“Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Above is a translation of a popular quote from Saint Augustine. It expresses a deep truth and one that is informative for me regarding addictions. As some of you will know, I recently preached a sermon that touched on the role of the Church in a world filled with addictive behaviors. When I think of addictive behaviors, I am not just thinking of heinous and illegal addictions like opioids or heroin, but all those “more acceptable” behaviors like shopping or gambling. News articles about the opioid epidemic and the fact that almost daily we can open our local paper and read about people with their fourth, or sixth, or eighth OWI arrest remind us that this is something close to home, close to us.
Saint Augustine’s quote above suggests the spiritual reality of addictions. Among the reasons that people turn to addictive behaviors are isolation, loneliness, and a desire, or as Augustine suggests, a need, to connect with the transcendent. In a most general way, I would describe “transcendent” as experience beyond an individual’s physical world and his or her own mind. “Our hearts are restless” with only the input we have and our own thoughts and emotions. Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors are attempts to do one or both of these things: attempt to connect an individual to the transcendent or numb an individual to their yearning for the transcendent. Our restlessness will not leave us alone.
I asserted in my sermon that God has called the Church, and therefore congregations as the local expression of the Church, to be a part of the solution. We are able to name “The Transcendent” as the creative Father of the incarnate Son, Jesus, who dwells with us in the Holy Spirit. We know what that Transcendence is like, revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. We find ourselves connected to the Transcendent through the Sacraments, and reach out to God in our meditations on Scripture and our prayers.
Additionally, we are a community which is the Body of Christ. We proclaim that Transcendence which is incarnate as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We are the means through which God works to declare God’s grace. We draw one another and others together from our isolation and loneliness into relationships which we describe with words such as faith, hope, and love. We draw one another into community.
We also need to find our rest in God. That is why your pastor is continually calling you to Scripture study, prayer, and worship. And the broken fallen world needs the Church. Our community needs you with St. John Lutheran Church to be a place where hearts can rest in God, connect with the Lord of Life, and know God’s love and mercy. As we are called to be a community of Christ, we are called to be a solution to sorrows of the world.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6, NIV)
Yours in Christ,
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