Faith & Worship

Dear friends,

As part of my Lenten reflections I’ve been re-reading a book which I haven’t read for years. It’s a book by Sister Wendy Beckett, who some of you might know as a contemplative nun and others might remember from her TV programmes about art. The book is called ‘The Gaze of Love’ and is a series of reflections upon art. I’ve very much enjoyed reading the book again during Lent because Sister Wendy has a quiet and yet at the same time direct way of communicating what she wants the reader to hear.

One aspect of the reflections which have certainly got me thinking as we prepare to celebrate Easter is how Sister Wendy describes how we might grow in our relationship with God. When she talks about the place that prayer for example should have in our lives as Christians, she in effect says that we can all too easily overcomplicate it, when she says;

The real difficulty about prayer is that it has no difficulty. Prayer is God’s taking possession of us. We expose to Him what we are, and he gazes on us with the creative eye of Holy love. His gaze is transforming; He does not leave us in our poverty but draws into being all we are meant to become.

This idea of living in God’s gaze I would suggest could be transforming to us in our lives. When we gaze or look at something that something does not change, it remains the same but when we open ourselves up and are aware more fully of the gaze of God then His gaze is transforming. But what is this transformation? How might this transformation be revealed? Well a way in which such a transformation Sister Wendy says might be revealed, is in our relationships with others, in that in one of her reflections she says;

We can only see His face, Gods face, in others, if we have gazed long at His face in prayer.

This gaze of love then is reciprocal, we gaze and in our gazing we too receive God’s gaze, this mutual gaze then transforms our view of those around us, so that we might then see more clearly that all are made in the image of God.

In the birth of Jesus the beauty of the gaze of God’s love is visibly revealed in the world for everyone to see, but it is in the look of the resurrected Jesus, on that first Easter morning, when he turns and calls Mary by her name, does she and we fully recognize the full extent of the transformative nature of God’s gaze. His gaze of unconditional love that transforms lives.

I want to end my letter this month with the words again of Sister Wendy Beckett from her book ‘The Gaze of love’, which I would suggest are words we can carry throughout our Lenten reflections and into our celebration of Easter and beyond;

Only eyes that have sought Him in prayer see His presence in the day.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone who lives, works and studies in Ranmoor a very happy and joy filled Easter and would like to invite you to join in our Easter celebrations on Easter Sunday on the 27th March at 10.30am.

Love & prayers

Revd Neil

Note: The book ‘The Gaze of Love’ by Sister Wendy Beckett is available for loan from the Church library at the back of Church.