The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Carol

Members of the two book groups agreed; no one could recall hearing a sermon on the topic of simplicity. We could all remember sermons decrying materialism or warning against consumerism, but we had not hear of the positive value of simplicity.

In this month’s book group, members and friends of the Congregation are discussing Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley; the chapter on simplicity caught our attention. The author is clear to distinguish between “grim austerity and liberating simplicity”, as he pointed to the freedom from constant distractions. Practical notes about the difference between a “want” and a “need” along with the need for patience in working toward simplicity made the chapter accessible. A quote from a Quaker woman drew the chapter to conclusion; she said, “I am so grateful for all the things I no longer want.”

Decades ago, Richard Foster identified simplicity as a spiritual discipline in his book, Celebration of Discipline. In this article , Foster describes his understanding of this spiritual discipline. Like Gulley, he see simplicity as freeing.

As we approach the holiday season, a time many people find stressful and overwhelming, I invite you to reflect on the ways it “Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free”. In order to better focus on Christ, we may need to step away from some of the clutter of our culture’s celebration of the holidays. In doing so, we may find even greater reasons to celebrate. Perhaps we may find the “valley of love and delight.”

May the peace of Christ be with you.