CBF Field Personnel / Field Personnel / Prayers

Holy Be-ing

By CBF Field Personnel Mary Van Rheenen

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28 NRSV.)

I have a double-dose of the Protestant work ethic. My ancestors were Dutch and Calvinist. My mother put in a full day’s work cleaning, cooking, sewing, gardening and all the other things one does to care for six kids on a pastor’s salary. My father was a workaholic, plain and simple. Consequently, I find it very difficult to sit and do nothing.

Yet sitting and doing nothing has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I would set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes, go outside with nothing but a chair and God, and sit. This turned out to be incredibly rewarding. Things shifted into proper perspective. For instance, I realized the well-being of the universe did NOT depend on me doing things. Every sane person knows that, but knowing is not the same as realizing, as experiencing, as believing. My Creator is more interested in who I am becoming than in what I am doing. I’ve heard about grace all my life but, for me, not doing anything was an act of faith in that grace.

Mary Van Rheenen and Keith Holmes

To my surprise, I noticed I was becoming more gracious as a result. I was less irritated by slow-moving lines in the grocery store. I was less uptight about work at home and on the job. I saw more beauty and heard more song. Did I get more done? I don’t remember. I do remember, even when I haven’t done this for months or even years, that the One who can breathe life into dry bones is always ready to commune with me. As a sinner saved by grace, I don’t have to do anything for that privilege. I just have to show up.

Pray, Practice, Ponder: Sacred Silence The 16th century Christian mystic St. John of the Cross said, “God’s first language is silence.” When we are still and silent, with the intention of being present with God, we join God in God’s first and deepest language. Today, set aside a few minutes to be quiet and still in order to rest in God. If you are new to this type of meditative prayer, you can simply set a timer for five minutes, and see what happens. Notice if your mind wonders, if you are tempted to get up and do something, or if it is easy for you to simply be. If this style of prayer is already familiar to you, you may wish to commit to a longer stretch of time, or to use a word or image as your guide, similar to a centering prayer practice. We often spend our lives working on God’s behalf; sometimes we forget God’s invitation to come to God and rest our weary souls.

Mary Van Rheenen and her husband Keith Holmes are CBF field personnel serving as resource coordinators for Romany and those working with Romany throughout Europe. The paid focuses on Christian media resources in major Romany languages and educational resources.

This prayer appears in the 2022-2023 edition of Prayers of the People, the annual prayer guide of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, edited by Rev. Meg Lacy Vega. Download the digital version or order free print copies of Prayers of the People at www.cbf.net/pray.

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