Thursday, March 7, 2013

30 Days With Wesley: Rhythm

Rhythms are important.  Ask any musician.

There are rhythms in our lives as well.  But sometimes, we get out of rhythm.  And that is a problem.

When I was a teenager in my youth group and church, I was taught the importance of "daily devotions."  This term is sort of an evangelical thing (although I was part of a holiness, not an evangelical, church (I recognize the two have many commonalities, but few things frustrate my theological and ecclesial sense more than when people refer to the Church of the Nazarene as an "evangelical" church.  No, no.  I don't think so.  Of course we aren't anti-evangelical or anti-evangelism!  But we are, most certainly, a holiness church.  And now I've digressed quite a bit on this rabbit trail...which I'll use to make a point about rhythm shortly, if you'll stay with me)).

In short, "daily devotions" meant you got up as early as you could in the morning (30 minutes before school started?), prayed and read your Bible for a really really long time (30 minutes?), and used a (30-day?) "devotion book" to guide you.

And one could argue I am more or less attempting to do the same thing at age 37 with "30 Days With Wesley."  One could.  But this one will not.

In some circles, even today, if you don't have a set, "personal devotion" or "daily devotion" time in which you used a devotion book, read the Bible, and pray (usually in that order), and do so for a specific amount of time, at a specific time each day, well, you're not really a "faithful believer" (for some you may not be one at all!).

This, of course, is absurd.

However...what is not absurd is that when we become Jesus-disciples, there are many practices and disciplines we learn, and that by doing these practices and submitting to these disciplines, we and others become more like Christ, which is the goal of discipleship.  These practices establish a rhythm in our lives that is needed (required, really) if we are going to know, do, be and become all that God desires for us.

You might wonder how the last two paragraphs fit together.

Webster gives us some helpful definitions for rhythm:

*"an ordered recurrent alteration of strong and weak elements of the flow of sound and silence in speech"

*"the aspect of music comprising all the elements that relate to forward movement"

*"movement, fluctuation or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements"

We need spiritual rhythms in our lives.  For the Jesus-disciple, these are the disciplines and practices of the faith, which occur through the super-natural flow of Holy Spirit in us and through us.

Notice that not all rhythms are the same (and some are better than others!); nor is each rhythm composed of the same elements, all the time, in every case.  Notice that strength is only shown when weakness is present, and that sound is only heard when silence is also experienced.  Notice that there can and should be variation to the rhythmic practices of our spiritual lives.

So...I'm not anti-evangelical-devotional-time.  Far from it.  It can be a good rhythm.  But it isn't the only rhythm...and who likes to listen to the same few songs on the radio over and over and over again (besides 40  year old soccer moms?  Sorry...that is an inside joke...)?

Spiritual rhythm is vital.  For me, I was really beginning to get out of rhythm.  Not unlike my rabbit trail a few paragraphs back, I am being pulled in many directions, some of which are really just digressions (or put another way, distractions).  "30 Days With Wesley" is getting me in tune again, and for that I am very grateful.  I hope my experience might encourage the reader to get or stay in tune, as well.

One more thing about rhythm from Webster's definitions above:  It is "all the elements that relate to forward movement."

Rhythm:  You might call it...momentum.  I have a t-shirt from a youth camp in 2003 with that word on it.  It says this: 

"Momentum:  He starts.  He finishes."

Do I hear something rattling?

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