Rector's October Thoughts
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have read inspiring books in the past, or worked through some excellent courses, only to have found myself a year or so later struggling to remember what was said or what I aspired to build into my life.
It’s said that it takes 6 weeks to either make, or break, a habit. And this is why we are keen to follow the Holy Habits series of books. We want to be able to learn to incorporate good, life-affirming, Christian habits into our lives so that we can go deeper as disciples. They aren’t rules to be slavishly followed but rather ideas and suggestions which will build upon and enhance the things we are probably already doing. Christ’s disciples followed him for 3 years, 24 hours a day. Holy Habits will take place over much of the next two years. Different books in the series have been written by different teams, which we believe to be positive as there are always some writers, or courses, we instinctively find more inspiring, or to our taste, than others.
These resources have been developed to support churches seeking to deepen and develop such discipleship through the intentional living of ten habitual practices seen in the life of the earliest church, as portrayed by Luke in Acts 2:42-47, Acts is the story of a community.
The idea is that, doing something as a church, we should build greater community within and between our congregations. This is at a time when community seems to be a commodity we, as a nation, feel is lacking. The Holy Habits are not ends of themselves. They are not just ten fun things to study or do, although we hope you will have fun in exploring and living them. Rather, they are composite parts of a habitual holy way of living: a way of living ‘day by day’, both personally wherever we are called to be, and a way of living when we gather and serve together through the community of disciples we know as church; a way of life that encourages growth in discipleship, the formation of new disciples and a fuller experience for others of the kingdom of God.
Holy Habits have been shaped by an understanding of discipleship based on two principles:
It is a response to the call of Jesus.
We learn and grow as disciples (personally and collectively) as we follow the one who calls. The Greek New Testament word for disciple, mathetes, literally means one who learns as they follow.
Holy Habits encourages a living out of discipleship that is:
Centred on and inspired by the divine community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Nurtured in the community of the church through smaller and larger groups, and one-to-one relationships.
Lived out in the whole of life: in work, rest and play.
Missional, participating in the mission of God and always seeking the blessing of others.
Creative, imaginative and contextual.
In short, I believe our lives can be richer, brighter, fuller, healthier and more rounded when we either build the Holy Habits into our lives as a church and as individuals, or when we find tips which can enhance those habits. As children we learned many habits we still follow, such as brushing our teeth. Each morning, and every night before going to bed, I brush my teeth, it’s a habit which is as natural to me as breathing, but think about what would happen if I stopped brushing my teeth. . . and think of the ways that habit might be improved. I recently bought an electric toothbrush which vibrates to tell me I’ve spent enough time on that quadrant of my mouth, and my teeth have never felt cleaner. A few years ago Sensodyne toothpaste was recommended to me and I stopped getting pain with hot or cold fluids. A few years before that I discovered the joys of interdental brushes. All were tips which have improved and made easier my toothbrushing habit, things I might not have thought of had I not been given ideas or advice.
Going deeper as a disciple, alongside others also going deeper, promises to be a time that is life-enhancing and life-affirming. We will be looking at the habits as a Church in our Sunday worship, in Life Group, and (hopefully) in our personal daily study, reflection and prayer time – resources are available at all levels. We will have the opportunity to study two thousand years of Christian practices and finding which ways of incorporating the habits works best for each of us as an individual. It will be a time of exploration for us all, which will bring us closer to God and to one another. I’m looking forward to when we start next year.
With love in Christ,
(The parts in italics come from a Holy Habit booklet)