We love because he first loved us

“[Love] is the ultimate virtue. We are to intentionally “clothe ourselves” with love. So the love that attracts us to God is something that grows through practice and repetition, and if we want to pursue God in our vocations, we need to immerse ourselves in rituals and rhythms and practices where the love of God seeps into our very character and is woven into not just how we think but who we are.

This is one of the reasons why worship is not some escape from “the work week.” To the contrary, our worship rituals train our hearts and aim our desires toward God and his kingdom so that, when we are sent from worship to take up our work, we do so with a habituated orientation toward the Lover of our souls.

This is also why we need to think about habit-shaping practices–“vocational liturgies,” we might call them–that can sustain this love throughout the week. […]

I’m reminded of an investment banker in Manhattan who spearheaded the practice of listening to the public reading of Scripture with his colleagues on Wall Street. Or of teachers who have committed to the practice of morning prayer as a way to frame their daily work. There are all kinds of ways to contextualize vocational liturgies that train us to love the God who pulls us and calls us.

Like the father of the prodigal son, God is already out ahead of us. He runs to the end of the lane to meet us where we are. He gives us the gifts of good rituals so we can practice loving him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thankfully, we pursue God with God. We love because he first loved us.”

-James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos Press, 2016), 187-188.

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Worship as everyday liturgies

“Obviously an hour and a half on Sunday morning is not sufficient to rehabituate hearts that are daily immersed in rival liturgies. Yes, gathered, congregational worship is the heart of discipleship, but this doesn’t mean that communal worship is the entirety of discipleship. While communal worship calibrates the heart in necessary, fundamental ways, we need to take the opportunity to cultivate kingdom-oriented liturgies throughout the week. The capital-Liturgy of Sunday morning should generate lowercase-l liturgies that govern our existence throughout the rest of the week. Our discipleship practices from Monday through Saturday shouldn’t simply focus on Bible knowledge acquisition–we aren’t, after all, liturgical animals on Sunday and thinking things for the rest of the week. Rather, our day-to-day practices need to extend and amplify the formative power of our weekly worship practices by weaving them into our everyday liturgies.

There are all kinds of other spaces where we can and should be intentional about the liturgies that govern our rhythms, and we should see this as an opportunity to extend the formative practices of worship into other sectors of our life. Recognizing worship as the heart of discipleship doesn’t mean sequestering discipleship to Sunday; it means expanding worship to become a way of life.”

-James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos Press, 2016), 113.

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On stewardship and right livelihood

“The divine mandate to use the world justly and charitably… defines every person’s moral predicament as that of a steward. But this predicament is hopeless and meaningless unless it produces an appropriate discipline: stewardship. And stewardship is hopeless and meaningless unless it involves long-term courage, perseverance, devotion, and skill. This skill is not to be confused with any accomplishment or grace of spirit or of intellect. It has to do with everyday proprieties in the practical use and care of created things–with “right livelihood.”

If “the earth is the Lord’s” and we are His stewards, then obviously some livelihoods are “right” and some are not. Is there, for instance, any such thing as a Christian strip mine? A Christian atomic bomb? A Christian nuclear power plant or radioactive waste dump? What might be the design of a Christian transportation or sewer system? Does not Christianity imply limitations on the scale of technology, architecture, and land holding? Is it Christian to profit or otherwise benefit from violence? Is there not, in Christian ethics, an implied requirement of practical separation from a destructive or wasteful economy?”

(The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, edited and introduced by Norman Wirzba (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2002), 299)

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Good Work

Quotes from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, edited and introduced by Norman Wirzba, (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2002)

Good Neighbors, by Peter Saville-Bradshaw, Saatchi Art

A man who is trying to live as a neighbor to his neighbors will have a lively and practical understanding of the work of peace and brotherhood, and let there be no mistake about it — he is doing that work. A couple who make a good marriage, and raise healthy, morally competent children, are serving the world’s future more directly and surely than any political leader, though they never utter a public word. A good farmer who is dealing with the problem of soil erosion on an acre of ground has a sounder grasp of that problem and cares more about it and is probably doing more to solve it than any bureaucrat who is talking about it in general. A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the [conservation] movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways. (87)

The ability to be good is not the ability to do nothing. It is not negative or passive. It is the ability to do something well — to do good work for good reasons. In order to be good you have to know how — and this knowing is vast, complex, humble and humbling; it is of the mind and of the hands, of neither alone. (299)

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