From the time most Episcopalians are little bitty, we’re taught songs like “God is Love,” and “Jesus Loves Me.” As we get older, the hope is that we’ll internalize these concepts and go out into the world and share the love of God with others. But for many of us, there’s a gap there: knowing how to live as spiritual grown-ups can be challenging. Just what does this love look like in practice? How do we move beyond singing kum-ba-ya and learn just how to walk in love?
Several years ago, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gathered a team to create a blueprint for a way of life that would help Episcopalians live God’s love. They patterned it after the lives of Jesus’ followers in the first century, a community committed to living “the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love.” Bishop Curry took these ideas and developed The Way of Love, seven steps to order and inform our lives: Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest.
Scott Gunn, a priest and author who is the executive director of Forward Movement, was part of that team which helped develop The Way of Love. Now Gunn has published The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to following Jesus, a small handbook that provides an introduction to The Way of Love and helpful steps for creating a personal rule of life based on it.
In the introduction, Gunn explains that the type of love we really want to practice is “not a mere sentiment but a real commitment to a way of life that is sacrificial and redemptive, a way that seeks the good of God and the well-being of others. This Way of Love is a game changer.” He proceeds to explain why each step matters, how it relates to the other steps, and how to do it.
In an easy, anecdotal voice, each of the initial chapters provides an explanation of the seven practices. Other Forward Movement team members and Episcopalians from around the country also share their experience with each practice, and these chapters end with reflection questions and journaling and prayer prompts.
Once we’ve spent time getting to know the practices and exploring what they might look like in our own lives, the last chapter is “Developing a Rule of Life.” Gunn explains the concept of a rule of life, an ancient practice that helps monks and nuns organize their daily prayer, work, and service. Not just for monasteries, however, a rule of life can also help us to create patterns in our own lives to help us grow in faith. Gunn suggests starting by reviewing the notes we have taken in the previous chapters and choosing three practices to commit to for a month.
The book includes an appendix of scripture quotes that are used in the main text and resources for further study, both organized by the seven Way of Love practices.
While there is a great deal of information readily available online and in other books about The Way of Love, this book is a good entry point. It provides a balance of explanation and how-to, and it prepares readers to go deeper into the Way of Love.
Like the song says: God is love. No matter how far we may have come in our understanding of the Church since our introduction to it, this little book and the resources it contains can help us to further develop our faith practice and know just how to live that love, every day.
To purchase the book, click here.
The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to following Jesus
A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.
― Rebecca Solnit