Cultivating the Life of Promise

Day to day life can become a grind.  You’ve heard the phrase that describes this.   “How are you doing?” you’ll ask someone.  “The same old same old,” is the reply.   How deadening!

One of the readings in today’s daily lectionary is Romans 9:1-18.  It is a piece of closely-argued theology from Paul, addressing the illogical clain that Jesus is the Christ, and much could be said on that theological level.  But when I read the daily lectionary, it is not for the purpose of the intellect.  Instead, it is to feed my soul through lectio divina, the practice of reading slowly, prayerfully, allowing a phrase to catch me for deeper prayer.  Here’s the phrase that caught me  this morning: “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.”  Indeed, out of that phrase, I found myself pausing over five words.  “The children of the promise.”

Here is how the meditation went for me, in my lectio divina this morning: The children of the promise.  How I feel drawn to God’s promise, in day-to-day life!  How much energy there is in that!  What liberation from “the same old same old!”  Having the perception to see God’s promise in day-to-day life is life giving in itself.  The grind is not the point.  (Silence.  Prayer.  Listening.)

Out of that prayer comes this post.

How do we cultivate that perception?  How do we cultivate the life of promise in our day-to-day lives?

The answer for me, as a pastor of the church, keeps coming back to a chief purpose for gathering as church.  It is expressed in language that now sounds quaint, from a letter written by August Hermann Francke in 1725: “Once more, let faithful ministers by no means forget to recommend it to their hearers that they would familiarly acquaint themselves and converse with serious, lively, and growing Christians, and with those more especially who excel in the gift and the spirit of prayer; for as a live coal kindles another that is cold and dead, so will the savory discourse, the fervent prayers, and the holy conversation of warm and lively Christians be a probable means of kindling the same fire of divine love in the souls of dead sinners, or at least of nourishing and improving the sacred flame in the hearts of their most intimate Christian friends.”

Of course, that is the purpose of our Sunday morning gatherings.  (This has become more a part of our congregation’s life together on Sunday mornings, now that we have a welcoming place to gather before and after our worship services!)  This is also my purpose in offering Bible and book studies on Monday nights.   My constant prayer is that more will be drawn to our congregation’s worship, study, and opportunities for sacred conversation and consolation.  God the Holy Spirit uses these activities to nourish and improve the sacred flame in their hearts.


About Pastor Andy Ballentine

Pastor Andy Ballentine loves being a parish pastor! Pastor Ballentine took his BA degree from the University of Virginia (with a major in sociology) and earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with the thesis topic of: "How Benedictine Monastic Spirituality Nourishes Parish Ministry." He has completed the program of Spiritual Direction from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Ballentine has served as Dean of the Peninsula Conference and as chaplain to the candidates in the Virginia Synod’s Candidacy process (those on the way to being approved for ordained and professional ministries in the church). He has staffed many, many Virginia Synod youth events!