Our worship leader, Jeff Ream, closed the service yesterday by singing "The Lord's Prayer" -- the good, old traditional one people sing at weddings and such. It was downright glorious! I was on a high from that for quite a while after the service ended.
And Pastor Jeff (different Jeff) mentioned in his sermon how in seminary, he studied the old church fathers who would get up at 4am every morning and pray for two or three hours before they ever started their day. (The topic of the day was prayer, if you haven't guessed.)
All this served to remind me of Choi, the friend in college who sang "The Lord's Prayer" at my best friend Christine's wedding. Choi was from Korea. He was very quiet and shy when we first met him. Another friend at school told us that Choi was up every morning at 6am; he went outside into a kind of empty area of the campus between the dorms and prayed for an hour every morning. Kevin told us, if you're outside at that time, you can hear his beautiful voice belting out Korean hymns.
I was profoundly impressed by this kind of devotion. Within a couple years, however, Choi became quite Americanized -- in his lifestyle and in his faith. I expect he was a believer still, but I never heard about him getting up at 6am to pray anymore. In fact, he was the epitome of the lazy bum college student, struggling to get out of bed at all. Good guy, but quite American now.
When did "American" become the equivalent of "lazy"? It's been sometime since the last World War . . . when and how did that shift take place from the Greatest Generation to the sorry state of affairs we have today? My fear is that, whatever exactly caused the change, it was introduced into our lives as "progress" -- as something that would make our lives better -- and we bought into it whole-heartedly, not realizing how this was going to eat at our souls.
Progress is not always the forward motion it is purported to be. Sometimes, we would do well to look for the ancient paths and walk in them.