GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT…

How do you feel, come the year-end? Exhausted, with the feeling that the year gone has just been ‘too busy!’ Or, ‘Yes, I was busy but somehow I coped better this year.’ Or, ‘Don’t even raise the subject!’ Often we don’t seem to get the balance right, i.e. between renewal and activity, being and doing, faith and works (see Letter of James). Now that I am more or less my own boss and live within simple, missional communities (see my blogs for ‘simple/organic church’), perhaps its just a tad easier?? Theologian Karl Barth, living in the crisis days of Nazi rule, declared prayer to be “the true and proper work of the Christian,” and observed that “the most active workers and thinkers and fighters in the divine service in this world have at the same time, and manifestly, been the most active in prayer.”
Philip Yancey relates how in modern-day Los Angeles, at the Catholic Worker soup kitchen, the day’s routine always begins with a brief prayer, acknowledging that they are partners with God in serving the poor. Also, during the food preparation, one person volunteers to go off and pray for an hour. The crew insists on this practice even though the extra pair of hands could be chopping vegetables or making coffee! Finally, one morning a week, the entire community gathers for half an hour of meditative prayer. They want it to be GOD’s work, not theirs! And they don’t want to yield to the workaholism of our culture and much 21st century churchianity. Maybe we can trust God for a better balance in 2012!?
A very practical step in the right direction would be to be bold (!) enough to exchange the busy-ness of institutional Christianity for the renewal of small organic groups (of which there is much teaching in my blogs). We can certainly do without the subtle ‘control,’ driven-ness, guilt, shame and even boredom imposed by ‘church as we know it!’ C’mon, I dare you, for your and Jesus’ sake!

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