This past Sunday we heard Ed discuss the need for works alongside our faith. Our faith shouldn’t be stagnant, or be seen as a sort of “Get out of Jail Free Card.” One translation of James 2:18 reads, “Someone might claim, ‘You have faith and I have action. But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.’” James states clearly that our faith is not something meant for us to cling to for ourselves, but is instead something that moves us deeper into our own spiritual practices, and our practices should lead us into faithful action in the world.

Yes, faith is indeed important that solely comes from grace, but the grace that gives faith must move us toward others. Aaron Niequiest writes in his book The Eternal Current: How a Practice- Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning that, “Christ has invited us to join God's work--in us and in the world--through practices that allow God’s Spirit to do what only God can do. Grace alone makes the River flow, but we need to wade into the water. Grace alone makes the vine grow, but we need to build the trellis. Grace alone makes the wind blow, but spiritual practices help us humbly open the window, day by day, moment by moment. The invitation is participation.” 

Spiritual disciplines and practices help us open ourselves to God’s movement, and then move us toward the people and places where God is already working and inviting us to join. Spiritual disciplines and practices can include but are not limited to: receiving Holy Communion as often as possible; fasting; morning or evening prayer; prayers of self-examination known as the Examen; gathering with other Christians for times of sharing and prayer for one another, or times of retreat and silence. For example, in the liturgy for Holy Communion you can hear the pastor who is celebrating say that “we (the Church) offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, as a holy, living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us.” These words we repeat again and again urge us to notice God’s free gift to us (grace and faith) but also our participation as “a living sacrifice.” This and other spiritual disciplines are slightly different ways for each of us to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice and to allow God to form us again in the likeness of God, which then launches us into mission and service in the world. 

As Wesleyans, we believe and affirm the sentiment that God is already active and up to something in the world around us. We call this action of God, this going ahead of us, prevenient grace. Prevenient Grace is God’s grace that goes ahead of us, before we even know what grace is. And if God has already gone ahead of us, and is already active and moving in the world, we need to be listening and looking for God. In our prayers, we too often invite God among us, but should shift that language to ask that we are able to see where and how God is already at work in our midst...and how we might join in that work! Spiritual disciplines and practices invite us to be open to the work of God around us. When these practices become rhythms, we are able to enter and go through each day and partner with God in the world, no matter where we are or what we are doing. 

This past Sunday we heard Ed discuss the need for works alongside our faith. Our faith shouldn’t be stagnant, or be seen as a sort of “Get out of Jail Free Card.” One translation of James 2:18 reads, “Someone might claim, ‘You have faith and I have action. But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.’” James states clearly that our faith is not something meant for us to cling to for ourselves, but is instead something that moves us deeper into our own spiritual practices, and our practices should lead us into faithful action in the world. Yes, faith is indeed important that solely comes from grace, but the grace that gives faith must move us toward others. Aaron Niequiest writes in his book The Eternal Current: How a Practice- Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning that, “Christ has invited us to join God's work--in us and in the world--through practices that allow God’s Spirit to do what only God can do. Grace alone makes the River flow, but we need to wade into the water. Grace alone makes the vine grow, but we need to build the trellis. Grace alone makes the wind blow, but spiritual practices help us humbly open the window, day by day, moment by moment. The invitation is participation.” 

Spiritual disciplines and practices help us open ourselves to God’s movement, and then move us toward the people and places where God is already working and inviting us to join. Spiritual disciplines and practices can include but are not limited to: receiving Holy Communion as often as possible; fasting; morning or evening prayer; prayers of self-examination known as the Examen; gathering with other Christians for times of sharing and prayer for one another, or times of retreat and silence. For example, in the liturgy for Holy Communion you can hear the pastor who is celebrating say that “we (the Church) offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, as a holy, living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us.” These words we repeat again and again urge us to notice God’s free gift to us (grace and faith) but also our participation as “a living sacrifice.” This and other spiritual disciplines are slightly different ways for each of us to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice and to allow God to form us again in the likeness of God, which then launches us into mission and service in the world. 

As Wesleyans, we believe and affirm the sentiment that God is already active and up to something in the world around us. We call this action of God, this going ahead of us, prevenient grace. Prevenient Grace is God’s grace that goes ahead of us, before we even know what grace is. And if God has already gone ahead of us, and is already active and moving in the world, we need to be listening and looking for God. In our prayers, we too often invite God among us, but should shift that language to ask that we are able to see where and how God is already at work in our midst...and how we might join in that work! Spiritual disciplines and practices invite us to be open to the work of God around us. When these practices become rhythms, we are able to enter and go through each day and partner with God in the world, no matter where we are or what we are doing. 

We are invited to join God in God’s work, but we must be willing to embody our faith with all that we are. So instead of faith being something static, stale or stagnant, faith becomes an action where we notice and actively join what God is already doing. We must make ourselves open to participation. 

Grace and Peace, Will, Ed, and the FUMC Staff