We have spent the better part of the last five months talking about faith. Particularly faith in the lordship and living presence of Jesus, our Christ. Faith—a belief that shapes action—in Jesus who is King, ruler, in control of all things, who is alive, having overcome all things that oppose our humanity. Faith in this Jesus is meant to transform us, to change our very essence, the way we understand the world as well as how we live in it. This faith is meant to free us to live in the fullness of our humanity in relationship with God and towards one another without fear, envy, or oppression in selfless love.
Over the coming months, we will be looking at different FAITH PRACTICES of our church family throughout history that will help us cultivate grace—recognize the presence of God—in our everyday lives as employees, neighbors, parents, friends, and the church. These practices are disciplines, activities that help us remain attentive to our values, our faith, and our God. The ideas of these disciplines are helpful to know, but like gardening, it will actually take working out of these practices over seasons of life to see reproducing fruit.
The Faith Practices that we will be learning and living out over this next season are:
PRAYING THE PSALMS | Learning to answer God who has always been and is always there.
PRACTICING REPENTANCE | Regularly confessing our need for and clinging tightly to Jesus.
LISTENING | Positioning ourselves to recognize grace in everyday conversations.
STOPPING | Removing ourselves from the circus life, even in the middle of it!
MINDFULNESS | Increasing our awareness of God’s presence and purposes.
SABBATH KEEPING | Countering the rhythm of circus life with restoration and enjoyment.
FRIENDSHIP | Recognizing the grace in good friends and the need to work for them.
NURTURING | Cultivating grace in one another.
COMMUNION | The dialectical sustenance of life from death.
HOPES FOR THE SERIES
Susan Phillips summarizes the heart behind this series well when she says,
“The cultivated life is one of persevering in our longing. In the garden...grace collaborates with dedication. Our completion [in Christ] comes toward us as we move toward it...Spiritual completion is not a matter of willfully straining after an ideal. It is, rather, a relational fullness of life that is forever unfolding and developing, like the way tree trunks thicken as sun, water and nutrients are imbibed. In our living, we aren’t supposed to come to the end of our growing, or even of heartfelt yearning for it. Nor are we to become independent pursuers of growth...Through the lens of cultivation, we see our lives taking place in God’s garden.”
Our hope over the next several months is that the metaphor of the garden and the practice of cultivating would help each of us individually and our Gospel Communities as Christ City Church:
1) Persevere in our longing for God
2) Create a picture of life with God that gives depth to our daily lives
3) Encourage practices that keep us steadfast in our transformative and freeing faith
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)