Monday, August 31, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

After my last retreat at the Abbey at Gethsemani at the end of July, I felt led by the Lord to begin establishing Sabbath keeping each week for our family. For the last three weeks, we have attempted to "keep Sabbath" from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday. We have had mixed success, but generally the weekends have felt a little more purposeful. We seemed to find a key ingredient with this past Sunday, as we ventured out of our normal Sunday routine for a hike in Jefferson Memorial Forest. Even though the hike was tiring (labeled "moderate" on the map and definitely a challenge in places, especially for the kids - it took us almost two hours to go 2 miles), we came back feeling refreshed in spirit having been in God's creation wilderness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Community starts with the Trinity and extends out through our broken lives into the lives of others, with winsome power for loving change.

(all NIV)
1 Corinthians 1:8-9, "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."

2 Corinthians 13:14, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Philippians 2:1-2, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."

Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

1 John 1:3, 6-7, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."

"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

I have been trying to meditate on these texts since a negative church experience on Sunday left me reeling and in doubt that "community" will ever happen. Particularly the ones from 1 John 1. I felt the Lord calling me first to Himself, before I give myself to others (always the healthy way to do it). My hope is kindled again. If I can remember that community and fellowship don't depend on how I'm perceived, how well I'm loving others or being loved, but on God's promises in Jesus, my new identity as His beloved, then I can stay hopeful despite messy community experiences.

a hope and a calling?

Very often it seems these days I am overwhelmed with sadness as I look at what used to be my "calling," (my gifted purpose in the world and in the church) which now sits in rubble. I felt strongly called to teach theology, church history and Bible with a pastoral emphasis. That all came crashing down with my soul's apparent collapse in 2002-2003. Since then I've been trying to pick up the pieces, trying desperately to make sense of it all, to see some sort of plan that would make sense of my inner anguish.

Now all I have is phantom feelings, like an amputee who has lost a limb but whose brain still registers occasional sensation. I am haunted by these phantoms as I look as I look at my library collecting dust, hear of "pastor's schools" going on, try to have fellowship with others, etc. I still feel strong desires for leading others, but no internal energy to see it come to fruition; desire to exegete and proclaim Scripture, a desire to read good theology and history, a desire to help people see God's glory in Jesus, etc.

I sometimes doubt that there will ever be that sense of calling again within me - where "my deepest desires and the world's great need meet." I doubt that synergy will happen, where my gifts and passions will find their home in me and in the church.