One of the greatest temptations of modern life is doing more. People are so busy. We convince ourselves it is because we must be. And sometimes we’re right. But sometimes we are simply afraid of slowing down and having real, quality time with the people we love.
In Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, Shauna Niequist writes, “It's easy to be liked by strangers. It's very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you're always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you're giving them aren't cutting it.”
God wants more for our lives.
“Work six days. The seventh day is a Sabbath, a day of total and complete rest, a sacred assembly. Don’t do any work. Wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to God.” Leviticus 23:3 The Message
Complete rest is a Sabbath to God. But God is often tricky in how He helps us do what is best for us. Think about what happens when we slow down and put aside work. God commands us to worship, reflect on God’s goodness and the things that matter most. But, the slowly flowing hours also allow us to spend time with those dearest to us, to play games that keep us humble or to develop a hobby we can share with our grandchildren.
The “don’t do any work” part of that scripture has gotten much more notice than the “sacred assembly” part. Slow down and gather. Gather with your family of faith. Gather with your family of birth. Gather with your family of friends and give those gatherings the slow attention that holiness demands.
To read more about slowing down, consider reading Shauna Niequist's:
I’ve been studying Spanish. There are wonderful free programs online and apps available for phones that allow you to study a variety of languages. I learn by translating from English to Spanish, from Spanish to English, and occasionally, I’m called to speak the language into my phone. I thought the hardest part would be remembering words or following quickly spoken sentences. I was wrong.
The hardest part of learning a language is the embarrassment of speaking it aloud, when I’m sure that it will be wrong and that even if I get the words right, I will sound foolish. Since then, I’ve been conscious of the bravery of folks who learn to speak English. Every heavily accented and broken sentence is an act of courage.
The process has made me think about the way we learn our faith. Studying the Bible, delving deeper into worship, developing your spiritual practice, and thinking about the interaction of faith and life can all feel odd at first. But learning anything feels a little like failure and a little like faking it. Recognize it for what it is, the human experience. We’re all learning. We’re all trying. We’ll all need to try again.
As proof, I’ll leave you with this anecdote from author, Neil Gaiman:
“Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, ‘I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.’
And I said, ‘Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.’
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.”
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted. Psalm 40:5
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada has always had deep respect for education. We enjoy a relationship with fourteen colleges and universities across U.S. and Canada. Many today feel that faith and intellectual pursuits stand at odds, but that isn’t part of our tradition. Jesus taught his disciples by exploring nature. The Psalmist looks to the beauty of God’s creation as the beginning of praise and contemplation. I like the way Socrates said it, "Wisdom begins in wonder."
As much of the world returns to the classroom, let’s celebrate the work that education can do for our faith, and the role it plays in bringing justice to God’s world as well. Get a list of the elementary, middle, high school, and colleges near where you live and pray for the faculty, staff, and students. Pray for the parents and all of those adults on whom much of what a child will learn truly depends.
Then, put those prayers into action by finding out what those schools need, volunteers, mentors, and financial support. And because a hungry, fearful, or lonely child can’t succeed as easily in the classroom, give special attention to those non-profits that particularly benefit those to whom wonder comes most naturally, children.
We'd love for you to join us for the Blessing of the Backpacks during worship tomorrow, August 19th at 11 am.
Learn more about Disciples history with education and more about our tradition by reading:
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.
Please note, links in the blog send you to Amazon, and a portion of the proceeds of the sale go to benefit the ministry of the church. Pastor Jana only includes those resources that she endorses and that can be of benefit to your faith life. Thank you for your support.