Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
In the season of Lent, we are looking at the benefits of pruning our lives to better eat, share and serve.
There is so much going on in our daily lives. For some of us, we run from meeting to meeting while others are trying to keep up with the kiddos while others of us are going to work to just make ends meet. On top of running from location to location, we add extras onto our schedules. Somehow we need to fit in ways to be creative, ways to be meditative, ways to workout, ways to expand our musical horizons, and ways to update our facebook statuses. Sometimes we even add in volunteer obligations, cupcakes for the classroom, and taking a pot of soup to a sick neighbor. In addition, we text, email, twitter, and must communicate at least eight different ways to meet up with someone it seems. And what about the movie that we really wanted to see or the TV show to catch up on or else we will be behind?
While we try to make sure that we are more connected and well-rounded we can get caught up in isolation as well. Not that it is bad to get connected or bad to do things that we love but the tendency is to get so caught up in everything that we are actually too involved to the point of not actually being in community.
During this season, we are pruning. This may also mean that we need to look at our daily lives in our pruning away in order to refocus our energies. Sometimes our daily tasks keep us from really finding out what we are passionate about, what feeds us and where we see God.
In our lesson from Genesis, God makes a covenant with Abraham to be with him always. Not only that but God makes a covenant with Sarah. God values both of these humans for being faithful to God, for refocusing their energies to where God is calling them but beyond that God promises to be in community with them. In order for pruning to be successful we need to be with others along the journey. God promises them and us that we will not be alone.
We will be in community with one another as we travel together, live together, share and serve together. By taking a moment to refocus, we may just look up to see that others are doing the same thing. We are not alone in this crazy chaotic life. There are others struggling with work, activities, raising children, struggling with what to do in retirement, running from place to place, trying to live healthier lives, dealing with the corporate world or loss of job security. But how will we know this promise if we don’t take away what keeps us so busy to notice?
Quotes for the Week
Everyday I meet folks who show me how to look at challenges differently. –Daryn Kagan
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck
Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing. ― Leo Babauta
An authentic life is the most personal form of worship. Everyday life has become my prayer. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid. –Albert Schweitzer
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days. ― Zig Ziglar
Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus. ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 (NRSV)
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him,
“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”
God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Mark 8:31-35 (NRSV)
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,* will save it.
Questions for the Week
In your daily life, what gets in the way of refocusing energy?
Is it easier to prune with others or is it more work?
What needs pruning in your daily life?