Daily Riches (CV era): Our New Uncluttered View of Life (Steven Paulikas)

“The images of empty public spaces around the world are shocking outward signs that reflect the interior emptiness so many feel right now. Millions are being deprived of the chance to work, socialize and support one another in person. . . .Yet the void created by this crisis may be an unexpected gift. This emptiness presents to us a mystical and uncluttered view of life as we have been living it until a few weeks ago. . . . Each day, it becomes more apparent that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to consider a fundamental question about the spirit and morality of our way of living: Having emptied ourselves, what do we really want to fill our world with once it is time to rebuild?

It is notable that the most dangerous places in America right now are the ones filled with people we are refusing the right of empty space. . . . the virus is endangering prisoners and prison workers. The 34,000 people held in ICE detention centers are ‘sitting ducks’ for infection . . . workers in dozens of Amazon warehouses rushing to fulfill the orders of millions of quarantined Americans have tested positive for the virus, yet the company has given them no viable option to stay at home. . . . What does it say about our economy that it depends on the labor of people whose lives we are willing to sacrifice? Do we want to continue participating in an exhausting economic system that crumbles the instant it is taken out of perpetual motion? And what is the virtue of a desire for constant accumulation of wealth and goods, especially when they come at the cost of collective welfare and equality? These are . . . spiritual concerns that come into view with sharp clarity in the emptiness around them.

If there is anything the collective spiritual insight of millenniums can teach us right now, it is that in addition to the horrors of this current state of emptiness, there is also life to be discovered in this moment. . . . This is a powerful moment in human history in which we can examine, individually and collectively, the unnecessary decadence and cruelty of our contemporary society that we have accepted without sufficient scrutiny. . . . Sitting with these questions now will determine what we are willing to accept once this crisis is over. Having tasted a simpler life, perhaps we will shift our values and patterns. Having seen the importance of community, maybe we will invest more in the well-being of the collective and not just the individual. Having seen the suffering of others anew, we may find it impossible to ignore it in the future. . . . Once the world opens back up, we can choose to fill it with the wisdom and insight gained from these weeks—or allow it to be filled with horrors that are even worse than what we had before. The choice will be ours.” Steven Paulikas

” . . . life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has your life become “uncluttered”–perhaps through much painful loss?
  • Can you think of yourself as in a time between two “normals”–pre-pandemic and post-pandemic? . . . a time for scrutiny of self and society?
  • Can you “sit with” some of the questions the author raises? Can you imagine a much better new normal? . . . pray for that? . . . determine to contribute to that? What might that mean?

Abba, the losses are profound. May all this painful loss not be in vain.

For More: The Lessons of St. Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality Into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot

 

 

Daily Riches: The Most Despised, and Important, Word of Our Time (Helmut Gollwitzer)

“The word ‘repentance’ turns the door into the narrow gate, the most despised, and yet the most important word of our time. It is a time when no one wants to repent, and yet is is precisely in this unwillingness to repent that we find the secret to the misery of our time. Because ours is a time that cannot tolerate this word, the most vital thing linking people to each other lies broken and shattered: the ability of a person to give another his rights, the ability to admit one’s own error and one’s own guilt; the ability to find the guilt in himself rather than in the other, to be gentle with the other but strict with oneself.  …Who cannot admit his guilt before God can no longer do so before men. Then begins the insanity, the insanity of persecution that must make the other person into the devil himself in order to make himself into a god. Where repentance stops, inhumanity begins…. Repentance wipes away everything we think important, it sweeps away ruthlessly our interests and considerations, and it dries up everything that we hoped to mention in our favor. This contradiction is not without reason; whoever repents denies his own life, whoever allowed himself to be baptized here in the Jordan by John, said in effect: I am a man or a woman who must be drowned. Here all noteworthy conduct is for naught: ‘My wounds stink for my sins reach above my head; like a heavy burden they have become too much for me’ (Ps. 38:6,7,5). Repentance is the terrible discovery that I live under a death sentence, and even worse, that I must say yes to this condemnation to death. I am convicted not only outwardly by the sentence itself but inwardly by my own guilt. This is what happens with repentance: my life is annihilated and destroyed not only outwardly but also inwardly. All my defensive weapons–both those pointing externally toward others and those pointing inwardly toward myself–have been lost.” Helmut Gollwitzer

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Jesus in Matthew 3:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you convinced of your need for repentance as a way of life?
  • Has admitting the need for repentance made you easier on others? …on yourself?
  • This is holocaust-era preaching. Serious. Today seems less so, right? What about that?

Abba, let me be serious about repentance.

For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: New Gestures for a Changed Life (Mark Buchanan)

“Repentance is a ruthless dismantling of old ways of seeing and thinking, and then a diligent and vigilant building of new ones. …We need to change our minds, yes, but we also need to change our ways. And for this we require practices to embody and rehearse our change of mind. The physical is a handmaiden to the spiritual, but a necessary one, without practices—without gestures with which to honor fresh ways of perceiving—any change of mind will be superficial, artificial, short-lived. We might attain a genuinely new thought, but without some way of putting it into practice, the thought gets suck in abstractions, lost in forgetting. Good practices are both catalysts and incubators for new thoughts, they initiate them, and they nurture them. But they do even more: they make real our change of mind. It’s like marriage. When I married my wife, Cheryl, I had to change my mind about who I was. I was no longer a bachelor. My habits of thought had, for more than twenty years, taken shape around the fact of my singleness. I had bachelor attitudes about how to spend time and money, about the ideal color to paint a bedroom, about the best car to drive, about other women. It all had to go through a dramatic shift, in some cases a complete about-face, when I took vows (actually, the change began a long time prior to that, and continues lifelong.) I had to–have to–change my mind. But if I changed only my mind and never changed my behavior, I doubt I’d still be married. I have needed, at every turn, practices that embody and rehearse–that make real–my change of mind. [cf. Zacchaeus’ story in Luke 19] …When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently. First you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.” Mark Buchanan


“Jesus said to [Zacchaeus], ‘Today salvation has come to this house….'” Luke 19:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has “salvation come to your house” but left you frustratingly unchanged?
  • Have your resolutions to change been “short-lived?”
  • Are there practices (“gestures”) that you can adopt to build change into your daily routine, and thereby, your life?

Abba, help me as you and I work out my salvation.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: A Life of Constant Repentance (The Episcopal Liturgy, Tim Keller and Thomas Merton)

“We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.” (Episcopal Liturgy)

“There is so much evil done on our behalf [as Americans.] … A racist criminal justice and penal system. War, drones and torture. Systemic poverty, the absence of worker protections or living wage laws, the constriction of unions. Oppression of the poor, immigrants, people of color. Globalized capitalism and sweatshop labor. The abuse and exploitation of the environment for financial gain and our financial ease. Racial injustice. Environmental injustice.” David Henson

“… it is the work of Christians in the world to minister in word and deed and to gather together to do justice. … A life poured out in doing justice for the poor, is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.” Tim Keller

“Contemplation, at its highest intensity, becomes a reservoir of spiritual vitality that pours itself out in the most telling social action.” Thomas Merton

“Seek justice, reprove the ruthless,
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1:17

Moving From Head to Heart

  • One church tradition may emphasize the need for repentance for “the evil we have done” and another for “the evil done on our behalf.” Which is your tradition? If you listen, can you hear God speaking in both traditions? What is lost by listening to only one or the other of these traditions?
  • Does your tradition have a place for the words of the prophet Isaiah? How does your church (or church tradition) “seek justice?” How does it “reprove the ruthless?”
  • Do you agree that, as Christians, we should repent for “the evil done on our behalf?” Is that even possible? If so, what would it look like? What would be the point? Would it be unpatriotic?
  • Can you let you heart be moved by the call to both of these kinds of repentance?

Abba, help me to live a life of constant repentance, full of purity, love and justice.

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For More: Generous Justice by Tim Keller

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Ash Wednesday Repentance (Tim Keller and Thomas Merton)

“We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.” (Episcopal Liturgy)

“There is so much evil done on our behalf [as Americans.] … A racist criminal justice and penal system. War, drones and torture. Systemic poverty, the absence of worker protections or living wage laws, the constriction of unions. Oppression of the poor, immigrants, people of color. Globalized capitalism and sweatshop labor. The abuse and exploitation of the environment for financial gain and our financial ease. Racial injustice. Environmental injustice.” David Henson

“… it is the work of Christians in the world to minister in word and deed and to gather together to do justice. … A life poured out in doing justice for the poor, is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.” Tim Keller

“Contemplation, at its highest intensity, becomes a reservoir of spiritual vitality that pours itself out in the most telling social action.” Thomas Merton

“Seek justice, reprove the ruthless,
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1:17

Moving From Head to Heart

  • One church tradition may emphasize the need for repentance for “the evil we have done” and another for “the evil done on our behalf.” Which is your tradition? If you listen, can you hear God speaking in both traditions? What is lost by listening to only one or the other of these traditions?
  • Does your tradition have a place for the words of the prophet Isaiah? How does your church (or church tradition) “seek justice?” How does it “reprove the ruthless?”
  • Do you agree that, as Christians, we should repent for “the evil done on our behalf?” Is that even possible? If so, what would it look like? What would be the point? Would it be unpatriotic?
  • As you practice repentance today for Ash Wednesday, can you let you heart be moved by the call to both of these kinds of repentance?

Abba, help me to live a life of constant repentance, full of purity, love and justice.

__________

For More: Generous Justice by Tim Keller

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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