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25 January 2020 | Vicar Writes

Living a Rule of Life

By Terry Wong

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Psalm 25:8-9

While the year is still new, I want to continue to speak on things which can help us to prepare for a "year of personal discipleship.”  One gift which has always helped the faithful is the rule of life. When you really think of it, we do have these rules which shape the way we lead our daily lives.

Take meals for example. Luciano Pavarotti once said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Meals help us to form a daily rhythm, forcing us to pause and lay aside whatever we are busy with and enjoy a plate of something. Sometimes it is a "eat and meet" thing, where we catch up with someone over lunch. Often it is a personal pit stop amidst the frenetic pace of a day. If I am eating alone, I often enjoy meals with a Kindle in hand, catching up on one of my favourite periodicals. In the evening, the family put everything aside to devote time to eating and one another. Public holidays such as this Chinese New Year weekend are also important pauses.

 Now, if you are a Christian, you need a rule of life to give shape to your spiritual life, nourishment, health and growth. This rule gives you a daily rhythm and discipline, to create a space in a crowded life to hear His voice, worship Him, examine our own hearts, reflect on our attitudes, behaviour and so on. What may constitute this rule of life?

Daily prayer and Bible reading is one. Find one source which works for you. When I was starting out, I found Daily Bread helpful. Most times, I prefer to read the Bible on my own (without commentary). I also find it helpful to read Scripture as listed in the daily lectionary. These two apps are free and useful: St Andrew’s Cathedral SG or Church of England Daily Prayer. There are three sets of readings daily. You can choose just one and use the morning and evening sets respectively. Our Diocesan Cycle of Prayer is also found in the Cathedral App and that can alert you to pray for other parts of the diocese. Weekly, we also post our intercession items by Saturday as it is released in our bulletin for the weekend. These are prayerfully chosen by our Intercession ministry, and done in a way in which we can pray together. The thing about using the lectionary is the joy of knowing that many in the world are also reading from the same texts throughout the day as the sun rises and sets across the nations.

I also find Christian reading needful for my own life and ministry. Even if I don’t work as a minister, I am sure I will remain an avid reader. Reading is just an avenue for someone who desires to learn and grow. There is so much to learn, so much to read and I need a few lifetimes to go through the books I love. I wish I have more time to attend Christian courses in theological schools and keep learning.

The rule of life includes keeping ourselves physically fit and healthy. I am not very good with this myself with stops and starts but I keep trying. Some combine walks with their daily prayer. The Cathedral app has audio readings. Teaching and writing is another discipline to keep. One learns the most if he is working at helping others to grow. Even writing a cookbook needs focus and discipline and I see it as something of a responsibility (with joy, of course).

This is a big topic and I am only introducing some ideas here. If you don’t have a rule of life which has been reflected on, prayed and duly considered, 2020 may just fly by. In fact, the first month just did and we are now in the midst of a weekend of Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Happy Chinese New Year. And please make the rest of 2020 count.