Beloved St. John’s community,
We have now entered into Lent, that yearly season of the church year in which we take a courageous look at our lives, to see what might need adjusting. It’s a spiritual spring cleaning, if you will, or a church-wide fourth step (for those of you who are familiar with twelve step programs). And, for nearly two years now, we have been seeking to reframe how we understand Christian faith in terms of Jesus’ “Way of Love,” which involves seven practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest. These seven verbs can influence how we go about all our life and ministry—collectively, taken together, they do describe the shape and rhythm of what it looks like to follow Jesus and his Way. The practice “turn” might be the one we most associate with lent—seeing where we might need to shift direction.
But the last practice, rest, may also be relevant for us during Lent. Rest may be the hardest practice to engage. It doesn’t imply downtime only, but being restored in the presence of God. We need this practice very much. Without it, the other six practices can tempt us to overactivity and burnout, or worse, drawing too much from our personal resources without reliance on the presence and power of God.
There is a still point, deep in our being, where God resides. Seeing clearly through all the layers of our identities and character and experiences, we can touch this place. We can hold the truth of all of it—the good and the not so good, the “successes” and “failures,” the resentments and regrets, in the presence of God, and become still. If our image of God is healed enough, we can entrust all of it to God, and seek guidance on how to go forward. But to receive that guidance, we need stillness, listening, and receptivity. We need rest.
Where do you most need rest? My prayer for you, me and all of us is that we may discover the place of rest in the presence of God, and become still there.
Faithfully, in Christ’s love,