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How the Way of Love can support Living Local

The Way of Love
The Rev. Vicki McGrath

After years of Going Local, many congregations in the Diocese of Newark are now engaging in Living Local: listening, praying, reflecting on scripture through Dwelling in the Word, experimenting and following the Spirit of God into the neighborhoods where we live, work, worship, and play. We’ve been discerning what God is already up to, where God is active out ahead of us, and trying new ways of connecting with God and our neighbors.

We have been learning to travel lightly – without expectations or pre-conceived agendas – except to be attuned to the Spirit of God who may be active in our communities in many different ways. We then reflect on what we have experienced – not just in a utilitarian, “what worked” kind of way, but in order to learn more about God, our neighbors, ourselves, and the way the Spirit works through all of us.

The primary touchstones of Living Local: Joining God are:

  • Dwelling in the Word
  • Listening to God in the stories of others
  • Going lightly into the neighborhood
  • Accepting hospitality
  • Discerning God’s presence and activity
  • Experimenting
  • Reflecting

In order to follow Jesus more fully and faithfully, we should engage in spiritual practices that draw us close to God and one another. These are habits we can learn and practice repeatedly over time, gaining confidence, wisdom, and depth as we engage in them.

The Way of Love, which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry unveiled at the 2018 General Convention, is a set of seven spiritual practices that have been used by Christians since the days of the apostles:

  • Turn: Pause, listen, and follow Jesus
  • Learn: Reflect on the Word of God
  • Pray: Spend time with God each day
  • Worship: Gather with others before God
  • Bless: Share faith and serve
  • Go: Cross boundaries, listen, and live like Jesus
  • Rest: Breathe, recharge, and renew

Each of these seven practices can form, equip, and strengthen us to Live Local and Join God. Here are some suggestions about how the Way of Love practices connect with Living Local:

The Way of Love Living Local: Joining God
Turn Listening
Learn Dwelling in the Word
Pray Listening to God
Worship Dwelling in the Word
Accepting hospitality
Bless Accepting hospitality
Listening to others
Go Go lightly into the neighborhood
Listening to Others
Rest Reflecting
Accepting hospitality

There are probably many other ways that the Way of Love practices enhance and support Christ’s mission in and through the journey to follow the Spirit of God into our communities, but this is a starting point.