Sunday, January 01, 2006

Spiritual brownie points

I am just thinking about how my New Year began. Instead of being curled up on the sofa at home, just Joe and I. we were out at a party. Our unofficial church social secretary, Danielle, persuaded us to join the Loch Ness House Hotel celebrations to see in the New Year. It wasn't "spiritual". There were no prayers or prophecies, but fiddles and accordions and stripping the willow and highland reels (I didn't strip the willow or do a highland reel on account of some very impractical heels on my shoes!).

I remember someone saying that the way we begin the New Year sets the scene for the way we live it. When I lived in Cyprus, my Christian friends met together to pray and to sing hymns. On the count of midnight we went up onto the flat roof of the building and watched the ships in the harbour sending up flares and honking. The flares were last year's old stock and by sending them up they were getting rid of the old stuff because it was no longer needed. It had been replaced by new stock.

It is a wonderful picture to see the beginning of the New Year as a time for casting away the old stuff. I am a hoarder, and casting away any stuff is a challenge! And although I like the idea of beginning a New Year with prayer and worship, for me it presents a subtle kind of danger. I have a brownie point mentality! I give spiritual brownie points to certain activities. Stripping the willow to accordions and fiddles doesn't earn a lot of spiritual brownie points - unless you are dancing with a non-Christian and witnessing while you are being tossed about! Pulling party poppers and raising your glass also doesn't get you spiritual brownie points! Breaking bread gets you heaps of points, as does praying and singing hymns. This is how I think - it is not conscious thought, and it is not scriptural either.

I was reading this morning in John 10:10 that Christ came to give life in abundance. For me, this begins with assigning spiritual value to just about everything that I do. Every activity I get myself involved in becomes spiritual when I bring God into it. I want to live life in abundance this year, experiencing God not just on a Sunday, or in my quiet times, or in personal and corporate times of worship, or through a variety of church meetings that I attend - I want to experience God everywhere and anywhere I happen to be.

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