Saturday, July 9, 2011

Counting Calories and Other Time Tested Techniques

I've been participating in a weight loss challenge at the Wellness Center where I go for spin class.  I've met with a nutritionist and a trainer.  I've increased my exercise in hopes of burning off my stored fat.  I've been counting calories, a practice I haven't done since I was 16.

Let me confess that I am surprised at how effective these old practices are.  Burn off more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight.  Be careful when you consume those calories so that you're getting a lot of nutritional bang for each bite, and you'll be even more successful.

My experience of the past month has led me to think about other older practices that we may have abandoned but that might have merit.  And since this is a theology blog, let me think about those.

In our quest to appeal to all seekers, many churches have stripped their worship spaces of all markers of Christianity or other churchy stuff.  Some churches have removed the pews and put in chairs.  Some have gotten rid of stained glass.   Some have gone so far as to remove all crosses.  What remains is a sterile space.

I'd like to see more art, more creative expressions in our worship spaces.  I'd like to see some of the old banners share space with other fabric art.  I'd like to see more sculpture.  I'd like to see creative responses to each liturgical season which leads to a meditative experience.

Here's what my pastor set up for Lent, a diorama of sorts under and in front of the altar.  I'd like more of that. 

We might think of our personal spiritual practices too.  My grandparents may not have had a post-modern view of spirituality, but their religious practices are time-tested and solid.  My grandfather gave 10% of what he earned to the church and 10% to the family savings account before he paid any other bills.  I'm not always good at tithing, but when I participate in that ancient practice, I find myself more relaxed about money and bills.

My grandparents always read a short devotion and prayed right after breakfast.  We might protest that we have no time, but how much time, really, does it take to read a paragraph or two and to pray?  We might protest that we don't eat breakfast.  But nutritionist after nutritionist has told us how important breakfast is, so if we added both breakfast and devotion to our morning, we'd be nourished in multiple ways.

I can't remember a time when my parents weren't committed to church.  We were the family who looked for the local Lutheran church whenever we went on vacation, and we attended service every week.  At home, if the church was open, we went.

I know that modern families face time constraints, but if we can find time for sports practice, for lessons of all sorts, we can find time to go to church.  We need to be reminded of who we are, who God calls us to be.  Our larger society doesn't do that.  For most of us, church is likely to be the only place we'll hear that message.

I wonder what other older, but still useful, practices many of us have abandoned.  What should we take up again?

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