Because of busyness today I prepared Sunday morning’s sermon yesterday. (Thursday is my preferred preparation day). That has left me feeling slightly bereft this morning. It is not my normal routine and it feels a bit strange. I think I will have to get used to this because my colleague, Lynsey, is now on maternity leave so I will be having a heavier Sunday workload for a while. How do my colleagues in ministry who are sole ministers cope? I have been so privileged to minister in teams!
Anyhoo. Routines. They can be a bad thing. There is apparently a roadsign in some parts of Africa (or Alaska, or Australia depending on what you read – it just has to be somewhere that begins and ends with ‘a’) that reads ‘Choose your rut carefully as you will be in it for some time.’ This sounds like an apocryphal story (but if anyone has a photo of such a sign I would love a copy). However the message is appropriate. We can find ourselves in a rut, just carrying on with the same activity without thinking about whether it is helpful, or if it is still what God wants us to be doing. This can be true of us as individuals as well as churches. It can be true of bad habits. It can be distracting and destructive from our calling to follow Jesus and make him known as we take our eyes off him and carry on unthinkingly.
But they can also be healthy. I was chatting with someone this week about daily Bible readings. The date thing can be quite guilt-inducing if ‘Every Day With Jesus’ has turned into ‘Every Other Day With Jesus’. We feel that we have let him down and the date could even be a discouragement because we may not want to be reminded of our failure so we leave the book closed. But, my colleague pointed out, if we can get into a daily routine there is a flow and a rhythm to our engagement with God. It does not have to be legalistic but it can be so beneficial because we naturally turn to the Bible each day rather than having to remember to do so.
I receive two emails each day. One is from Wordlive (Scripture Union) and the other from Kore. Both are free to subscribe to and both provide me with a routine of Bible reading. The Wordlive email has thoughts and links to other reflections and activities on their website. The Kore Red Letter Days email simply has some words of Jesus. I am also working my way through the E100 Bible readings. These are supposed to be the essential 100 passages in the Bible which, if you read them, will give you a good overview of the whole Bible narrative. This is something I can access from my phone. (Other Bible reading routines are available!)
So what’s your routine?