making sense of the world 1 coffee at a time
(editorial from our church newsletter - read it online here)
Change can be hard. Change is constant. Change can be scary. But what we most fear isn’t change itself. Rather it’s what we could lose because of change. How do you deal with this constant fear of loss and the anxiety change can produce in our daily life? How do you do it as a person of faith following Jesus? I start each day with the same habit, routine or ritual. I look out the window at our yard, taking in the new day and the changes in the garden. Then I head for the kitchen to make a coffee. While the machine warms up I get the paper. The coffee ready, I then read through it. It’s my sacred space or spiritual time. I start the day trying to welcome the day God is inviting me to, savoring my favorite coffee, then reading & thinking about what’s happening around and in me, actively reflecting to glimpse where God is actively present in it all. It’s my quiet time that both grounds & prepares me.
I don’t like it when this routine is disturbed. I’m happy to give it up when we’re traveling, on vacation or have out of town visitors. But when my day beginning ritual is messed up by oversleeping, the paper not being delivered, or running out of coffee – my day seems to be thrown off kilter. I don’t mind changing it up, but I don’t like losing it. It’s more than just my daily routine. It’s how I make meaning of my day –it’s my spiritual practice or daily quiet time – through which I begin my day in prayer and gratitude. It centers me, serves as my grounding foundation for the day and remind me of God’s chronic faithfulness. Without it, I’m lost. With it, I feel ready and able to face everything that might come at me that day.
This month we celebrate Pentecost on May 11th. It’s the feast day when we celebrate and remember the birth-day story of the church community in ancient Jerusalem (told in Acts 2). But it’s more than a story. It’s our story. We gather each Sunday, and practice certain rituals: passing the peace, listening to scripture, sharing communion, and having coffee hour in order to help us make sense of life, to make meaning in our life. Many of us don’t like the format of worship to change. We don’t like too many songs from the songbook, someone sitting in “our” pew or chair at coffee hour, or an unplanned outburst of ecstatic joy by one of our children. These are some of the changes that can mess it up. We don’t like the change because we could lose what we cherish, what feeds and nurtures us, or worse yet, we might lose “our” place in our church community, the community which keeps us going from Monday through Saturday. Increasingly we’ve come to expect worship to respond to all our spiritual needs, and our pastor – or worship leader – to respond to all our wishes and to do consistently do it in a way that makes us feel safe, secure and included. We want to be assured of our place in the pews and in the life of our church community, in particular when change and transition is swarming all around us in our world, culture and city. Without our church ritual, we’re lost. It’s the spiritual practice that grounds us in the changes of life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about change and rebirth. It’s a living Word that transforms us, challenges our habits and presuppositions, and invites us to new beginnings and deeper living. Pentecost is the birthday celebration of this community of people seeking to practice this gospel-based life every day, in everything, and in every relationship. Today however, the way we do it doesn’t seem to respond to the needs of the world, and even our own needs. Somehow our faith is often practiced or experienced only on Sunday mornings. There is little, if any, congruence between Sunday Worship and Monday-Saturday life. For me, the way I practice my faith each day begins with that cup of coffee ritual and later ends with the nightly prayers shared around our family dinner table. How do you practice your faith each day? How is their congruence between your Sunday life and your Monday through Saturday life? The church isn’t the goal of the journey of faith. Rather it’s the community that accompanies us and nurtures us through that journey. How do you need God to transform your vision and expectations of church? How do you need to develop your own sacred routines or spiritual practices in your own life? Throughout May and June this is the theme that we’ll be celebrating and discussing in worship and our faith growth education classes. I pray that through our dialogue you’ll be challenged and fed!
Peace to you and yours,