Good Afternoon Everyone,
The week is scooting by pretty quickly here and I wanted to send out an email about what we’re going to discuss on Sunday. Also, don’t forget, for tonight’s Soup and Bread we’re planning discuss what topics and/practices we’re going to do for the next 8 weeks or so. Everyone is welcome and all ideas are invited! Come be a part of that process with us. I think it’s going to be fun to work together as a group and decide what things we’d like to have conversation and learning around.
I also would like to draw your attention to the podcast from last Sunday with Bill Jolliff if you missed it, or if you’d like to listen again. Bill was fantastic! He did some singing and had great sharing to offer us.
This Sunday, I wanted to pick up a thread I was noticing from the last few weeks of messages on the topics of the Quaker testimonies of integrity and simplicity. One thing I saw was the struggle to know where we fall in all of this. When we talk about these testimonies it is easy to feel guilty about what it is we don’t do, or to feel crushed by the weight of all the things that still need to be done in the world. I want to take this as a starting point to think about the things we fail at, the risks we take, and what we do when we notice inconsistencies in our lives. I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage from Paul recently:
15 What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. 16 So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God’s commands,23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different (Romans 7:15-25 The Message).
- What has been most exciting or interesting to you about the discussions around the testimonies this past month?
- What has been most challenging?
- Have you ever felt like Paul and experienced a "life of contradiction?" Think of a time when you became aware of something contradictory in your life, how did you respond to that? What was the outcome?
I decided to do a little "remix" of the above passage and use it as the basis of a prayer. Here’s what I’ve got:
I decide one way, then I act another. I do things I despise, and see inconsistencies everywhere.
I delight in goodness, in integrity, in simplicity, but it’s pretty obvious that part of me rebels agains this to.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.
I’m at the end of my rope.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord
who sets things right in this life of contradictions!
I look forward to our time together tonight and Sunday.