I realized at breakfast today that I am part of a strange community. Here we are at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center, blessed with brilliant autumn views of Lake Cochichewic, gathered as the Board of Ordained Ministry to interview provisional elders and deacons for the leadership of the church (and to accomplish many other vital tasks like planning for support of Licensed Local Pastors, and anti-racism work. And just as I was scooping some oatmeal into my bowl to fortify myself for the long day ahead, a voice spoke up inviting us to prayer. Each person in that busily humming room stopped mid-sentence, mid-scoop, mid-phone check to open ourselves to grace pouring into the room. It wasn’t the first time this strange community thought has struck me like an illuminating arrow, that to stop is as pleasing to God as to go. Each has a purpose in our Inward/outward journeys together.
[God] said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. -Exodus 33: 14
During my conversations with pastors this year, time management was the #1 resource request. Moses was a busy man. In charge of moving thousands of people of all ages and capacities into wilderness, away from well-known and practiced bondage and toward unknown territory. He led in extreme conflict. You name the type of human conflict and it happened during his watch: with the regime, with local leaders, with neighbors, with his brother (and assistant), and with God. Did people think it was strange when he took intensive time “off” to listen to, wrestle with, and be refreshed by God? It seems to me that they got into the most trouble when they were unwilling to follow his Sabbathing example and tried to just get on with pressing issues.
Making our time “work” is not a matter of better calendar systems or other organizational tools (though they are very helpful in their place). Making our time matter comes when we remember why we are here, to encounter, be formed by, and share the radical love of our creating God. Managing to spend time with God is not dessert, it’s the feast. Like Moses, when our priorities flow out of set aside time and like the Board of Ordained Ministry, when we are vulnerable to God’s interruptions, our lives take on a strange quality. Time flows around God’s presence and purpose instead of feeling cobbled together by our own efforts to balance it all.
“Taste and See” by James Moore
Taste and see, taste and see
the goodness of the Lord.
Oh, taste and see, taste and see
the goodness of the Lord, of the Lord.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times.
Praise shall always be on my lips;
my soul shall glory in the Lord;
for God has been so good to me. (Refrain)
2 Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us all praise God's name.
I called the Lord, who answered me;
from all my troubles I was set free. (Refrain)
3 Worship the Lord, all you people.
You’ll want for nothing if you ask.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
in God we need put all our trust. (Refrain)