Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ecclesiastes Moments

From "Practicing the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (1690):
"During our work and other actions, even during our reading and writing on spiritual projects, more -- during our exterior devotions and vocal prayers -- let us stop a few minutes, as often as we can, to adore God in the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him, as it were, in passing and in secret."
And this gem from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote "On Loving God" in the early 11th century:
"On a lower plane of action, it is the reluctant, not the eager, whom we urge by promises of reward. Who would think of paying a man to do what he was yearning to do already? For instance no one would hire a hungry man to eat, or a thirsty man to drink, or a mother to nurse her own child. Who would think of bribing a farmer to dress his own vineyard, or to dig about his orchard, or to rebuild his house? So, all the more, one who loves God truly asks no other recompense than God Himself." (emphasis added)
There are times in this journey where I have Ecclesiastes Moments: "Meaningless! Meaningless! All is vanity and chasing after the wind!" 

I read anti-emerging blogs and feel (to use an vintage Vineyard phrase) "slimed" by the sarcastic and angry rhetoric. I surf over to pro-emerging blogs, and feel slimed by the sarcastic and angry rhetoric against the anti-emergents, the modern church, and western capitalistic society in general -- and it sometimes makes me want to unplug my own blog and withdraw from the conversation.

Sometimes I pray, "Jesus, just give me a few friends who are people of the spark, and we'll do ministry together, in anonymity, and be satisfied with that and with You." The ranting and raving on all sides gets overwhelming at times.

My father has, more than once, suggested that people like me are needed in Christian circles. His metaphor is "You're a burr under the saddle that's needed, to keep pushing for change." As much as I understand what he means (and my father and I have a great relationship that I'm very thankful to God for), there are times I want to facetiously point out:
  • the "burr" is caught between the saddle and the horse, and tends to get a lot of weight slamming onto it -- repeatedly
  • eventually, as the burr makes its presence known, somebody reaches under the saddle, grabs the burr, and throws it into the campfire where the rest of the cowboys are cooking their grits 'n' beans en route to a Blazing Saddles-inspired fart-fest
  • nobody ever misses the burr after it gets burnt up, although both horse and rider are relieved and seem to be sadistically enjoying watching the burr burn
Not the kind of personal mission statement that I'd normally get excited about.

That's when quotes like Brother Lawrence's and St. Bernard's come into play. They remind me that it's not about emerging, submerging, pomerging, or being post-evangelical, post-charismatic, post-colonial, post-post-modern, or whatever.

And it's not about me.

When I read about the great saints listed in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) -- men and women of God who clung to their faith and their love of God, even though they died before seeing the results of their faith -- it helps to put things back into a proper perspective.

Some people need to get back into the saddle again; perhaps I need to get back under it.

Because it's not about me.

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