Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shredding as a Means of Grace

John Wesley, who started the small groups that led to the formation of the Methodist Church (i.e. the "founder" of the Methodist denomination) preached on and practiced the "means of grace." He gave the title "means of grace" to particular Christian practices that convey grace to the person practicing them. Among the means of grace are communion, conferencing (getting together to discuss our faith and how it relates to our lives), prayer, reading God's Word, fasting, and visiting the poor and imprisoned. By doing these things, Wesley believed that the heart would be more and more strangely warmed to loving God, receiving God's love, and sharing God's love with others. I was doing something the other day, which began as a benign office task, but was transformed into what I think was a holy event. I'll even go so far as to say it was a means of grace for me. I needed to clean and organize my office. It had gotten cluttered with junk mail and catalogs and several months worth of paperwork that needed to be filed. I broke out the shredder and got busy, getting rid of things that I no longer needed. As the zzzzzzzzchhhhhhhhhch of the shredder hummed along, I started noticing something--it seemed there was more room in my life again. There was physically more room in my office and on my desk, but there was also this strange feeling that there was also more room in my mind and heart. I started to feel the urge to get to praying and to get to studying God's Word. I was energized with the Spirit again. As I tried to come to terms with what was going on--how did God show up in this office organization task?--I realized the enormity of the "stuff" I had let clutter my life and my heart. With them gone, I had room for God again. It's funny how the physical "stuff" can come between us and God. And then I started thinking about the emotional baggage and clutter we all carry. What if we took all the hurtful words, the bruised egos, the devastating news, the humiliating events, the painful memories and fed them down the hatch of the shredder? What if we destroyed these things before they destroyed us? What if we got rid of these things before letting them sit around in our hearts? wouldn't we have more room for love? Wouldn't we have more room for forgiveness? Maybe I need a shredder for my heart, too...

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