Wednesday, January 13, 2010


One of the unique aspects of working for an institution that is secular, but whose mission revolves in part around the development of a life of faith in our students is the occasional intrusion of religious faith into the workplace.

I use the word "intrusion" advisedly. While I have no issue with faith being an open topic of conversation in the workplace, most of my coworkers, in spite of a working environment that encourages commitment to some sort of religious faith, would much rather not talk about it.

You can imagine the consternation three years ago when the higher-ups strongly suggested we begin our staff meetings with a "prayer or reflection", since "faith" is one of the core values of the institution. Our boss wasted no time in mandating that this responsibility would rotate among the administrators.

It's my turn again today. In true procrastinator fashion, although I've known this was my meeting for months, I've done nothing to procure a suitable (by my coworkers' standards: short, not particularly religious, and did I mention short?) devotion. The standards have dropped significantly over the last year: most people have been offering up the kinds of fluff often circulated in those wonderful forwarded e-mail strings.

Part of me wants to simply say, "Let's pray," drop my head and go to it. Those of you who know me in real life know I certainly don't need a script. But I fear my coworkers would freak out just a little bit - enough that even the fact that I brought bagels today wouldn't stop them from avoiding me for a while (but they wouldn't avoid the bagels).

Anyway, given all the upheaval in the last eighteen months, it seems appropriate to remind people that God is sovereign and in control, and we needn't worry. Rather than my words, I'll use His from the sermon on the mount:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Matthew 6:25 - 34

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