From the very beginning of our faith, people have been looking for a way to pattern their lives in response to the Good News of Jesus Christ. In the end of the second chapter of Acts, we read about how the fledgling Christian community came together to share a common life. This was before they were known as Christians or even called the Church. Some of those practices have continued while others have fallen away in the nearly two millennia of our faith. Saints and mystics have shared the gleanings of their dedicated wisdom and different denominations have highlighted certain aspects important to their tradition. For us, as Episcopalians and Anglicans, The Book of Common Prayer has always been foundational to our common life, throughout its many incarnations.
Yet, even with this tremendous resource, many find the book daunting. In recent years, it has become the custom of many congregations, including Saint Peter’s, to print the entire service up in a bulletin, to help newcomers follow the service. As wonderful as it is for them, and as convenient as it is for the rest of us, sadly this means that fewer people are “cracking” the binding of this wonderful spiritual resource. Establishing a pattern for living or Rule of Life has become more elusive for many.
This past winter, our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, gathered together with a number of lay and clerical leaders within our Church, including members of different religious orders (YES! There are nuns and monks in the Episcopal Church!). Their goal was to articulate a common Rule of Life to commend to all of our denomination, and other Christians seeking to live the Jesus way. They unveiled the fruit of their labor at this past summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
As you can see, there are seven different interrelated components that nurture and deepen our spiritual lives. Here is what they said about the project, “The Rule should be spacious enough for adaptation and incarnation in a variety of contexts, yet compelling enough that those who live this way would truly embody a counter-cultural Christianity that looks like Jesus of Nazareth. The Rule is rooted in the belief that, as we grow more deeply rooted in the love of Christ and shape our churches into practicing Christian communities, we will live more fully as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement: the ongoing community of people who follow Jesus into loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships with God, with each other and with creation. And that changes everything.” You can find out more here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/explore-way-love
Many programs within our tradition have embraced these seven steps, including Education for Ministry and Daughters of the King and I commend them to you as well. I am planning on starting a small group of folks willing to dive deeper, to embrace these practices in our own daily lives. Please let me know if you are interested. Below, you can see a quick summary of each of the seven rules.
The Way of Love - Practices for Jesus-Centered Life
Turn Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus
Learn Reflect on Scripture each day, especially Jesus' life and teachings
Pray Dwell intentionally with God each day
Worship Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and draw near God
Bless Share faith and unselfishly give and serve
Go Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus
Rest Receive the gift of God's grace, peace, and restoration
As always, know that you are daily in my prayers and please keep me in yours.