'Tis a Gift to be Simple
‘You are the light of the world. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14,16
I visited the Spring Valley Bruderhof last week for a meeting of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. The Bruderhof is a community of Christians who share all things in common and live in simplicity and community. We were welcomed with smiles and warmth. We were greeted with gift bags, including a hand drawn card by the children of the community and a package of delicious cookies.
When our meeting had concluded, we were welcomed to view a display of books that the Bruderhof publishes. All of them were offered to us free of charge because of our shared common ministry. We then had lunch with the community, interspersed among the families to talk and laugh together. The meal began with singing, and was plentiful, simple, and delicious. I felt Christ's presence strongly in that place.
As I was reflecting on this experience, I came upon words written by the founder of the Bruderhof communities, Eberhard Arnold. In his book, Salt and LIght: Talks and Writings on the Sermon on the Mount, he writes, “Even the sun directs our gaze away from itself and to the life illumined by it.” I realized that their simplicity was about directing their gaze. It allows them to look on the reflections of God's beauty and grace around them instead of being focused on the daily details of life. More importantly, because of their simplicity, their focus is not on themselves but on being of service to their community and the world.
As lights of the world, we are called to live in such a way that God's glory shines through us. Yet, much of our attention is taken by the daily problems and concerns of living in the modern world. I wonder what we could simplify in our own lives so that our attention and the attention of others could be given to God's goodness?
To read more about the Bruderhof, consider reading:
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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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