When we hear a complex problem phrased as a choice between EITHER/OR, we should be suspicious. Nowhere is that more true than in the realm of spirituality.
EITHER we focus on the inner life, OR we focus on the world's problems. EITHER we focus on Social Justice, OR we focus on our own souls. EITHER we change people's HEARTS, OR we change people's conditions.
In a previous post, I suggested that maybe the answer is not a False Choice between EITHER/OR, but something new that includes BOTH/AND
What if the answer to growing our souls involved BOTH the inner life AND our active engagement? What if the reign of God involved BOTH a change of heart AND a change of structures? What if the answer to growing a soul involved BOTH Solitude AND Service?
We will focus on integrating our spirituality into all facets of life while courageously bettering our community and world for future generations through compassionate service and profound personal transformation as our unified focus.
The answer is not Solitude VERSUS Service, but BOTH/AND
At least, Jesus seemed to think so.
Amid all the stories of Jesus healing the sick, teaching the crowds and confronting the religious establishment, there are these comments in the Bible about him constantly going off by himself to pray. It was a pattern he gave to his followers. Sometimes he would send them out into the countryside for active ministry, and then he would help them establish the habit of finding solitude and rest (Mark 6:31).
*New Hope Presbyterian Church recently completed the first steps of a strategic planning process. We used Will Mancini's book, God Dreams, and the planning team (aka Dream Team) consisted of Dave Arnett, Leslie Clemensen, Nancy Faunce, Judy Hodge, John Lundgren, Gregg Macaluso, Scott Risby, and me.
Maybe you were too busy or distracted to notice. Maybe you thought you could go further than this without needing to check. Whatever the reason, you look down and see that you are running on fumes. If you don't stop and do something about NOW, you are going to run out of gas.
What is true for our cars is true for our souls: Sometimes, we are running on fumes. It's not like we meant to neglect them, but sometimes, we find we have nothing in the tank. Maybe we should have one of these gauges for our souls, too.
Besides being a great album by Jackson Browne, "Running On Empty" was the title of my sermon on September 8 (you can get it here.) I explored the perils of not taking care of your own soul- and what you can do about it. How do you know when you are running on empty? More importantly, how do you fill up your own soul?
The classic disciplines are well known: Worship, Service, Study & Prayer. Which of these four are most helpful for you?
Besides these, I have found over the years there are MANY different things that nurture people's heart and soul. They include walking/running, gardening, art, music, travel, cooking, and reading. There are people that encourage and fill me when I am with them, too.
How about you? On Sunday I challenged everyone to do five things this week that nurture their souls. I'd love to share the responses I get over the next couple of weeks. If you want to leave them as a "comment", I'll publish them. If you prefer to remain anonymous to others, simply email me your answer (see the email link towards the bottom of the right column.) Either way, I think it will be encouraging- and it might even give people some ideas on ways to fill up their tank!
Did you know our new Director of Children & Family Ministries has a past? At least, at New Hope.
We are delighted that Allie Atchison has agreed to be our new Director of Children & Family Ministries, beginning this Sunday, September 8! She was chosen from a field of VERY strong candidates, and we are looking forward to this new chapter together.
But this isn't Allie's first experience with New Hope. Back in 2008, she was one of our summer interns working with youth! She was attending Sterling College and looking for an internship. We were looking for bright college students who were considering ministry to intern with youth, and the results were a great summer for everyone!
Skip ahead a mere 11 years, and we found each other again! So whether as a welcome or as a reunion, come greet Allie in Fellowship Hall after worship.
As you do, please also be sure to thank Sandi Gager who stepped up big-time during this interim period. As she has done several times, Sandi assumed the Director of Children & Families ministry with grace and competence. Once people knew Sandi was in charge, everyone breathed easier. She gave us the luxury of being able to take our time to find the right person to take on the position permanently. Thank you, Sandi!
Glad you're here! My name is Russ Kane and I have the privilege of being the pastor of an amazing church called, New Hope Presbyterian Church. It's a place where people "Find a Home, Build a Life and Make a Difference." This blog is a journal of our life together. Welcome!