The Magic of Monday [And The Rest Of The Week At Home, School, Work & In The World]

Welcome to the magic of Monday!

At this point you may be thinking or saying something like, "Wait. What? Back away from the coffee. You've obviously exceeded all of our daily allotment of caffeine. [Or something a bit more salty...]"

Let me explain.

During our gathering last evening Holly Kimm led us into the biblical texts found in Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 and John 14:27 [this school year we're engaging the narrative of the biblical story by using an arrangement of texts known as The Narrative Lectionary].

Take a moment to read them. For real. Pause and check them out...

Okay, in the first scene we find a displaced people in a culture vastly different than their own. And we find that while some among them are saying that God has plans for them to leave, to withdraw, God speaks up and says something like this: "Nonsense! I've got something much better in mind - better for everyone." Specifically, he says "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare. [vv. 5-7]"

And in the second text we hear Jesus saying, "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid."

Two scenes. Centuries apart. A common word for the people of God in the various places he's planted them - the neighborhoods and networks where they spend their lives.

Peace.

Or shalom [that's the word found in Jeremiah, and that Jesus and his contemporaries would have used, which is translated in these texts as peace].

So what exactly is this shalom, this gift, this thing to work for in the world?

As Holly shared with us, she unpacked this big, beautiful word by giving us the following. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

Take that in. Imagine life like that. For you. For us. For everyone.

For that's how God has created the world to work, what Jesus has restored in his life, death and resurrection, and what the Holy Spirit mobilizes us to be agents of.

So how might we actually partner with God in this shalom filled, restorative way?

As we considered that together, Holly led us into considering the work of Andy Crouch, who says that Christians tend to adopt negative or reactive postures toward the culture we're immersed in. In fact, he identified four basic postures or stances that American Christians over the past two centuries have adopted toward culture, captured in the image below. Take a look, consider the four postures, and answer the question he poses in the middle.

 
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What did you find as you considered your own response to the world you're planted in?

While these four postures are common, there has to be a better way, right?

Indeed!

Holly shared with us the following words by Andy Crouch which describe a better way. A way congruent with God's gift of shalom in Jesus and instruction that his followers be agents of shalom.

"The postures of artists and gardeners have a lot in common. Both begin with contemplation, paying close attention to what is already there. The gardener looks carefully at the landscape; the existing plants, both flowers and weeds; the way the sun falls on the land. The artist regards her subject, her canvas, her paints with care to discern what she can make with them.

And then, after contemplation, the artist and gardener both adopt a posture of purposeful work. They bring their creativity and effort to their calling. Why aren’t we known as cultivators - people who tend and nourish what is best in human culture, who do the hard painstaking work to preserve the best of what people before us have done? Why aren’t we known as creators - people who dare to think and do something that has never been thought or done before, something that makes the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful?"

The images of artist and gardener, and the questions posed...

Those get at how we might actually live into the peace, the shalom, that is ours, and partner with God as agents of that same restorative and creative peace.

So which of the practices of the artist and gardener do you feel like it's time to pay attention to and give yourself to?

Is there one or two that are missing, that if they were present would mobilize you as a recipient of and agent of shalom?

And what about the questions posed? After considering them as they are, turn them a bit and ask yourself, what might it look like for me to live as a cultivator and creator in the neighborhood and networks I'm already a part of? What idea for making the world more "welcoming and thrilling and beautiful" have I been keeping within that it's time to develop and deploy?

Welcome to the endless possibility, the magic of Monday and the rest of the week at home, school, work and in the world.

Welcome to the way of Jesus who shows and tells the way of shalom: "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid... Work for the peace and prosperity of the place that I have sent you."
 

Kaleo Church