A friend of mine, Episcopal priest Winston Charles, says one sage piece of advice given to him early on was, “Don’t join a fitness center in January… Wait until February, when yet another gaggle of New Year’s resolutions has turned cold.” New Year’s resolutions that pertain to our spiritual practices can fizzle quickly as well, leaving us feeling defeated, disappointed and guilty. Even so, the beginning of a year offers rich opportunities for fresh starts.
As you begin 2018, along with the timeless spiritual practices of worship, prayer, Bible study, contemplation, journaling, etc., I want to recommend three more:
- Lower your Mask
In a church, this often happens best in small groups where deeper connections can be made and authentic community can take place. As we lower the masks we wear and give permission for others to lower their masks; as we pray for each other and risk some vulnerability; as we share our life and faith stories, including our questions and doubts, something extraordinary gets born that can only be described as a work of the Spirit. New small group opportunities are coming this year at First Baptist. Our Faith Formation Team and pastoral staff are working on these and we welcome your input.
- Be a “Breach-Mender”
The ancient ruins will be rebuilt,
You will build on age-old foundations,
You will be called “Breach-Mender,
Restorer of ruined houses.”
~ Isaiah 58:12
Practice restoring the places around you in which God’s presence has become hidden or misrepresented.
- Practice Presence
You cannot not be in the presence of God. As Richard Rohr puts it, “All spiritual teaching—this is not an oversimplification—is about how to be present to the moment. When you’re present, you will experience the Presence. But the problem is, we’re almost always somewhere else: reliving the past or worrying about the future.” Pay attention to “this moment” unfolding around you. Just try to keep your heart open and tender, your mind receptive, and your body aware of where it is and what it is feeling experiencing.
Peace and grace,