‘We crave balance, we need rhythm’1 – this was one of the phrases we used and thought about during our series,’Rhythm & Rules’, which was about the idea of creating and living to a Rule of Life.
In our current context – where daily habits, rhythms and schedules have been disrupted by Covid-19 – where self-isolation, social-distancing, working from home, home-schooling, lockdown etc have become the new norm, this practice may be even more important and relevant than ever.
A Rule of Life is like a trellis – in Greek, the word ‘rule’ comes from the Greek for trellis – and a trellis is a tool – a tool that enables a grapevine to get off the ground and grow upward, stay on track and become fruitful.
In the same way, a Rule of Life is a trellis that helps us stay on track, grow and be productive.
For a grapevine to produce good grapes, it must have a trellis to support and guide its growth, or it will slump to the ground – even grapevines in the wild will use just about anything – a tree or a rock – as a trellis – it is part of their nature to seek structure
And so like a trellis, a Rule of Life is a structure, there to support and guide our growth as Christians.
And so I want to recommend that we strongly consider crafting a Rule of Life/Daily Rule in this season, that informs our day to day schedule; rescues us from restlessness and wasted opportunities, and enables us to be intentional about practices and rhythms that feed, fuel and restore our whole lives.
If you’re unfamiliar with this idea, then as well as reading the rest of this article, please listen again to the first talk I shared to introduce ‘Rhythm & Rules’
Before you read on, I want to thank Stu Bothwell of Lagan Valley Vineyard Church, who has given me permission to use a brilliant article he wrote for LVV on this subject – and so what follows is an adaption of Stu’s article.
Take time to consider the following seven areas of practice, thinking through and writing down certain practices that you might want to pursue daily.
This is a key moment for individuals, families and home rhythms, so why not draw others into this exercise and have some fun considering creative ideas for your days when you’re together and around the home that bit more.
Everyone’s circumstances and home lives look different, so enjoy the freedom of crafting your own Daily Rule. Depending on how the next few weeks go, you may want to review your rule after a week and adapt it for the week ahead. As far as we can tell, we are in this for the long haul.
It’s important to get specific around your practices and their timings. For instance, what do practices like prayer or scripture reading tangibly look like for you in the context of your daily life in self isolation? At which time in your day are you going to pray as a family, exercise, check in on your neighbour or enjoy a meal?
This framework is simply a tool. As we adjust to social distancing and self-isolation, if there is a more helpful way for you to arrange and process your daily schedule, please feel free to run with it. It can easily be adapted into a Weekly Rule by changing up the timeframes from hours to days.
You may want to stick your Daily Rule up on a wall or the fridge, so your whole family can be reminded of certain times to pause and begin a particular practice.
Any Rule of Life should bend. It is flexible and should be full of grace, so be gentle on yourself – if you miss a couple of practices — don’t worry.
Filling in every single box of the grid isn’t the point, either. Your Daily Rule should be realistic within the context of your life as we adapt to Covid-19, taking into consideration how you’re wired and the season of life with Jesus that you find yourself in.
Take your time to do this exercise prayerfully. As you approach the grid, invite the Holy Spirit to guide you and remain open to Him as He speaks and invites you into unexpected and stretching practices.
Use the following areas to consider which practices you want to prioritise in the context of your daily life right now, and begin to map out a proactive schedule.
Use the example practices below as simple suggestions to spark your thinking around what practices you are wanting to pursue and when. Enjoy the freedom of mapping out your own Daily Rule.
To enjoy a healthy and sustainable rhythm of life, we need to learn how to rest.
Moments of Quiet
- What does a moment of silence and stillness look like for you in the morning and evening?
Practices of Delight
- What do you love to do for the sheer joy and craic of it, that is do-able during this time of social-distancing?
- Longer conversations with family and friends over Facetime, Zoom or Skype.
- Reading stories aloud with your children
- Slowing Practices: what helps you slow down?
- Listening to music
We must pay attention to our bodies, recognising that they are temples of God’s Spirit that we need to look after.
- Set wake up and bed times
- (in line with government guidelines)
In a time when we can find ourselves scrolling endlessly on our phones, we need to strike a healthy balance. As we adapt to this outbreak, we must stay informed, but we also need to limit content that is distracting us away from setting our attention on Jesus. We need to participate in the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2), and as we learn to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
Reading of Scripture
- Daily readings, Lectio Divina, bible study
Limiting Tech, Media + Screen Time
- When will you check the news? When will you check social media? Use apps to limit screen time.
- Scripture before phone
- No screen time before bed
- Prioritise good content intake and sharing (is this helpful, healthy, inspiring and wise?)
- Learning a new skill
- Reading, study and podcasts
- Creative practices: drawing, painting, music, writing, making music.
This central area for our formation takes into consideration spiritual practices/disciplines/holy habits that allow us to remain in Jesus and become more like Him.
- Morning and Evening Prayers, lighting a candle to remind you of Christ’s presence, family prayer times, giving thanks before food, creating prayer lists to remember people or groups, use PrayerMate App and join Windsor Baptist
- Daily scripture reading, meditation, memorise scripture
- What liturgies, songs or writings help lead you into the presence of Jesus? Carve out space to listen, sing
- How can you continue to connect with, pray for and generously bless your Church family? You may want to draw up a list of people from Church or Small Group that you want to especially consider right now and invite your family to find creative ways to bless them.
- Join with others online each Sunday at 10.30am for ‘corporate’ worship windsorbaptist.org
- If you have extra capacity to serve members of our Church who will be in self-isolation through prayer and practical help, please visit windosrbaptist.org/care/
- Silence & Solitude
- Marking and Creating Moments of Celebration
VOCATION + FINANCES
The ways of work have been turned upside down in recent weeks.
For those in front line services, this is a moment of significant public service. We are praying for you and are standing with you.
Some of us may be facing the difficult prospect of losing work or reduced hours. We are praying for you and are standing with you.
As many of us adapt to working from home or a change in our working pattern, how can we work efficiently and effectively? For those of us who have more space in our weeks, how can we find ways to stay productive or try new things?
- What does it tangibly look like to continue to give generously to the Church, other organisations, good causes, the poor?
Work/Rest Threshold Moments
- What simple acts create healthy divisions, and stop work invading all aspects of our day?
- What local agencies and organisations are already doing great work that I can join in with? Even if you can’t leave the house, what ways can you continue to serve at a distance?
- Buying food to bless others through Storehouse. International Meeting Point or other local Food Banks.
Even at a distance, consider by name those in whom you want to invest in right now and the people you are intentionally inviting to invest in your life.
Make the most of technology and time as we seek to bless others.
The Art of Neighbouring
- How can you serve your neighbours through essential goods, regular connection and support? How often will you do this?
- Ensure your neighbours have your number if they are self-isolating and need help.
Quality Time with Friends and Family
- How can you move good conversation online and over the phone? What tech tools will you use? When will you schedule conversations and with whom?
Commitment to Church Community
- How can you connect with your Small Group and other members of the Windsor community right now?
- Who are you receiving investment from: pastors, mentors, counsellors, spiritual directors, trusted friends? In this frantic moment, do you need to initiate a conversation or a phone call for support?
- Online Participation: e.g. joining neighbourhood WhatsApp or Facebook groups, supporting local businesses online.
- Writing a letter or sending a card to friends, leaders, organisations BY POST!
- Creating crafts as a family to send to neighbours and others for encouragement.
Our formation and our partnership in transformation are tethered together. As we partner with Jesus to become more like Him, we also partner with Him to see His Kingdom come.
Prayer for others
- How can you prioritise praying for our leaders, health professionals, emergency services, neighbours and communities?
- As you text and call people, could you introduce them to Jesus or invite them to connect with the life of our Church?
- What resources and finances do we have that we could give away right now? What creative ways can we as families serve others?
DISRUPTION + TRANSFORMATION
Everything’s being disrupted right now and when we return back to normality, nothing will be normal. Yet into the flux, we must be those who practice the way of the King and demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom.
Into the disruption, may we mature into Christlikeness, experiencing formation not just for our good, but for the blessing of those around us.
Formation is tethered to transformation.
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
*From ‘The Common Rule’ by Justin Whitmel Earley
Father, in heaven, who made us, who came to find us, who is forming us, we praise you! You took on the limitations of being human, that we might become children of God.
May we see that our freedom comes only in service to you.
So Lord bless our days.
May our prayers be good work, and may our work become good prayers.
May we embrace good limits with technology and discover the beauty of being present with each other.
May we frame our days in the scriptures
And Lord bless our weeks.
May our friendships be a fire around which all the lonely can gather.
May we choose stories that form us into people who seek beauty, love justice and who find each other.
May we discover in fasting that our emptiness is where we find your fulness.
May we sabbath in the soul of rest of knowing that, in Jesus, ‘it is finished’.
Lord, give us strength for all of this. We love only because you first loved us. When we stumble on our failure, may we fall into your grace.
May our lives become lights in the darkness, so that all may see your beauty.
If you have time over the next few weeks, and want to dive into this conversation in more detail, check out the following books:
- ‘Liturgy of the Ordinary’ Tish Harrison Warren
- ‘You Are What You Love’ James K.A. Smith
- ‘Ordering Your Private World’ Gordon McDonald
- ‘Renovation of the Heart’ Dallas Willard
- ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ Eugene Peterson
- ‘Sacred Rhythms’ Ruth Haley Barton
- ‘Celebration of Discipline’ Richard Foster
- ‘The Good and Beautiful Life’ James Bryan Smith
- ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ Brother Lawerence
- ‘Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life’ Donald Whitney
Building a Rule of Life
- ‘The Common Rule’ Justin Whitmel Earley
- ‘Crafting a Rule of Life’ Stephen Macchia
- ‘The Tech-wise Family’ Andy Crouch
- ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ John Mark Comer
1 Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchannan, pg 198