The Rhythm of Spirituality
The rhythm of spirituality and worship life varies, and I am glad the church offers many ways to enter into the Story. For some, less really is more. More or less fully formed by Scripture, we already know the one story in all its dimensions–and so we can hold it up, touch it again, and that is sufficient to the moment. Not least because there is no one particular time to recall, for instance, Jesus’ journey to the cross. We revisit and reference those stories regularly enough that we “they are with us always.” Of course, sometimes the stories are SO familiar that we don’t take time to listen anymore.
Many, though, have never walked carefully through the stories at all. They have gone from victory unto victory, Palm Sunday to Easter, Hosanna to Alleluia, and never a “one of you will betray me” or “crucify him!” in between.” That is compounded by the fact that many pastors are such demythologizers, skeptics of religious language and experience, and much more energized by March Madness than Jesus or the gospel. I really do mean no judgment.
Be any of that as it may, last night I compared what we have been doing all week to watching old movies. We have seen them. We know how they end. And sometimes, when something old is on we look at or phones or read while the dialogue and action go on without our notice. We look up occasionally, but comforted that we have not really lost the flow, look back down and away.
The other way to do it, of course, is to watch carefully and see things we might have missed, or things that we have seen but that still bring a smile or tear. Anyway, I am a repeat watcher of movies, which may suggest something of why taking it day-by-day is important to me. I don’t prescribe that for everyone, or think it necessary; but for folk like me it can be a rich experience. Or set of experiences.
And because this year has been especially meaningful for me, I also on last evening compared it to saying the Lord’s Prayer or Apostles Creed: sometimes you just say the words one after the other, and you keep doing it because you don’t want to forget, or it is expected, or whatever. Only sometimes, and it happens singing old hymns, too, the words catch you. You find yourself tearing up. And what began as a form of obedience becomes a vehicle of real and new grace.
– Rev. Dr. Tom Steagald