Originally published in Trinity’s August newsletter/Epistle.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Twenty-five years ago, Dorothy Bass edited the book Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People. I read it on my own and then read it with at least one group during my time here at Trinity (the names of the Trinity women who led discussions on the various chapters are still written in my book). We live out many of these practices intuitively in this congregation, but I hear a yearning in this moment to grow in the practices, not as an end to themselves but to deepen our relationship with God. What’s included? There are familiar practices like keeping the Sabbath, hospitality, shaping communities, singing the faith, household economics, discernment, and testimony (which we call storytelling). Others not highlighted in the original book but certainly part of our life of faith include serving the poor, caring for creation, reading scripture, embracing diversity, and listening. But, some might ask, we confess that we are saved by grace through faith, apart from works, are practices not just another way to talk about works? First, let us all be clear that even though works are not salvific, they are still part of the life of faith. Faith without action is not exactly a living breathing faith. Knowing the gifts we have received from God, how can we not respond with both works (faith active in love) and practices (which deepen our relationships with God, our neighbors, and ourselves)? In the months ahead, look and listen for this language about practices. Hold one another and our congregational leadership accountable. Are we missing some of the practices in our life together? What are you specifically hungry for in your life of faith? Where and how do you want to grow in faith and how can this community of faith help facilitate that growth and transformation? We never fully arrive, expect at the very beginning in the waters of baptism. Every day after our baptisms we remember our identity as child of God and try to live into that identity however that day calls.