Earlier this year, I jumped on the clergy bandwagon and purchased a liturgical day-planner from Sacred Ordinary Days after several clergy-women friends told me how much they loved it*. There are daily prompts for scripture reading, intentional space for time-keeping and schedules as well as a weekly examen for each Sunday.
Developed from the model first introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Prayer of Examen is a tool designed to take the pray-er through 5 prompts: to become aware of God’s presence; to review the day with gratitude; to pay attention to one’s emotions; to choose one feature of the day and pray from it; to look toward tomorrow.
Buying this resource and actually utilizing all of its amazing benefits has been a real challenge for me. Moreover, taking time to use the weekly examen resource as a means of intentional Sabbath has been even more of a struggle.
I am not one to hunker down and block out intentional quiet time each morning [gasp!] to reflect on my day or the day to come. Perhaps you are shocked and horrified to hear this out of the mouth of a pastor! In reality, I struggle with spiritual disciplines like quiet study, reflecting on my week and praying for the week to come.
I fall prey to the distraction of busy-ness in my life.
Balancing full-time work, my home life (complete with spouse, a toddling 1 year old child and a four-legged, fur child) and a healthy social-emotional-physical-spiritual life can feel like a daunting task. I spend more time thinking about what I have to do next, where I have to be next, and what I need to accomplish next.
I rely on my electronic work calendar, which syncs to my IPhone calendar, which is sent to my husband’s IPhone calendar, where the loop finally closes with my Gmail calendar. This reality exhausts me as I write this very minute…
Perhaps you or your congregants also struggle with the problem of being too busy. I create a busy-ness which becomes a pattern of normality for me and my family. This busy-ness distracts us from meaningful Sabbath practices. We cannot do those things which are edifying to our existence as God’s beloved because…
we don’t have time.
we don’t have the energy.
we don’t have the bandwidth.
there is just too much to do!
The reflection for this upcoming Sunday included a quote from pastor David Lomas:
(I’ll take a big bite of humble pie, along with you, when reading this reminder)
Sabbath reminds us that we are loved for who we are, not for what we can produce…Sabbath does not exist for what it gives us, nor for how it helps us, but for the way it equips us to live into our truest identities. We are not ‘human doings,’ but ‘human beings’.
Sunday may be the busiest day in your congregation. Or maybe a weekday evening includes programming for the whole family with a potluck supper. We pack our schedule for Church-related ventures with things to do: choir practice, youth group, fellowship dinners, committee meetings, worship planning, service opportunities, and the like. These things which we do are vital and important to the life of the Church! However, apart from weekly worship, does the Church serve the needs of weekly Sabbath? What might this look like?
Imagine a weekly prayer hour when members were able to meditate through prayer stations around the sanctuary in an effort to practice a weekly examen.
Imagine a small group gathering in the early morning or evening to share, intentionally, about their experience of God during the last 24 hours.
Imagine the church opening its doors to families who gather to read children’s stories and reflect on God’s presence in their lives.
Does your congregation serve the needs of providing Sabbath during the week?
What does this look like? Share your thoughts!
Rev. Nicole Childress Ball
*This is not an advertisement for Sacred Ordinary Days planners. The opinions expressed here are mine, alone.*