Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mini Sermon, sorry, sometimes I can't help myself...

So while I have spiritual disciplines on my mind, (like observing the Sabbath, among other practices) I find myself mulling over the concept of being a disciple. Same root word, which according to the Webster's Revised Dictionary, means:
"Dis*ci"ple\, n. [OE. disciple, deciple, OF. disciple, fr. L. discipulus, fr. discere to learn.] One who receives instruction from another; a scholar; a learner; especially, a follower who has learned to believe in the truth of the doctrine of his teacher; an adherent in doctrine; as, the disciples of Plato; the disciples of our Savior."

What is the motivation to learn, follow, and believe the Truth of Jesus? It begins with my faith, believing that I cannot measure up to the perfection required to hang out with God. I'm not good enough, I fall short of the mark (that's a nicely worded way of saying, "I sin."). So I need a Savior. I need Christ to make it right for me before God. I believe that. That's the crux of my faith.

The next step then, is to follow Him, in all His ways. To follow is a response to realizing what He's done for me. It's a jaw-dropping, head-buried-in-the-hands, face on the floor, mind-blowing reaction to what He did for me, even though I did not deserve it. Except that I can forget about it. Like the second the phone rings, or one of my kids asks me for something. So I engage in these disciplines--these actions of following and learning--to help me get realigned, to keep my perspective on Him and His Kingdom.

And here's what is really amazing about the whole thing. The more closely I follow, the more I get to know Him. The more He opens my eyes to His activity. So, in addition to saving me, He also blesses me all the time with glimpses of Him and His ways! Do I do it because I don't want to get caught doing the wrong thing? No. Do I do it so that He won't slap me down when I make a mistake? No. Or maybe to make up for all the ways I've not measured up? No. The real motivation for me to be a follower of Christ is that I don't want to miss out on the blessings He has for me. The thrill of those glimpses keeps me coming back for more.

So, I'm not thinking about coming up with a way for our family to observe the Sabbath because I'm worried about following a rule, or because God is "shoulding" me to do it. (He isn't, for the record, anyway. Jesus and Paul both made it clear in the New Testament that we are not bound by the old law.) I'm thinking about it because it seems to me that spending some time as a family remembering that gift Jesus gave us would be a blessing. It could be a chance for us to get to know God better, together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Day Set Apart

I was thinking this past Sunday about the practice of making the Sabbath holy. I had the idea that I would try to make the remainder of the day a time of rest. (I started thinking about it on Sunday--there's the first clue that I wasn't going about it right, but better to enter into the thought process late than never, yes?) I've heard enough sermons or read enough articles to know that the Sabbath is about more than putting my feet up; it's to be a day of "resting in the knowledge of who God is...." That's a beautiful phrase, one you can spend a portion of your Sabbath mulling. And I guess that's what I really wanted to do on Sunday. I wanted the God part of the day to go beyond church, to spill into the whole day. And then the kids want to play with so-and-so, and Luke needs new shoes for indoor soccer, and so life gets in the way.

What does it really mean for our family to observe the Sabbath?

For some, just making a habit of going to church every week is a beginning. For others, it may mean more.

I've heard/read lots about it. I've heard how a husband and wife actually observe a 24-hour period on separate days, because it works better for them. He takes it from Sunday afternoon into Monday afternoon, she takes it on a different day. Something about that doesn't sit right for me. When do the kids do it? But don't I sound all high and mighty...after all, we don't do it at all. I mean, we sort of do. We keep Sundays low-key. On purpose. But I think lately, I'm hungering for something more meaningful.

Maybe it's because I've been studying and reading Old Testament scriptures lately, I'm not sure, but I've just been wanting to get everything God has for me, and the idea of Sabbath is where I landed. I got out my copy of Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner. She grew up in a Jewish home, converted to Orthox Judaism and then later became a Christian--she tells that story in her book Girl Meets God--but this little book, well, here's what she says:
"This is a book about those things I miss. It is about Sabbaths and weddings and burial and prayers, ritual Jews and Christians both observe, but also rituals we observe quite differently. It is about paths to the God of Israel that both Jews and Christians travel. It is, to be blunt, about spiritual practices that Jews do better. It is, to be blunter, about Christian practices that would be enriched, that would be thicker and more vibrant, if we took a few lessons from Judaism. It is ultimately about places where Christians have some things to learn."

She is quick to point out that practicing these disciplines does not earn us our salvation, but they are part of the way we are followers of Christ--disciples. I wish I could just quote the whole first chapter, but I can't. I wish I could find something that would just list out exactly how I ought to practice observing the Sabbath, but it doesn't work that way. I think what I get most from rereading Lauren's thoughts on the Sabbath is that it is not a day for me, it is for God, a day given to and spent imitating God. And it requires some preparation on my part. And so, how will this actually work, putting this into practice in our family setting, in 2008? Not sure yet, but I'm giving it some thought.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back in the Saddle

It has been a long time since I've posted. The more time goes by, the harder it is to sit down and write. I became a bit of a news junky for a while before the election, and it was all I had on my mind, but didn't want to post about it. Mostly because I didn't/don't want this blog to become a place to talk politics.

As right as I'm sure I must be in my convictions, (wink, wink) my relationships with folks who read this blog are more important to me than swaying someone's mind. It's a hard thing to "agree to disagree," so I'd rather not talk about it at all. It's not very brave of me, but that's the way it is.

So the election is over and I've weaned myself off of the news shows and pundits... and it's time to get back to writing regularly.

I'm just finishing up Beth Moore's study of the Patriarchs. I thought it would be a good study to do after reading some Old Testament books on my own this summer. I told the gals in the group I've been studying with, I've just loved doing this study, finding the connections in God's Word from Old to New Testaments, to life right here and now. I feel like God has been wooing me into His Word, giving me bits of His Truth, little treasures a day at a time... He has such a great Plan, and it's always good.

Our circumstances at any given moment may not feel like it, (think Abraham walking up to the top of the hill, preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, or think of Jacob stealing and conniving to get the blessing from his father Isaac, or think Joseph, sitting in prison for more than two years when he was innocent) but God is at work all the time. He uses imperfect people. He loves us despite our unworthiness. Even when we waste a month watching the news....