Scripture: Mark 1:12, 13, 35-39
Sermon: Spirituality All the Time
by Pastor Todd Buurstra
with Little Time: Centering Prayer
I wonder if a typical morning for many might be: (ring) Gotta make lunches! Gotta finish my homework! Gotta finish the boss’ report! (Sigh) Everyone wants something from me!!
And then: I don’t like baloney sandwiches! You’re late! This homework is incomplete. This report isn’t thorough. Ah, everyone wants something from me, but no one is happy with me.
Since this is a typical for too many, our title admits that we have to fit our spirituality into little time. That is why we began last week with prayer on the go. Yet praying through the day on the way to school in a bus, or on the way to work in the car, can only go so far. Praying on the go can leave us a half a bubble off with a hyperactive spirituality. To balance this, we must be still and know that I am God. Now, if we only do centering prayer, and no ongoing prayer, then we are also a half bubble off. For then we may just check it off, with a compartmentalized spirituality. So ten minutes of centering prayer is the balance to pray through the day.
How do we let prayer center us?
Jesus, as always, is our model. Jesus had a very busy life. After all, God gave him the job to save the world–talk about responsibility?! You only have to launch a new product like an Ipad, or write five essays, or finish three loads of laundry, or keep looking for a job after your 77th rejection. Jesus said, I have come to seek and to save the lost (Matthew 18:11). Whoa! Remember how Jesus Christ Superstar portrayed Jesus on a pedestal with a crowd around him each pulling him in a different way? In the rendition that I saw, Jesus was doing one of these. Everybody wants something from me, and in light of the crucifixion, and no one is happy with me! Mark portrays this busyness with the word immediately, euqus. This word occurs 17 times in Mark’s gospel so Jesus is pictured as a man of action: preaching, teaching, healing—the carpenter remodeling the world. We see it in this Lenten passage of the temptations…
So how does Jesus show us how to handle our busyness? Even in this gospel of action Jesus retreats 9 times—twice in our passages. Once on his way to be tempted, we forget that he was camping in the wilderness, campers. The other time after a huge healing service that went late, he got up before light, to go to a deserted place. Don’t you hate it when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep because something keeps circling through your mind? The comment at the meeting. That insult. Or how pitiful that blind man looked. (I bet that was what Jesus was experiencing!) I’ve begun to think of those times as a call to prayer. And, I find that I might as well because I can’t get back to sleep until I pray through what’s swirling in my brain anyway. I try to let go and let God to rest my mind in order to rest my body
Why is it so hard for us to slow down so we can let go and let God? I think because our pride likes to feel the importance of busyness. I’ll never forget the time that the kindergarten Church School bell rung in MI, and Jessica stayed in her seat talking to my Zach. Mrs. Assink, the teacher, told us later that Jessica said, Wow, Zach, it’s so cool that your dad is the preacher that owns this church. Zach, unimpressed didn’t miss a beat, Yeah, but he farts a lot. That let the gas out of my importance. Jesus, the very Son of God, could claim more importance than us all, yet he tempered his busyness with quiet times away, praying. He was centered in prayer.
What benefit did he get from this? Jesus had a clear sense of who he was and what he was to do. So critical to God’s mission! When Martin Luther was reforming the church and he had a particularly busy day of translating the Bible, teaching in school, fighting the pope, etc. he said that he was too busy not to pray—needing that laser focus. Jesus had it. That helped him tell Satan to shove his temptations of, in a sense, money, sex and power; and, to tell Peter that even though the people of Capernaum begged him to stay, NO. For his strategy said he needed to move on in his preaching tour of Galilee. I probably would have tried to stay and go.
So St. John Cassian, 4th century, developed a practice that he picked up from desert fathers and mothers, who picked it up from Jesus. He called it centering prayer. For two millennia this has been a way to tap into the Holy Spirit within—God’s breath So that your inner calm reflects the glassy sea from St. John the apostle’s vision of God’s throne in Revelation.
How do you pray in a centered way?
First, you sit in a quiet spot for 10 minutes—I do mine at 5:30 AM.
Second, you just breathe—remember breath is the same Greek/Hebrew word for Spirit.
Lastly, you may want to match a word to the rhythm of your breath—I do Jesus…
And then you get distracted. What will I make for lunch? Hmm, didn’t like baloney, so ham? The temptation is to say, Gee! There I go distracted again! Better to just let it go, and gently come back to your word and your breath. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And you start the day centered.
What’s the benefit of letting prayer center you? Like Jesus,
you see things most clearly that you look at most calmly.
The story, called 1000 marbles, is told of an elderly ham radio operator that was overheard talking to a younger ham radio enthusiast on the radio. Well, Tom it sounds like you have a very busy and important job, and well paying, too! Too bad that you have to spend so much time away from home that you missed your daughter’s dance recital. Let me tell you what’s helped me keep my focus. At 55 I was sort of meditating, or praying really, on how much time I have left. I’m a prayerful, or meditative, kind of guy. I realized that if I would live 20 more years, I’d have about another 1000 Saturdays in life. So I went to the toy store and filled a jar with 1000 marbles. Every Saturday since, I have taken out one marble. I found that there’s nothing quite like watching your time here on earth pass to really focus you. Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning I took the last marble out of that container. So if I make it until next Saturday, God will have given me extra time. Thanks for listening to my story, hope it helps. This is K9NZQ, clear and signing off.
Why not let prayer center you? Amen.
Learn how you can listen to the audio files streamed over the Internet, download files to your computer or download files to your portable media player. Visit our Podcast page for complete details.
DVD recordings of the Sunday services are also available. Please contact Bruce Taggart at (908) 685-3165 with questions.