‘Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.‘ Habbakkuk 3:2
I have been on a number of wee pilgrimages recently and it has been stirring my heart.
In simply visiting friends or taking a work retreat I have somewhat unwittingly ended up in places of ancient, rich spiritual history where the Church once flourished and helped the land and the people around to flourish as well.
From Sannox, Isle of Arran to Whitekirk in East Lothian to wee Pittenweem in Fife, there is a sense that God is uncovering, revealing this richness that has been somewhat hidden and largely forgotten for a very long time.
Reading the stories of what God did in the land and the people in these places through the faithful, courageous prayer and service of monastic communities and men and women completely abandoned to His purposes has caused me to “stand in awe”. And a cry is forming within my heart of “Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.”
My church community here in Dunbar, Discovery, has been looking at Jeremiah 6:16 lately, exploring what it looks like in our lives to “stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for our souls“.
As part of this we have taken a couple of local pilgrimage walks, one of these being a day on Holy Island of Lindisfarne. We had some time on our own so I sat in one my most favourite spots on earth – the rocks on St Cuthbert’s Island where I can listen to the seals sing and speak to them as they bob gently in the sea, their silver faces filled with friendly curiosity.
I reflected on how pilgrims still flock to Holy Island though there is no longer a large, thriving monastic community to welcome them. There is still a deep peace on the island, something that prompts reflection, stirs a hunger in the soul and draws seekers.
For decades, faithful monks facilitated the presence of God and a meeting place between God and those seeking. The fruit of that faithful, sacrificial, loving cultivation can still be felt today, hundreds of years later.
My heart swelled with longing to be one who cultivates in the same way as these saints gone before, that the seeds of prayer, hospitality, justice and mercy, creativity, learning and mission that I plant would grow and still be providing a place of rest and nourishment for weary pilgrims hundreds of years later.
My prayer that morning was, “God, renew in me that heart for and faithfulness in prayer… Renew in me, restore in me, rebuild in me first.”
Revival begins in us first.
The famous travelling evangelist Rodney (Gipsy) Smith was known for stopping just outside the town he was about to preach in, drawing a circle on the ground and kneeling within it. “Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle,” he said when asked how revival starts.
So as I find myself praying “Repeat them in our day,Lord,
in our time make them known“, I am adding, “within this circle first.”