We’ve been asked at our church to think about some questions over the next few days. Today’s question is “What is the spiritual bread that you need each day ?”
The word ‘spiritual’ is a tricky one. It can mean different things to different people. I remember once being on a visit to a local Catholic Church when I was training for ordination. The priest was showing us round, and then sat us down. He asked ‘What is the opposite of spiritual ?’ – there was a pause. We guessed that there was just one right answer to this question. Who would be brave enough to answer? Eventually someone said ‘Physical ?’ The priest might have laughed, or cried, or got angry, I can’t remember. He very simply told us – the opposite of spiritual is unspiritual. Oh. Light bulbs go on.
That’s all a bit off topic when thinking of the answer to today’s question. But it might help.
Another memory I have is reading something by Eugene Peterson, who was very careful with the words spiritual and spirituality. The light that he shed on the word spirituality was this: Christian Spirituality has to do with what God is doing. Now that I like.
So when I think about what spiritual bread I need, I want to set it within another question – How might God be at work in me and through me today.
So it’s not just about having my own ‘worship time with God’, important as that is. Questions to do with community and mission also appear. Do you see what’s happened ? Worship, Community, Mission – in that order. It’s so seductive.
So the question that Ruth, our vicar asked us has left me asking other questions. How might mission and community be a daily part of what God is doing in me and through me, as well as the personal aspect of scripture reading and prayer. Because experiencing mission and community as a daily part of life will surely feed me as well as my own personal reading and prayer.
I had better say a little about that. My daily discipline has been pretty spasmodic a lot of the time. It tended to be OK when I was working as a vicar, thank God. But on holiday for example, I couldn’t make it work.
I also get bored with doing the same thing all the time, so every so often I have to change to keep it fresh. At the moment, I’m using one reading from the book of Acts, a part of a psalm, and a few verses from John’s Gospel. I keep a journal which helps me to focus. Writing stuff down is important for me.
I find the psalms are pretty vital. They cover the whole range of human need and emotion. They make it Ok for example to be angry with God, and to ask God hard questions.
I look for prayers from different places to get me started. Here’s one that I have slightly adapted – it’s part of a prayer from the Iona Community.
For your love, strong and challenging,
which has called us to risk for you,
asked for the best in us,
covered the worst in us,
and shown us how to live,
how to love,
how to serve,
We give you thanks.
Grace and peace everyone. Another question tomorrow,