Archive for January, 2012


Pump a little spirit?

            The first week or two of every new year is a great time to turn our attention to our physical fitness. Gyms around the country report huge surges in membership and jam-packed exercise floors and weight room equipment. Fights have been known to break out over whose turn it is for the elliptical machine or the treadmill. Of course it all dwindles and shrinks back down to a more manageable size in early or mid-February as the energy of New Years resolutions is replaced by an awakening to the sheer drudgery and routine that exercise just is.

So here is the question I would like to pose to us today as we prepare for the first weekend of 2012: how does our attention to our spiritual health resemble or not resemble our attention to our physical health? Long before a person arrives at the ripe age I attained at my most recent birthday the awareness dawns that in neither case do these things just “take care of themselves.” In both areas we have to intentionally TAKE STEPS in the direction of positive health. There is no such thing as doing nothing. Doing nothing is, in fact, taking steps in a backward direction.

Just to be clear: we certainly do not earn God’s grace by going to the spirit “gym” and pumping up our souls. As the Bible endlessly reminds us, God’s grace is poured out extravagantly onto each of us every day (Eph. 2:4-5). The great unknown in this equation – as always – is our readiness to fully receive and live this gift. That’s where our “exercise” comes in.

I asked the question on Facebook the other day – and to myself in my time of devotion – “What things that you will do or encounter today will serve to BUILD UP your spiritual health? What things will ERODE it?” Your day – and mine – will likely offer examples of both… some of which we have a choice about and some of which we don’t. A quick example from earlier today; I like to listen to the “All Comedy” local radio station periodically and mostly find it fun and entertaining. But as I was listening to one particular off-color comedian I audibly said to myself, “This is just not good for my soul!” and hit the button back to NPR.

We have just passed the traditional date of the Feast of Epiphany. An epiphany is the dawning of a light… the explosion of an insight… the breaking in of a new awareness. My prayer today is that we can link arms as a church and further become a place where we dare to encounter new insights, apply those to our lives, and reinforce our commitments to lean into those things which build up my spiritual health and away from those which erode it. 

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