Time Management and the Church
A devotional thought for the Day:
42 They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching, sharing, breaking bread, n and praying together. Acts 2:42 NCV
Chapter 7 Baptism into union with Jesus is the sign of our new spiritual identity with the Triune God and with each other in the church. In baptism Christians embrace the new life that is the gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ by the Spirit.
Chapter 8 The spiritual life is a living into our baptism—dying to all that is sin and death, rising through the new birth into the new life modeled by Jesus, the one who images humanity completely united to God’s original purposes for creation. The spiritual life contemplates the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ and participates in the purposes of God for humanity.
Chapter 9 The spiritual life is disciplined by the rule of steadfastness, fidelity, and obedience; it attends to prayer, study, and work; it meets God in daily life, in material things, and in people.
Chapter 10 The spiritual life is nourished by the church, which is the continued presence of the incarnate Jesus in and to the world. The spiritual life is nurtured by worship that sings, prays, preaches, and enacts the divine embrace in its daily prayer, weekly celebration, and yearly attention to God’s saving embrace in the services of the Christian Year. (1)
Only from a personal encounter with the Lord can we carry out the diakonia (service) of tenderness without letting us get discouraged or be overwhelmed by the presence of pain and suffering.
A friend put up a meme the other day, that testified to the power of a good hug, one of those so powerful that you can feel the other person’s heart beat, and the ability it has to calm you down and assure you that everything will be all right. I experienced those kinds of hugs on vacation, as some of my friends from junior high got together 38 years after we had last seen each other. It was remarkable and refreshing. (thanks, Ana, Dina, Christos, Danny, Glenn, and Brian!)
It is the kind of life the church had in its infancy, one we call koinonia or living in communion with each other. We become a community that is incredibly close, and there for each other. It is hard to explain, the level of such a relationship, where even years melt away as…. I can think of no other word… the intimacy of the communion is restored. ( Not physical intimacy as in sexual intimacy, but a connection of souls)
Webber would note that such an embrace is possible because of God, of His drawing us into His story, of Him invading ours, not just to purge us of our sin, but to embrace us, to heal us, to bring us into the depth of His peace. The outline of his chapters above shows how this happens in baptism and the spiritual life that is created as we learn to walk with God. This is what Pope Francis was talking about when he mentions our service and ministry of tenderness that begins with a personal (intimate) encounter with God. If not a part of our lives we will (and still do when we forget to return there) burnt out, we will be overwhelmed. But with God’s embrace, and with those around us who likewise are locked in His embrace, we are safe… and can find the rest we need, even as we hurt.
Webber went on from the start of the Divine Embrace to note that this spiritual life, this divine embrace is nourished in the gathering of people known as the church. It is there we find the presence of the incarnate Christ in the world (this is why some call the church our mother and say salvation is not found apart from her! ) As we pray and worship, as we continue in the apostles teaching of the Word of God (Jesus) as revealed in the word of God (scripture) as we take and eat the body of Christ, and take and drink His blood, poured out to remove all of our sin and restore our relationship with God, this divine embrace, this intimate relationship with God is restored, and it envelops all of us.
This early description of the church in Acts talks of this – look at what they did! It doesn’t say they held endless meetings or held strategy meetings for growth. It says that they did the things which reminded us and strengthened our awareness of God’s embrace.
Maybe it is the time we got back to being the church, rather than doing church. Our people need it, we need it. and oddly enough God treasures it far more than we can realize. For He sent Jesus to minister to us, even to the point of offering His life as a sacrifice, that we could be held in God’s hands…
Time management in the church? Where is our time of understanding God’s word, praying together, sharing our lives and meals together, and sharing in the Eucharist? It may seem too simple, but the joy we will find being those God called together will be far more contagious than anything we can plan.
The Lord is with you! It is time to manage our time so that we spend most of it Celebrating that Divine Embrace!
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Augustine, St. Francis, Martin Luther, John Wesley walk into a bar…
DEvotional thought of the Day:
33 Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.‘Matthew 6:33-34 (NJB)
537 You take everything so lightly that I am reminded of the old story. The cry went up: “There is a lion coming!” And the naturalist answered: “Why tell me? I catch butterflies.” (1)
A few days ago, I asked what the four shepherds of God I named above and the reader would talk about, were they found together.
An atheirst and pastors were the first to respond, A joke about them calling Francis A sissi, a quesiton about why two of them would be there, a couple other comments, no one taking the matter all that seriously. Until the final comment – that these incredible men would talk about God, and His gifts of mercy and love and peace.
I thought of it again, coming across the quote from St Josemaria this morning. We as people will think about everything but the Kingdom of God. We will be anxious over the state of our nation, ticked off at the government, worried about our health, we’ll struggle over finances, we will concern ourselves about the morality of others, but how often does our heart find itself in awe of God’s presence. How often do we contemplate the depth of His love? How often are we willing to place ourselves comepltely in His care, and then live a life that imitates those as they imitated Christ Jesus?
How often are we willing to see God at the center of our lives? Or are we unwilling to give up that throne?
As I tweeted this mornign, “We trust God with the infinite eternity, but will we trust Him with the finite now?”
Our Faith must not be confused with our faithfulness, for if we depend on our being faithful, we’ve made ourselves into idols. Faith is trusting in His faithfulness, to lean upon His goodness, to strive to find rest in Him, to prayt hat the Holy Spirit would help us to do so. For we don’t enter His presence by our faithfulness, He draws us there… and there we learn to trust Him. .. more and more. To be in awe that HE would love us, that He would be merciful.
So pray that I, and that you, would relaize where we dwell more often, that we would be open to God revealing to us His grace, That we would learn to be as excited as children on Christmas, as we contemplate His grace, both for what it means eternally, and what it means today.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2325-2326). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edi
- We Need A Mighty Fotress! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Questioning where you are with God? Me too sometimes.. An answer of peace… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will God hear even me today, in this mood I am in? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will you let them see you…. (justifiedandsinner.com)
Keeping God at a Distance…not likely
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
“You too, like all God’s children, need personal prayer. You need to be intimate with him, to talk directly with Our Lord. You need a two-way conversation, face to face, without hiding yourself in anonymity.”
It’s not a new trend, but it certainly is one that is trending upwards these days. The desire of people to keep God at the maximum distance possible, while staying within range where our salvation would be still… there…ready for when we die. You see it among theologians – who have a tendency to talk more about God, more about the history of God’s people – who prefer to pray in cliche’s. Two days ago, at a funeral – a pastor I know talked about how pastors ( it was at the funeral of another dear pastor’s wife) talked about how we are great at leading people to the cross – but pastors aren’t so good at staying there themselves. (he is right, and I often fit into both of these categories!) There are others, who through themselves into the disciplines of a religion, without asking why, or how the discipline benefits. And of course, there are those, who want the relationship without the religion – talking to them I have found that they want a relationship on their terms, with their rules, and often – their definition of sin.
We like to keep Gdd at a distance – and we aren’t the first – consider these two passages – often used to “invite” people to know Jesus…
19 I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life. 20 Love the LORD your God, obey him and be faithful to him….” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 TEV
and then this passage from the new Testament,
20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me. Revelation 3:20 (TEV)
What is interesting – is that both passages were not written to those unfamiliar with God – it was written to those in a relationship in Him – those who tried to keep Him at a distance, those who tried to live life based on their own decisions, to try and go it their own way…
Yes, those passages are invitations to know God – intimately – but invitations to those first who claim to already know Him. Invitations to pray, to converse, to speak to God and let Him into your life at a level that brings you so close – that you begin to reflect His characteristics, His love, and without thinking, His priorities ( people) becomes your own. When you become aware that it is the worst thing you can do to keep distance, the worse the you can do is to hide – and you begin to do it less frequently, you begin to rejoice in His presence more, you begin to realize that is all you really desire.
It’s one of the reason I love St. Francis, and Martin Luther, and yeah – the saint whose quotes frequently appear here. I don’t think any of them made it to being as intimate with God as both God and they desire – but all speak of that desire – and desire to help free us to desire, to want, to be consumed by, the God who loves us all.
As I prepare to see a little ceramic baby, lying in a wooden manger… I become more grateful, more aware of God’s omniscience and planning. For it is easy to keep God the Father at great distances – or at least imagine Him at great distances. But a baby? Even the strongest, most solidly anti-emotional man (reading this MG?) man shows pictures of his new grandbaby, or speaks with pride of those children/grandchildren he loves. Such is the way God came, in a small package that sneaks into our heart, that we don’t try to keep a distance from, for what could that little baby do?
And He roles the distance back, He comes close, while we think we’ve come to adore Him, He’s come to love us, to be with us, to live with us……
May we realize we don’t have to shout “Lord have mercy” for it to be heard, but He hears and comes, with the softest of whispers.
For He is not at a distance, for He is our life.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2013-2015). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.