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When Faith Connects

29 Oct

IMAG0228It was Peter Marshall, the famous preacher and one-time chaplain of the U.S. Senate, who wrote these words:

If God is not in your typewriter as well as your hymnbook,
there is something wrong with your religion.
If your God does not enter your kitchen
there is something the matter with your kitchen.
If you can’t take God into your recreation
there is something wrong with the way you play.
If God, for you, does not smile,
there is something wrong with your idea of God.
We all believe in the God of heroic.
What we need most these days is the God
of the humdrum…
the common place…
the everyday.”
— “Do Whatever He Tells You,” excerpted from “A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall”

 Isn’t that great?  I guess it’s true that both eloquence and truth are timeless; though Marshall said this in a sermon preached to a congregation some 70 years ago, the words still resonate with deep meaning for us today.  Actually, it speaks to a concern that’s been greatly on my heart as of late; that although in these times our culture seems to be crying out for a deeper sense of spirituality in human life, we’re not all that sure what that means or how far faith should extend into the details of day to day living.

Though for reasons both pastoral and personal I’ve never been much for talking politics from the pulpit, I’ve always believed that our dialogue regarding matters of faith and religion needs to dovetail with our concern for the future of our nation and the world. In other words, faith matters, and it can turn the world around! And yet, to quote another sage of an earlier era, Arlo Guthrie, “if you can’t do it for yourself, you can’t do it for the world either.” Despite the real need for our faith to truly connect to our lives, there nonetheless always seems to be a tendency amongst modern believers to compartmentalize faith; declaring it to be something wholly personal and private and thus relegated to certain times and places of daily life.  In other words, for a great many people, religion is something to be “done” on Sunday morning; a refueling stop before getting back on the fast track of daily living which ends up having little to do with what goes on during the rest of the week.

I ask you: when did our calling as Christian disciples become transformed into a mere exercise in self-help?  Has our faith in the living God truly ceased to be relevant for our lives in the “real world?”  I hope and pray not, but sometimes I fear that as a people of faith, we’ve forgotten that as followers of Jesus Christ, our central purpose has always been to be sent forth as doers of God’s word in the world around us.

The divine love, joy and peace that is reaffirmed for us in our weekly times of prayer and worship is not so much our oasis from the rest of life as it is meant to inform the course of our journeys as we live out the rest of our days.  True faith can never be separate from the choices we make for ourselves and our children, nor can it be too far from the ways we do our business, set our goals or maintain our relationships with others.  As Marshall might have put it, if God is not there in the living room or the board room (or, for that matter, places like the toll booth on I-93 during the evening commute, or while navigating the frozen food aisle at Market Basket!), then there’s something that needs to be changed within us in those places where we choose to dwell.

In short, there’s no better time than now for each one of us to begin “practicing the presence of God” in the commonplace of daily life; to incorporate faith in such a way that each day truly becomes “the Lord’s Day.”  Perhaps it’s found in a personal discipline of prayer, devotion and study; maybe it’s simply in our purposefully acknowledging the Lord’s presence in the most ordinary of our activities each day, finding the divine in ways and in places we’ve never found it before! Either way, this is where we begin to take a holistic approach to our Christian faith; this how what we believe truly becomes who we are.

And who knows?  Maybe the world around us will just start to follow our example.

c. 2015  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

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