Theologically, I highly recommend Winnie the Pooh. One of the best teachers in the stories is Eeyore. As a sad donkey, he has the reputation of wallowing a bit, but then we get these moments of grace, like in the quote above. It is like he was quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:18
"Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Many folks struggle with how to do that in the midst of all of the pain that we go through. Eeyore has the answer. Keep in mind, that scripture doesn't say be thankful FOR all circumstances, it asks us to keep our sense of gratitude in the midst of all situations. If you are struggling with gratitude during a particularly bad time, consider Eeyore's way and be thankful for what ISN'T happening. Take it from a sad donkey, there's always something to be grateful for, even if that something doesn't exist.
The late Albert Schweitzer had his faults, to be sure, but no one can say he wasn't busy. He was a theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, medical missionary, and musical scholar, and winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize. And yet, he managed to sum up the importance of rest and refuge in a quote about cats.
Now, I know that not everyone is a cat person. For you it might be books and dogs, strawberries and lizards, long walks and wool, but the simple things in life tend to be the most healing, relaxing, and peacemaking. In my experience, they tend also to be the holiest.
I think of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, "But strive first for the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well," and I know that those simple, quiet pleasures are certainly Kingdom things.
Draw close to God by taking a few moments to revel in the refuge of simple kingdom things today, music and cats or parrots and pralines. As long as you spend the time being grateful, you've entered Holy ground.
The above is a beautiful piece of art made out of old tires (Click here to see more). There is an increasing artistic sensibility to use trash to make new treasures, from belts made of bottle gaps to book covers made from license plates. It puts me in mind of Theodore Roosevelt saying, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Sometimes, we see the world through eyes of scarcity instead of possibility. We aren't the first ones. Remember the disciples when Jesus commanded them to feed the crowd? "They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish. "
When we look at what needs done, we fall into the scarcity trap with the disciples. We think about what we DON'T have, how impossible it is, how much easier it would be if we were here or there or an entirely different person. Take Roosevelt's advice, and heed the generous nature of God himself by seeing what you already have, who you already are. Then, do your best and let God fill in the gaps. God's nature is abundance, and it doesn't change just because you're scared.
The human mind is one of God’s great wonders. But it has its quirks. For instance, there is a law of economics called, “The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility”. It tells us that people are less satisfied with a product the more readily available it becomes. We don’t have to know economics to know that about ourselves. Our brains adapt so easily to new information that unique experiences tend to be what keeps our attention. Even when it comes to something we love, our brains can seem to shut off. Does the fourth bite of ice cream taste as good as the first?
Our religious life plays by the same rules no matter what we intend. That is the gift of the season of Lent. You won’t find the word Lent in the Bible. It comes from the Old English word for spring season. In the Disciples tradition, because of our motto that “where the scriptures speak, we speak, and where the scriptures are silent, we are silent” there were many years when we rejected the concepts of Ash Wednesday and Lent simply because they weren’t in the Bible.
Lately, however, there has been a resurgence of honoring the season of Lent, not for its own sake, but for ours. The fact is we don’t pay attention to anything equally all of the time. Our brains adapt. We get used to things, even to wonder. When we set aside a season to pay special attention to following Christ, even to the cross, we protect our faith from becoming only a habit.
Lent began with Ash Wednesday, March 6th. Often, people will choose something to give up during the season of Lent, which helps us realize our selfishness and greed, connects us to those who have very little, and connects us to the sacrifice of Christ. Others choose to add something to their devotional life or life of service. Many choose to do both. It is a time of introspection, to consider those parts of our lives that don’t bring Glory to God, to repent and ask for God’s help to change. However, you choose to honor it, consider celebrating Lent this year to revitalize your walk with Christ and to prepare you to welcome Easter with a new-found joy.
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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