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Archive for the ‘Worship Design’ Category

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A practice room in Phillips Music Hall becomes a temporary sacred place of refuge.

Earlier this month, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church gathered on the campus of Gordon College for it’s Annual Conference; a three day gathering of clergy and laity, for a time of holy listening, worship, legislation and learning.

Central to the work of the church is the practice of prayer. It is a privilege to work with the many gifted individuals who serve on the Spiritual Formation Initiative; a dedicated group that focuses on and coordinates conference wide spiritual formation events, throughout the year. One of our contributions is providing resources for the Prayer Room which is made available for individuals to engage in prayer, meditation, quiet reflection and exploration of various spiritual disciplines.  This year conference goers were able to read about and experience a ritual of anointing with oil.

anointing is an ancient practice of setting something apart as sacred using fragrant oils and prayer.

Anointing is an ancient practice of setting something apart as sacred using fragrant oils and prayer.

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Coloring mandalas is a way to relax the mind for deeper meditation and listening.This was completed by an anonymous visitor to the Prayer Room.

A  number of small worship altars were placed around the room to inspire the use of simple objects and images to create personal  ‘sacred spaces of rest’ in the home.

A floating candle in a pair of inverted bowls add light and interesting reflective surfaces to an already serene view.

I  A floating candle in a pair of inverted bowls add light and interesting reflective surfaces to an already serene view.

A simple cloth and candle draws your attention to stop awhile and pray.

A simple cloth and candle draws your attention to stop awhile and pray.

Icons are another way of experiencing deep prayer as one is invited into the scriptural story written in the form of an icon. A beautiful blue plate on a stand makes a striking background for this icon of  the Pantocrator.

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Natural materials, bits of colored cloth draped as a foundation for your altar, other items such as a cross, a journal, scripture, stones, or anything that evokes and encourages you to prayer are things to try. The important thing to remember is that we are all called to a life of prayer. We can live a sacramental life in the home when we establish a set apart place for worship and allow it to invite us to rest awhile and Be with God.IMG_0583

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A Trinity of Light Special Occasions in the church invite us to consider our worship space in a new way.  What theological themes do we want to highlight? Is the occasion celebratory or meditative. For Sept. 11, I created a central worship visual that used color to give a subtle patriotic foundation to the service. Some of our guests represented the firemen and other civil posts like the state senate and the house of representatives. Other participants were clergy from other denominations in town.

I like using floating candles as the light ‘migrates’ with the air currents in the room. It reminds me that the light of Christ, while constant, is not stagnant. Glass vases and bowls reflect and multiply the candle light, not unlike the way the church is called to reflect and multiply Christ’s light in the world.

The use of water (floating the candles rather than using a single pillar or taper candle) can remind us of our our baptism; remind us to recollect water’s role in cleansing and renewing; remind us to seek reconciliation and forgiveness personally and as a faith community.

Simple displays can be used in the home to remind us to take time for prayer and reflection. Take a  moment to name the current state of your spirit. Choose a piece of cloth (a dinner napkin works well), place an object (natural or otherwise) such as a bible, a stone, a plant, a letter, a pile of shells, a photo, etc. Now light a candle, whatever you have available.

Be still. Offer a prayer.

Be still. Listen.

Give thanks. Notice any thoughts you have or feelings that arise.

Consider keeping a prayer journal.

Come back to your worship space often. God’s Blessing be Yours.

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The gentle contact of the wooden mallet, revolving slowly and consistently around the rim of the bowl, sets the molecules in the metal into motion; they vibrate in response to the touch and movement, and the bowl “sings”.

Imagine the Church, each member, you and me, like this singing bowl.  Imagine if, one by one, we permitted the gentle touch of God’s Spirit to encircle us, slowly, continuously, setting our spirits into motion until we vibrated with the joy of it.  The sound that would rise up would rival any heavenly chorus and our hearts would be full: full of faith, full of Christ, full of rejoicing, and ready to receive the Holy One.

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