So here I am waiting for Leo to come home. His plane was almost two hours late getting out of Toronto – some malfunction in the air conditioning. But he called an hour or so ago and has safely arrived in Saskatoon. He was taking the guys for supper and then would head home – so I am guessing he’ll get here around midnight.
This week is going to be busy. We have lots of stuff going on in the community; a reading of A Christmas Carol and the Peter Pan musical; Christmas parties are happening and there are several meetings. I also have to recertifiy in my CPR this week. Our office does this together and Tuesday night is the course. We’ll do Pizza and then right into the course, then right after that worship practice, so I won’t even get home that evening till late.
Usually we get things off to a kickstart. This year our Advent was launched with a kneeling start.
I guess we expect to experience God in our worship but often miss Him since we are distracted by other things in our lives. Today, in our morning worship, He was with us in a profound way. I guess a week of prayer where so many came and met God does this to a congregation. We almost took over for Randall the entire time of his words to us and we heard instead from God through the stories of people who had been affected in special ways by God through our prayer walk. And then Randall challenged us to go now and live what we believe. A fitting ending to a week of prayer, World Relief Sunday and the beginning of Advent. Good thing we are not Americans or we would have had to fit Thanksgiving in there somewhere too!
The week was an intense experience for myself. It was like being on a prayer retreat, even though work went on as usual and all the other activities of the children made demands on my time. I was able to spend some time in this very sacred space each day. Leo was away the whole week (he’s going to regret missing this) and so aside from the kids demands on my time, I was free. Going up to the church after everything settled down for the night at home was a good way to end the day. Started it that way a couple of times too. God’s presence was so close, for me, in the silence. It was like I had described in a poem I wrote awhile ago:
You are so close.
The perfume of your presence
Lies in the air around me.
You envelop me
And fill me
With your breath of life.
God did come and visit me during this week. Although I won’t be able to carry on the same rythmn of these past days, I know that what God has been working on in me, will continue. So I look forward to how God is going to carry me deeper in my faith and teach me more about Himself.
Now Advent can begin! And that will lead us to the wonder of our God’s incarnation.
And I am ready for this celebratory time – the music and the candles and the sparkling lights and even the parties to start.
Those of us who get together to practice and lead worship on Sundays pass a lot of crazy e-mails between us. It is kind of fun being crazy with a few other likeminded (also a bit crazy) people. Of course the head honcho, the big cheese, the ring leader of all this is our PR. He starts it off most weeks. Even has accused us of being under the influence of illicit substances after certain fiascos on Sunday mornings! What on earth could he be thinking – just because we missed every cue that we had diligently practiced just 90 minutes before!
As I said, it is fun getting together with like minded crazy people. And more often than we deserve, God comes and makes use of what we are doing – even when we do all the songs differently than how we practiced.
I was just musing on what is the meaning of PR – that is what got this entry started. It just remembered me that PR was the term we used for the really important pastors in the Congo – in our “communauté” the head pastors were the “Pasteur Responsable” or as we usually shortened everything down to it’s acronym – the PR. So for the CEUM of the ECC (ex-ECZ) in the DRC you Randall would really be the PR. Now we just have to figure out the meaning of this “responsable” part!!
If you want to see some of the responsible things we are doing in our church, head over to Randall’s blog. We have been spending a considerable amount of time in prayer this week and it has been very good. You could even do our prayer walk, in a sense, on-line. Not quite as good as the real thing but you can get a sense of where we’ve been this week.
Once again Vivid has written a poem (yours is the day) that arises out of Psalm 74. Read it and be blessed. I especially like the way she expresses that for God the day is always new and that he always has time – for us.
Jordon Cooper has a link on his site to an article from Christianity Today – an interview with Eugene Peterson. It seems to be hitting right where I am at as far as my needing congruence – a good sense of alignment of who I am and what I do. I think I get too caught up in wanting the contemplative side of my life to take precedence but I am also a person who has been given certain practical gifts and, as far as I know, I need to continue to use them. I guess I need to find a renewed sense of being useful to God where I am now. I need to live out my life in this constant tension between the practical work world in which I live and the world of the spirit where I would like to dwell.
I especially liked the following quotes from the article:
“Do not let the word “contemplative” throw you off, Peterson admonished. He is not interested in an isolated life spent pondering high-minded concepts. Instead, the contemplative Christian life can be described by what he saw in Tournier—a life lived with “wholeness, honesty, without contrivance.” One word that comes to mind is authenticity, but the one Peterson used over and over was congruence—the alignment of who you are and what you do, the harmony of the ends you seek and the means you use to achieve them….”
“It’s easier to talk about what Christians do—life as performance,” Peterson said. But the three pieces of Jesus’ fundamental declaration that he is the way, the truth, and the life, must be in perfect correspondence. “Only when we live Jesus’ truth in Jesus’ way do we get Jesus’ life,” Peterson said. Not his truth in our way for the sake of our life….”
“He introduced this baffling paradox of the Christian life. “This is slow work; it cannot be hurried. This is urgent work; it cannot be procrastinated.” In American culture, in which “fast” is equated with “good,” this is a contradiction. What’s worse about the contemplative life, he told me afterwards, is that “most of the time you’re unconscious of it. … The minute you start thinking about it, you mess it up; there’s a sense of always having dissonance.”
I do want my life to be in proper alignment – to be living Jesus’ way, to be doing what I do the way I do it because of Jesus living in me.
I think there is a lot of truth to the statement about the contemplative life best being lived unconsciously. I begin to lose the purpose he called me to when I start to worry if there is perhaps a more contemplative life for me somewhere. I need to live in the “now” doing the jobs he has placed right in front of me. Sort of need to keep my feet on the ground, hands in the mouths, eyes on Jesus. Above all keep my eyes on Jesus.
Tonight I went over to the church again to walk the prayer walk. Each time I go it seems to change me in a subtle but sure way. It is as if I am an onion and each time I go God takes off another layer – getting to my core. I’m not sure what we’ll get down to – what is really at the core of me – what God sees there that he wants to do something with. I guess God knows exactly what is or isn’t there. It’s more a problem of me not knowing what he wants or even what is there for him to want to use.
There has been something going on within me over the past few months, maybe longer. This blog is probably part of that. A sort of dissatisfaction with the staus quo of my life. Looking at new ways of expressing my faith and wondering where I need to go next. Does he have any more adventures in store for me? I guess I don’t want to become complacent or so cozy in my little corner of faith that I settle for less than he has for me. I like it that life is an adventure. I like the thought that God may have some new task for me or may want me to explore new ways of growing deeper in my faith.
But I find it so frustrating that this part of my journey is so lonely. I wish I had someone to teach me more. I read and try to study but it is hard to find someone who will teach me more about what I am reading and who can explain some of the things I am experiencing. I don’t want to start going off in weird directions spiritually or, on the other hand, simply spinning aimlessly because I have been following my own footsteps in circles like Pooh and Piglet rather than following God. And I think this is an easier trap to fall into than I would like to think. I am afraid that my looking for new experiences is the easy way out and distracts me from accomplishing what God has right before me – that maybe God still has a use for me doing what I am doing now. Or does he have some of both the new and the old in his plans for me?
The women I am studying The Jesus I Never Knew by Yancy with are a big help. It is good to be with a group that is interested in growing in faith. But I feel so inadequate to be any kind of a leader because I am still searching for so much more in my own faith. I sort of feel like a toddler in front of a candy dish wanting more, more, more of the experience of knowing God. And then in the back of my head there is this little voice that says – “Grow up and act more sedately. You’re too old and experienced to get all excited or even want to get excited about God. And for heavens sake use more spiritual language when you speak to him!”
So I will go again through the prayer walk, looking for some sort of clarity as I sort through these questions in my life. It is very good to have a place to go – a sacred space for me these days.
Yesterday I had a neat experience. One I haven’t had for a long time. I went to work as usual. I had prayed in my morning time with God that I would be helpful to someone today, that somehow my work would bless someone.
Instead, it worked the other way around. One of my patients came in and before I had a chance to do anything he said, “Thank-you”. I think I must have looked a bit taken aback when he said that. It was totally out of nowhere. And that is all he said at first. Then looking at my sort of surprised face, he said, “I mean thank- you for looking after my teeth and helping me get them back in order. I had let them get pretty bad”
This one thank-you makes up for a lot of the unthankful, even critical, people we see every day. He blessed me in a way he may not even realize.