Spirit. Spiritual. Spirituality. What do these words mean to you? These are what I call faith words, that is, part of the vocabulary we can use to express our understanding and practice of faith.
At SsAM we end the reading of the Sunday Lessons with “Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s People.”
We are, of course, speaking about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God and of Jesus, the Spirit of the Three in One of our Trinitarian theology. It is important, I think, to understand that not all Christian denominations believe in the Trinity in the way that many of us have been taught. However, our call at the end of those readings is to listen and reflect on what we’ve heard. Then we are to seek to discover what direction the readings may give us to carry us forth as the messengers, the modern-day Disciples, even as evangelists of the message of Scripture. In other words, how will the message of these particular Scripture pieces, in conjunction with the message of the Sermon, make a difference in how we live our daily lives today, this week, or in the weeks and years ahead?
Then, when we speak of spiritual, it gets a bit more complicated.
There are cultural and other religious denominational differences that give us our first thoughts. We may speak of spiritual as a genre of hymns or inspirational songs, or a spiritual experience in a worship service, or on a proverbial mountaintop or somewhere else in God’s Creation. We might think of spiritual people whose words and actions influence us, or at least impress or excite us.
And then there is spirituality.
According to one definition, spirituality is a search for belonging, meaning, and answers to the questions of life. People have different ways of being spiritually connected. Some individuals find peace through regular meditation while others seek differing religious practices to follow and still more do both and beyond. It can be thought of as an intentional approach to living one’s life according to one’s chosen religious/spiritual direction.
“Spirituality” is a pathway to a personal connection with God, Jesus, and the Holy Trinity in a Christian context, through a practice, or a Rule of Life. For example, attending Church on Sunday regularly may be part of your practice. What other regular/intentional practices do you have in your life that bring you closer to God? There are a variety of ways such as: daily prayer time, donating money, food, and other items in God’s name; watching the SsAM Daily Office SsAM’s Facebook page; starting or joining a group to pray together and/or to read and study notable religious figures and subjects, etc. Developing a regular Spiritual Practice and working toward writing your own Rule of Life is about going deeper into a relationship with God. A Rule of Life is much like our parish’s mission statement. A personal Rule will specify for yourself the continuing practices that are important enough to expand your spiritual connections.
In essence, you may think of Spirit~Spiritual~Spirituality as extensions of each other in a circular design that we in our faith journey are moving through them as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit move through us, continuously.
In future newsletters, I’ll be writing about some established practices and the people and cultures such as Franciscan, Dominican, Celtic, etc., that use them.
In the meantime, give some thought to what you already do and how it brings you closer each day to God, as well as what you would like to do or to try, and, what kind of information or support would help.
Here’s a closing thought from a Morning Prayer Office of the Northumbria Community based in northern England but with members worldwide:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you… may he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you…”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.