I am important; Therefore I am busy!

A few days ago, as I was reading my Facebook Feed, an ad appeared inviting me to preview an app for my iPhone called Blinkist.  This app is the modern-day equivalent to Readers Digest Condensed Books.  By signing up you can read 15- minute summaries of more than 3000 books with titles found in most of the major non-fiction categories.  Based upon the ad copy, Blinkist is intended for very busy people who are brilliant, exceedingly important, and above average in appearance.   After carefully considering the criteria, I assumed I exceeded the requirements in every category and proceeded to sign up for this exclusive Ap that purported to change my life. 

One of the books I reviewed included a title authored by John Mark Comer, a pastor of large rapidly growing church in Portland Oregon.  The Title caught my eye, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.  Mr. Comer believes that the readers of this title can learn to eliminate hurry from their lives and savor every day.  Comer further reported that he learned how to slow down, savor the world around him, and start living a much more fulfilling life.  In The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, the author promises readers help to understand the following:

  1. Why we have become addicted to busyness and speed;
  2. How accepting our limitations can give us more possibilities; and
  3. Why having more time won’t make us less busy.

So, here are the key points of this book:

  • Hurry is a threat to our emotional well-being and spiritual life.
  • New technologies have fundamentally altered our relationship to time and made us busier.
  • Trying to do everything and be everywhere is unrealistic and is making us exhausted.
  • To have meaningful, unhurried spiritual lives, we need emulate Jesus’s lifestyle.
  • Make sure to create time for silence and solitude every day.
  • Take a day off every week to rest and worship.
  • By consuming less and sharing more, we’ll have more time for things that really matter.
  • Slow down your life and make it less efficient to attain more peace of mind.

I believe there a so many persons in our community that are exhausted by their chronic busyness.  And I believe our church can provide spiritual direction and support to persons who yearn for a better way of life in a Christian context.  I think a sermon series addressing these key points starting in Lent is in order.

Come and See,

MCW

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We live in a wo…

We live in a world of widespread economic fragility, of insecurity, of what some have come to call precarity: According to one recent survey, about one-in-four Americans have no savings at all. (Bill Moyers)

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Thursday, March 8

 . . . being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:21 (NRSV)

Keeping promises has lost the luster it once had.  So many promises made in the public arena in politics, business, education, and in matters sacred seems broken.  Many promises are broken privately.  The private promises we break are more hurtful than any other kind.  They seem to hit us where we live.

God promised Abraham he would have many descendants.  These heirs would find an experience with God like no other before.  To fulfill that promise God sent Jesus to become the Lord and Savior of the world.  Each and every time one person makes that proclamation of God’s sovereignty the promise made to Abraham is met.

So God is keeping his promise to us.  In return, for our promise, we are called as Christians to live our lives in ways that fulfill God’s promise to Abraham.  We are called to live faithfully.

How does living faithfully work in your life?

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Wednesday, March 7

 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” Genesis 17:4 (NRSV)

God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants forms the foundation of our faith.  I find it fascinating that God would begin his long standing relationship with your family and mine by calling an infertile couple of advanced years to change the course of events as we now know them.  Such an inauspicious start to our storied lives!

Abraham and Sarah’s story is a complicated one; full of twists and turns.  There are false starts; cowardly decisions, and of course brave actions.  In many respects, their story is not so different from yours and mine.  Reading their narrative is similar to living ours.

Where will God lead you?

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Tuesday, March 6

 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him. Psalm 22:24 (NRSV)

The role of social media in this digital age has transformed communication.  Everyone’s words can be transmitted.  You can post your comments about newspaper articles, list your critique of recent movies, and express your political opinions with very few restrictions on the content.  We are used to having our say.

This was not always so.  The psalmist speaks of God hearing the pleas of those with afflictions; of Yaweh not turning his face away.  In context, the least being heard was a profound reversal of the social order.  While I would like to think things have changed, I am not certain they have.

There are many persons who remain unheard.  Their voices drowned out by the competition of all thing secular.  In the cacophony of over communication, God still speaks and listens.

Are we listening?

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Monday, March 5

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever! Psalm 22:26 (NRSV)

The plight of the poor is a recurring theme throughout the Bible.  The Psalmist in the context of this passage speaks of persons in poverty eating and finding satisfaction.  God is concerned  about the needs of all persons; most especially the poor.

Since God is concerned about the poor, then we are required to share that concern by meeting the needs of the hungry and the associated problems including homelessness, exploitation, to name a few.  It is a daunting task.

It is interesting that many blame the poor for their plight.  Some say that poverty is a choice.  The Bible is quite clear.  The reasons for poverty are not important; responding to the need regardless of cause is critical.

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Sunday, March 4

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (NRSV)

This text from Mark formed the scriptural basis for my sermon this morning.  I pointed out at this point in the narrative Jesus has drawn large crowds and s performing miraculous acts of healing.   The atmosphere surrounding him was similar to the crowds that follow popular musicians.  To quote a famous line from Jesus Christ Superstar, “One thing I’ll say for him, Jesus is cool!”

Then Jesus turns his disciples in a completely different direction by telling them of his approaching passion, crucifixion, and resurrection.  And he adds another requirement; how we must take up our cross and follow him.  It is a sobering moment.

As we continue our Lenten journey, we should remember this cross taking requirement is not going to be a cool thing.  The sacrifice we are called to make is demanding.  I think the sacrifice is worth it.

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Saturday, March 3

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.  Mark 1:12-13 (NRSV)

The central theme of the texts for this week bring a focus upon the challenges we meet following the teachings of Jesus.  The image of the freshly baptized Jesus in the wilderness praying, fasting, and enduring temptation is meant to parallel the difficulties we face in our walk of faith.  God’s love sustained Jesus in the wilderness.  That same support is available to us.

How is your journey?  Are the challenges frustrating?

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Friday, March 2

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11 (NRSV)

Do you remember your baptism?  I remember mine vividly.  I was seven years old.  I was happy and relieved.  I wasn’t going to hell.  And I got to take communion the next time it was served at church!

The significance of the sacrament of baptism is often overlooked.  Some congregations observe baptisms so often the event seems routine.  Others celebrate baptism so seldom many in those congregations have never seen the sacrament.  (The water in those baptistries is too rusty for use! )  In some congregations baptism is no longer celebrated publicly.  Many want the service to be a private moment.  I find that reason a bit sad.  The sacrament of baptism is a bold public statement indicating our understanding that we are being washed.  We are vulnerable in that moment.  We are obedient.

God is pleased when we are baptized.  If for no other reason we should encourage others to embrace the faith and follow Jesus in baptism.

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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Thursday, March 1

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 (NRSV)

I live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt.  Church is the center of our culture.  In this part of the world you attend services Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night too.  The theological emphasis is built upon a personal relationship with Jesus.  Marriage is a sacred relationship between a man and a woman only.  The politics in this culture are conservative.  There is very little deviation permitted from these core teachings.

Many persons no longer fit this “Bible Belt” model.  There is genuine anger in many conservative congregations over the gradual decline in persons choosing to embrace this model of religious conservatism.  This is where culture wars emerge.

Christ died for all of us.  No one is left out.  Christ’s love for us is universal. We have no right to exclude any genuine seeker from the opportunity to find God in our midst.  God embraces us all.  We have no right to do less.

Grace and Peace,

MCW

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