The Way of Love

The Way of Love
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At our recent Diocesan Synod, we were called to refocus on becoming a more missional diocese, and a more missional people. I know that “mission” and “missional” are loaded terms with many different meanings. We can spend countless Synods debating what mission is and what being missional means, but perhaps there is a more straightforward understanding. I thank Archbishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who helped me understand the mission when he said, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.”

If all of our planning, decisions, actions, and strategies do not reflect God’s love for the world, we have ceased being God’s Church. If it is about the leaky Church roof more than about the hungry person in the neighbourhood, it’s not about love, and it’s not about God.

If it’s our concern to keep a parish hall open more than those people who are sleeping out in the cold, then it’s not about love, and it’s not about God.

And if it’s just to keep a Bishop in employment while people on minimum wage or less have to use food banks to feed their families, it’s not about love, and it’s not about God.

Our mission is not to maintain physical structures at the expense of human lives. Before COVID-19, we had plans to restructure the diocese to free up energy and resources to engage more strongly in missional ministry, and improve efficiency in operations. The pandemic paused this plan. God has called us to pick up this vital work again.

As we have conversations around mission and restructuring, finding a way forward is fruitless unless love is our intention and motivation. And that love has to start with each one of us. At Synod, I directed our attention to an excellent ministry resource from the Episcopal Church called The Way of Love. 

Developed by Archbishop Michael Curry, The Way of Love is intended for Christians who wish to grow spiritually and deepen their love of God and neighbour. The Way of Love is a way of life. It is more than a program or curriculum: it is an intentional commitment to a set of practices. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus through seven spiritual actions: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest.

1. Turn – Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus

2. Learn – Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings

3. Pray – Dwell intentionally with God each day

4. Worship – Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God

5. Bless – Share faith and unselfishly give and serve

6. Go – Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus

7. Rest – Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

To quote Archbishop Curry, “(The Way of Love) is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn–Learn –Pray–Worship–Bless–Go –Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.” 

The key to all we are and do is love, explicitly embracing and sharing God’s love. When there is fear and worry, God provides love as the answer. But loving takes practice. I encourage you to look at this resource and consider adopting it in your local setting. It is free and available online with study guides and videos that can be used for Bible studies, vestries, ACW and men’s associations, confirmation classes, and so much more. You can find it online at this address:
https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love

I hope and pray that The Way of Love can help guide us in conversations and allow us to go deeper into the heart of God’s love for us, for God’s Church and the world. In all that we do, as Archbishop Michael says, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.”

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