Thursday, March 09, 2006

Simple (Spiritual) Pleasures

Last night I went to a Lenten program at church, and it was good. (Aside: I tend to exaggerate so much that the word "good" seems often like a D on a report good - subpar. I forget that the word has meaning and power.)

There were about 20 or so people who attended. They ranged in age from mid-twenties to probably mid-sixties, various professions, and various ethnicities. We ate a light meal provided by volunteers and after dinner, we retired to a circle of chairs and a discussion group. The theme: "How do we make our faith a part of our everyday lives?" Talk about basic - I've been answering this question since I could talk, but everyone's personal experiences really illuminated my own thoughts. The affirmation, challenge, and encouragement were real. No one pretended they knew it all. No one had a list or even guidelines - we all helped each other struggle with service and volunteering, financial giving, relationships with fellow Christians and those outside the faith, even how we treat grocery store clerks. There was no condemnation or even discouragement meted out - it was about encouraging each other, pooling ideas and experiences to bring us to an understanding of the beauty and true joy that can be found when we live the love we've been given.

When we'd talked for an hour, we headed upstairs and partook of the Eucharist together. It was beautiful. It was an honor to participate with brothers and sisters and to know that we were all striving TOGETHER to see God's kingdom on earth - not by making sure the 10 Commandments were posted on our court houses or that every kid was forced to listen to Christian prayers in school but by thanking those who waited upon us in restaurants, by being honest about faith and struggle with inquiring coworkers, by spending time in prayer for and service to our communities, by blessing our families, by honoring God.

It's been a while since I lived/worshipped in such a beautiful community. I feel so blessed to experience it again. They're living out this passage, one that's become important to me over the last few weeks:

With what shall I come to the LORD
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8, NASB)

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