… in a world that is a raging dumpster fire of a mess.
I’m excited to welcome Maggie Breen as the Free Range Priest guest-blogger this week! Maggie is a lay minister and is employed by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. She’s also a sheep farmer, artist, musician, seminarian, and foundational member of Bring Church to People.
Every day the news gives me another story that makes me hang my head and wonder what this world is coming to. There is an endless amount of fodder for prayers and petitions to God to just fix-it already. It’s difficult to stand up in front of people and proclaim God is Good when the world is a raging dumpster-fire of a mess.
Maybe it would be easier to just throw up my hands and let God sort it out and take myself out of the equation. God will certainly sort it out (someday) and my input is probably unnecessary. BUT -I do have a role in this world – I do have a distinct obligation as a Christian to move through this world in a particular way. Below are a few things that I try and keep in mind as I try and live a God-centered life. Try, fail, and try again.
1. Find some people who believe in God and be with them regularly.
You might default to your church community (if you have one), but don’t stop there! Find people from across your denomination or on different paths. The point is to meet regularly and talk about God, to dwell in scripture, and to discuss what living faith looks and feels like in today’s world. Extra points if your group is diverse.
2. Understand that God’s time moves differently.
I’m the type of girl who likes to plan and feel like I have control over what is going to happen and when. This leads to some wonderfully awkward and amusing interactions with God since God has a different stance on time.
God knows how the world came to be and how it will end, and everything that happens in between. God doesn’t work to my timetable, and instead I must begin to develop a long-range timeframe. God created the world; it probably took a minute. I’m working towards making this world better for future generations, but it isn’t going to be done tomorrow.
3. Develop some practices that require internal stillness
An “obvious” choice for Christians is prayer, and prayer can look like a variety of things.
Certainly, if saying any of The Offices resonates with you, do it. And if taking a walk in the woods while talking with God is what you prefer, do it. I find stillness inside of myself when I’m painting, knitting, sewing, or working on other handcrafts.
Also, when I’m mucking out the barn.
For me it’s not that internal stillness and external stillness need to be in sync, but that when there is a time where my internal space has the freedom to roam about and experience God’s indwelling in me. I usually achieve this when my hands and/or whole body are otherwise engaged in something that doesn’t require a lot of focus.
4. Get involved in your community.
To live as a Christian is to live as a people committed to loving other people. We are people of faith and action.
I like to think of myself as a Kingdom Builder. I can’t build the Kingdom from the comfort of my home, sitting safely behind my computer screen and isolated from the world. I must build the Kingdom by my words and my deeds, in my interactions and my decisions.
Know that you cannot do all the things, no matter how hard you try.
There will always be things that have been left undone. God created the whole world and rested when it was done. As the story goes, God rested for one day after all that work (however long a day was…), but I’m not God and I need more rest. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. Rest helps make me strong enough to continue the work.
The world has been burning for millions of years and it may continue to burn for a million more (though scientists might disagree since the climate is changing so fast!) Knowing that it is burning doesn’t give me license to stop trying to put the fires out.
To be a Christian is to live with hope and build with hope. I might want to bury my head in the sand and ignore what feels like I cannot change, but that is not what God would have me do. God calls me – calls us – to walk in love and hope, engage with each other and with our scriptures, to rest when we need to, and to always, always, always move a little bit forward.