Sunday’s sermon: Making the Bed: Prayerful Patterns, Sacred Shaping

made bed

Text used – Psalm 119:25-40

 

 

  • So, we’re working through this book this summer, right? Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren.
    • Started last week → talked about the overarching theme of the book = finding those sacred, life-giving moments in the midst of the most ordinary, routine parts of our days
    • But here’s the thing about tackling a book that discusses finding God in our routines: a book like this forces us to examine our routines. All of our routines. The ones we love … and the one’s we rather we didn’t have. And in terms of finding God and sacred practices, all of those routines are fair game: the good, the bad, and the ugly. [PAUSE] With that in mind, I want to share with you the story that Warren tells at the beginning of her second chapter which she called, “Making the Bed: Liturgy, Ritual, and What Forms a Life.”
      • Begins by talking about something that she used to see as a ludicrously useless and futile exercise: making the bed → And when I say that she “used to” see making the bed as a useless endeavor, I’m not talking about when she was a teenager. I’m talking about up until a few years ago … well into her adulthood.
      • Got curious about why people invest (waste!) time making their beds every morning → decided to poll her friends and found out that most of them actually did it … they actually made their beds every single morning!
      • Reflecting on her own daily early morning habits, Warren’s realized that her first movement and routine of the day was, in fact, reaching over to her nightstand for … her phone → And with this reflection came the realization that that simple act – a mere 5-10 minutes of scrolling on that seductively-glowing little screen – affected her expectations for her entire day. – Warren: My morning smartphone ritual was brief – no more than five or ten minutes. But I was imprinted. My day was imprinted with technology. And like a mountain lion cub attached to her humans, I’d look for all good things to come from glowing screens. … Throughout the day I fed on a near-constant stream of news, entertainment, stimulation, likes, and retweets. Without realizing it, I had slowly built a habit: a steady resistance to and dread of boredom.[1]
      • So for Lent one year, Warren decided to give up checking her smartphone in the morning and instead simply make her bed → new routine:
        • Leave smartphone charging somewhere not in the bedroom
        • Make her bed first thing in the morning
        • Spend a few moments (roughly equivalent of time she would have spent scrolling on her phone) sitting quietly in the middle of her freshly made bed and focusing on God
          • Sometimes read Scripture
          • Mostly prayed – Warren: I’d lay out my worries, my hopes, and my questions before God, spreading them out in [God’s] presence like stretched-out sheets. I’d pray for my work and family, for decisions, for a meeting scheduled later in the day. But mostly, I’d invite God into the day and just sit. Silent. Sort of listening. Sort of just sitting. But I sat expectantly. God made this day. [God] wrote it and has a purpose in it. Today, [God] is the maker and giver of all good things.[2]
  • Sitting. Listening. Spending a few moments at the beginning of the day giving the entirety of your day over to God before it’s even happened. Starting fresh every day – fresh bed, smooth quilt, blank slate … fresh mind, smooth spirit, blank slate.
    • Honest confession: this was a tough chapter for me because much of Tish’s opening story is my morning as well
      • Spending a few minutes in the morning blurrily swiping through my phone → nothing crucial … nothing that can’t wait another 15 mins. or even another hour or more
      • And really … I’ve never been a bed-maker. Like Tish’s initial mindset, I’ve always kind of thought, “What’s the point? I’m just going to climb (stumble … fall … whatever) back into this exact same bed 16+ hrs. from now and get it all messed up again. Why bother making it look all nice when it’s going to inevitably get messy again?” And yet I cannot deny that in the hustle and bustle and cram-jam 1000-words-per-minute world in which we live – this world of instant headlines and instant notifications and instant likes and shares and retweets … In the midst of all that, I cannot deny that there is something wholly appealing about starting the day not with that chaos but with the simplicity of a made bed and the simplicity of being with God.
        • Asking God to be part of my day
        • Pledging once again to be God’s instrument throughout the day
        • Reminder to remain open to God’s leading and guiding and teaching and nudging presence throughout the day
  • Hear echoes of this in our Scripture reading this morning
    • Psalmist seems to be in a bit of a bind
      • Seeks God’s wisdom, guidance, and promises
      • Seeks God’s instruction
      • Seeks God’s constancy and steadfastness
    • Text: My life is stuck in the dirt. Now make me live again according to your promise! I confessed my ways and you answered me. Now teach me your statutes! Help me understand what your precepts are about so I can contemplate your wondrous works. … Turn my heart to your laws, not to greedy gain. Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things. Make me live by your way.[3] → We hear that back and forth in this psalm – that back and forth that we feel and know so well ourselves: “This is what I’m doing, God. This is my current routine. This is the current ebb and flow of my day. But it’s not enough. It’s not good enough. It’s not satisfying. It’s not edifying. It’s not feeding my soul and renewing my spirit. And so I’m turning to you, God. I’m turning to the One who created me for this moment … this day … this life. I’m turning to the One who desires good for me, the One who loves me enough to teach me again and again and again.” It’s a recognition that our routines exist – for good or for ill – and that we need God to be a part of those routines. It’s a pause and an invitation for God to be a part of those routines, not just to lift up what we’re already doing and shower us with empty praise, but to help us to learn and grow, to be challenged and changed.
      • Gets at the place and purpose of routine and ritual and liturgy in our lives overall – Warren: We don’t wake up daily and form a new way of being-in-the-world from scratch, and we don’t think our way through every action of our day. We move in patterns that we have set over time, day by day. These habits and practices shape our loves, our desires, and ultimately who we are and what we worship.[4]
  • Multiple parts to enacting this type of liturgy in our lives
    • Pausing → doesn’t have to be for any excessively long amount of time, but pausing gives God the reverence and time that God deserves … God has given us this beautiful, wide-open day. We can give a portion of it directly and wholeheartedly to God with our full attention.
    • Opening → opening our hearts and our minds and our spirits – opening our whole selves and our whole lives – to God … because a relationship that isn’t open – a relationship that tries to hold things back or keep certain parts hidden – isn’t a healthy or holy relationship.
    • Confessing → recognizing those places in our days and our routines that have been lacking – those places that need God’s touch and God’s presence and God’s redeeming work
    • And finally, enacting this liturgy in our lives requires willingness:
      • Willingness to listen
      • Willingness to be chastened and humbled
      • Willingness to change and be changed
    • Warren: Examining my daily liturgy as a liturgy – as something that both revealed and shaped what I love and worship – allowed me to realize that my daily practices were malforming me, making me less alive, less human, less able to give and receive love throughout my day. Changing this ritual allowed me to form a new repetitive and contemplative habit that pointed me toward a different way of being-in-the-world.[5]
      • Psalm: My spirit sags because of grief. Now raise me up according to your promise! Remove all false ways from me; show mercy to me by means of your Instruction. I’ve chosen the way of faithfulness; I’m set on your rules. I’m holding tight to your laws, Lord. Please don’t let me be put to shame. … Help me understand so I can guard your Instruction and keep it with all my heart.[6]
  • I want to leave you with a question that Warren asks this morning. She asks it in this chapter, but really, it’s a question that pertains to every chapter … to every sermon in this series … to every routine that shapes and forms our days: What kind of people is our liturgy forming us to be? [PAUSE]

[1] Tish Harrison Warren. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016), 27.

[2] Warren, 28.

[3] Ps 119:25-27, 36-37.

[4] Warren, 30.

[5] Warren, 31.

[6] Ps 119:28-31, 34.

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