In war-films and accounts of military battles the desperate cry of ‘retreat!..

Team Rector’s Letter                                   October 2019



In war-films and accounts of military battles the desperate cry of ‘retreat! retreat!’ would denote failure and ignominy, conjuring up images of a beleaguered and battered army fleeing from a strong enemy. It is also known as ‘a strategic military withdrawal’ which sounds a whole lot better!


However, in church circles a Retreat is described by The Retreat Association as the chance to step aside from life for a while, to rest and just 'be' in a welcoming, peaceful place.’ Now doesn’t that sound like something you’d want to do? Many people, and not just church ministers or church members, are discovering the value of time away to focus on spiritual things.


Recently I have had the privilege of doing just that. I try to have a few days away on Retreat at least each autumn. For me it is a chance to reflect on the events of a busy summer – the FunMondays Holiday Club we run at St Barnabas and the Summer Sermon Series I have shared with my regular congregations. It is also a chance to turn my thoughts to the autumn months of harvest and remembrance, and even onwards towards Advent and Christmas.


For me, this autumn retreat is a time to read, to think, to pray... and to prepare myself spiritually for the days ahead. I take my bible, my journal, my walking shoes and my sketch pad and try and listen out for God’s promptings.


Over the years I have been a guest at many different types of Retreat House.  I have lived for a week in a community of nuns near Hampton Court and had four days in a monastery in Suffolk. I have spent time within the modern study facility of a Christian conference centre in the Surrey hills, and shared with a community of Christian artists in an idyllic oast house in Kent. 


My favourite place for a retreat is in the slightly-less rural setting of Chatham. This is a house owned by the Rochester Diocese and led by a religious community called The Companions of Christ. The building is an old vicarage dating, I would guess, from the Edwardian period, a large house which they have beautifully converted, with a peaceful garden at the back of the house. As well as being the home of the Community, the downstairs rooms are used by groups for days of reflection and teaching. (The Bexley Team Clergy spent a day there in the summer!) Upstairs, in what would have probably been the servant’s quarters, the private retreat space has two bedrooms, a prayer room, a bathroom and a small kitchen for self-catering. Silence is kept throughout the day, and you can join with the community for silent prayer at the beginning and the end of the day. 


To quote Mother Teresa: -“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”


Do talk to me if you want to find out more about Retreats!

Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  


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Page last updated: 4th October 2019 10:43 AM