From the chair:
“To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud–even your own brothers!”
-1 Corinthians 6:7-8
It’s hard to know how exactly an individual or family or business can put this into practice. It’s complex. It’s hard to know who really are our own brothers and sisters and who are not. If someone goes to a local church most Sundays but “defrauds” us over and over again (in business, say), then should we could conclude that he or she is part of the Church and we should let this keep happening, or should we conclude that he or she must not be part of the Church and therefore we should…well, Paul doesn’t exactly specify what we should do in that case.
Nonetheless, there’s an ideal here we must not lose sight of. There is a vision of the Kingdom and a new way of life that we can envision and help enact because we already know the coming King. Because God knows what has happened and what to do and what will be best, we know that it is, in principle, better to suffer loss than to let enmity develop in God’s family. At the very least, we can repent for our short tempers and pray for longer ones. We can release our fear of losing and reflect on our assured inheritance. We can set aside our lust for winning and remember that, more importantly, we have been won by Jesus Christ.
From the desk:
“Setting aside time for sermon preparation is a concrete way to demonstrate and practice our love of the Word. Instead of skimming through a passage for a quick hit, we have the time necessary to engage the text, read commentaries, think about the role of the passage in the life of the congregation and look for the leading of the Spirit. If we choose, we can spend time writing a thoughtful and articulate manuscript and then internalize that manuscript for delivery. Having a sermon manuscript or detailed outline completed well before the preaching event also allows us to work on the deliver of the sermon: reading it aloud, playing with gestures and movement, or shortening sentences so they are easy to deliver. Because we have spent time loving the Word and preparing our message, we know the sermon well enough to deliver it with confidence and are actually eager to preach. Our love for the Word becomes evident in the delight we take in preaching it.”
-Mary S. Hulst, A Little Handbook for Preachers, p.21
This passage struck me because Hulst so plainly recognizes that what we think and what we do are intimately related. To a certain extent, if we don’t set aside the time, then we don’t actually think it’s that important. More specifically, we don’t actually think it’s more important than the other things we choose. This is something I’m going to read and think and write about more in my LAST PAPER OF THE YEAR (woohoo!)
“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.