for the good of all…

We have no right to our possessions; they have been entrusted to us for the good of all.  Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him:  we are dependent upon him for our very existence.  And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well; what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?

– Paulinus of Nola (5th cent monk), in Common Prayer
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a five minute challenge

Life moves quickly.

The pace of things in our contemporary world is astounding. Within seconds of an event, millions find out about it on Twitter. Within moments of an idea, friends or co-workers around the world receive an email. Years and months seem like passe measures of time in a world where everything is instant, always on, and continually connected.

Give me seven minutes of your precious time–two minutes to read and five minutes to practice something. I think you’ll be amazed.

Our challenge–slow down. Just for a few minutes.

Part of simple living is slowing down. Slowing down in order to be aware of what is going on around us. Slowing down in order to enjoy the little things in life that bring joy on a minute-by-minute basis. Slowing down to focus on what is important in the midst of the noise and busyness of life.

Part of the Christian life, at least in today’s society, involves slowing down. Slowing down to be aware of the needs around us we might otherwise miss. Slowing down to give thanks for the simple blessings we’re given each day. Slowing down to be deliberately led by Christ instead of blinding following only our to-do lists or calendars.

As simple as is the idea of slowing down, it is also revolutionary and counter-cultural.

Do it anyway.

Specifically, sometime today, take five minutes and do this:

  • put down your phone (you’ll live, I promise)
  • go outside
  • walk, slowly
  • still the noise in your head
  • breathe deeply
  • look
  • listen
  • feel
  • smell
  • relax
  • enjoy

It doesn’t matter if you live and work in the country or in the city. Get outside and slow down for a few minutes. Autumn is upon us most places in the States…look around and see the reds, yellows, and oranges. Listen to the birds sing or the dogs bark. Feel the sunshine, which feels good this time of year. Notice the breeze blowing on your face. Smell the scents of Fall.

A few minutes outside is a good thing. It relieves stress. It gives your eyes a break from your computer screen or your books. It stretches your legs. It gives you time to focus. It lets you think about things that are really important instead of only things that are urgent.

Hopefully this little challenge will somehow become part of not just a routine but part of what it means for you to live simply, Christian.

So…how’d it go?

stumbling along: thoughts on worship

For the times when we have…
…read the liturgy extra quickly to get on with our day,
…used a shorter creed just because it was shorter,
…omitted lectionary readings because they were too long,
…skipped verses in our hymns because we didn’t want to sing that much,
Lord, have mercy.

For the times when we have…
…changed historic prayers for the sake of worldly political correctness,
…edited the creeds instead of taking the time to explain them,
…littered our sermons with jokes for a quick laugh and personal approval,
…caved to the false god of relevance at the expense of faithfulness,
Lord, have mercy.

O Lord, “we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror,” and we stumble.

Our worship looks less like the communion of the saints than it does children at daycare.

We are selfish about our preferences,
impatient when you have called us to be still,
immature when you have exhorted us to maturity,
concerned more about ourselves than you or others.

As a loving Father, have mercy on your children until we “see everything with perfect clarity.”

The Blessing of Discomfort

I found this great post from Michael Hyatt while clearing out my Instapaper inbox today.  He cites a benediction forwarded to him by his wife.

To describe it as counter-cultural is an understatement.  It’s revolutionary.

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,

So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done

To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen

Can you imagine a world of Christians receiving this blessing…and then acting on it?  A continent?  A nation?  A congregation?  It would change the world.

Jesus called his first followers to the pathway of simplicity in their own time that still resonates for those who seek to find wholeness in their daily tasks. He invited them to move from anxiety about many things to experiencing peace in all things by following the one God in the many adventures of life. To harried followers then and now, Jesus suggested an alternative way of life, grounded in trusting God’s presence and seeking God’s realm in every situation.

— from “The Pathway of Simplicity”
…a great article with the exception of neutering God when quoting Matthew 6