A Way of Life Lived and Practiced
by Mark Votava
I always envisioned church to be rooted in a local community where others are cared for through relational connection. But this has not been my experience. I hoped it would lead me to a way of life that was honest, authentic and graceful. I hoped it would lead into the relational diversity and commonality of my neighbors.
But I have had to work hard to create a new paradigm of church through the parish imagination. One that is embodied, rooted, local and relational. One that is known in the place that she lives.
- The body of Christ is a way of life lived and practiced
The body of Christ is a local culture, livable environment and a way of life. This is the making of the parish imagination among us in everyday life. David E. Fitch notes, “The body of Christ is a way of life lived and practiced…” The parish imagination is lived and practiced among us at all times.
- Becoming a local culture together
There are no dualisms here of separating our lives into categories. Our entire being is integrated into a way of life where we cultivate the parish imagination together in everyday life. We become a local culture together. We become a culture of peace and justice. We become a culture of holistic on-the-ground practice.
- Becoming a culture of compassion and grace
We become a culture of togetherness. We become a culture of hope. We become a culture of compassion and grace. We become a culture of love.
- Becoming a culture of reconciliation
We become a culture of simplicity. We become a culture of proximity to others. We become a culture of equality. We become a culture of reconciliation.
- Becoming a culture of friendship
We become a culture of friendship. We become a culture of relational connection. When we create a local culture, we create a livable environment for all in the parish.
- Facilitating a transformation within us
A local culture helps guide us into the common good of the parish. A local culture facilitates a transformation within us in the process of inhabiting a place. A local culture shapes us as we integrate relationally and create practices that are appropriate in our context of everyday life together.
- Having a particular way of surviving and flourishing
John McKnight and Peter Block state, “Culture means that here in this place, we do things in a particular way… We have a particular way in which we survive and flourish…” Our sustainability is very particular to our context in the place we live.
- Enabling a new human beginning to be made
We need to create a sustainable local culture with a livable environment through the parish imagination. Walter Brueggemann writes, “The formation of an alternative community with an alternative consciousness is so that the dominant community may be criticized and finally dismantled. But more than dismantling, the purpose of the alternative community is to enable a new human beginning to be made…”
How can we be the body of Christ lived and practiced as a way of life?