Never Stop…

wine cake 3
I got together with a group of liberally minded students of spirituality who were wading into the Bible for a while. I was invited because I take the Bible seriously and they wanted that as part of the conversation. Some had come from stricter backgrounds but had left those years before and others were just wondering about all things spiritual and had been doing that for years. So, over tea, wine and yummy, health-minded cake (fun to discover such a thing)wine cake we chatted.
They wanted to specifically talk about one particular phrase… “pray continually.” This came from 1 Thessalonians 5:17, but to be fair the sentence is actually verses 16-18. They wanted to know how this was possible and why God would require it and what would happen if you didn’t fulfill it. They had done preliminary study and found that in older translations it read “…pray without ceasing…”
I told a little joke about a group of rabbinical students who came to their elder Rabbis saying that they wanted to study things outside of Torah, outside of the Law and the Prophets and the Wisdom literature. They wanted to study philosophy, the world, the news. So the Rabbis asked for a time of consideration and then came back and shared that they had examined Scripture and found that it was possible for the students to study these extraneous subjects. They shared that Scripture said, “I meditate on your Word day and night.” wine cake 6So, the students were free to use any time other than day or night to consider these other subjects.
No one thought that was funny. No one even smiled. They were serious.
These folks who had invited me into their discussion wanted to understand the LAW, because that’s where they sorted God and the Bible. How could one of the rules be PRAY WITHOUT CEASING? And I found it was impossible to teach them in that evening that it wasn’t a law. It was describing the importance of an activity, a life-giving resource that was available to us, the incredible value of what we held. The sentence is “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” wine cake 4God’s desire and intention for us is never to be out of community with him. This is the activity of the Holy Spirit with us, right?
My friends, that evening, couldn’t receive it.
But the truth is that the Spirit fills our hearts with the reasons to celebrate our days, with the companionship that allows us to continually converse over life and with the assurances that open our gratitude to God no matter what we are facing.
We should never stop living in that, right?wine cake 5
As I walk the path of Lent I am reminded that our constant companion leads me into this life first and provides the means to live it fully, abundantly. That’s God’s will for me in Christ Jesus.

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