Craving the Mundane…

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Thoughts wandered while driving though the Minnesota backroads near Welch, a tiniest of settlements formed in 1860 with great hope on the banks of the Cannon river but now mostly a wide, but scenic, spot on the highway. Everywhere around the car autumn was settling in. Colors slightly changing. The sun dipping below the horizon ever earlier in the day. The cool in the air that reminds both man and beast that seasons are in flux.

As the road wound through the hills, thoughts followed the same circuitous route. Memories of a younger man so excited to go to seminary, so wanting to change the world, so sure the future was as wide and high and bright as the skies above a prairie farm. Amazing, the dreams of a young man with a Bible, a seminary degree, and the whole world in front of him.

Time has tempered that. The ideals remain. The hope is there. But as the years behind grow more than the years ahead experience has taught its lessons, sometimes gently and at times with great violence. It’s not that the world doesn’t need some major work. It’s just that great, broad strokes are most often not the way this is done and like it’s the work of ego to think that one person can rule the world it’s also ego to think one person can save it.

I don’t know if it’s wisdom, fatigue, or some combination of them but there’s a craving inside for the mundane, the every day. The young man’s dreams, illusions really, have been through the sausage maker of time and the result is things are both the same and different. Every ideal that spurred the young college graduate to not pursue a career in their field and take the leap to seminary remains but the applications have changed.

The world, in the end, is saved by the mundane, the everyday. Occasionally an apostle of some sort emerges on the face of the earth for a time and a place but for the most part  the work of this Kingdom is done every day, a baptism here, a sermon there, a moment to help a struggler, even the seemingly endless meetings are a part of it. And there’s a craving inside for that kind of mundane, a parish, a home, a city, a place and the everyday life that once seemed like so much of a compromise and now seems like something that should have happened a long time ago.

In fact it did, and still is happening, but perhaps it takes a drive through the backroads near Welch to figure it out.

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One of the Questions…

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I ask myself is “Do I love God?” I wouldn’t have been able to think of that question myself but over the years, and especially reading the lives of the Saints, I’ve found myself asking the question on more than a few occasions.

I think there were times in my life when I was afraid of God. There were times when I tolerated God. Some times I needed God like an alcoholic needs another drink. If the truth were told there were times when I felt like I didn’t much need God at all. As many possible emotions and states as there could be I suppose I’ve felt that way about God at one time or another.

But do I love God?

For the Saints and holy people of times past one of their qualities was a genuine love for God. They wanted to be in relationship with God. They wanted to be present to God. They valued God’s company and craved Him when they felt He was distant. It was at that point where they went from tolerating God, or honoring God out of fear, or seeing God as some kind of escape from the painful realities of life that they began to love. It was also at that point where they began to be transfigured into something numinous and holy.

So do I love God?

The answer is “I am trying.” I would like to move from lesser relationships with God to love and though there are often fits and starts I would like to think that one day, perhaps, I can return to God a tiny fraction of the love He has for me and for the whole creation. Even the attempt, I suppose, to do this is considered by God to be a kind of love but often it seems so little returned for so much given.

Still, the answer, however feeble it is some times is “Yes”.

Praying for Revival…

In our American context the word “revival” has a special kind of spiritual significance. If you watch Christian television there will always be some kind of “revival” planned or happening or coming and much of it has to do with some kind of charismatic speaker and people becoming emotionally charged as a sign that they are being “revived” by the Holy Spirit.

These moment, more often than not, are temporary and when the shouting and singing are done and people leave the arena very little may have changed. In fact, sometimes people actually wander from place to place seeking out the latest “revival” almost like an addict seeks the next fix. The spiritual life becomes, in a sense, a series of mundane days only broken up by the next big thing and so on and so on.

That’s not really revival, though, because any good speaker can get you to jump up and down but only the Holy Spirit can help you change your life towards Christ in the day to day world that marks most of our existence. It’s actually more of a mark of revival in the Church not so much when people fall on the floor in an emotional outburst as it is when the entire moral tenor of a place is transformed. Real revival means bars have less customers, business people are moved towards ethics, and the people themselves become holy in a deep, profound, and long lasting way.

At it’s core revival is really about a rediscovery of love for God and all the good things that flow from that love. This isn’t love the emotion but love, rather, as an act of the will where the person who loves seeks the genuine good of the other. If we love God our hearts will be drawn that way and our life will be colored and transformed by that love. And when our love tires from time to time because we are human we need to do that which rekindles it in ourselves whether that is our love for a person or for God.

If there is to be true revival in our culture it’s not going to be about emotions per se but rather about a rekindling of something more important, our love for God in response to His love for us. Those caught up in the emotions of a moment are transformed for that moment. Those who are caught up in love for God are transformed for eternity.

Warba, Minnesota…

Warba is on Highway 2
181 souls surrounded by nothing in particular
2 churches. 1 garage, and 1 bar
With a main street mostly vacant and shuttered
What makes people live in such a place
Where most of what you need is somewhere else?
Perhaps its force of habit,
Roots that will not release their hold
Or the dreams of those who founded the place
unwilling to die while reality watches
Maybe this is all the people who live there want
2 churches, 1 garage, and a bar.
and they’re willing to put up a sign
to make people slow down to 30 mph
and bear witness.

JK Chagnon