Aug 5, 2011

The Return of the Ancient Practices

In a few Sundays, beginning on August 14, we will start a new worship series based on some of the ideas presented in Brian McLaren’s book: Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices. It is a book that extols practicing our faith in contrast to defining ourselves as Christians either by what we believe or what we do not believe.

Ancient practices are the things the early church did to live out and not just formulate tenets - although it certainly did that. While it is important to have some rational content to our faith, the putting into practice part cannot be realistically neglected either. When people say “practice what you preach” they mean live your life so it measures up to the life you profess out loud.

Our worship series, titled “Practicing Faith,” will use some of the ideas from Brian McLaren’s book Finding Our Way Again. Among the practices we will explore in worship are “Contemplative Practice” (focus on prayer), “Missional Practice,” and “Communal Practice” (focus on Communion).

How do these practices make our spiritual journey more faithful and fruitful?

A new found basis uniting many Christians today is the “emerging church” movement. This notion states we can choose to live our faith and depart from impiety which seems to be the way of the world. As one of my former parishioners used to say: “I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” When we practice our faith instead of debating the finer points of orthodoxy we do just that—we show who we are and what we believe by what we do. This is an important way to practice the faith.

For two thousand years, some branches of Christianity have concentrated on skirmishing over dogma. Some of these combatants only recognize the faith in terms of sound teachings concerning beliefs about eternal security, the nature of salvation, the Trinity, spiritual gifts, etc. In the meantime, the way Christians live has become less and less important. In the real secular world, when people hear Christians squabble they want no part of Jesus.

Ignatius of Antioch gave his life for Christ—in great joy— in A.D. 110. On the way to his martyrdom, he wrote:

The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognized by their conduct (Epistle to the Ephesians 14).

During our series called “Practicing Faith” we as a church will explore some the ancient practices as we attempt to bring the true spirit of Jesus into the twenty-first Century. 

You may order this book from Melissa Darrow in the church office (817-274-2571).


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