Be still … and Know… – September 2014

Summers go by too fast. Is this a law of nature? Various Sabbath rests and get-aways I’d hoped for this summer have turned out to be mostly wishful thinking. Not entirely – there have been a few wonderful day trips to the Outer Cape and shorter visits to local beaches. Also many special activities for our daughter Rohi at our Bourne library and the Canal Visitor’s Center, and Vacation Bible School at a neighboring church, all of which we’re grateful for. I’ve been fishing most weeks (even catching). But the reading lists I’d compiled in the Spring have only gotten longer. Hoped-for trips to visit friends haven’t quite happened yet. And here we are, already at Labor Day… Situation normal. And to keep all this in context – the whole world’s had a rather difficult summer. Compared with people in the Ukraine, the Middle East, much of Africa and many other places… My challenges are really very small… Though as members of the body of Christ we are all connected (John 17, Romans 12, 1st Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). There’s no such thing as a solo Christian. ‘We are all members of one another’ Romans (12:5) reminds us, and “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it (1 Corinthians 12:26).” The suffering of the world properly affects us all. And because God so loved the world – the whole world (John 3:16) – and because Christ has died for all (not just for Christians – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) – our compassion is never to be restricted by faith borders – even though we are called to have special care for our fellow Christians. Jesus calls us to see all people everywhere as potential members with us in the one body of Christ. So we are distressed by tragic news anywhere. As people made in the image of God, we’re hard-wired for empathy and compassion. These are in fact the signs that we’re obeying God’s commandment to love. But we need to have limits on our exposure to trauma. Appropriate limits vary from person to person, and for most of us, change over time. I don’t remember paying much attention to the news as a child. Then when I was as a younger adult, and my work called for it, I read several papers a day and listened to the news frequently. Now I limit news intake mostly to quick scans of online newspapers and a slower reading of the Bourne papers. We’re called to be in the world and aware of the world’s sufferings, joys, and challenges. We’re called just as certainly to not be conformed to the world’s values and priorities. The most important thing for us as children of God is always to be in constant, continuous communication with God. This is the only way we can avoid burnout on the one hand, and cutting ourselves off from others on the other. We need time with God. Attentive, undivided time every day with God – so the Holy Spirit can be truly operative in us. Every day, even if for only a few minutes, we need to be still – and know that God is God. One of the few planned things I’ve managed to do this summer has been to finally memorize Psalm 46 (after...

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