Throughout October, the Adult Forum listened to and discussed a presentation entitled: "Theology & Spirituality in Times of Rupture." During the final session, the presenter, Diana Butler Bass, describes a number of hopeful signs she sees developing in this “Time of Rupture.” One of these hopeful signs is a renewed and more intentional use of spiritual practices. It is important to note that she sees this taking place in the lives of people who are often not church-goers. Those of us who are regular church-goers participate in spiritual practices whether or not we would describe what we're doing using that terminology. Prayer is a spiritual practice. Reading the Bible is a spiritual practice. Simply attending worship is a spiritual practice. The question for us church-going people is, "How well are these spiritual practices working for us?"
A spiritual practice is any activity that attempts to connect the practitioner to God. We pray, read the Bible, attend worship in the hope of connecting to God. (Or at least that's what these practices are intended to accomplish.) Let me rephrase my earlier question: "How well is that working for you?" Does prayer, reading the Bible, and attending worship consistently help you feel more connected to God? I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us cannot honestly say that these spiritual practices are working very well for us. I would go on to conjecture that for many of us, these spiritual practices are not always done wholeheartedly or with a lively anticipation that they will connect us to God in any meaningful way that we can identify. Instead of approaching prayer, Bible reading, or worship with an intentional desire, openness and expectation to be encountered by God, we often participate rather mindlessly, out of habit, without anticipating or expecting much or anything to happen.
What Diana Butler Bass finds hopeful is that this renewed use of spiritual practices is being done with greater intentionality. Instead of just going through the motions without much, if any, hope of true encounter with God, people are now beginning to invest more of themselves into spiritual practices. And as they invest more, they are receiving more in return. I think this is something many of us church-going people might be interested in. Or at least I hope so.
During the Adult Forum in November, we will be "Practicing Spiritual Practices." On November 7, we will practice Lectio Divina, a prayerful way of reading Scripture which opens us to hearing God speak to us. On November 14, we will practice meditation, clearing and focusing our minds to be more fully in the present and more open to God. And on November 21, we will practice contemplative prayer, a form of directed prayer that helps connect us to God. The Adult Forum meets in the Fellowship Hall following worship, at 10:45 am.