In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. -Mark 1:35
Jesus teaches us, by example, the importance of perspective.
I was reminded of this earlier this week when I stayed at a rental vacation home with two friends to attend a ministry conference in Fort Worth. The perspective? Glorious silence. Back home, our neighbors’ two German shepherds stay outside barking at anything and everything all hours of the day. At the rental space, the only sounds cutting through the blissful quiet were birds singing.
At the conference, we heard a lecture from Rev. Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, and Founding Director of the PLTS Center for Climate Justice and Faith. Dr. Moe-Lobeda shared a story from when she gave a lecture in Norway and a man stood up to ask a question/make a comment. He expressed his outrage to a room of vehement head nods at the fact that things were so bad in his country that rich executives were being paid 14 times as much as the average worker in their companies. That was amusing—if not entirely disturbing—perspective for Dr. Moe-Lobeda, when CEOs in her country are paid 400 times as much as those workers on the bottom rung of the company ladder.
Silence yields peace and contemplation. Equity yields the health and wellbeing of the community. We forget these spiritual, practical truths without the perspective that allows them to shine forth; which is what our current season of Epiphany in the Church is all about: the shining forth of God in Christ.
What my two epiphanies lack is intentionality. Yes, I intentionally attended the conference that provided much-needed epiphanies; but I did not seek out the silence I’d taken for granted, or search for examples of injustice toward which God demands our attention. They just came to me. I’m grateful. But what if I were more intentional in seeking out even more occasions of God’s goodness in Christ Jesus shining forth? What if I more intentionally sought out examples of injustice glaringly shining forth, if only our numbed outlooks paid closer attention? What would I find? And what would I then be called to do?
Jesus gains perspective by waking up early in the morning while it’s still dark to find a deserted place to pray. That’s intentionality exemplified. How might we be more intentional in seeking perspective?