Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The last two days, I’ve been blessed to be at the Clergy Day Apart (an annual one day retreat for spiritual nourishment of the Central Texas Conference). Tom Albin from the Upper Room (a part of the United Methodist Church’s Board of Discipleship) was the key note speaker. Listening to him I was reminded of the old Aqua Velva aftershave commercial. In the commercial Aqua Velva was compared to a wakeup slap in the face followed by the tag line; “Thanks, I needed that.” I live my life at too fast a pace. I know this truth and yet like someone addicted to alcohol I seem to find myself almost powerless to stop. The Clergy Day Apart is a wakeup call. Tom’s thoughtful insightfulness pierced me with both judgment and grace. He spoke about love for God and neighbor. Love for God (as I understood him) was expressed in worship, prayer and praise. Tom talked about this as oxygen for our soul. He noted that we often function on spiritual oxygen deficiency. I find this true in my life. My spiritual oxygenation seems to rise and fall based on the time I spend in worship, prayer and praise. Quoting Bishop Ruben Job, he talked about our need for 1 hour of prayer a day, one day set aside for spiritual quite & prayer a month, and one week a year for spiritual retreat. I am convicted. My most generous estimate has about 30 minutes a day for prayer. Bill Hybels book (which I read over a decade ago) Too Busy NOT to Pray comes to mind. I regularly set aside a day a month for quiet time. I call it my Q day and got the idea from John Stott who did so for years. I am convicted again because I far too routinely allow things to impinge on the schedule. Lately I have been setting aside a week a year as a part of my study leave. Even there I have to fight my tendency to compromise the time. How about you? Do you regularly love God through spiritual renewal in worship, prayer and praise? Tom also spoke powerfully of love of neighbor expressed in evangelical witness and social justice. Using the image of a cross, he noted that for many Methodists we have a small vertical axis and an elongated horizontal axis. There is much food for thought in that image. Biblically he tied his presentation to John 15. It is worthy of meditation. May God bless and keep you.