Is Revelation Possible Without Practice?

by Mark Votava


I like to dream about what my life could be if I loved God and my neighbors around me in everyday life.  That would be wonderful!  As I have become rooted in a local community, I am living my way into this way of thinking.  It is slowly developing to become more and more of a reality to live my life based on love for God and neighbor.

My life in Downtown Tacoma is not always easy, but I am coming to value people whoever they may be.  I now live in a Catholic Worker community in our neighborhood where we live with the poor.  We offer transitional housing for those struggling with poverty.  It is a wonderful experience to develop relationships with so many people of different races, religions and cultures.

I am learning so much about life through those who are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Native American as well as others too.  It is good for me to learn from all kinds of different people in my local community.  My love comes alive as I work on developing an on-the-ground practice-based theology that I embody in everyday life.  This is where I believe all revelation comes from, through our on-the-ground practice-based theology in the parish.

  •  Living into new ways of thinking

An on-the-ground practice-based theology that is embodied in the local context of everyday life together is the only way that our lives will flourish.  This will shape the way we think about life, God, Christianity and the church.  Living into new ways of thinking will cultivate a faithful Culture of Imagination among us.

  •  Imagine if we loved God and loved neighbors

Our good friend Christine Sine, who is the Executive Director of Mustard Seed Associates in Seattle, poses this question to us, “Imagine what our lives would be like if we practiced the values of God’s kingdom.  Imagine what our Christian communities would be like if we lived by the law of love for God and love of neighbor.”

  •  Is church a building or a meeting you attend?

My own experience has been one of living into new ways of thinking.  I used to think a lot differently about life, God, Christianity and the church.  Church was a building or a meeting you went to on Sundays.  God was up in the sky.

  •  Is life just about being comfortable and happy?

Life was about being comfortable and happy.  And Christianity was about the forgiveness of sins after you die.  But over the course of time, I have come to see things differently.

  •  Transitioning to an on-the-ground practice-based expression

As our fellowship transitioned from being a large, regional service to an on-the-ground practice-based expression in daily life, it changed me.  It wasn’t just vast amounts of intellectual learning that changed my thinking, but entering into a practice-based expression, integrated with my studying that shaped me the most.

Is an on-the-ground practice-based theology in a particular neighborhood something you desire?  Why or why not?