This morning the tickets arrived in the post – the Literature Festival is nearly upon us. Anna my wife is going to a gardening thing, and I have my favourites, and there are even a couple of talks where our interests coincide and we shall go together. Come the Festival there is a lovely buzz around the town with visitors who come in for a day to relax, learn and enjoy the town. I love it – and there is a book tent as well.
However, also at the same time buzzing in my head is a verse from the Bible – Acts 17: 21, if you’d like the reference – where Luke is being just a touch ironic about the good people of Athens. He wrote All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas. Is it only for me that one or two bells might be ringing there?
I love listening to new ideas and talking to people about them, but there can be the nagging question of what it is all for. So much fascinating information, but what do we do with it? How do we process it all? Then I go to the Minster and sit for prayers at 9.00 in the morning during the week or I go there for a short and quiet Communion service (Wednesday lunchtime at 12.30, if I am allowed a little commercial here). And I find in the stillness of God’s presence a new perspective on the glucose rush of ideas and the hectic busy-ness of work. There is another verse in the Bible, Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
It is so encouraging to find that each day people come to the Minster and light a candle and others take away the free copy of a booklet ‘Try Praying’, because it shows that I am not alone and different in finding that stillness brings perspective and meaning – before we go out once more to engage in the market-place – of work, ideas or shopping. Now I must put those tickets in a safe place, and is it really a good thing to have to finish my sermon on time on October 11 so Anna and I can get to hear Reginald D Hunter on time…