Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Why pay attention to our spiritual lives?

August 21, 2018

Christians have always been attentive to reality that prayer, worship, the sacraments and other spiritual practices are important. In many churches and individual people’s lives it is simply a given. But why?  Why are those practices important?

One of the first things we tend to say is that spiritual practices help us grow closer to God. They improve and deepen our personal faith. That’s true and it is a good thing.

John Calvin wrote that sin is our hearts turned in on themselves. Spiritual practices are how we turn our hearts outward. A friend made an apt analogy. When plants get too dry they shrivel and their leave curl up. Water allows the leaves to uncurl and the plant expand and grow.  Spiritual practices are how we uncurl our parched, dry souls.

But I think there is another reason also. Spiritual practices are for us but they are also for the world. Spiritual practices ground us in the heart of God. They help give us eyes to see and ears to hear what delights God and what breaks God’s heart. Spiritual practices change us so that we can change the world and help God’s vision for the world- as best as we understand it- to become reality.

When our hearts are curled inward, we focus on ourselves. What Eugene Peterson calls the unholy trinity, my wants, my needs, my desires. Spiritual practices give us the ability, the strength to long for God’s desires. We are re oriented outward.

This is, for most of us, slow work. But through prayer, worship, reading the Bible, deep conversations we become increasingly uncomfortable with the way things are. We begin to long for a more just, more fair world.

Can you think of a time the practice of a spiritual discipline changed your outlook?

 

More Sacred Resistance

August 19, 2018

I continue to read Ginger Gaines-Cirelli’s book Sacred Resistance: A Practical Guide to Christian Witness and Dissent. There continues to be many, many useful ideas to ponder.

In addition to grounding our actions in God’s love by attending to our own spiritual life we also need to be clear about what God is calling us to do. The amount of evil, the sheer volume of things that are not aligned with God’s will is overwhelming. I can’t fix everything and neither can you.  I am not called to fix everything, and neither are you.

This practice of keeping crisis in perspective can only be achieved in the context of a holistic vision that is truly committed to the common good. Without such a vision, every eruption of new violence or injustice can feel like the end of days. Unmoored from history or context, senseless, banal acts of evil and destruction will tempt us to reactivity-fight or flight-instead of to reasoned, thoughtful, faithful, response.

Perspective is how we “hold” reality, how we frame it and understand it. If our framework is God’s saving love always at work for the healing and wholeness of the world, we hold moments of crisis differently than we might within another frame.  (Page 18)

In the context of sacred resistance, part of keeping perspective is to be clear about what role God is calling you to play. Nobody can attend to all the needs all the time. (page 19)

How do we keep this perspective? This isn’t actually rocket science. Go to worship. Pray. Participate in the sacraments. Have a community of believers you can be honest and open with. Look for the places you can see God at work- in beauty, in nature, in other people.  Notice acts of kindness and care. Do little acts of kindness and care- for others and yourself.

How do we discern what role God is calling you or I to do? Again, this in some ways is simple. What breaks your heart? What inspires you? What skills, and abilities do you have? Some of us can feed hungry people. Some of us can craft legislation and lobby congress to create systemic changes. Some of us can survey our town and locate food deserts and work to  change zoning and encourage local development to address local food insecurity problems. Each of us does our piece.

Always working out of a centeredness in the divine life, working out of love for the common good.

How do you know what role God is calling you to? What do you do to keep your perspective?

 


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