This Week in Church: Hope, Time, and Quitting

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

A picture of a small chaple with a steeple in a field, with the text This Week in Church written on the sky.

This week in church, we talked about hope.

This Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, which is the start of the church calendar. So Happy New Year! In this calendar, the year begins with a time of waiting and longing, which is a bit of a downer, but in a kind of nice way, especially since the first Sunday's theme is Hope.

This week we got a reminder that hope is most needed, most salient, most present when things are otherwise pretty dark. Darkness breeds hope - or at least, it can if we let it.

What do you hope for?

This week in church, we talked about time.

Actually, we mainly talked about slowing down. This is a wild time of year, but the more we can slow down and reflect, the more meaning we will find in it (and our lives).

It's hard to find time to be slow, though. Sometimes I feel like I'm adding contemplation to my to do list, intending to cram it in between going to buy cat litter and finishing my bathroom renovation. (I say "intending" because I never actually do it.) This seems counter to the point of the whole thing.

The pastor said, "your calendar creates your culture." What a concept to have bounce around in your brain! For me, this means that, on one hand, my culture is one that highly prioritizes relationships and community. My calendar is full of dates with friends and I love it. It also means, though, that my culture is one with a lot of doing and not a lot (or really any) spaciousness. Except for the times I have tried to schedule in more spacious activities, to limited (but existant!) success.

This week in church, we talked about quitting.

In light of all that busyness, here's an advent practice that might be good for all of us: every week quit one thing. You can quit it forever, or just for the period of Advent (which ends at Christmas). Quit so that you have a bit more space to breathe and maybe even do something contemplative.

Things that I may try to quit: trying to get everyone the "perfect" gift, every other house cleaning session, or the parties you don't want to go to. You could also quit more concrete things like your exercise class or tutoring or something.

Contemplative activities include things like journalling, meditating, reading a scripture or philosophical text with lots of time spent staring into the middle distance while the words churn inside of you, or walking.

Or, I don't know, quit trying to be contemplative and just let yourself chill for a few minutes.

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