“So, go eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart…..” Ecclesiastes 9: 7a
Many of us will no doubt have spent time during Lent preparing our hearts and minds with others or on our own in our journey towards Holy Week and Eastertide. I too was doing this, and was somewhat startled one week on our Zoom Bible Study when someone said, “Angela, I’ve heard someone say you pray without ceasing, would you care to share with us what is meant by that?”
First thought, “why would someone say that about me?” Second thought, “do I do that? How do I describe what I do?” To be honest, I might have bluffed the answer!
I’ve noticed a 2020/21 phenomena are Zoom background scenes, and when I heard a worship leader announce that she hoped the beautiful scene behind her wouldn’t be a distraction from our worship. My mind did one of those boggling things: what on earth did she mean? Behind her, framing the screen was a sparkling lake surrounded by beautiful trees, under a lovely blue sky. Just exactly how was this glorious creation supposed to distract us from worshipping God?
Of course, she’s not alone in her thinking, Right from the day of school assemblies when my infant school head teacher intoned, “hands together, eyes closed, “ I have encountered the idea that to meet God it’s best to close one’s eyes and shut out the world – that the ‘things of earth will grow strangely dim.’ Yet for the Jesus in whom God took flesh, the things of earth were not at all dim: he noticed, wild flowers, birds, a farmer sowing seed, a woman baking bread. Even after his resurrection, he ate bread and fish on a beach with relish to show that he wasn’t a wispy ghost.
One could say, Christianity is, like Judaism, an earth-centred faith. Ok, I admit there is a valid tradition of turning ones back on worldly pleasures to seek God alone and I’m impressed by their lives, faith and writings. I do wonder whether such folk have ever changed a nappy, done the school run, tackled a team meeting at work where spreadsheets rule, or spent ages working out how to empty the canister full of dirt in the new vacuum cleaner!
We may well differ here, more often than not, I don’t think I can be doing with this ‘God’s in the spiritual realm and we are in the material one’ stuff. If God isn’t here as I match up socks, or deal with cooking dinner, then I’m not sure God is anywhere for me.
So, I do indeed pray without ceasing, precisely because I keep my eyes open as I pray, whether they’re open to the glory of a beautiful lake, or sharing a meal with those I love, walking to the shop, or giving up the search for that missing sock!
Blessings this Eastertide
Rev Angela J Lawson