Encounter: Romans 12:1 reads, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
As you prepare yourself to read through this Renew, pause to consider how your body feels. Are your shoulders tense? How’s your breathing? Take 2 minutes to simply observe the physical state you are in. As you do this observation, take a deep breath, hold it for a second or two, then slowly exhale. Do this three or four times. Notice how your body relaxes as you give it time to relax.
The picture you see at the beginning of this Renew is one I took when my friend Chase and I took a couple days last Fall to travel down to Gatlinburg to hike. This picture in particular was taken in the final 15 minutes or so from our destination, the LeConte Lodge and just a few more minutes on to the top of Mt. LeConte, the Cliff Tops.
Even as you read through this Renew and hear the story about our hiking in Gatlinburg, there is at least one thing that connects you with Chase and I when we were hiking, and that is our physical bodies. Taking the time to observe your current state (like what you did before diving into this Renew) is a large part of hiking long distances. Listening to your body is what determines your pace, and your pace is what determines the extent of how aware you are about the things around you.
Our Sunday sermon series, Spiritual Affective Disorder: Shining a Light on the Blahs, has been an exploration into the way our entire being, which includes the spiritual, emotional, mental, relational and physical aspects of our lives all serve as means by which we are able to worship God, especially through a long, often dreary winter January in Indiana. The gray days of winter seem to make it easier for us to know the type of groanings Paul writes about in Romans 8 when he describes how all creation longs for full redemption. It is almost as if our entire being knows that the Winter of our soul must certainly break forth into the new and life-giving Spring, and it is in taking the time to observe and settle into awareness of our life that we are able to see how God is moving us from the sluggishness of a spiritual Winter into the promise of an eternal spiritual Spring.
There are currently several of us making our way through the book “Crafting a Rule of Life,” which explores the ins and outs of examining our lives and determining what practices and exercises help us grow in our relationship with God and in Christlikeness. In a way, crafting a rule of life is like spiritual pace-setting. Mark Buchanan, author of the foreword in our community-wide study “Crafting a Rule of Life,” was a guest on a podcast in which he discussed the spiritual practice of walking. When walking as a spiritual practice, one of the most valuable aspects is learning the pace and posture of God, which like training for long-distance hiking or slowing our breath down to focus ourselves before taking time to be with God, requires lots or practice and patience (I suppose that’s why they call them spiritual “practices” in the first place!).
This Sunday we will take a look at how walking, among other physical spiritual practices, enables us to live at the pace of God by giving us the space to examine our lives and God’s work in them.
Walking with you,
Reflect: Have you ever had an encounter with God while hiking in nature, walking around your neighborhood, or even while sitting quietly and cozily in your favorite chair? What do you remember about that time? Was there something you learned about God during that time or perhaps something you learned about yourself?
Gather and Encourage: Have you considered joining one of our Body and Soul fitness classes but just haven’t gotten around to it? This week invite a friend or two to join you at one of the classes.
Active Older Adult - Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30am
Holy Yoga - Tuesdays, 5:30pm
Body Flow - Thursdays, 5:45-6:45pm
Cardio & Strength - Saturday mornings at 9am