What are the Practices?

All of us have practices or habits that make up our movement in the world or, as Annie Dillard puts it, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”  These practices, whether examined and or unexamined, shape us. As a people who have been brought into the family of God through the life, death, resurrection of Jesus, the call is to “follow” (Mark 8:34) him. To follow him is to enter a life-long apprenticeship to Jesus to learning his Way, sustained by his presence. The practices are ways in which we respond to the lordship of Christ: to be near him, to love what he loves and hate what he hates.

Jesus in one of his most well-known teachings, tells a story that helps illuminate the heart behind the practices: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25) The call is for the church to build the scaffolding of her practice on the bedrock of Christ alone. His steadfast love for his own does not waver, no matter how well we have lived the practices. The aim of the practices is not to attempt to earn God’s love or to gain the admiration of others. Their aim is abundant life with the risen Jesus. Their end is to cultivate habits that deepen our love for God and neighbor.