services, but our worship should also be apparent in our lives. One of my favourite places is Iona in Scotland. In 563AD the Irish monk St. Columba arrived on Iona with a handful of followers. He built his first Celtic church and established a monastic community on the island. He then set about spreading the Christian faith to most of pagan Scotland and northern England. This seat of learning and centre for Christian worship soon became a place of pilgrimage. When you attend an act of worship in the Abbey at Iona, it never has a defined end because it is a reminder that our lives should be a continuation of our worship.
Perhaps, this summer, as you think about putting on your trainers, it’s the time to take a personal check on your spiritual well – being…
With love and prayers,