What does a life lived well look like? What did God intend for us? What are some of the obstacles to living well spiritually, emotionally, physically and vocationally?
These and other questions emerged while considering who should write for this month's cover story and how the topic should be focused.
One barrier to our living well is the incongruity that can exist between our inner and outer self. This topic is covered in-depth in Parker J. Palmer's book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life (Jossey-Bass, 2004). Parker (who also wrote Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach) was unable to write a special piece for this issue but was glad to let us use two excerpts from his book.
ELCA theologian Diane Jacobson, professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and now also director of the ELCA Book of Faith initiative, writes about shalom and God's intention for us.
Finally, John Kirkpatrick, chief medical director of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, Wis., gives practical tips on staying healthy and managing stress. Visit the ELCA Board of Pensions Web site and click "2008 PPO Benefits changes" to see how the ELCA values wellness.
Twice each Sunday in our communion service we are reminded of the importance of peace. First we pass the peace of Christ to one another. Then we are sent forth into the world with the words: “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” Or “Go in peace. Remember the poor. ... Share the good news. ... Christ is with you.” At the heart of these actions is the hope that each of us might experience the depth of biblical shalom and then pass it on.
Shalom begins personally with a sense of well-being, personal health or, more deeply, personal wholeness. In our culture we often seek to attain such peace and wholeness by looking within, through meditation or centering, or even contemplative prayer and solitude. Such activities can be genuinely fulfilling.
But in Scripture the wholeness of shalom comes from outside rather than inside. Shalom can never be separated from or attained apart from relationships: with God, with the poor, with the other, with the community in which one lives, with Christ.
When individuals in the Bible send each other off, much as we do each Sunday with the words “Go in peace,” the context implies that true peace is centered in the promise that God will be with the one who is sent.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers