Sometimes my daily prayers and readings become a routine, a rhythm just like humming and old familiar tune but in doing so I seem to lose its ability to amaze and surprise. It can be the same for church services, chanting the liturgy and superficially singing along. Exactly when did Jesus leave the building? I think this is when I stopped having the conversation with him and instead just read about him- his past activity. It’s almost like I stopped needing to hear him live and was content with playing the CDs. Let’s get him back off our i-Pods and MP3 players and back into our hearts reflecting a on the true rhythm of life- which can surprise, challenge and amaze us.
Tony Miles put this well in his book Maybe Today. Tony writes:
Lord, don’t let the rhythm of life rock me into a slumber. Rather, keep me conscious of Your purpose and glory….
God of miracles and wonders,
Shatter our complacency;
Challenge our apathy;
Feed our spiritual curiosity;
Until our restless souls
Find peace in your grace and mercy.
This we pray, in the name of our Saviour, Jesus,
Who came that we might find spiritual freedom
And everlasting life. Amen.
Check out Rob Bell’s Nooma film Rhythm
Oscar Wilde once said that work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do and for too many of us opur work-life balance seems out of kilter. My good friend Tony Miles recently reminded me of the wise words of J.A Hatfield who said, “The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men and women.” Tony’s book Maybe Today encourages us to take thing easy from time to time. The poijt is well made with this reflection from Marica K Hornok who puts a different spin on the reassuring words of the well-known Psalm 23:
The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me to the deep depression, it hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy for activities’ sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done, for my “ideal” is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket over-flows.
Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the bonds of frusttation forever.
If this sounds familiar, dig out the Biblical Psalm 23 or watch this film.
Last night I was at an event which was about getting to know a group of people- some familiar faces and some new. Isn’t it amazing how we go through the same old questions to try to elicit answers that will help us form impressions about people ?One person I spoke to made it clear that money and status was important ot him; for another it was about impact on society; yet another just being happy. On the train back I was reading Tony Miles’ book Maybe Today and I came across a number of questions:
What will people say about you at your funeral? Are you happy with what you think people will say about you? When you meet Jesus face to face, what will HE say about you? Are you concerned enough about that last question?
The first challenge is trying not to get too depressed about the question, and the next is trying to live each day as an opportunity to share something on God’s love to those we come into contact with- regularly or casually. . Let’s try to keep our eyes and ears open and not just directed heavenwards, but be aware of every situation where it is possible for us to make a difference and show something of God’s unconditional love. On the way back from the event I was with a group of people who were feeling good about how it all went as they headed off the the pub for a well earned drink or two. I’m not sure they spotted the homeless guy outside though, or even saw him as someone who could do with a but of love and attention from us. Will anybody be there to say something about him at his funeral?
For years I have loved the song Lord of the Dance by the late Sydney Carter. I find it so profound, timeless, uplifting, moving and yet simple. The image of Christ leading us through the dance of what life is or is meant to be. It just works for me- and I have two left feet! I was reminded of it again when reading Maybe Today by Tony Miles see an earlier post of mine at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/maybe-todaybuy-it-today/ . In his section on prayer Tony makes a pleas for us to listen to God’s heartbeat through prayer:
Almighty God, help me to keep close to Jesus, especially through prayer and devotions. May I lean upon my Lord and listen. help e to hear his heartbeat and live confidently knowing that He is my living Saviour. Guide me that I might live a way that is in harmony with Your Holy Spirit and NOT dance to the world’s tune. Rather, release me to discover Your holy rhythm of life. Then as I let the Lord of the dance lead me, may my steps take me through the difficult places to the place of Your glory, peace and eternal joy. I ask this in the name of my companion and Lord. Amen.
This little video has some interesting imagery but takes me right back to singing this song with such joy and hope as a child. I hope something in it connects with you even if it feels at times that the church has lost the steps to this most wonderful of dances.
When I began this blog one of the first people to link to it was Tony Miles the media chaplain and broadcaster based at Methodist Central Hall in central London. Earlier this week I got hold of a copy of Tony’s new book Maybe Today which is a collection of 70 days of reflections which help the reader to unlock the secrets of how to live a more authentically Christlike life. It provides a gentle- and often homorous- daily nudge that encourages us to examine our actions, even the very smallest. It’s pressure free and Tony ,typically for him, choses to live and struggle with his readers whilst also encouraging and inspiring us to hope for more.
The book comes with endorsements from Diane Louise Jordon, Andrew Graystone, Andy Frost, Peter Kerridge and others and it really is a great read from one of the most optimistic and positive Christians I know. Whenever I see Tony he always gives me a lift and makes me smile and I know he had provided invaluable pastoral support and direction for others. Maybe Today is divided into sections covering themes such as God’s mysterious presence; the pace of life, breaking bad habits and learning to live God’s way and each brief reflection includes a prayer, suggested bible passage and an action for maybe today. Over the next 70 days Maybe today will be my companion and I am looking forward to walking with Tony and discovering more about myself, God and why Tony remains so cheerful as we walk together. I’ll leave the last word with Diane Louise Jordon from the foreword:
“I highly commend Tony and I highly recommend Maybe Today. It reminds me of an advent crown stacked with goodies you want to devour in one go but know you’ll get more benefit from savouring one succulent bit-size a day. So if you’re looking for a regular injection of spiritual nourishment in a practical, engaging and contemporary way then this is the book for you. Oh by the way, just in case I’ve not made myself clear, I really love this book!”
When will I start it- Maybe Today!
Read more of Tony’s musings at http://www.tonymiles.co.uk/blog/