Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
At McMinnville Cooperative Ministries we think simplicity is so important that we are taking two Sundays to fully experience it (besides the countless other conversations we have had about simplifying). It is a hard thing to do and a constant process. We know that we are happier when we take the time to simplify but it becomes complicated and hard to manage. Last week we really focused in on the parable of the man who had so much stuff that he had to build bigger barns. We need to simplify our stuff. Re focus what is needed.
This Sunday we are looking at two scriptures that talk to us about refocusing our energies and our time. We have to simplify our schedules in order to make room for what really matters. How can we be called into ministry and into action if we are so busy that we have no room for it when we really need that space? How can we have a moment for something meaningful if we have overscheduled every moment?
This is a major personal struggle of mine. I feel pretty productive if my schedule is jam packed and then when I have extra space, I don’t really know what to do with myself. But this is not my best self. It means when God calls on me, I have no way to make space for God. I miss the opportunity, the treasure, the thin space because I am so busy running from meeting to meeting.
Isaiah calls us out on this as he prophesies what God tells us. According the first chapter of Isaiah, we are so busy trying to fill up our time with what we think God wants us to do that we miss the meaningful moments with God. Even our prayer time has become a show and doesn’t make space for God. Isaiah calls us to make space for the important ministries. Instead of being busy to be busy, we should be open to stand up for the homeless and to work for justice.
Jesus gives us yet another parable that names our anxieties and fears and asks us to simplify our schedules to make space to wait. If we clear away the possessions to give, we make space for focus. If we are ready for God to appear by clearing our schedules, we will be ready for the greatest feast. We will be served and we will get to enjoy the banquet. If we are off doing other things, we miss the moment where our anxieties and fears are taken away. So today to experience hands on theology, make some space in your schedule. Make way to wait. Be at peace and for goodness sake, do not go to any meetings today!!
Quotes of the Week “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ― Confucius
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ― E.F. Schumacher
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” ― John Maeda
“I am a better person when I have less on my plate.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
“Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” ― Albert Einstein
Isaiah 1: 10-17 (Message) Listen to my Message, you Sodom-schooled leaders. Receive God’s revelation, you Gomorrah-schooled people. “Why this frenzy of sacrifices?” God’s asking. “Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices, rams and plump grain-fed calves? Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats? When you come before me, whoever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that—all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?”
“Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings— meetings, meetings, meetings— I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.”
Luke 12:32-40 (NRSV) Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Questions for the Week
Do you make space for God to show up?
How do you simplify your time?