Today is the first Sunday in our series on Christian spirituality and the spiritual ‘disciplines’ which help us “attend to the work of grace in our lives and our times” using Marjorie Thompson’s book, Soul Feast (By the way, I still have four copies or you can buy one – in a variety of formats – online.)
In the new foreword of the new edition, Barbara Brown Taylor, writes that Marjorie is not a prescriptive spiritual guide, but one who asks you to interrogate your own spiritual ‘diet’, why you think certain things sustain you, and encourages you to come to the table with your appetite intact. “Marjorie,” she writes, “…trusts the body – both the individual and the corporate one – as the concrete locus of divine transformation.”
Spiritual disciplines are an affirmation that the things we do in the body – fasting or standing to pray or meeting and talking with a spiritual guide – can help us to work with the Spirit of God to transform our lives and engage more deeply with the needs of our world.
This is the great fallacy that dogs the Christian tradition, that we must choose between body and soul, social action and spirituality. But, Thompson writes, “nurturing the inner life and addressing social realities are both important aspects of the Christian spiritual life. One is not more ‘spiritual’ than the other, but either by itself is less than a full embodiment of the life we are called to in Christ.”
What new life or hope for our world can we witness to, she asks, if our own hearts are not being made new by God? And if we are not immersed in ‘the dirt and sweat of real life’ how can we see our God at work; how can our faith be real?
And if this can happen – this integration of our lives and our spirits with the Spirit of God – as individuals, how much more transformative and powerful is it when it happens as a community; when we become the body of Christ?
This is why we have embarked on this series, so we, together, can explore what it means to follow Jesus, build inclusive, caring community and share God’s love and justice in words and actions. These themes dovetail with our Soul Feast series which – in case you missed it last week – is outlined below.
3 Feb Following Jesus Today/The Spiritual Yearning of our time
10 Feb Inclusive, Caring Community/ The Spirit of Hospitality
17 Feb God’s Love & Justice
24 Feb Church 90th Anniversary/Our Common Worship
3 Mar Church Camp/Rediscovering the Fast
10 Mar Self-Examination, Confession & Awareness
17 Mar The Nature & Practice of Spiritual Reading
24 Mar Approaches to Prayer
31 Mar The Gift of Spiritual Direction
7 Apr The Sacred Art of Ceasing
Bon appetit! And grace be with you!