Reverend John Branson's Late September Encouragement
I recently received notice of a series of zoom events sponsored by one of the “tall steeple” churches of
Such opportunities do expose us, however, to a deeper concern about our faith and witness as21st-century-believers. It is one thing to attend to contemporary theologians as they expound on matters of the environment and ecology; the inequities and inconsistencies of contemporary society in regards to race, gender and economics; as well as a host of other issues intertwined with our sense of the mission and meaning of Jesus. We—all of us—yearn for wisdom, understanding and perspective—a clear sense of how our faith in Jesus informs (or not) all that we are and all that we do.
Sometimes, however, we make it more complicated than it is. If you are like me, you like the idea of the complexities and intricacies of great theological debates believing that IN HERE we will find the answers to our dilemmas and doubt. What happens, rather, is that in all the back and forth-ness, I become lost and bored and drift off to other things.
There is great merit to sticking with the basics. I am reminded of Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite, French monk of the 17th century whose “work” consisted of life in the kitchen of the monastery, especially amongst the pots and pans. Nothing fancy or too esoteric here. As he washed and dried the pans, day in and day out, he quietly spoke simple maxims to himself about God and faith. Other monks wrote these “sayings” down, which became The Practice of the Presence of God. “It is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God.“
This summer’s worship at Emmanuel became somewhat complicated due to the Coronavirus and our turn towards virtual worship and bible study. Praying that we will be able to return to in-person worship for the summer of 2021, I hope that in all we say and do as we turn to a new year that we will keep it simple. As Matthew says (Mt. 5:37), let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’, anything more than this comes from the evil one.
As the world becomes more complicated, complex and confusing by the minute, may we of Emmanuel keep it simple, speaking and living the truth in love in every hour of every day till we see one another again.