In the interest of allowing myself a little “holiday downtime,” this will be my last blog entry for 2017. When I first started composing these weekday reflections back in January of this year, I had been using the scripture readings of the Daily Office for some time to structure my personal devotions. However, I had realized that the daily responsibilities of being a pastor — combined with my own “task-oriented” approach to things — made it a little too easy to rush through my time in God’s Word without taking the time to ponder adequately the way in which it was speaking to me. “In the Office” was a way to slow down, to reflect more, and to share my journey with others.
To the extent that these were my goals, I think the effort has succeeded. The process of engaging the daily readings, listening to their message, and composing a brief reflection has made me more attentive, I think, to the voice of the Spirit — and has helped me to start each workday with a little less frantic activity and a little more “groundedness.”
Having said that, the effort has not been without its challenges. As a pastor, some mornings genuinely are a bit crazy; and the pressure of feeling like I “should” compose a blog post hasn’t always been helpful. In addition, there have been some mornings when the specified readings for the day simply haven’t spoken to me. And while that might be a poor reflection on the vagaries of my own spiritual attentiveness, it has also left me wondering whether the best response is to “force” some message out of the text — or to say nothing at all. Finally and most importantly, there have been mornings when reading, reflecting, and writing has been time-consuming enough that it has tempted me to shortchange prayer and stillness, which are parts of my devotional routine that I value deeply.
As a result — while I intend to continue writing “In the Office” in the year ahead — I also plan to give myself a little more freedom to “change things up” in response to God’s leading in the moment. In addition to the passages suggested by the Daily Office, I may ground more reflections in current events or in the books that I’m reading. And I might skip a few more mornings in order to spend extra time in prayer for my congregation, my family, and my own continual need for grace.
I am deeply thankful for everyone who has shared this journey with me during the past year. It is both humbling and gratifying to think that others have found my ramblings worthy of their time and attention. And so, as we close out this year, I leave you with these three things:
- My sincere wishes that you’ll have a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year.”
- This prayer from God’s Word, which captures my hopes for you:
- For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
- And — of course — one last gratuitous puppy picture:
I hope to see you “In the Office” next year!