Monday, March 01, 2010

Spiritual Feeding and Working for It

I'm continuing to ruminate on the idea of spiritual feeding and spiritual growth. So many times I think I'm laying out a spiritual banquet when I preach or teach and yet I will hear "I'm not being fed." Sometimes I think it is a lack of imagination on our part as clergy--we're so used to serving up the usual fare that it never occurs to us to add to, or even rearrange, the spiritual menu. I'm not suggesting getting rid of communion or (God forbid!) the sermon, but I am suggesting that it might make sense to push the edges of the spiritual envelope a bit and see who (literally) "bites."

I don't think it is just the clergy, however. I'm also thinking that in an age of fast food, microwavable dinners, and pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we all might be a little reluctant to work for our spiritual food. Face it, most of us are as lazy spiritually as we are often lazy physically. We want God to show up, put on a good show, give us our instructions for the week, and then disappear in a flash of light, leaving us to live and love for another week. What I suspect we least want to do is to do that daily work of prayer, scripture study, and personal worship that is central to the Christian life. Even as a pastor and priest, there are times when I'd much rather take a nap or catch an hour or so of TV (or do an hour of surfing the Internet) than I would like to engage in personal devotions.

Yet just as there is not substitute for eating healthy and getting exercise, there is no substitute for taking in healthy spiritual food and engaging in (at times rigorous) spiritual exercise. Deep down, we all know this, and yet as much as it is tempting for me as a teacher to try to "re-package" things to appeal to the fast food culture it is also tempting for me as a disciple to want that for myself. May this Lent be a time where we eschew pre-packaged and processed spiritual food for the milk and meat of scripture, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, and the sweet honey of God's spirit flowing through us.

UPDATE: One of my favorite theologians, Diana Butler Bass, collaborated on this short video, which says what I just said better than I just said it:

1 comment:

Brad Evans said...

I don't want to become a fictional character.