Andrew Jones has announced a new blog season for himself, following the Celtic and church calendars. The Lectionary calendar starts “Year A” on December 2nd with the Advent season, and I’m considering options as I seek to add some new spiritual habits (disciplines) into the pattern of my own life, and wondering how I might weave some of them into the blog happenings here. I’m thinking about:
- Dwelling in Luke 10;
- The “Shalom Lectionary” in an appendix to Walter Brueggemann’s Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom;
- The Revised Common Lectionary;
- The Daily Office;
- The Divine Hours;
- St. Benedict’s Rule; and
- A Missional Order / Rule of Life.
Of course, I’ve got a theme going with all of these… all represent a submission to ancient practices and a joining with others in the church around the world in pattern of obedience. I’ve been considering such things lately, of course. Of the list here, there is a good degree of overlap, but much in common.
Despite being under the weather, I’ve got a lot on the brain and a lot I want to write about these days. And then Makeesha issues a personal challenge to me (and other guys) a couple of days ago to give a listen to Sr. Joan Chittister on Speaking of Faith (an interview on a public radio program). Now, I’m not big on podcasts, as I never have time to listen… I don’t ride the bus or have a long commute alone, so the few that I listen to are generally in the background while I’m doing something else (I’d rather read it). That said, I wanted to give Makeesha’s challenge a fair shot and make a point of listening… which I did yesterday. In context, my mind wasn’t 100% focused on the entire interview, but I liked what I heard. Sister Joan Chittister has clocked more than 50 years as a Benedictine nun, and has accumulated a thing or two to say, which she does with insight. In the interview, she talks a little about feminism (maybe prompting Makeesha’s challenge?). She leaves freedom in the conclusions but simply begs the conversation: excellent perspective. The things I took even greater note of were from her experience in the Benedictine tradition (without regard to gender) which were very insightful about the rule of life. As I did, she began her response to the question by noting the linguistic misfortune of the word “rule” which had different connotations in the 6th century than it does now. She too prefers the term “guide” or “guideline.” (Makeesha also challenged me/us to recommend this woman’s voice, so fortunately, I don’t have a problem commending the interview!)
I’m presently giving a bit more consideration to traditions and practices of the church, and today of course is All Saints Day, which is a kind of a spot in the calendar for saints who don’t get their own day. In the tradition of protestants, we’re all saints, so in a way, this is our day. Not being from a Roman Catholic background, I’m not so much for the veneration of saints and so forth, and in exploring the perspective on saints in the Anglican tradition, in which Jamie Howison has told me a couple of times that the saints are a pretty earthy bunch, folks who get their hands dirty and are fraught with foibles of their own. I like that… it is at once honouring to those to whom we issue the title of “St.” (or “Ste.”) and yet leaves room for the rest of us. On this note, I’m remembering Scot McKnight’s wise exhortation to speak of these saints not in the past, but in the present tense. St. Brendan still encourages me, and St. Columba still teaches me… not past tense, but enduring (and notice I chose some Celtic saints!).
And so, with this idea of stepping in with saints of old and staying in step with them then and now and into the future, I can call you all saints and pray a blessing upon us… It’s one of my personal favorites, from Ephesians 3 — join me in it?
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.