Unbusy: Reconnecting with an Unhurried God 3-9-14

Lent is a special time of year, a time of preparation for Holy Week, a time to pay special attention to our spiritual journey. In the next six weeks, we will reflect on distractions and disciplines as we open ourselves to reconnecting with an unhurried God, a God who has time, all the time in the world, for each one of us.

Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. Then the tempter approached and said “if you are the Only Begotten, command these stones to turn into bread.” Jesus replied, “Scripture has it, ‘We live not on bread alone but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.’” Next the Devil took Jesus to the Holy City, set him on the parapet of the Temple and said, “If you are the Only Begotten, throw yourself down.  Scripture has it, ‘God will tell the angels to take care of you, with their hands they will support you that you may never stumble on a stone.’” Jesus answered, “Scripture also says, ‘Do not put God to the test.’” The Devil then took Jesus up a very high mountain and displayed all the dominions of the world in their magnificence, promising, “All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to the Devil, “Away with you, Satan!  Scripture says, ‘You will worship the Most High God, God alone will you adore.’” At that the Devil left, and angels came and attended Jesus.

March 9, 2014

Unbusy: Reconnecting with an Unhurried God  

(energy)    On Wednesday in our Ash Wednesday service we asked people to write on a sticky note one thing that clutters our lives, one thing that keeps us from connecting with an unhurried God. We glued our sticky notes on to the cross as a symbol of our commitment to live into a holy Lent.
As an extra challenge, we specifically suggested that people think about what somebody we love would say gets in the way of us connecting with them and the world. Put that on your Post-it! Take that as your cross and bear it.
Melaina and I, as were planning the service, found ourselves getting nervous about asking other people to do this exercise, because we were immediately afraid of what we would have to give up. We like our cell phones. We like our electronic devices! We knew immediately what our partners would say gets in the way of our being present to their world, and they are not taking our smart phones away from us! No!
You might have a different temptation, a different distraction that keeps you from reconnecting with an unhurried God. Maybe television gets in your way more than a computer. Maybe food or work or studies or whatever. Whatever it is that gets in the way of your relationship with an unhurried God or an impatient partner, you probably have a  similar reaction to the thought of change. No, that’s important to me. I can’t
During this Lenten series we are going to look at a number of these ways in which we anesthetize ourselves from the beauty and the pain of the world. And each week we will suggest ways to “un-busy” ourselves – using traditional and contemporary spiritual disciplines to reconnect with an unhurried God.

Today, we begin by noticing how Jesus dealt with temptation. First of all, I want us to notice the set up. The story is that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights of fasting and prayer. That’s like if we fasted from now until Easter, April 20th! We could not imagine going with television or our smart phone or fast food for a week, let alone for 40 days!
When Jesus comes out of the wilderness, the reading says that he was hungry – (duh!). He was hungry and the tempter comes and suggests that he turn a stone into bread, so that he could have something to eat. Well, this was right in line with his mission, to feed the hungry, to show that God has compassion for people who need something to eat.
The tempter continues to tempt Jesus to prove he is the Messiah, to take power over the world, to be the world saver, King and ruler that the people are expecting and desperate for. Jesus rebuffs the tempter each time, refusing to follow yesterday’s Word of God rather than the demands of today, refusing to do good when he could live into what is best.

See, this is how we justify our busy-ness – we act as though we are the most important people in the world, like what we are doing shows how compassionate or productive or helpful we are – that we have to answer our e-mail or our phone every 10 minutes, that we have to do work at home or in bed or on Friday night. My work is more important than your work.
On the other hand, we may feel like the least important people in the world, and that we need to fill up our time with whatever is at hand – endless games of solitaire or hearts on the computer, or mindless TV shows to make the time go by until the next meal.
And either way, we tend to not pay that much attention or take the time those meals deserve. To make meals that our nourishing for body and soul – since humans do not live by bread alone. When we’re too busy or too preoccupied to take the time to treat ourselves and other people well, it’s a sign that we may benefit from taking the time to reconnect with an unhurried God.

So the first spiritual discipline that we’re going to hold up during this Lenten season is the discipline of fasting. This is a discipline very much underutilized in our modern world, even though it is typically and strongly associated with Lent. I know some people think it is like a self-punishment or an absurd thing to do. It really is a wonderful and powerful spiritual practice.
There are many forms of fasting. You can fast for a day or two or a meal or two. You can fast from food, or you can fast from TV, computer or cell phone. The main goal of many fasts is to reconnect with an unhurried God – and it really works. If you are addicted to solitaire or too focused on television or your cell phone games, taking a day or a three hour fast from those activities and spending that time in prayer, mediation or even just going for a walk, can bring your attention to the present, can make you aware of God’s presence in a way that has been masked for a long time.
Fasting is a sure fire way to slow down and smell the roses. It changes your routine dramatically and allows you to notice things that you haven’t noticed before. I want to commend this practice to you and ask you to commit to doing some kind of intentional fast during this Lenten season. You don’t have to tell the person you love that you are fasting from the thing that bugs them the most, but don’t be surprised if they notice and appreciate that you are more available and more present for a time.
Let’s take a moment now, while the music is playing to write in your bulletin what you will fast from, how long you will fast, and estimate when you will do it in the next 6 weeks.
Responsive Hymn: 2080 All I Need Is You