My son, Andrew, is working at a Christian Camp this summer (as a horse wrangler, which to me is cool in itself). His birthday was this past weekend so his mom and I made the 4 hour journey to see him for about 9 hours during his 24 hour break between camps. It was a great visit. I am amazed at how both of my children are growing into fine young adults. But being there to see Andrew in his summer setting, to see him working with horses as he has never done before in his life, and to listen to his heart for Christ, all of that made me realize even more how blessed we are and how bright the future is for Andrew and all of us.
Then, I come home and wait for my daughter to get through with her shift as a lifeguard, her summer gig. As she comes home and talks about her weekend without us there and the things she did while we were gone (mostly work), I see again the brightness of the future. Those interactions, those conversations, those observations are all an important part of not only remembering there is a great future, but also that the present holds such promise.
I knew this. It’s not the first time I have seen the great possibilities of my children’s future. But, being with them, talking to them, makes my sense of the future stronger. My hope is increased even more than it had been.
We have been talking in our congregation lately about a process called “Church Unique” developed by Will Mancini and Auxano. We have a group who has been discerning who we are and who God is molding us to be as a community of faith. We have discerned a new mission statement that grew out of the way God is already using this church – “Helping people experience the HOPE of Jesus Christ.” We have also looked at things like our values and our strategy for living into that mission. The one area I have been blogging about is the “missional measures”. How do we know when we are experiencing the HOPE of Jesus Christ, how do we know others are as well?
A couple of weeks ago I had a post about one of the measures, today I want to highlight a second one. A person experiencing the HOPE of Jesus Christ and living as a follower is one who Actively worships and prays.
“Actively” is a key word in that mission measure. It says that truly experiencing the HOPE of Jesus Christ is not just about being at church every Sunday or saying a pray now and then. Active worship is more than just showing up, it’s being engaged with the Jesus Christ who promises to meet us when two or three are gathered. It is paying attention to what’s going on and what God has to share with us.
Same is true for prayer. Active prayer is regular prayer. A person who is said to be “active” is not just getting out of the house every few days or weeks, they are up and going on a regular basis. Active prayer is done daily if at all possible, and if not, daily is still the goal. Active prayer is not just asking God FOR stuff, but acknowledging who God is and asking God to fill our souls and direct our paths. It is allowing the Spirit into our hearts and minds and allowing God to direct our thoughts into the places where the heavenly realms meet the everyday. Active prayer is about listening for God and journaling what God is doing in us and saying to us.
Remember how I said that being with my children helped reinforce my sense of the future? How talking with them and listening to them helped me to see parts of the future I had never seen? How those interactions help my hope to grow more vivid and to increase even more than it had been? That’s what ACTIVE worship and prayer do for us. It increases our sense of HOPE. It increases our experience of the grace and peace and joy we find in Jesus Christ.
We look at our lives and we ask others to look at our lives to examine us and question us to see how well we are measuring up – are we actively worshiping and praying? It is a standard for us to live into. It is there not to chastise us for not doing well, but to encourage us to discover a greater sense of HOPE. It is there so we can say to others, “this is one of the ways we live into and experience the HOPE of Jesus Christ, we actively worship and pray. And it makes a difference.”
How do you measure up? Are you as active as you can be? Is worship a time when you step into the presence of God or just a time when you step into the church building? Is your prayer life something you give yourself to regularly or just when things get tough?
Living more and more into a life of faith where you actively worship and pray will help you know HOPE in a greater way. Helping others do the same will in turn help them. May it be so for all of us.
Holy high-five to you,