Practical Atheists

After all, most of us professing Christians, from the liberals to the fundamentalists, remain practical atheists in most of our lives. This is so because even we think the church is sustained by the “services” it provides or the amount of “fellowship” and “good feeling” in the congregation. Of course there is nothing wrong with “services” and “good feeling”; what is wrong is that they have become ends in themselves. When that happens the church and the ministry cannot avoid sentimentality, which we believe is the most detrimental corruption of the church today. – Stanley Hauerwas, William H. Willimon (Resident Aliens)

More than Chaplains

I was intrigued by something I read in Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

The pastor becomes nothing more than the court chaplain, presiding over ceremonies of the culture, a pleasing fixture for rites of passage like weddings and funerals, yet rites in which the pastor’s presence becomes more and more absurd because the pastor is saying nothing that we do not already know. Or else the pastor feels like a cult prostitute, selling his or her love for the approval of an upwardly mobile, bored middle class, who, more than anything else, want some relief from the anxiety brought on by their materialism.

I guess this is what happens when we, as pastors, allow ourselves to be captured by our culture. It is hard however. The culture is so pervasive and it is difficult to to break free. This is why I believe spiritual formation is vital. The spiritual disciplines serve to create space in our lives for God to move. As we allow God to reign in our lives, we are freed to do the works of God and speak the words of God.

Every Moment

…every moment of our life has purpose…every action of ours, no matter how dull or routine or trivial it may seem in itslf, has a dignity and a worth beyond human understanding…yet what a terible responsibility is here. For it means that no moment can be wasted, no opportunity missed, since each has a purpose in man’s life, each has a purpose in man’s life, each has a purpose in God’s plan. Think of your day, today or yesterday. Think of the work you idd, the people you met, moment by moment. What did it mean to you — and what might have it meant for God? Is this question too simple to answer, or are we just afraid to ask it for fear of the answer we must give? – Father Walter J. Ciszek, S. J.

It has taken much time, but I’m discovering that Father Ciszek is correct. I tend to view my life as a series of (relatively boring) moments. What if all my moments have purpose? What if even the dull, boring moments are a part of God’s plan?

I’m learning to see that every moment of my life is a gift from God. Not only that, but every moment of my life God is inviting me to join Him and experience His presence. If I don’t recognize that, I will probably miss the invitation and instead of accepting His invitation, it will instead pass me by.