Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Spirit in Practice: An Adult Program for Developing A Regular Practice of the Spirit

Activity 4: Justice Work As Spiritual Practice

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint
  • Markers
  • Easel
  • Optional: Microphone (preferably cordless)

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity by telling the group that Felix Adler, a humanist who founded the Ethical Culture Movement, said that "spirituality is consciousness of infinite interrelatedness." In this sense, working for justice is a spiritual practice-it increases our awareness of the interrelatedness of all people and the interdependence of all life.

Ask participants to name some other ways in which working for justice can be a spiritual practice. Invite them to speak from their own experience and the experience of people they know well. This helps demonstrate that one need not be Gandhi or Mother Teresa for justice work to be spiritual. List the group's ideas on newsprint.

Introduce the ideas of "praxis" and "theological reflection" if they haven't already been introduced. Here's a description of each:

  • Praxis means action and reflection. It is a cycle-we act, we reflect on the action, we act again with our new understanding, we reflect on that new experience, and so on.
  • Theological reflection is a model that uses praxis to deepen our spiritual and theological beliefs. For example, suppose we start volunteering with at-risk youth. We help them with their homework and get to know them. Afterwards, in another setting, we reflect on how this experience informs our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Then we can return to our volunteer work with the additional insights gained from this reflection.

Ask participants if they have experience using tools like these for spiritual reflection or in other contexts. Invite participants to consider the ways that praxis and theological reflection can contribute to their spiritual growth as they work for justice in the world.

If there is time, ask participants to identify a time when work for justice affected their spiritual growth or changed their beliefs. Participants can share in pairs or as a whole group.

Including All Participants

You may wish to pass a cordless microphone during the whole-group discussion so that participants can hear one another better.