Friday, January 16, 2015

"It's all I wanna sing to you"

Our Friday traditiois Aracely Bock's song "Say Your Name" from her 2013 album Let It Go. I chose this song to help us through what I find to be perhaps the most difficult month of the year- January.

I don't know about you, but 2015 is off to a rough start for me. Nonetheless, this is good news because the great need that constitutes both my humanity and my identity leads me to engage reality as it is, which leads me to acknowledge the need that I am. This rough beginning is what is preventing me from posting with more regularity. Nonetheless, as I have learned over time, when it comes to blogging as I practice it, quality trumps quantity.

A better way to phrase "the need that I am" is simply to acknowledge that I am beggar. To use the late Brennan Manning's descriptor, I am a ragamuffin. It also bears noting that the word "companion" refers to one with whom bread is shared.

My overarching resolution for 2015 is simply to draw closer Jesus Christ. All of my other resolutions are specific ways and means to this end, which only Christ Himself can really bring about. My part is but to cooperate.I am blessed because I feel that this is very much His initiative towards me. I am simply trying respond.

So, I am currently reading Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ. From there I'll move to Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, then I plan to re-read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, followed by Foster's Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. An ambitious, but achievable and rewarding set of goals. After that, I plan on re-engaging with some of Eugene Peterson's writings, which means finally finishing Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology.

Why am I posting all of this? I can think of a couple of reasons. First, people are always asking me, "What are you reading?" This is my present answer to that question. Second, it helps to share resolutions in order to have some accountability. Third, to invite you to learn from these practitioners of The Way, who have taught me so much (not that any of them would likely relish the thought of claiming me as a student).

I suppose it may strike some as odd that none of these guys are Catholics. If you're familiar with their work, however, the seeming oddness dissipates. I agree with the late Dallas Willard that Christians today simply lack sound spiritual formation. Lack of spiritual maturity is what ails the Church (I refer here to "Church" in the broadest possible sense) most in every age. If we don't take seriously being conformed to the image of Christ, then it is no exaggeration to say that everything else we do is kind of pointless. Practicing the spiritual disciplines is what makes us Jesus' disciples.

Aracely's song reminds us that Christ does, indeed, play in ten thousand places, Gerard Manley Hopkins so powerfully observed in his poem "As Kingfishers Catch Fire." We need each other to be transformed, especially those closest to us. It's the grace of God working in us and through us that make our relationships perhaps the primary means of being transformed into Christlikeness.

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