Doctors, dentists and lawyers are said to "practice" their trades. When we follow a certain faith we are said to be a practitioner of that faith. But what does this mean? I wonder if it means we apply our trade, faith and belief in the world in which we live?
When Solomon penned Ecclesiastes he was bewildered at how people practiced life. He saw inequity, randomness, and "nothing new under the sun" (sameness in life). Some think Solomon suffered from depression. Soren Kierkegaard wrote about this attitude of futility as he tried to parody Ecclesiastes saying, "when I was older, I opened my eyes and beheld reality, at which I began to laugh, and since then, I have not stopped laughing. I saw that the meaning of life was to secure a livelihood, and that its goal was to attain a high position; that love’s rich dream was marriage with an heiress; that friendship’s blessing was help in financial difficulties; that wisdom was what the majority assumed it to be; that enthusiasm consisted in making a speech; that it was courage to risk the loss of ten dollars; that kindness consisted in saying, “You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.” Kierkegaard saw that if were spiritually lax, our ambitions, our practice of our faith and our mission in life might to be boiled-down to what Solomon called "chasing after the wind." So ... here's my question. How do we jump into life with wildness, freedom, purpose, passion and meaning? How do we make our days "under the sun" count?
I think Solomon, Kierkegaard and Pastor Randy would agree on this. Why just simply talk about Jesus ... why not practice Jesus? C. S. Lewis called this being in rhythm with God. To Lewis this happened when we properly balanced change and permanence.
God demands and loves change. Change is a requirement to even be in the faith conversation. New creations must leave old creations. Change is a constant event and should be a constant striving of every follower of Jesus. He (Jesus) is constantly calling us to change and Satan is constantly telling us to remain in the stasis of stagnation. I think this is why Biblical prophecy and the Revelation use the word 'new' so often.
Yet, God is a constant in the midst of struggle, hurt, change and life. Lewis said that the ebb and flow of the changing seasons of life shout of the constancy of God in every circumstance. I think this is why Moses, in his last address to the Hebrew people, said, "the Lord IS your life."
Over the next several weeks we will hear a lot about how we can practice Jesus in missions. John Wesley might have said that these weeks will offer a chance to be immersed in the grace of God, since serving is one of the means by which God sends His grace to us. It will be our chance to hear/touch/feel the rhythm of "Practiced Jesus." We will hear and touch it this coming Sunday when, between services (at 10 am), we will have a "Packing Party!" Bob and Melba Lisenby will bring items to be placed into Backpacks for Friday (BFF). Every person will get a chance to be part of packing backpacks (under Bob and Melba's direction). We will do this once a month and we will become a practicing part of this mission. Beginning August 26th we will hear testimony about many of the missions supported by Abbeville UMC. This will happen each week till a grand finale on October 7th. Make a special attempt to be here each week and practice your following of Jesus by jumping in wherever and whenever you can! Randy