e-letter 8/10/18

Many of you know that since college, I’ve tried to maintain some kind of discipline when it comes to exercise. I’ve done lots of things over the years, from aerobics classes, swimming and biking to jogging (in my case it’s more like plodding but you get the point). But for the 18 months or so, my routine has been very sporadic for a variety of reasons. Some of the problem has been injury. I get over one problem or injury and then something else happens, including my most recent ankle problem.

But I also realized during this on again off again time that I also have just lagged on motivation. I’ve been doing the same routine for years and I sensed that I needed to do something different to shake things up and reignite my commitment and enthusiasm for staying fit and healthy. So, I finally did it. I started attending a new exercise class a few weeks ago and I love it! It is hard and exhausting, but it is great, and I feel better already. One of the reasons that it works so well for me is that I am paying for it. I don’t like to waste money so if I pay for something, I will show up! I also like the group accountability. There are other highly motivated people in the class and they inspire me to work harder. There is also encouragement from a coach at each class which also helps. But clearly, part of the difference was that I just needed to make a change and shake things up in order to recommit.

In a sense, I am hoping that our new “Rooted” message series that we are beginning this Sunday will be an opportunity for all of us to shake things up a bit in our spiritual lives and recommit to growing in Christ through the practice of intentional spiritual disciplines. Throughout the summer, we have been challenged to live into some of the harder sayings of Jesus found in the gospels. This series will focus our attention on the practical ways that we can be “rooted” in Christ and live out the call of Christ joyfully and faithfully. The good news is that we aren’t left alone to figure out how to be faithful. There are spiritual practices like worship, prayer, meditation, study, community and service, that Jesus himself practiced that grounded his life in the life of God. Faithful followers of Jesus have used those same practices ever since to allow Christ to shape their hearts and lives. We too can use those practices to keep our hearts and minds fully tuned into God’s presence and power in our life.

Yes, it takes discipline. We must be willing to make some of these practices a regular part of our lives. But as we will discuss this week as we focus on Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30, (I encourage you to read and reflect on this passage in preparation for worship this Sunday) that discipline is not intended to be a burden or drudgery. The goal of these spiritual practices is life, power, peace, joy! Jesus wants to lighten the loads that we carry, not add to them. Building some spiritual practice into our lives enables us to be rooted in Christ in ways that allow us to flourish and thrive. That is the goal!

Whether you have practiced some of these disciplines for years or not, sometimes, we just need to shake things up and make a change to reignite our passion and commitment to following Jesus or to grow in our relationship with Jesus in some new way. Sometimes, we also need to recommit to doing this work together. It helps to be around other folks who are motivated toward the same goal of spiritual growth. To that end, I pray you will join us in worship over the next 4 weeks and discover some new ways that you can be “rooted” in the life and power of Jesus that eases some of the stress and strain of life and leads to the hope, joy and healing that he wants all of us to know.

With joy on the journey!

Annette

PS – We did it! Or maybe a better way to say it is, God did it, through us! We met the Harbor City Back Pack Challenge delivering 350 filled backpacks along with an extra 50 packs and school supplies that can be used throughout the year. I am so amazed at your love and generosity. You have blessed hundreds of children and families and helped them in getting off to a great start for the new school year. Thank you, thank you, for loving our neighbors in extraordinary ways!