I’ve had a helpful week off work – restful, reflection, creative, and many other things…mainly pottering!
It is very tempting to return to ministry and work at 100 miles an hour but that won’t be any good for anyone. Rush and busyness are the cult of our day, and we’re all summoned to ‘worship’ at its golden calf incessantly. It just isn’t possible to maintain ministry at 100 miles an hour and still have meaningful time to offer to people, to the ministry of God’s word and to prayer.
Early on in last year’s lockdown, a group of us read together a book entitled ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ by John Mark Comer. The book invites people to take a fresh look at the demands of our day, and simply to reflect on them. My own observations are that we are the creators of our own busyness because this bolsters our sense of value. It is more socially acceptable to say ‘I’m really busy’ than it is to say ‘no, things are spacious and I have time for all the things that are important.’ Even less acceptable to say ‘no, I can’t do that right now.’ I can even feel myself judging myself for that being the goal! I can also hear the ‘opinions of others’ – the other disciples of busy – raising their critical grumblings (or, it could just be my lunch…).
There is value in really investing ourselves in our work – don’t mishear me. But in the bigger scheme of things, it’s so easy to lose the soul of life in the living of what life has become in our 24/7 society!
The call of the gospel reminds us that there is one thing necessary: to glorify God – to seek him and his rhythms. Yes, that will involve many activities of various descriptions, but it is primarily about a posture of the heart.
‘Why am I writing this?’ I ask myself.
Well, I’m writing against a backdrop of the temptation to rush unreflectively back to life as it was ‘before’ the pandemic with a strong sense that not everything that was part of life before the pandemic is worth rushing back to.
I hope that most of us realise the things that really are important: being with the people we love; enjoying beautiful spaces; lingering over long meals; the honest satisfaction of the simplest of things; the buzz of a little coffee shop on a restful day off.
As far as church is concerned, there are many things I do miss. All boiled down, however, it is this: people. Living life with the body of Christ. For me, it really isn’t about the provision of religious goods and services like we’re just some niche country club. Nor is it about putting on the best, biggest or shiniest show in the town. It is about finding the way of helping a community of people flesh out the life of Christ collectively and individually in the places where we are. In doing this, we fulfil the call and the mission of Christ, because this life rightly lived will flow into our communities in abundant love.
I am looking forward to this next season in life and ministry which will allow for increasing levels of re-establishing face to face connection. I mean, praise God for the internet for making possible things which would have otherwise been impossible, but humans are made for a different kind of connection.
So, today, I am choosing to worship at a different altar.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matt 11: 28 – 30 MSG
Sounds good to me. You?