-James 2:18-26, The Message, selected passages:
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove….Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”?.... Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?….The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, The Message: Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
The Divine Office from The Rule of St. Benedict, Liturgy of the Hours. The principal daily hours of prayer were lauds (mornings) and vespers (evenings). The Monks also celebrated vigils, the night office, the midnight office, and compline, This mixture of elements is based upon the structure and content of The Divine Office in The Rule of St. Benedict. From The Rule of St. Benedict, page 389.
My husband and I make a daily practice of doing the readings of The Divine Office together. We've found these readings to be a helpful way to end each day on a positive note. Our understanding of these ways of living out our faith is heightened through my Uncle Marcus, a Benedictine monk and priest. Benedictines are a Roman Catholic order of men and women who practice The Rule, an outline for daily living. The Benedictine motto is "work and prayer," the standard they order their lives around.
In my own life I've discovered a special rhythm coming from doing seemingly mundane tasks over and over again. The beat of that particular rhythm can feel like a “pulse” in my life. Getting into this rhythm and into the right frame of mind during these tasks becomes for me a form of active prayer. In times such as this I can feel God's presence right where I am working, right there in the room that I am cleaning for the day.
This has been a difficult week at the retreat center where I work as a housekeeper. We have had several conferences and retreats in a row. Our work doubles even as we work harder and faster to make sure that people will have their rooms ready in time for their event.
On one of these especially busy days, my body felt a craving for milk while I was working. Normally we do have time for a break, but this time they wanted the rooms done right away, meaning practically no break time.
I had four rooms to clean and prepare that day. While I was cleaning the third room, the milk craving started. I had not brought milk with me to work, and there was none in the break room. The milk would have really helped with the nourishment I was needing to keep focused on the cleaning.
When I got home I looked at the nutrition information on the milk bottle's label. I read, "Protein 15 grams," and Vitamin A and D, and the calcium part I felt that I was really needing. The next time I went to work, I made sure to take a bottle of milk in case the cravings started again when I was limited on break time.
How does this apply to everyday life? I found myself thinking that the milk craving was nothing compared to the craving for God. God is the nourishment we need for our souls. We can get the nourishment of God we need for our daily lives through prayer and work, through study of scriptures, fasting, giving alms, and doing “random acts of kindness.”
Every so often, we ordinary people can get a glimpse of the Divine in our everyday, seemingly ordinary lives. That is when our work and prayer become holy and sanctified. In the same way, we can also feel when we are apart and not close to the Divine in our lives.
It is those divine glimpses that help me to feel the everyday ordinary, the mundane of the repetitive cleaning tasks which make the ultimate work that I am doing, a vital ministry in the overall scheme of things.
1. How do you feel the presence of God in your life?
2. What can you do when you feel God is far away?
3. How have you practiced “random acts of kindness?
4. Has anyone been kind to you?
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the work that you allow us to do, even when it may seem boring and mundane. Help us to find the holy in the rhythms of life through our work and our connections to each other, and by observing the tasks that you have called us to do.
As we live and work, help us to share our faith with others.
In Jesus name we pray,
Marci McGowan is a member of First Christian Church, Asheville, North Carolina, USA, and has helped with DisciplesNet's leadership team since 2010. Marci regularly contributes devotions about finding God in everyday life.
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