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Practice-Based Faith: A Primer

"The Glory of God is a human being full of life and fully alive." –St. Irenus of Lyon

To be fully human is to experience impermanence and diversity--to be constantly in flux, change, non-binary, and in the midst of a spectrum of ways of being human.

In a room of 50 people, there are 50 different ideas about what is being said. Their is no one way. Honestly acknowledging this as a gift is a joy and a tremendous opportunity.

On any given day, I may or may not believe in, feel connected to, desire, or be able to follow God. On most days, we may not feel thus. This is also part of the fullness of being human.

Practice-based faith invites a consistent, committed, communal way of live based on practices--not only beliefs, feelings, ability, desire, or any other impermanent factor.

We do not believe in order to practice; we practice to discover what we believe.

"We do not think ourselves into new ways of living; we live ourselves into new ways of thinking."

—Fr. Richard Rohr

Our practice is unafraid to draw on the best of two millennia of Christian scripture, tradition, and practice, as well as those of other spiritual and secular traditions where appropriate. We treat them as starting points, not endings; as dance steps or chord changes, not predetermined paths.

Learning particularly from our teachers and kindred who practice Buddhism and Judaism, we embrace practice as a form of play, pleasure, exploration and experimentation. Even challenging the teacher and our ideas of the divine is an essential act of faithful practice.

One may claim one's Christian identity and heritage, regardless of one's current belief or unbelief in God. It is not "are you a believing Christian?" but "are you a practicing Christian?"

The goal and hope of practice-based faith is to be able to keep the beat going, even in hard times, long enough to arrive at moments of clarity, grace and community.

"Therefore, Sin boldly! But be more bold in you love of Christ Jesus!"

–Martin Luther

"Even if I knew the world were ending tomorrow, I'd still plant an apple tree."

–Martin Luther (attributed)

"How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others, which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight."

–Dorothy Day

The purpose of practice/spirituality/church is not to become the focus of life, but the frame by which we see through our lives with new eyes and to live them more fully, honestly, freely and joyfully.

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