During Lent, our Thursday night bible study group and the Class Menagerie began a study of The Walk by Adam Hamilton. Some have been able to finish the study via Zoom video conferencing. Our children have begun studying the material this summer and the youth will follow soon. The book itself is a great review of the basics of Christian faith formation, a cornerstone of Methodism.
With our ongoing faith formation in mind, Hamilton points us to five spiritual practices that we seek to practice both individually and corporately:
1) Worship and Prayer
2) Study – reading our scriptures
3) Serving – through acts of kindness and justice
4) Giving – generosity with our finances and other personal goods
5) Sharing – being witnesses to the good news of Jesus the Christ and the Reign of God
These practices align with our United Methodist General Rule of Discipleship which is, “To witness to Jesus Christ in the world, and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
The thought behind such practices is not about earning God’s favor but as a response to God’s unmerited grace and love, understanding God has a far better life set before us than the one we have built without God. In the book Finding God in Messy Places, Jake Owensby explains that, as we are shaped by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit our lives are transformed from lives of hedonism, the self-centered pursuit of pleasure and comfort, to a life of happiness (eudaimonia in Greek), which points to the well-lived life of virtue which is focused on the common good. These practices focus us on God and our neighbor or, you might say, the two Great Commandments given to us by Jesus.
If you pick up a copy of Hamilton’s book, you will see he takes an extremely non-cumbersome approach to starting or refining these practices in our life. Any way we can begin to apply these practices to our lives will be well worth it, for when we find ourselves in Christ and communal happiness shapes our lives in place of a self-centered pursuit of pleasure, we will have found eternal life, the life of the ages.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen