The “Work” of Lutheran Spirituality

by jpserrano on January 23, 2012 · 2 comments

Within Christianity I have learned that there are three realms to spirituality.

  1. Our connection to God.
  2. Our connection to others.
  3. Our connection to ourselves.

If we only have one or two of the three, our spirituality is missing something.  This article is primarily about the first realm.

Recently, I have come across several people who identify themselves as “spiritual.”  However, when prompted further, they couldn’t identity what makes them so.  I understand that within various religions and traditions spirituality looks different. However, in no tradition, including Christianity,  is spirituality actionless.

Just as we work on our self-understanding, relationships with our spouse, children, friends, our relationship with God takes work as well (most Lutherans I know have a stuttering “b b b-but” in their head right now. Put that aside. Keep reading).

A person who is “spiritual” with no practices has good intentions, but they are not “spiritual.”

My main point is this–spirituality takes work  (If you are uncomfortable with the word “work” think “cultivation” ).

As Lutherans, or Christians in general, the way we work on our spirituality is not through some practices we created.  The practices we participate in are created by God and in them God comes to us. Some people think “if” “then” here, but I don’t like that vending machine imagery, instead I think in these terms–God promises to come to us in specific ways.

God promises to come to us in our baptism.
God promises to come to us in communion.
God promises to come to us in worship.
God promises to come to us in the rightly preached Word.

If one is Lutheran and “spiritual” these are the absolute bare minimums of participation (Goodness, I hate putting it in those terms).

Moreover, we who do these practices recognize that the “work” we are doing isn’t actually our work but God’s.

In addition to the list above there is a host of ways that God comes to us (Lutheran Christians tend to neglect these).

  1. Daily devotional Bible reading.
  2. Private Prayer (fixed hour prayer, Jesus prayer, etc.)
  3. Journaling
  4. Lectio Divina
  5. Meditation

I often find that my  spiritual compass goes eschew and needs to be made true.  When I am involved in regular Bible reading, prayer etc. I am able to identify earlier that my spiritual compass is off and am able to connect again to Jesus who rights it again (not a perfect metaphor, but you get the idea).

Regular practice of the spiritual disciples is how we work on (cultivate) our spiritual life.  They are the means that God uses to come to us and should not be neglected.  When I hear Lutherans ask how to be more spiritual, I often wonder if they are regularly practicing the ancient practices of the faith.

Working on my spirituality through the spiritual disciplines has lead me to understand that it really isn’t me working.  I am responding to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit.  I am doing the “work” that I am called to do by slowing down enough to connect to God.  The work in the disciplines is all God’s.

Last tangetial thought: I find that the disciplines are a burden only when I am not practicing them.  They haunt me, calling me back to connection again.

So, how do you practice your spirituality?

-jpserrano

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Serrano January 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

so, I would add that all spiritual disciplines revolve around the continual and daily death of the self. Each discipline point to our own desires not ruling the body and submitting to our Triune God .

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jpserrano January 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I agree whole heartily. The disciplines of the faith expose sin and call us to reconciliation. In them we are called to die again, submitting ourselves to God.

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