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Where do you spend your time these days?1 month ago
Revd Annie McCabe dives into Psalm 1, encouraging us to look within and reflect on how we are living in this season.
Two weeks ago marked the second anniversary of moving into lockdown. March 23 is a day of national reflection. Two years have brought significant changes in our society and our churches.
Recently I took a funeral at a nearby church where the vicar had left post lockdown, citing his reason as being uncertain how to lead the church into the next season.
With the help of Resource, at St Luke’s we have been taking as stock take of where we are as one of those “little, local and ordinary” churches integral to the renewal mission of God. It has also given us the opportunity to seek to discern God’s calling and shaping of the next chapter. What is the Spirit saying to the church?
We are in the midst of this journey. It is both humbling and inspiring to see the move of the Holy Spirit stir up and speak through the messiness of the process to bring new growth, creativity and clarity.
Spring has sprung and new shoots of life are emerging again. Yet In my kitchen, the houseplants were beginning to droop. I had been too preoccupied with other things to notice. So I stopped and took the time to go round each and gave each the water needed. Almost immediately, each started to perk up.
In doing so, verses from the start of Psalm 1 seemed to speak more deeply into this simple picture.
1. Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the assembly of the scornful.
2. Their delight is the law of the Lord, and they mediate on his law day and night.
3. Like a tree planted by streams of water bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither, whatever they do, it shall prosper.
These opening verses of this Psalm seem to beg the question
Where do you spend your time these days?
Mentally- what occupies our thoughts. Do we overthink things? What about accusing or anxious thoughts about the future, unhelpful comparisons which diminish our own sense of self and worth.
Physically- how much of our days are spent outside, in church, at home or somewhere else. Where do find life?
Emotionally: With the trauma of the Pandemic and all that is happening in Ukraine and other war-torn parts of our world, what is the lasting impact on our emotions? Depending on our God given temperament, have we buried ourselves in activity or moved into sloth?
Spiritually: As you reflect on your relationship with God in this Lenten season, is it fresh and well-watered or are there aspects that are bit dry and stale and thirsting for more of the Spirit.
These opening verses of Psalm I offer us some interesting and challenging verbs
Where do you to choose to walk? Where do you avoid and if so, why? Put it another way, who or what is having most influence over your time and your thoughts. Might there be days when we don’t’ want to catch God’s eye as it were?
Where might we linger? I love the translation that incorporates this word. Where do we linger? Lingering could suggest staying somewhere for a bit too long than we are supposed to. That could be a physical place. Remember the telling verse in David’s life. “Every man who is able to fight goes to war, except one -- David. David, we are told,“stayed Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). David's decision to stay at home in Jerusalem becomes a devastating one. Lingering in the wrong place, led him to fall to temptation. In our 21st culture we can linger in other ways. Lingering perhaps too long on our phones scrolling through endless posts. Or lingering too long bingeing on Netflix or in conversations that turn sour.
Where do we sit? Being sat suggests little movement. Choosing to remain with the scornful will impact on the way we see others and the world.
When we stay in those places, it seems our leaves of faith will dry up and wither.
By contrast the Psalmist offers three life giving alternatives
To meditate: to take time to be still and actively receptive to the living word of God. To make doing that a habit, a part of the day just as surely as getting ready for bed and waking up.
To plant: Planting is an act of hope and faith for future growth when connected to the life-giving stream of the Spirit to keep us and that which we have planted well-watered and thriving
To bear fruit in due season: The assurance in God’s time that fruit will come.
Living in sabbath rest not in a spirit of anxious acquisition
Revd Annie McCabe