Good morning. I mentioned in an email last week that we will be sending out a brief devotion each day during this difficult time. We start today. Because we are just getting started, what follows is considerably longer that what we will send out most days. These moments aren’t meant to be an arduous endurance contest. They’re meant to be little drops of grace, nothing more. That said, here we go:
God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves – St. Augustine Setting aside some time every day to connect with God in a focused way is always a good idea. We’re especially underlining this practice now, not just because it’s intrinsically constructive, but because it is a way toward experiencing the ongoing connection we have with each other through Christ.
Many of you have had some exposure to a little book called, The Practice of the Presence of God, which describes the unique spiritual life of a 17th century French monk named Brother Lawrence. The hallmark of Brother Lawrence’s ongoing relationship with Christ was his focus on being connected with God in every moment, regardless of what he was doing. From the book:
It was observed, that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen, he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season with an even uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. "The time of business," said he, "does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper." Again: “In the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper." To always be aware of God’s presence that way, to live in the presence of the Holy Spirit with joy, is something we all long for (whether we know it or not). But most of us don’t feel connected to God in that way.
Question 1): when is the last time you decided to “try again,” to see what happens if you make a renewed commitment to deepen your relationship with Christ? Last time you intensified your resolve and your spiritual practices, what happened? What worked? What didn’t?
Question 2): how about giving it another shot now, for the next 6 weeks or so? We are isolated from one another in a way we never have been. This isolation generates loneliness, aggravation, and worry. Ideally, we would feel less isolated because of our shared faith; we are offered unique fellowship with one another through Christ. But truth be told, our transcendent fellowship may be real, but it is something of an abstract notion. It’s a mystery that it’s difficult to wrap our minds around. It’s a fact from which it's difficult to derive anything that really feels substantial. So, ...
My Point: We can’t feel connected to each other through the Holy Spirit if we aren’t connected to God through the Spirit in the first place. Thus the place for us to start is with our relationships with Christ.
Invitation: You are cordially invited to set a timer (your watch, your phone, a clock, your kitchen oven) to go off every hour. If you can’t set your timer to go off hourly, reset it every hour. When the alarm goes off, say some version of this prayer: Jesus, thank you for being here. Thank you that you are here, with me, for me, right now. Help me know that you love me. Help me love you in return. Help me in the next hour to be aware that you are with me, loving me, enjoying me, encouraging me, in all I am doing. Amen. Jesus' love and grace and peace to you this day.
Northminster Presbyterian Church 400 Rancheria Road | Diamond Bar, CA 91765 | PH: (909) 861-4715