At church tonight we heard about the time Jesus was in the temple on the Sabbath and saw a woman in need of healing and frees her from the bondage she has lived with for many years (this in itself is something to talk about as usually people come to Jesus and ask Him for mercy). The religious leaders get upset because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus calls them hypocrites saying that they would untie their oxen on the Sabbath in order to give them water, so why shouldn't this woman be released from her bondage as well.
Our guest speaker used the passage to look at how we practice our practices. Keeping the Sabbath is central to the Jewish faith. Rooted in the creation narrative, it has been practiced since God gave Moses the commandments on Mount Sinai. Of course throughout the years scholars debated and made their own rulings on what was appropriate to do and not do on the Sabbath. Somehow healing was not appropriate for Jesus to do on a day meant for renewal according to those leaders in the temple back then.
We all have our practices, though. Not just those spiritual disciplines like fasting or meditating that aid us in relating to God, but those things that give life to our spiritual rhythms. A yearly retreat for reflection and revitalization. Meeting with a spiritual director each month. Attending church each Sunday. Having a time each day set aside to read the Scriptures or pray. And we practice those practices in different ways and for different reasons.
What are your practices?
How do you practice them?
Why do you practice them?
How do those rhythms impact your life?
We left church a little early and without dessert tonight (which created a lot of ^fun^ responses from the boys) to try and have a better bedtime tonight (last week's attempt at early to bed, early to rise after church was not successful). Tomorrow is the first day of school. We're settling back into rhythms and practices that hopefully create more successful days for us as a family.
I am aware of my need to practice my own spiritual practices with more intent and discipline. We're all aware of how difficult that can be in a busy work day with a family life involving young children. But we're also probably aware of how important those rhythms and practices are for our lives. Or maybe we're not. Maybe we practice because we're supposed to or to look religious. Maybe we don't practice because we don't know how or because we choose to fill our time with other activities. Part of the lesson from today is not condemning others' practices, but being intentional with our own.
We don't practices our practices in isolation, however. Our own rhythms are part of a bigger communal element--or at least they're intended to be. Our guest preacher at church tonight pointed out that Jesus practiced His practices for the sake of being focused when God brought something before Him. Like the woman in the crowded temple in need of healing. Jesus frequently withdrew to lonely places for time with the Father. And these times alone helped Him keep focused in His ministry to others. It was an example to the disciples who followed Him.
Entering into a new school year I intend to make good use of my break time during the day. It has been a place where I can take a little break to spend time with God and reach out to others--practices which aid me in being focused the rest of the day. I intend to fit in at least one personal retreat in the next year so that I have some time to get away, have a change of pace, and take time to reflect and look ahead at life. I intend to find some good practices for our family to help our children develop those rhythms in their own lives. We all need space and time to bloom and grow.