Tag Archives: disciples

Enough, and more than enough

Today is, so to speak, a “patronal feast” of this blog, since this is one of three times in the two-year Daily Office lectionary that Hebrews 6:19 is read.

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

That verse, however, is only one part of the origin story of the “Daily Office Anchor Society.”

The name was first used as a tongue-in-cheek description following a retreat for newly-ordained GenX clergy held at the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin many (increasingly many) years ago.

At one point in the weekend we all realized that each of us had received at our ordinations a copy of the leather-bound, slipcased Daily Office Book along with the well-meaning expectation that of course “you’ll be saying the Offices every day now.”

Dave Walker’s “Cartoon Church” from the Church Times paints a pretty good picture of what we were up against.

That expectation of piety, coupled with virtually no exposure to the Offices (how often does *your* church have Evensong, huh?), we all experienced as an anchor dragging us down.

Being a card-carrying member of the “Daily Office Anchor Society” was not really a good thing.

The leather-bound, slipcased Daily Office Book, displayed on our shelves but rarely used, became a visible symbol of our failure to meet expectations — other people’s expectations, the Church’s expectations, and our own.

Daily Office Book

These days, nearly 20 years later, I no longer feel that the Daily Office represents a weight of expectation, a letter of law or institutional requirement against which I am judged.

Praying the Daily Office is instead a portable practice (I use a leather-bound BCP and Bible, but you could use the Forward Day by Day app on your iPhone) that allows me to participate in the Church’s ceaseless prayer and to “travel light” like the seventy disciples that Jesus sent out in today’s Gospel passage.

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:1-6)

There is a sense of lightness, I think, that is the fruit of time spent in Jesus’ presence.

The seventy found, even though they had no supplies (no buildings, no tools, none of the stuff we usually haul around with us), that their relationship with Jesus was enough — and more than enough.

It’s this sense of lightness, I think, that the recent Memorial to the Church seeks to recall us to.

The Episcopal Church has enough, and more than enough, if it accepts the call:

To recommit itself to the spiritual disciplines [Daily Office, Eucharist, etc.] at the core of our common life, to go into our neighborhoods boldly with church planters and church revitalizers, and to restructure our church for the mission God is laying before us today.

The seventy returned to Jesus with joy, exclaiming over the power they had been able to tap into. “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”

I have found in my own life, through experiences of loss and grace and through practices of recovery that build hope — what Richard Rohr calls the “coded Gospel” — that my relationship with Jesus is enough.

The Daily Office, for me, is the way I spend time in Jesus’ presence most mornings so that for the rest of the day I can travel lightly into my neighborhood and hold lightly my expectations about what success looks like.

In this way, the Office serves me as a “sure and steadfast anchor” connecting me to Jesus, who is my hope.

How do you stay connected to Jesus? What builds hope in your life? What helps you to set aside expectations and find that you have enough, and more than enough?

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Traveling light

[Jesus] called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7-13)

I don’t know if it’s exactly what Jesus had in mind, but I do try to travel light as I go about my business.

I’ve written elsewhere about viewing my hotel room as a sort of monastic cell. For me, the point is that I am at home wherever I happen to be. The town may be different, but hotel rooms are pretty much the same everywhere, and I pack my suitcase the same way every week.

Peter Matthiessen, author and world traveler, even turned and bowed to his hotel room as he left, as a mark of his gratitude for the hospitality he had enjoyed. He explained his practice in an interview with Jonathan White:

My first Zen teacher, Soen-roshi, always made a little bow of gratitude to the world around him, and I learned that from him. It’s a wonderful habit. Even if I’m leaving some neutral or lifeless place, like a motel room, it feels right to thank the room for its hospitality. In Zen practice, one bows to the buddha principle, the imminence of awakening, within oneself. I love that idea. A bow is a wonderful way to appreciate this moment, pay respectful attention to the world around you.

Now understand: Our voluntary simplicity as we go about the Lord’s business is not the same as the poverty too many people experience in their daily lives. Perhaps, however, our simplicity can make room for us to see what’s happening around us. Perhaps traveling light can give us the freedom to respond quickly when we recognize a need.

That same spirit of voluntary simplicity (see Acts 2:43-47) may have been working among those same disciples some years later as they considered what to do about Paul, their former persecutor, who now said he had a mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Perhaps their simplicity gave them the freedom to recognize that God was acting in a new way. Perhaps their traveling light gave them the freedom to respond to the Gentiles’ need for the Gospel.

When James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:9-10)

Our voluntary simplicity, our freedom to recognize God acting in new ways, and our remembering the poor are ways in which we follow Jesus’ instructions to his first disciples.

God grant that our repentance and our willingness to share our lives with others will likewise bear the fruit of peace and fellowship.

Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.