Joe’s talk on June 16, 2013, summarized by Mary Ann Holtz
The series on a Rule of Life which Joe began a couple of weeks ago focuses on faithfulness to God, rather than culture. The biblical story which we are drawing upon comes from the Book of Daniel. Joe’s talk on June 16, 2013 built on Daniel 3:4-18. This passage tells of the crisis for Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego. They knew they were only supposed to bow down to God; they couldn’t worship rival Gods. Ultimately they were going to have to decide where their true loyalties lay. We all know the story: the king throws them into the furnace and they are saved. Everyone then knew that God had no rival, that there is one true God.
Now in our day, in our time, I think one of God’s biggest rivals or idols is a culture of busy-ness and hurry. The tension is about whether we’re going to fill our time with a lot of other stuff that’s important to the culture…or are we going to organize our lives so that we’re available to God? The idol we’re asked to bow to is the idol of busy-ness & hurry, filling up our lives with stuff that doesn’t really matter.
So today we’re going to talk about REST and see what we can learn about this essential part of the Christian life.
Think about this statement: EVERYTHING WE DO SHAPES US.
The way we spend our time, the things we think about, pursue, and invest ourselves in, all of those things shape us.
That’s why Nebuchadnezzar wanted everybody to bow down 5 times a day to him – he knew that would shape them as people.
EVERYTHING WE DO SHAPES US: either it is building us up or tearing us down.
This idea is part of why I think the apostle Paul wrote: Eph. 5:15-17 “Be very careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil. Therefore do not be senseless but learn to comprehend what is the will of the Lord.” I think for most of us, our days have a way of sucking us in and we get busied and frenzied and hurried and
I wonder if we are “redeeming the time”. Because the culture we live in sets a terrible example on this. It really asks us to bow down to an idol of “busy-ness”. The programming from the culture is “Busy = important; not busy = not important. (And so more sisters and brothers are marginalized by our culture, and sometimes by us!)
If everything we do shapes us, our busyness is forming our hearts. If everything we do shapes us, this is why we’re told REST is essential.
Psalm 127 is one of my favorite Psalms… it says: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for God grants REST to those God loves.”
God says busy-ness, working all day is an exercise in vanity. REST, though, is somehow connected to a loving God, “for God grants REST to those God loves.”
In his chapter on REST, Robert Benson says, “Time and Attention are the currencies of our age. And most everything in our society – every organization, every institution… is somewhere right now plotting to get as much of both as they can get.”
You have control over 2 very powerful things: time & attention. Everybody wants them…they are like currency. Psalm 127 suggests we waste it on our vain busy-ness. It makes us think our lives are important, but it’s vanity.
And, the busy-ness of our lives is taking an incredible toll on us. Over time,we lose the ability to rest even when we get the chance, and then the very best we can hope for is diversion. Television is one of the most common diversions we turn to, and research shows that it induces a brain state that is highly suggestible and influenced by advertising.
Most people have built up such a “busy-ness debt” that even when they try to rest they can’t – they can only find a diversion. This affects our bodies, and our minds & especially our spirits. Robert Benson says, “We ignore Benedict’s call to silence and stillness at the peril of our spiritual lives.”
Until we learn to say “YES TO REST” on a daily basis, we’ll continue to do damage to our body, mind and spirit. What happens is we actually shape ourselves in ways that make us incompatible with God.
THIS IS THE QUESTION BENSON RECOMMENDS:
“Does my schedule look like that of a person who wants to hear God’s voice?”
You can’t say YES TO REST without SAYING NO TO SOMETHING ELSE.
There is just not time to say yes to everything. To say YES to God is to say NO to the gods of our culture…this god of busy-ness & hurry.
Richard Rohr: “The only thing the mind cannot do is be present to the moment. The mind can only worry about the future & re-process the past, both of which Jesus specifically warns us against.” Rest is ceasing both of those things and instead resting in the presence of a loving God.
Rohr recounts learning from a Jewish rabbi, at a conference on the convergence of science and religion, how the consonants used to represent the sacred name of God, YHWH, when correctly pronounced are actually a breathing. They are an attempt to imitate and replicate inhalation and exhalation.
God has made Godself that accessible to all of us., that available, that breathable. Every moment the name of God is just moving in & out of us. If we will only stop and notice…that’s REST.
In John 20, the first time Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection what does he do? You remember…he breathes on them…what a weird thing! Jesus identified breathing with the presence of the Spirit. It’s available to us now, because of Christ, at every moment in the day. It’s totally practical… just breathe and you are breathing the most sacred name of God.
Your body knows who made it and what it was meant for. To find REST in the Lord is really about ceasing to make your body do stuff you want it to do & start letting it do stuff it was designed to do by God. Every breath you take calls out the name of its creator…isn’t that incredible?
Then Joe led us in this prayer. [To experience this prayer, you might watch the short videos: “The Yahweh Prayer I and II” by Richard Rohr]
here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNBKt87AWjA (Pt I)
and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCsh_R5-HuA (Pt II)
What if you were to just plan points in your day where you just offer yourself to God with no agenda other than to just sit there and breath in and out…being conscious that with every breath that your body is repeating the name of God.
It would be really easy to connect this to Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer and Evening Prayer we talked about last week. Don’t sleep, don’t talk just REST in the presence of God. Don’t worry about the future, don’t reprocess the past. Simply be consciously in the presence of God and breath in and out the name of God. If you do this faithfully each day, it will change your life. And it brings us into the flow of the Spirit as we engage in mission.
Then we do well to build rest into our week through Sabbath practice, and into our year through a practice of taking a few days for a retreat.
I’m suggesting that if you live this way in our culture…when everyone around you is burning out; while everyone else succumbs to the malady of busy-ness… you will survive, you will thrive and when people look at you, they’ll see God.