Posts tagged ‘spiritual practice’
January 24, 2016
Some habits and practices are medicine for the soul. On January 17, 24, and 31 we will be exploring these nourishing ways of being in the world in our Sunday Gatherings. We’ll pay particular attention to what these ancient life habits can mean to us as progressive, open-minded people of faith.
The season of Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter.* Often during this time, we take the opportunity to recommit to a way of life that helps us to deepen our spiritual lives. That could be anything from a fast of some sort to taking a yoga class to turning off the television. One simple thing that some of us appreciate is taking a few moments each day for reading that help us to refocus, and engage with what is meaningful. The Stillspeaking Writers Group of the UCC does a great job of giving us thoughtful, fresh takes on the scripture passages of the season in their 2015 Lent Devotionals called “Re-lent”. Each day provides a reflection on a daily scripture passage and a word beginning with the prefix “re”.
You can find free copies of Re-lent in the church narthex, provided by the Deacons for your use.
*This year Lent begins on Wednesday, February 18.
In An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, author, professor of religion, and pastor Barbara Brown Taylor delves into 12 practices that connect body and soul in the real world. She says, “In a world of too much information about almost everything, bodily practices can provide great relief. To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir.”
This summer we will be using many of Barbara Brown Taylor’s 12 practices as themes for Sunday worship. We’ll begin on June 15 as we ponder the practice of Vision/Waking up to God. At that time we’ll delve a bit deeper into one aspect or another of the practice and remind one another of these simple ways to pay attention. You might also want read the book and come together with others on Tuesday evenings to discuss the practice of the week. All of this to help us spend a summer season reconnecting with, or remaining connected to what makes life real, meaningful, and miraculous in simple ways.
- Waking Up to God (Vision)
- Paying Attention (Reverence)
- Wearing Skin (Incarnation)
- Walking the Earth (Groundedness)
- Getting Lost (Wilderness)
- Encountering Others (Community)
- Living with Purpose (Vocation)
- Saying No (Sabbath)
- Carrying Water (Physical Labor)
- Feeling Pain (Breakthrough)
- Being Present to God (Prayer)
- Pronouncing Blessings (Benediction)
The season of Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter.* Often during this time, we take the opportunity to recommit to a way of life that helps us to deepen our spiritual lives. That could be anything from a fast of some sort to taking a yoga class to turning off the television. One simple thing that some of us appreciate is taking a few moments each day for reading that help us to refocus, and engage with what is meaningful. The Stillspeaking Writers Group of the UCC does a great job of giving us thoughtful, fresh takes on the scripture passages of the season in their 2014 Lent Devotionals called “Calmly Plotting”. It “…takes its title from E. B. White’s description of his wife, Katherine, planting her spring bulb garden in the fall of the last year of her life. “Oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, [she was] sitting there . . . under those dark skies in October, calmly plotting the resurrection.””
You can find free copies of Calmly Plotting in the church narthex, provided by the Deacons for your use.
*This year Lent begins on March 5
Sundays, March 2-April 23
A series exploring the wisdom of Jesus, particularly as it translates into practices for living well today. Practices include PRAYER, LETTING GO, QUIETING THE JUDGMENTAL VOICE, ASK…SEEK…KNOCK, and DO UNTO OTHERS, etc. We’ll add information about each week below, so continue to check this page.
- Sunday, March 2: PRAYER. This is a big topic because there are as many ways to pray as there are people. Because prayer encompasses so much, we will do as Jesus recommends, and limit the words we use to talk about prayer and instead experience it with one another. One of the ways many of us connect with God is through music, so on Sunday, March 2, we’ll change our routine a bit and have the chance to experience a more open space of singing and prayer. We’ll sing simple, beautiful songs from the Taize community in France and allow for a good amount of silence, including a time to speak our prayers and share a simple communion meal with each other. Prayer is an intimate activity: a dance with the divine. It happens within each of us, but it is also ultimately an experience that connects us not only to God, but to people and places outside of ourselves. It is a Self-expanding endeavor. Come grow with us!
Want to deepen your spiritual life? Try using the new daily devotional from the UCC for a few minutes each day. It will help you refocus and reconnect to God. With reflections from a variety of writers, each day is different. And, as a supplement, try using the daily calendar with quick suggestions for doing something new each day as we approach Easter. Get the daily devotional at church on the center table in the front entryway. You can get the calendar there as well, or download and print your own from the link below.
NEW YEAR’S LABYRINTH
Monday, January 1, 2013, 10 am – 5 pm
The labyrinth is an ancient tool for prayer. Similar to a maze, but with only one path into the center (so you can’t lose your way), the labyrinth has guided spiritual pilgrims on their journeys for at least 4,000 years.
It began to be used in Christian churches as early as 350 CE, and has made a comeback in recent years by offering a chance to take time out from busy lives to reflect and pray in a different way. Walking a labyrinth offers the opportunity to pray with our bodies. It has been a meaningful practice for many throughout the ages.
Everyone is welcome to drop in anytime between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm on New
Year’s Day. Brewster Hall will be transformed into a beautiful, sacred space for prayer and reflection.
Christians have ritualized the preparation for Easter since the 5th century if not earlier. The ritual of Ashes originated in the Roman Catholic church, and only much more recently has made its way into protestant christianity.* (I don’t remember experiencing it in my own life before the late 1980’s.) What might seem like a small shift of a ritual from Roman Catholic to protestant churches is really indicative of a larger shift in our culture. The boundaries of the old identity markers are becoming more permeable. And so, our UCC church takes the ritual of ashes and we use it in our own way to help people connect with the Divine.
Ash Wednesday will offer us the opportunity for a time of uncluttering the spirit during the season of Lent. We remember once again “…that from which we have come, the beautiful simplicity that lies underneath it all, binding our lives closely to the earth and all creation. We acknowledge what has estranged us from the Sacred and turn again to gaze at the deep beauty from which we spring.”(Kristine Zakarison) Throughout this season we’ll be posing questions related to cleaning out and letting go so we can find our way back to our essence. We’d love to hear from all of you with comments, photos, and suggestions as we begin.
What gets in the way of you connecting with God? Is there an everyday item that symbolizes that hindrance/clutter?
*If you want to know more about Ash Wednesday, try this brief article on BeliefNet