You’ve heard of the 3 R’s for Education: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic – and we wonder why “over 50 percent of Americans and Brits earn low marks on a spelling.” (English Spelling Society 2009 – my guess is it is worse today.)
My fear is the percentage is similar or worse concerning Christian Faith. Too many live a faith based on ritual, busyness, consumerism, apathy, and neglect, corresponding antonyms to the 5 R’s of a Healthy Spiritual Life.
That is not how it was intended. Jesus invited us to, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Join St. Luke’s the next three weeks on Sabbath. Summer is the perfect time to reflect on the Gift of 5 R’s for a Healthy Spiritual Life.
REST – “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:1-3
If the creator the universe took time to rest, why do we think we don’t have to? There is a societal sickness of putting a badge of honor on for the number of hours we work. Please do not buy in or celebrate this misguided feat. Take time to rest. To do so requires…
RELAXATION – “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 61:1-2
One of last week’s readings was Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
For me relaxation begins with taking in a deep breath. I recall this passage and image the Spirit coming in, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2). Let me unpack “the fear of the Lord.” It is best understood as awe, and respect for the relationship we have with God and the gifts we have been given. Who doesn’t need wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and knowledge when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.
RECREATION – “Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites. God delights in our inquisitive nature. It is honored by having an entire book on the search for meaning and purpose. In the end the philosopher shares this understand, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. You can argue the Bible supports school vacation. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)
REVERANCE – “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you.” – Deuteronomy 5:12-14
I am old enough to remember remnants of the blue laws, a body of regulations designed to preserve the Sabbath by proscribing most labor, the sale of alcohol, and other things on Sundays, thus taking away obstacles for worship. This should have been settled with Jesus when he told the judgmental Pharisees, ‘The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.’ (Mark 2:27)
Is attending worship out of obligation truly worship? My hope and prayer is that people experience all 5 R’s of a Healthy Spiritual Life, receiving “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit,” (2nd Corinthians 13:13), and go out into the world to share it with all.
RENEWAL – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
This might seem like a contradiction declaring that God rested, and Isaiah writes, “God will not grow tired or weary.” Rest is why God will not grow tired or weary. We are created in God’s image. We need Rest, Relaxation, Recreation, Reverence, and Renewal to keep awake and refreshed.
Remembering in the 5 R’s we can live like the Psalmist who summed up all of this best.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:1-5
What “R” of a Healthy Spiritual Life are you most in need?
How do you live out the “5 R’s in your life?