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Stories of Brethren stewards * July 27, 2016


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Giving Magazine 2016 article
Read this reflection in full at 
blog.brethren.org/ebrethren-7-27-16/
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Not so simple: Living in Christ
An excerpt from a reflection by Rev. Adam J. Copeland

"Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have" (Philippians 4:11).

If only simple living were actually simple. I recently found my way to a website dedicated to simple living. The author suggested hiring a style consultant to simplify one’s wardrobe. Then one could sign up for an extensive eight-week course on how to live a simple life. Oh, and I can’t forget the $30 million minimalist house featured prominently on the site. The website made simple living actually look pretty complicated—and expensive!

Katharine, a friend of mine, recently went on a road trip that took her near the house of an acquaintance, a woman she had met but was not particularly close to. Katharine values minimalism and thrift, so she asked if she might stay the night with her acquaintance. Katharine later explained to me, “I only expected a shower and a bed and certainly no more than a bowl of cereal for breakfast. But what I received was a full experience: decadent, home-cooked meals; a collection of new friends; great conversation; and the warming of a soul that only comes with hospitality towards the whole person, perfectly executed.” Katharine sought simplicity, but she received generosity.

Giving Magazine 2016 cover ebrethren
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What should we do with this simple-living paradox, this challenge that for many of us today, living simply takes real work? Even when we attempt to live simply, we can end up with another experience entirely. I prefer to look at those who were just as baffled some 2000 years ago. “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content in whatever I have,” writes the Apostle Paul from his jail cell in Rome (Philippians 4:11). Paul had just received a gift from the community of the Philippians, with whom he had previously stayed and to whom he had ministered.

While simple living is not so simple, it can lead to generosity in many forms: generous giving of time, generous giving of money, generous giving of love, and eventually, generous thanksgiving. Philippians 4:11 reminds us, however, that complications arise when attempting to live simply. Epaphroditus, the one who delivered the gift from the Philippians, almost died of illness when he was with Paul. As Paul sought to live simply, Epaphroditus “came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me” (2:30). Such reminders help to dissuade us from dangerous notions that those who live in poverty have a simple or easy life. The gospel is clear in its call to care for the poor and needy. We should not need to be reminded that poverty is hazardous for individuals, households, and society.

And yet, for those of us who have much, living simply can become a call to action responding to God’s good and unexpected gifts to us. As Paul indicates, it is a learning process, a sanctification process, even, of being made holy by the Spirit’s good work in us. Like Paul, as we focus on living out the gospel of Christ, we cannot expect that simple living is easy. Together, though, we might find that with God, simple living is faithful.

Rev. Adam J. Copeland teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he serves as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders. This reflection was originally published in Giving magazine, produced by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. Read this reflection in full at blog.brethren.org/ebrethren-7-27-16 or e-mail ebrethren@brethren.org to receive a complimentary copy of the 2016 issue of Giving magazine.

2016 YPTT
The Youth Peace Travel
Team at Inspiration Hills Camp



Youth Peace Travel Team blog


“Actively loving your neighbor means to actively listen. And even if there are barriers that keep us from being active, whether it is the heat or our own personal walls, we are called to not just tolerate, but to love our neighbors. We should listen and learn from our brothers and sisters in God.”

—Kiana Simonson, a member of the 2016 Youth Peace Travel Team


This quote is from a weekly blog post written by the Youth Peace Travel Team and published by the Church of the Brethren. Subscribe to the YPTT blog today at
blog.brethren.org/category
youth-peace-travel-team/


 


“In Christ, all things are possible. In Christ, the weak turn out to be the strong ones, the blind are the ones with the best vision, the neglected become the locus of community, and tiny congregations turn out to contain enormous realities.”

—Dana Cassell in “Our tiny, enormous congregation”
from the July/August issue of Messenger magazine.

 

July/Aug Msg cover 2016
 


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