Posted by: Philip Rushton | September 24, 2012

Domestic Spirituality: How our home life can shape our souls

I tend to associate spirituality with typical religious practices. Spiritual formation evokes grand images of worshiping, praying, studying scriptures or doing a significant mission project. Spirituality is a deep word that often seems out of touch with our everyday experience.

I am convinced that some of the most profound spiritual growth in our lives actually takes place in our everyday domestic settings. During the past couple of weeks I have been on family leave. Instead of leading worship on Sunday I was changing diapers and helping Julie around the house. Our parental liturgy has been light on hymns and heavy on bottles. The order of service has revolved around James’ three hour eat, wake, sleep cycle. I must say it has been a formative liturgy. During the past couple of weeks I have been schooled in patience, faith and humility. It is in these close domestic relationships that we confront our weakness and are challenged to put other people first.

I am currently reading a book by Gary Thomas titled, Sacred Parenting: How raising children shapes our souls. He has also written a similar book titled, Sacred Marriage, where he explores how marriage is not just here to make us happy but to make us holy. Both books go beyond the typical “how-to” approach to marriage and parenting and answer the question “how come.” We invest in these domestic relationships because they form us in deep ways. If we approach these relationships with intentionality, we may find that they impact us spiritually more than we expect.

Perhaps this is why Paul’s letters often conclude with instructions for how to love and serve our family. After Paul’s profound exposition of the gospel of grace in the book of Ephesians, his letter takes a very domestic turn. He reminds husbands to serve their wives just as Christ served the church and gave himself up for her. He tells parents not to exasperate their children. The life of faith is meant to play itself out in our everyday relationships.

As I transition back into my role as pastor at the church I am reminded that my family life is just as spiritual. This Sunday I will be singing hymns under the glow of stain-glass windows and reading prayers from the lectern. And while corporate worship is extremely important to our spiritual growth, it is often the relationships that await us after the church service is over that challenge us to put our beliefs into practice.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the thought Phil! It’s helpful to break down these false dichotomies – good use of your “unproductive” time at home! 😉

    Here’s a line from my sermon on Sunday that I think relates well:

    I’m always a Jesus follower! I don’t schedule in time with God or certain parts of my life where I need to do “Christian” things. Sure, I might schedule prayer, or bible reading, or volunteering at the food bank. But I’m no more or no less a follower of Jesus when I’m doing those things as I am when I’m mowing the lawn or walking to the park.

  2. Yes indeed, all of life is worship. Silly us for trying to separate our lives into secular and holy. Our gifting from God just might filter down to others in mundane chores around the house or joining our voices in corporate praise.
    Keep on keeping on…………………..paz……………..


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