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The Rhythm of Christian Life

Today’s Reflection

AS EARLY CHRISTIANS sought to imitate Christ, many retreated into desert regions of Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. These women and men, called the desert mothers and fathers, shaped Christian practice in profound ways. Life in the desert eventually evolved into monastic communities. By the time Saint Benedict codified the rule of such community in the sixth century, it was clear that each day must be ordered around three fundamental principles—work, worship, and study of scripture. The term lectio divina refers to prayerful listening for divine inspiration from scripture. Added to this practice were two great “works”: the “work of God,” what we call worship (in Latin, opus dei); and the “work of the hands” (opus manuum). The everyday rhythm of Christian life was ordered around gathering for worship or the daily office of prayer, several hours for lectio divina, and the physical work essential for sustaining life. A fourth principle in The Rule of St. Benedict runs through the other three, the expectation of hospitality for one another in community and for any who seek rest, healing, or food.

—Dwight H. Judy
A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life

From page 52 of A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life by Dwight H. Judy. Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How might the ancient practices of the “desert mothers and fathers” help you bring more balance to your spiritual routine and growth?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
—James 2:14-17, NRSV

Prayer for the Week

Come Holy Spirit, come.

Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Something more

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Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • robert moeller May 15, 2019, 7:08 am

    Have a harder time identifying wth the “desert mothers and fathers”. My experience with monastic life is extremely minimal. Have been in a monastery for perhaps 15 minutes only to learn the the hostel there was open yet. Was directed to another hostel.

    Keep getting messages that say the mortgage file is coming along nicely. The appraisal is being done. I’ll get the results. Packing, planning, and prep continue. Thankful for the progress.

    Anneliese sees a new PM doctor today, hope there is a way for her to get help with the serious spinal problems she has. I see my doctor about a new med that replaced one recalled for ‘purity issues”.

    Prayers for Marcy, haven’t heard from her in some time. Hope she has been able to see the Union Pacific steam locomotives 4014 and 844 in action.

    Prayers for Julie, her situation, hands, foot, and daughter Megan.

    Prayers for Rusty and his vision, travel to work.

    Thankful for God’s comfort given to Larry, Jill, and Becky and Mary in Singapore. Have been there, experienced it, and it is very revitalizing.

    Continued healing for Andrea and Lowell, Betsy, Connie, Edy’s Bill, and all with physical or spiritual concerns.

    My last big event coming up at church, one more time I get to help with a breakfast – lunch for a historical group having their meeting at church.

    Blessings to all of the UR family, thank you for sharing, coming, and praying.
    Thank You, Lord.

  • Connie May 15, 2019, 7:56 am

    I think I do need a “desert moment”. However, God meets me where I am and I am thankful.
    Thankful also for Robert’s “ministry” here. Glad things are moving along. Hope Anneliese finds relief.

  • Julie May 15, 2019, 8:11 am

    I constantly struggle with my inability to DO God’s work, as is one third of this divine practice described in the reflection. Because of my hands and the limitations I face in the winter, I have not been able to DO any works for God. That is why I go out of my way to be kind and bring joy to others. An example was the giving of flowers to mother’s on Mother’s Day.
    Prayers of thanks for Robert”s continued good news, may he find a new church family to assist and may Erich find long term employment.
    Prayers for Anneliese, may she receive pain relief.
    Prayers for Andrea and Lowell and their family.
    Prayers for Betsy and her husband and his job.
    Prayers of thanks for Connie post yesterday and for new flowers
    Prayers for safe travel for Edy and continued improvment for Bill.
    Prayers for Jill and Larry, may they give strength to one another.
    Prayers for Lou and her children.
    Prayers for Mary and her father, may his appetite contiinue to be good.
    Prayers for Marcy and her recent comments regarding rehab.
    Prayers for Rusty and his health and safety.
    Prayers and blessings and warm hugs and thanks for prayers dear UR family
    I am reading “Beloved” by Toni Morrison and in it the escaped slaves who could read and write taught the others by using the Bible. The Bible has been so imprtant in the lives of so many in so many different ways. God is amazing!

  • Andrea May 15, 2019, 8:26 am

    In 2012, my husband and I visited Turkey, where my Armenian grandfather grew up. We visited the caves in Cappadocia, where communities of monastics lived. It was a beautiful, stark, area with unusual rock formations, and I could imagine a person’s spirit would be close to God in solitude, reflection, and prayer. It is difficult for me, in our modern culture of activity and constant “doing”, to imagine such a life, yet I suppose it is not unlike the women and men who take vows in religious orders and retreat from the world to pray.

    Prayers for Mary and her father, for Jill and her father and sister, for Julie and her daughter, for Robert, Erich and Anneliese, for Connie and her husband, for Marcy and her caregiver, for Betsy and her family, for Lou and her children, for Edy and Bill with thanksgiving, for April, Pam, Rusty and K, Darr, Louise, and all who visit UR. Wishing all a blessed day.

    • Andrea May 15, 2019, 8:28 am

      To clarify, the monastics lived in Cappadocia beginning in the 4th century. Today it is a World Heritage Site.

  • Jill May 15, 2019, 9:04 am

    I am definitely a rhythm/routine person here. My whole day seems unsettled at worst, a bit off at best, when I do not spend an appropriate amount of time in stillness and prayer in the morning. Experiencing a bit of that now, as last night was the first tennis match and got to bed very late (probably early for most people, but late for this early riser). These last few weeks of school are always hectic with tennis starting, not enough sleep and feeling out of balance.
    Grateful to be back on the courts last night – I so enjoy competition. I wore one of my mom’s tennis skirts – made me smile on the inside. I took some of her tennis skirts, many of her shoes and lots of tops and sweaters. Yesterday, I wore a top I had gotten her for Christmas. Had to cut the price tag off of it…she never wore it. Grateful for abundant sunshine this morning after three gray days. Dad is golfing with his buddies this morning, in the sun. How good.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling May 15, 2019, 10:07 pm

    Thank you for all your prayers!

    Blessings!

    In the seminary, we have chapel in the morning and ends the day with vesper, a time of sharing and prayer. I think both these activities bring more balance to our spiritual routine and growth.

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