Practice, Practice, Practice
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42, NRSV
About a month ago, the year-long celebration of composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday came to a quiet denouement. Performing art centers across the globe had planned for 2020 to be a year to commemorate this genius’ life, talents and the compositions he left behind that have stood the test of time. While the Houston Symphony has extended this birthday celebration into January 2021, many of the venues with planned Beethoven programming were forced to cancel their live performances due to the pandemic.
Although mostly musically illiterate, I am an unabashed fan of Beethoven. What I have always found most fascinating about him and his brilliance is that he composed the majority of his musical canon when profoundly deaf. We could easily reflect on the miraculous nature of this achievement. Yet it also reflected the hard work he invested in the first 30 years of his life in learning his craft. Just like the old joke about the musician who was asked how to get to Carnegie Hall, even a genius like Beethoven had to “practice, practice, practice.”
And so, too, is the work of a disciple. Practice. The verse above outlines what it is a disciple must practice. A disciple is to learn from those that know Jesus and His teachings. A disciple is to fellowship with others, to be in community with other disciples and support one another as we follow Jesus. A disciple is to eat with other disciples and, more specifically, to share the Lord’s Supper together. A disciple is to pray and to pray with others. And a disciple is to take on all of these actions with devotion, with commitment. No half measures. These are the basic spiritual practices that disciples of Jesus have been using since the day the church began. They are central to those disciplines that teach us the ways of Jesus.
Spiritual practice allows us to grow more attuned to God at work in our lives and in the world. They refine us and, by them, we reflect God more and more in our own lives and to those around us. Since we are still at the beginning of a new year, what spiritual practices could you adopt (or pick up again) in 2021 to be more intentional about living your faith? How can you become a more active co-writer with the Divine Composer in writing the ‘symphony’ of your life this year?