Friday, March 2, 2012

VMS March Newsletter article: Strengthening our spirituality

As you know, Lent is my favorite liturgical season. I say that because this season asks us to go deeply into a prayerful state and examine our spirituality, individually and communally.

Spirituality is a word that is bounced around a lot in church and culture. It now can mean many things to many people, and it is often used as justification for living outside a church community: ‘I’m spiritual, but not religious’ or ‘I worship God in creation, not in church.’

Anglican theologian Marjorie Thompson says, “…Christian spirituality begins with God, is dependent on God, and ends in God… It is Christ being formed in us.” This is why we set aside time to put our attention on this. It takes that kind of effort for true growth to happen.

For us, spirituality is dynamic. It’s alive and changing, evolving and growing, all the time. This is one reason we must be anchored in a community of faith, even as we journey alone. As theologian Urban T. Holmes says, attempting this journey can “render one “flakey …if it is not tempered by a commitment to the church.” Our Anglican tradition offers many tools for the Lenten journey - practices that can help us avid flakiness while strengthening our ‘spiritual muscles.’ At Redeemer, we are offering information and opportunity to practice some of these tools during our Lenten teaching on Thursday evenings: Centering Prayer, prayer journaling, the Rosary, walking a labyrinth, intercessory prayer.

Spirituality, for Episcopalians, is also grounded in Scripture. In addition to our Sunday and Wednesday Eucharists, Redeemer regularly provides Morning Prayer weekdays in the chapel. For those who want to establish a discipline of framing their day in Scripture and tradition, the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer) can found in our Prayer book or online at:

Another tool for strengthening our spiritual muscle regarding Scripture is the practice of lectio divina. Reading Scripture this way means intentionally opening ourselves to ‘hear’ the whispers of God who is being continually revealed to us in the Word. Lectio can be practiced alone or (my favorite way) in a group. Our Adult Formation group that meets on Sundays often practices lectio divine. Our vestry begins all of our meetings with this spiritual practice.

Finally, spirituality is active, because ours is an incarnational faith. Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, now lives in us and calls us to love - as an action, not just an idea. An incarnational spirituality has bodies (ours) – eyes that see and ears that hear the call of the poor and oppressed, feet that take us to where our hands reach out to love and serve; mouths that speak peace and call for justice; hearts that share in the pain and joy of our neighbors and creation. In their book, “Christian Spirituality” authors Lawrence Cunningham and Keith Egan say: “Authentic Christian spirituality links common worship (liturgy) with the works of charity as well as the desire for, and commitment to, social justice… authentic Christian spirituality must reach out to everyone without respect to class, gender or social condition.”

Spirituality, then, is dynamic, disciplined, contemplative, inclusive, communal as well as individual, grounded in Scripture and tradition, charitable, and results in action. It is a pathway and a journey into a continuing revelation of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

Now do you see why we need to focus on this – and why it’s my favorite liturgical season? God bless us all on our Lenten journeys.

(Note: See the full newsletter on our website:

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