How then shall we live?


Someone asked me the other day what spirituality actually is? It made me ponder. Cuthbert once said that a person’s spirituality at it simplest is how they live out what they believe. Again, it made me ponder.

Sticking with the Celtic theme (inescapable here in Cornwall), I remember a talk by Ray Simpson that I once listened to many years ago. As an aside, Ray wrote a book that has almost certainly had the greatest impact on my spirituality, The Cowshed Revolution. It’s a must read. Anyway, in the talk he defined three questions that lead us on a journey of discovering our own spirituality.

Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing The Lord’s song in a strange land.

The first words of Jesus’ ministry were ‘what do you seek?’ John the Baptist’s followers had just left him to follow ‘the One’, as cousin John had described Jesus.. Remembering that Jesus knew the innermost thoughts of their hearts and described lives in detail before he even met people (just ask Nathanael), this question was for their benefit; this being the most important question of our time. Now, as we are locked out of our churches, it’s a question worth reflecting on. If our spirituality reflects the way we live out what we believe, what is it then that we believe? What (or who) is it that we are looking for? The quick answer is of course Jesus, but possibly there is a deeper nuance to the question than that. For if we truly sit with that question, we find ourselves very quickly in a profound awareness of our own lives and how we live them within the context of our faith.

How then shall we live? Spirituality in any form simply cannot exist without an expression of itself lived out. It would be like trying to describe love as an abstract construct without referring to how it may be given or received. True spirituality (rather than purely academic or intellectual reflection) needs expression to become alive. So, whilst unable to express our spirituality through gathered worship, is it simply the way we gather or express it that is open for reflection? For our lives surely hold a far greater richness than a simple 60 minute service, and if the expression of our spirituality has been based purely within the confines of public worship, surely that says more about our spirituality itself than our tradition or model of churchmanship?

How shall we sing The Lord’s song in a strange land. It’s already a strange land, and it is getting stranger by the minute! But let’s not look too hastily for new lyrics. Perhaps it is simply that in this strange land the production team, studio and producer are socially isolating, leaving a Capella to cut right to the heart of it all.

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