What’s Your Sacred Pathway?

imagesYAUMSMB5In week two of our Lenten series, “Finding Our Way Again,” we took a look at the unique ways that we are wired in our spiritual lives. We may travel the same path together following in the way of Jesus, but we do so in very individual ways. Some of us are drawn to liturgy and ritual, others of us experience God most profoundly outdoors and still others of us connect most powerfully through acts of compassion or justice. There is no one “right way” to do this thing called the spiritual life. In fact, the body of Christ is made richer when we come to understand and claim our own unique spiritual journeys and learn and grow from the sacred pathways of those around us.

To help us understand this better, we did an in-church survey (based on the book, Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas) which helped us to consider the ways that we experience God most powerfully and grow most naturally in our faith (you can download and take The Sacred Pathways Survey for yourself if you weren’t with us in worship). Then I spent the rest of my sermon talking about the different sacred pathways that deepen our discipleship and draw us closer to God. Here are Gary Thomas’ categories:

Nine Sacred Pathways
(Based on Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas © 1996)

1. Naturalists love God best outdoors. They worship most deeply in the midst of God’s creation and discover spiritual truths through nature.

2. Sensates love God through their senses. They worship through sensual experiences: sights (like art), sounds (music), smells, and more.

3. Traditionalists love God through religious ritual and symbols. They worship through the traditions and sacraments of the Church and believe structure and repetition like weekly liturgy, lead to deeper understanding of God and faith.

4. Ascetics love God in solitude and simplicity. They worship through prayer and quiet time, and the absence of outside noise and distraction.

5. Activists love God through advocacy, confrontation and fighting for causes they believe in. They worship through their dedication to and working for social justice in the world.

6. Caregivers love God by serving others and worship by giving of themselves. They may nurse the sick and disabled, “adopt” a prisoner, volunteer at Winter Relief or Heaven’s Kitchen, etc.

7. Enthusiasts love God through mystery and celebration. They worship with outward displays of passion and enthusiasm and love God with gusto!

8. Contemplatives love God through adoration. They worship by their attentiveness to, deep love for and intimacy with God and often have very active prayer lives.

9. Intellectuals love God with their minds and their hearts and are stimulated by new understandings about God and the Bible. They worship through intense study, reading and intellectual pursuits of their faith.

Most of us are a mix of several of these and our spiritual types may change over time; what helped us connect with God at age 20 may not be the same thing that does at age 50, for example.

So, which one(s) best describe you? We have a couple of copies of the Sacred Pathways book for sale ($15) if you’d like to explore this some more on your own. And of course, you can always post a comment below or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you to carry on the conversation!

— Rev. Ron (ron@severnaparkumc.org)