Practices are informed by beliefs, but go deeper. They are a way of understanding faith that is more grounded in action, what we do regularly and intentionally to live our faith. At their best, practices shape our lives and nourish our faith. At their best, practices help humanity and all of creation to flourish. At their best, practices are little inbreakings of the Kingdom of God.
Fellowship isn’t just good because it supports other ministry. Fellowship is good in its own right. We need a Theology of Fellowship that reminds us that Jesus called us into friendship with him and with each other. Friendship entails being together not only while working together, but while celebrating and relaxing. Fellowship is about deepening relationship.
There is a beautiful prayer on page 836 of the Book of Common Prayer that taught me how to recognize and offer gratitude. It starts by reminding us to whom we should be grateful: God. Next, it offers some big picture items for which to be grateful: creation, life, and love, before moving a little closer to home by offering thanks for family and friends, and even the challenges we face that lead to satisfying accomplishments. Then, perhaps the most surprising part of the prayer invites us to offer thanksgiving for our disappointments and failures.
The friendships we form at church are vital. Friendship is not something you can force, but it is something you can foster. There are many techniques, but one of the critical and foundational ones is simply showing up to each other.
Love. Love your God. Love your neighbor. Love as Jesus loved. Love as if the whole world depended on it. Spoiler alert: It does!
As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation. At the end of the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that humanity has been given dominion over creation. This has been misunderstood by some to mean that we can use, even abuse, creation however we would like. But Scripture teaches us quite clearly that dominion from a Christian perspective means to be servants, not lords. We were invited to be stewards, not rulers, of creation. We are to appropriately use, not abuse, this gift that God has given us.
In our baptisms, we join Jesus in his baptism. In our baptisms, we join Jesus in his death and resurrection. In our baptisms, we are adopted as Christ’s own forever. And just as a voice spoke from the heavens as Jesus came up from the Jordan, saying, "This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased," we can hear God's voice saying the same about us.