This year at Southwark Cathedral we are running during Holy Week a number of what we are calling ‘retreat strands’. This is all part of the Living God process that seeks to enable people to deepen faith and discipleship. Most of what we will be doing will require participants to give up time at some stage of the day to join with others for one of the ‘retreats’. But we realise that not everyone can do this, that there is a sense that being able to do that might be seen as a bit of a luxury.
So this on-line ‘retreat’ aims to enable those who cannot come to the Cathedral, to participate in something which takes us into the heart of the Holy Week experience.
People have been asking me what an ‘on-line retreat’ is and to be honest I have had to say I have no idea. This is as new for me as it is for you. I have led many retreats and quiet days over the years but they have always been in a conventional setting and have followed a conventional pattern. They have almost always involved a theme and a series of addresses, silence and prayer. So I suppose we can use those as starters for this retreat experience.
Firstly, a theme. What I always think when I get to Holy Week is that this is the only time in the Christian year when we can actually spend a week with Jesus in almost ‘real time’. We know from the scriptures roughly when things happened. So I have called this retreat ‘Passion in real time’ because I want us to experience what happens to Jesus in real time, as we are going about the reality of our daily life.
So, at various times each day I will be posting reflections – the version of the addresses for this retreat – and they will focus on the passage of scripture that relates to this time, on this day. Some days there will be quite a few reflections because a great deal is happening to Jesus and happening rapidly. I hope that we will experience something of the intensity of that. On other days hardly anything will happen and that will be a different experience.
Proper biblical scholars will despair of me, of course, because I have taken the four gospels and plundered them for all the events in Holy Week and constructed them into an order which seems to make sense to me in telling the story. I apologise if that offends the purists – but if it works, it should be an interesting way of keeping this supreme week in the church year.
Each reflection will also contain some things for you to think about and a prayer that you can offer. I would encourage you to do some thinking as well as simply reading my own reflections and if you want to post your thoughts then please do so. Remember that they will be available to anyone who logs onto the site. But your prayers, or prayer requests or some reflections will help create the sense of community.
The retreat will begin earlier than Holy Week because the journey was underway before Palm Sunday and it will end after Easter because the story continues after the resurrection. But join when you can and leave the journey when you want to.
I am excited about sharing Holy Week with you in this way. It will be an adventure of faith as the passion of Jesus breaks into our real time with the Living God.