Glory Moments in the Daily Grind {Book Club}

Hi friends, Sarah here to chat with you this week about chapters seven and eight in Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been challenged each week as we’ve sipped slowly on the riches of this book! So much wisdom, so much to ponder.

We know all about the sacred in our line of work, don’t we? We write home about it in newsletters, and stand up and share about it in our home churches. It is why we leave our familiar spheres and loved ones over and over again. We get front row seats for God’s glory displays in transformed lives and justice victories and mercy manifested.

On a very ordinary Thursday, I ride my bike to the local market, avoiding eye contact with my neighbor so she doesn’t ask me a hundred questions while I close the gate. I swing by the electricity company to enjoy five minutes of air conditioning as I pay the bill. Soon my backpack and bike basket are loaded up with fresh veggies and fruit, and whatever I can fit in from the mini grocery store across the street. There’s a man outside the market ready to give a ride to customers on his motorcycle. He likes to practice his English and we chat about the weather and American politics.

Do these moments matter?

Chapter 7 is called “Checking Email: Blessing and Sending”, and the author bridges the gap we too often create between sacred work and our corporate worship, and the smallest of tasks that we complete each day. She said, “We are part of God’s big vision—the redemption of all things—through the earthy craft of living out our vocation, hour by hour, task by task. I want to do the big work of the kingdom, but I have to learn to live it out in the small tasks before me—the missio Dei in the daily grind”.

I too want to do big Kingdom work, with my own labels of what that extraordinary looks like. Too often I fall prey to pulling rank, adding value to what I consider to be responsibilities and vocation more important than another. Yet, it is in the most ordinary of tasks that God can work in and through us, as we walk through our day as sent ones, blessed ones, loved ones. As Tish says, “I want to learn how to spend time over my inbox, laundry, and tax forms, yet, mysteriously, always on my knees, offering up my work as a prayer to the God who blesses and sends”.

This mindset, this attitude of our hearts spills over into the topic of the next chapter too which is all about waiting. I loved that Tish spent time talking about the church calendar, which we went through together in Book club in 2017 (check out more from that discussion of The Circle of Seasons in our Book Club archive). When we look at waiting as a gift, we get pulled out of our frantic, give-it-to-me-right-now lives and focus on Jesus who holds both past time and future time. We walk out patience in the moments of our days that feel incredibly ordinary (and often so very frustrating) yet waiting is actually full of longing and hope. I’m not there yet, friends. I’m rather stuck in the place of waiting for the gift, rather than seeing the waiting as the gift.

There’s just too much goodness in these two chapters! What stuck out to you?  How is the idea of being blessed and sent working its way into your ordinary days? Pay attention to your moments of waiting this week. What are your responses revealing about your view of time?

Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:

November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11

Photo by Jeff Qian on Unsplash

15 Comments

  1. Maria Mullet November 5, 2018

    I completely agree – soaking in this book has been so RICH, and I feel like I could highlight whole chapters. I am with you, Sarah, in craving the big, the extraordinary, the newsletter-worthy faith stories, and I have been so challenged to think of each moment as sacred space.

    Here are a few things that jumped at me from this section: The idea of growing in holiness through my work – “We grow in holiness in the honing of our specific vocation. We can’t be holy in the abstract.” While it’s easy to apply this to some of the parts of my life as an overseas worker, there are other parts that I am seeing I look at as a means to an end – what I need to do in order to do the “real: work of the kingdom. But no, it is in those very moments, the moments of work alone in my office, the hours navigating the visa process, the time spent doing necessary tasks to live (laundry, cooking, grocery shopping etc.) when God grows my holiness. Toe-stomping truth.

    I like your call to pay attention to the waiting moments this week. What a cool reminder that we, as children of God, are people who wait. I don’t wait well. But I want to grow in it. I have been trying to make a habit of thinking of the time I have as a gift of abundance rather than a measure of scarcity. Anyone else struggle with how quickly a day off goes by? I almost get mad when “me time” is drawing to a close, feeling like I wasted it all and mad that it’s gone. Last week, I had most of the day Saturday completely free. I had somewhere to be in the evening, but other than that, the day was mine. One of the first things I did was read this chapter – and I reminded myself all throughout the day “these moments are gifts. this is an abundance.” When I felt the familiar emotion rising as I saw the clock ticking, my time slipping through my fingers, I’d remind myself of those truths and the emotion subsided. I felt more rested after that partial day off than I have sometimes felt after a weekend off. Rest really is a matter of the heart, and God can meet us in the waiting!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 7, 2018

      Maria, I loved reading through all your thoughts on this section! Goodness, I can definitely agree with your comment about the scarcity or abundance of time. I’ve been trying to take a morning off each week the last few weeks, and I usually approach that time with big goals of making it all amazing and life-giving, and then worrying that there’s not enough time for it to all be what I need. I wonder how that would change if I could just slow and see those hours as a gift, that there’s plenty (even if I don’t do all that I want to). Thanks for sharing with us!!

      1. Felicity Congdon November 9, 2018

        I can relate to the worry of not using my “time off” in the absolute best and most life-giving way. I read your thoughts, Maria, before my 1/2 day off this week (Sarah I also have been trying to take a 1/2 off every week for the past year or so now that all three of my kids are in school and I am no longer in full time language school) which turned out to be a sick day for one of my kids who stayed home with me. I was temped to feel that my “me time” was taken and think of it as scarcity, but instead thought of your perspective here and just enjoyed the abundance of extra time with my daughter and introduced her to a favorite movie from my childhood (another abundance that I am able to just get on iTunes and buy a movie from my couch!) It was a gift.

  2. Suzanne November 5, 2018

    I listened to the chapter on waiting (as an audiobook) while on a plane … an Asian airline with very small seats for seats for very small people … and needless to say, what stood out to me was the truth that we are getting to our destination but we have to wait. The concept of waiting as a gift didn’t quite gel in my overtired mind.(Iwas probably about 4am as I listened, just two hours into a 10 1/2 hour flight.)

    Happily I now have a print copy of the book too. I had ordered it for my mother, as I had enjoyed the audiobook so much. She has finished with it and passed it on to me. I am glad because it is one of those re-readable books and one which could do with real chewing over, unlike what is possible with an audiobook.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 7, 2018

      Suzanne, there are no gifts on 10 hour flights on Asian airlines! 😉 Just kidding, I know there are but for sure it can be a stretch to feel that way. So glad you are pondering the themes of this book and sharing them with us- and others- too!

  3. Rachel Kahindi November 6, 2018

    When I got to chapter 7, I felt like this is the reason I wanted to read this book. I love the whole book. I need all of those chapters, but this is where I need it most.

    The part about the Protestant Reformation stood out to me. “The idea that all good work is holy work was revolutionary. The Reformation toppled a vocational hierarchy…The Reformers taught that a farmer may worship God by being a good farmer and that a parent changing diapers could be as near to Jesus as the pope. This was a scandal.” We believe this, but in the midst of the work, it just doesn’t really feel like it. I know that a lot of my fellow moms on the field feel this way, as our husbands go out doing “the real Kingdom work”, and we’re at home with the kids. I value raising my kids well, but I don’t have to be here to do that! I’m put on a pedestal back home because of my title as one sent, yet as I do my daily work, it doesn’t look like it to me.

    “Work as a form of prayer” is really sticking with me, too. I’ve encountered this concept before, and I always try to hold on to it. “The idea is perhaps most famously embodied by Brother Lawrence, who wrote, ‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees at the blessed sacrament.'”

    I appreciated her talk about the changing seasons in Texas (my homeland). Even here in coastal Kenya, my kids want to decorate for Christmas with snowmen. I guess they see white Christmases on TV. I find the liturgical calendar more meaningful, as well. “Before Easter, we have Lent. Before Christmas, we have Advent. We fast. Then we feast. We prepare. We practice waiting.”

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 7, 2018

      Rachel, love reading all the concepts that have stuck out to you and that resonate with your heart for this season. I struggle so much with how our different roles on the field and in life can feel or look more like Kingdom work than others. It’s hard to get away from that when I want to live out my calling in the little moments, but there can be so much comparison and ranking in our overseas worker culture. I also hate being put on a pedestal when I know so many people in their home countries who are quietly walking in obedience and loving Jesus in the ordinary moments. I am no more a “hero” than they are. If we all just lived as blessed and sent ones, celebrating the very unique ways that was displayed in each other, I just wonder how that would impact the world. Thank you for bringing up these important things for all of us to be thinking about!

    2. Felicity Congdon November 9, 2018

      I can relate to what you are saying about being a mom on the field. I love that our work as moms is significant (again I thought of the idea of a homeless-prevention program, which is great—important work!) and that we can be as close to Jesus as the pope.

      I loved what she wrote about the reformation too and the brother Lawrence quote. I want to frame that and put it in my kitchen!

    3. Felicity Congdon November 9, 2018

      Also Rachel, I found you on instagram and I started doing the #gratitude30 challenge along with you! =)

  4. Jessica Evans November 7, 2018

    I also completely agree, this book is so good. Each chapter has been full of Truth that I need. Thank you for these great thoughts. I think it would be very beneficial to actively pay attention to my moments of waiting this week. I know I have a problem with waiting. I also appreciate the liturgical calendar. Celebrating things like Advent have helped me find the joy in waiting.

    As I read Chapter 8, I kept thinking how I hate traffic SO much that when given the chance I will choose an alternate route EVEN if it is longer. I would rather go an extra ten minutes out of my way than sit in standstill traffic. It’s illogical because the reason I don’t want to sit is because I want to be at my destination on time. However, the impulse to be moving forward takes over the logic of sitting and waiting. It made me think how many times I go a different way in life simply wanting to feel like I’m moving forward. But if I would have just waited patiently, I may have ended up where I wanted to be sooner. Waiting can be hard and how amazing it would be to look at these times as a gift!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 8, 2018

      Jessica, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your comment about taking a different route to avoid sitting in traffic has really gotten me thinking. How often do I want to avoid waiting for something and take things into my own hands, taking a different way. Maybe God wants me to just sit and let Him take care of things, working in my heart in the waiting? It’s a good picture and I’m feeling challenged to look at how I react to waiting.

  5. Abigail November 7, 2018

    It’s SO good to read these great insights and thoughts from everyone! These chapters convict me. LIke do I really believe time is mine and revolves around me?! I’ve heard the quote before, “God builds in times of rest.” In these chapters, I love the quote “Mysteriously, there is more happening while we wait than just waiting.” And the idea that so much activity is actually happening deep in the soil. And that God is redeeming everything, every ordinary moment.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 8, 2018

      Abigail, yes! The mysterious way that God uses waiting, how He gifts it to us, is something I’m pondering from these chapters too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Felicity Congdon November 9, 2018

    I am loving this book too and love reading everyone’s thoughts. Thanks for sharing everyone.

    Paying attention to my times of waiting this week made me realized there are hardly any. I am almost always late or just on time.The reason behind my being late problem is because I don’t want to wait. My problem is actually not that I’m unaware of time it’s that if I am ready 5 min earlier that I have to leave, I find a 5 min task that I can get done (which often ends up taking me 6 minutes or 10). Because I’d rather use that 5 min productively than getting there 5 min early and not “using” it. Yep, I definitely try to manage and control time.

    “Time is not mine. It revolves around God. What he has done. What he is doing. What he will do.” This quote stood out to me. Also this: “waiting is traffic is one of the very few times in my day when I embody the true state of my existence. On the way. Already but not yet. Living as a creature in between. Waiting.” (I am listening to the audiobook so forgive me if punctuation is incorrect.) I love this picture of when we are stuck in traffic we are looking toward our destination, and similarly as Christians in waiting, we set our minds toward heaven, we await Christ’s second coming, for all things to be made new.

    I also loves how she contrasts our American calendar with the church calendar. This really helps me as Halloween and Christmas are becoming more and more popular in Japan just in the past 10 years, and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to explain to my friends here that it actually kind of makes me more sad to see Halloween and Christmas and even Easter things in the stores than if they weren’t appearing in the stores. This section really made sense of my sadness for me. It’s because there is no understanding of Christmas or Easter the decor of these holidays are just so empty and depressing when they are seen in the homes or stores of my friends who know nothing about them. The are just excuses to buy more thing, to “embrace constant revelry that leaves us feeling hungover and empty.”

    “We practice ways of waiting, hoping, slowing down, preparing. And because of all that, truly celebrating.” —I love this!! This makes me want to re-think my family’s advent traditions. I think I need to incorporate more waiting and less “constant revelry.” I’m really interested in the previous book club on the church calendar book now. Sad I missed that one, but I was in language school.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann November 9, 2018

      Felicity, thanks for sharing all these good thoughts! Your insights this week on waiting are so good- do we actually allow ourselves to wait or just fill that time? I need to look at that in my own life too!

      You can always go back to our Book Club archive and read the posts from the Church Calendar discussion. I know that’s not the same as joining in live. 🙂 But it still might be interesting for you!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.