Making space?

I need to admit something: I am frustrated today.

I was driving to church, winding my way through the affluence of Chicago suburbs, caught up in the flow of mini-vans and SUVs speeding along around me, catching glimpses of professional landscapers planting thousands of dollars worth of mums and other fall flowers around the base of a grocery store sign at the edge of a strip mall...

And I felt my shoulders stiffen as I thought "This is all too much."

Too much money going to too many unimportant things. Too much speed. Too much being-late-because-we-are-so-overscheduled. Too much ambition...and too much fear.

And when I settled into my office for the day, and read through my emails, and started addressing the questions and needs of families, I thought the same sorts of things: "This is all too much."

How should a church speak to and address the problem of "too much" in a congregation?

How do you address the fear of failure that drives parents to schedule a million college-application-boosting activities for their elementary-aged children?

How do you address the keeping-up-with-the-Jonses panic that keeps people tied to high-income but highly-demanding jobs?

How do you help people get to a place where they feel actually challenged by Jesus' words to the rich young ruler ("sell everything and give it to the poor") or by his words to his disciples when he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom ("Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money — not even an extra tunic")?

Really, how is the church called (or IS it called?) to help empower people to make space in their life so that there is room for God to show up in the still-small voice?
In the spiritual life, the word ‘discipline’ means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act.’ Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on. (Henri Nouwen)
How is God calling me to make space in my own life? And how is God using me to help encourage others to do so?

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I just made space in my life to read your post...two weeks after you wrote it! :-o I see your point. Our pastor just used that quote from Nouwen, too. I have no great answers for you, but hopefully it's encouraging to know another pastor was working toward the same end, and it made at least one parishioner (me) think.