[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians have spent the past five months taking up the Way of Love’s seven practices, with help from a wide range of liturgical and devotional tools from all corners of the Episcopal Church, and the church is encouraging all to make a special effort to embrace this rule of life during Advent.
The church has released Journeying the Way of Love, featuring both a four-week Advent curriculum and an Advent calendar. Both are tied to the readings and themes from the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke.
A rule of life is a set of simple spiritual practices intended to focus believers on their faith journeys and provide support along the way. The Way of Love framework is built around seven practices, which for the Advent curriculum, are scheduled on specific days of the week: worship (Sunday), go (Monday), learn (Tuesday), pray (Wednesday), bless (Thursday), turn (Friday) and rest (Saturday). The Advent calendar follows a similar pattern.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry unveiled the Way of Love in July at the 79th General Convention.
“I want to ask not only you, but every Episcopalian, to make a commitment to throw yourself into the hands of Jesus, and then live life out of that,” Curry said in his sermon during the opening Eucharist at General Convention. “These tools may help you.”
Since then, the church has joined with numerous affiliated organizations to develop and promote additional resources to help people bring Jesus to the center of their lives. Some have been adapted for Advent, and Episcopalians are participating in other Advent initiatives in the spirit of the Way of Love.
One prominent example is AdventWord, billed as a “global Advent calendar” that is populated each day by participants’ social media posts prompted by the day’s word and hashtag. AdventWord also will send a daily email during Advent with a reflection on that day’s word. The sign-up is here.
“The offering of AdventWord provides a daily short reflection and visual meditation to guide Christians around the world to prepare our hearts and homes for the arrival of Christ,” said Sarah Stonesifer, who coordinated this year’s campaign as digital missioner at Virginia Theological Seminary. “Participants can deepen their understanding of the coming of Jesus in the world through the practices of meditation and prayer.”
The kickoff word on Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent, is “Journey.” Curry has offered his own reflection for the campaign, but to read it you’ll have to wait until Dec. 25, when the AdventWord is “Celebrate.”
The Episcopal Church is promoting additional resources for Advent:
- Preparing to Become Beloved Community is an Advent curriculum focusing on racial reconciliation.
- A compilation of sermons for Advent and Christmas is available here.
- Episcopal Relief & Development offers an Advent toolkit.
- Church Publishing has Advent resources here, and additional seasonal items can be found here from Forward Movement.
Church leaders expect to use the Way of Love as the primary framework for future seasonal resources, though innovations on these themes have transcended the liturgical calendar and inspired activity at the diocesan and congregational levels.
The Diocese of Washington, for example, has developed a Way of Love lectionary that congregations can use to introduce and reflect on the seven practices over an eight-week cycle. The diocese also has produced daily devotionals and a small-group prayer guide based on the Way of Love, and Bishop Mariann Budde speaks about the seven practices in a new podcast called “Experiencing Jesus.”
The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is promoting a Way of Love retreat on Dec. 14 and 15, part of the “Learning Weekend” series organized by the Stevenson School for Ministry. The agenda includes workshops intended to help clergy and lay leaders to incorporate the Way of Love in their congregations’ parish life.
“I hope that in this next year we can continue to strengthen our efforts at collaborating with each other for God’s mission,” Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan says in an online introduction to the diocese’s Way of Love resources. “That we will continue to stretch ourselves and try on new and creative ways of being Church by living in the Way of Love as our Way of Life.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.