"The obviously well-kept secret of the 'ordinary' is that it is made to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows."
-- Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
Today I was blessed to have a conversation with a retired couple at church, who were excited about their ministry being present for the many older retired folks in their complex. But the conversation started off with a tinge of guilt about not being able to do more in the church. I said that I thought their work where they are if as valuable (if not more so) than any "ministry" they could take on, and asked them to let us know how we (the congregation) could help.
Lutheran Zephyr posts about the current MasterCard commercial where Peyton Manning cheers on workers doing ordinary stuff -- the stuff we do every day and that, in Willard's view, Jesus would do if he were here. LZ suggests that "The problem with so much of our spiritual regimens (both present-day and past) is that they depend on importing "Godly things" into our daily lives ... But this "I have to bring spirituality into my daily life" attitude implies that our daily life has no inherent spiritual value."
There's no doubt that we have some work to do sorting out our attitudes about the sacred and the ordinary. Spiritual disciplines of Scripture reading, prayer, worship and service ground us, tell us who and whose we are. Unless we're shaped by God through these regimens, we're likely to miss the sacred significance of our "non-religious" work. Unless the life of God flows through it, the ordinary is just, well, ordinary. But we're equally at risk of dismissing this sacredness by placing a higher value on "spiritual" things. Even worse, in the church bubble we're often guilty of emphasizing the work we do keeping the congregation/institution humming over the connections we make on the job, in the neighborhood, or at school.
Brother Maynard blogged about this disconnect today, as well. (Seems like we've got a theme going). Jesus, he notes, just said "Follow me!" -- without specifying attendance at temple meetings or other of our metrics. Should the church be asking people for a significant percentage of their "free" time when being present with their family, connecting with neighbors and coworkers or serving the poor are equally valid ways of following the Savior? How can we reconfigure "church" so our people are freed up to be ministers outside of our walls as well as within them? Can we think about supporting people in their ministries instead of pestering them to join ours?
A couple months ago at St. James we asked people to bring in symbols of the ways they serve as Jesus served, wherever that happens. And we blessed them...and sent people out to be empowered in their serving. We need to keep working at cheering each other on in recognizing the sacredness of everyday life...that's one way the Kingdom of God grows!