To me, at first hearing, the word “agency” has a connotation of freedom, of having multiple options. I suppose the sports fan in me goes to the phrase “free agency,” in which a pro athlete gets to sell his services to the team with the highest bid.
But in the Leading Causes of Life framework, agency means power as well as freedom. Agency is faith in action.
Speaking to the Soul, the Episcopal Cafe blog, had a wonderful post yesterday by Maria Bolding, of the Order of St. Benedict. In it she recalls the wonderful experience of her childhood nightly bath, and the power of touch to remind us that God creates and re-creates us anew each day. When was the last time you slowed down and took delight in all the gifts of the daily bath or shower?
The Rev. W. Joseph Mann kicked off this series of meditations on the Leading Causes of Life, Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray's fresh look at what makes life worth living. We’ve touched on Hope and Blessing. Here's the next installment – Coherence.
Making things coherent means imbuing them with meaning - weaving each new experience into our personal narratives, insights, or spiritual sensibility.
When a colleague at the Divinity School asked me to write on the topic of Christian hope as a further exploration of Gary Gunderson's Leading Causes of Life, my thoughts quickly turned to Dusty Springfield, the British pop singer from the 1960’s (confession: I am a card-carrying Boomer).
Benita Walton was a reconstructive surgeon who saw many cases of breast cancer in her practice. The women she treated were reeling not just from the physical insult of malignancy and surgery, but also from fear and isolation. They had trouble finding post-operative care that would bring emotional and spiritual healing. One survivor remarked, “I kept receiving letters from my hospital informing me of the support groups I could join… I envisioned dark rooms, gray folding chairs, and women crying. I didn’t want that.”
I recently attend a remarkable summit on health and spirituality hosted in Raleigh by the North Carolina Council of Churches. Some 200 people from various communities and communions in North Carolina gathered to talk about how churches can contribute to health. The keynote address was given by Gary Gunderson from Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis. Gary has worked for years in the general area of public health and its intersection with faith, and is renowned for his achievements. He addressed the group on the themes of his book, Leading Causes of Life: Five Fundamentals to Change the Way You Live Your Life (Abington Press, 2009), co-written with The Rev. Larry Pray.
Divinity magazine is the glossy periodical for friends and alumni of Duke Divinity School. In the new issue, there is a column by Scott Field, a DDS alum and pastor in the Northern Illinois Conference.
Field’s first appointment out of seminary was to Wheatland Salem Church, a rural congregation averaging 50 in worship attendance, struggling to survive. Thirty years later he is still there, and the church has thrived during his tenure, erecting a new building to house its multiplying ministries, and growing to be the second largest church in his conference.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
~John 11:1, 3-6
As ministers, we are called to service in the church, and within this call we have fallen into the pattern of leaving little time for ourselves for exercise, rest, or Sabbath. Our professions do not fall within the category of 9-5 work, nor do they fit the patterns of week and weekend.