Crossroads: Where Life and Faith Intersect
Sundays at 3:00pm
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Join us this Sunday, April 24, as we complete the two-part showing and discussion of the film Kiss the Ground; an inspiring full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson "that sheds light on a 'new, old approach' to farming called 'regenerative agriculture' that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world." We watched up to minute 36 in the video. If you couldn't join us for this showing you are still welcome to join us on April 24 as we finish the video, with or without having seen the first part. Kiss the Ground is available on Netflix.
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Additional resources for April:
The theme for March was the Journey Inward.
Below are resources for your personal investigation into The Journey Inward.
by Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
A few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate.
this isn’t a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Introduction: We have created beings that exist within the rhythmicity of life: Light and dark, expansion and contraction, seasons and tides, growth and dormancy. It is a life of continual movement, and for some, the notion of sitting and being still does not reflect the central vitality given in a life with God. But we can find God in all places, within all contexts.
Body Prayer- it is a way of connecting with God that we don’t often consider. Perhaps you are one that finds God mostly in creation, in your senses, in your body. There are many paths to a connection with God and we will focus tonight on our journey to our center through walking.
Now in a perfect world, we would take a long walk without purpose or intention, listening to the sounds of creation, reveling in the signs of life around us. We would let our senses guide our walk, stopping to listen, smell, touch all that God offers us, when we clear our hearts and minds. It would be a walk of noticing- your thoughts, feelings, and impressions. Tonight we will take our walk along the meandering path of the Labyrinth.
I invite you to listen to your senses, to notice and perhaps when you are finished to journal anything that was significant to you.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within. At its most basic level, the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.
There is no right way to walk a labyrinth.
You only have to enter and follow the path. However, your walk can encompass a variety of attitudes. It may be joyous or somber. It might be thoughtful or prayerful. You may use it as a walking meditation.
Adults are often serious in the labyrinth. Children most often run in and out as fast as they can in a playful manner.
When you walk a labyrinth choose your attitude. From time to time choose a different attitude. Make it serious, prayerful, or playful. Play music or sing. Pray out loud. Walk alone and with a crowd. Notice the sky. Listen to the sounds. Most of all pay attention to your experience.
Some general guidelines for walking a labyrinth are:
1. Focus: Pause and wait at the entrance. Become quiet and centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.
2. Experience: Walk purposefully. Observe the process. When you reach the center, stay there and focus for several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Be attentive on the way out.
3. Exit: Turn and face the entrance. Give an acknowledgment of ending, such as "Amen."
4. Reflect: After walking the labyrinth reflect back on your experience. Use journaling or drawing to capture your experience.
5. Walk often.
Notes by The Rev. Denise Trogdon+
Three Fold Path
There are many approaches to the labyrinth. One Christian approach to the labyrinth is based on the "threefold path"* of Purgation, Illumination, and Union. These represent three stages in a labyrinth walk.
1. Releasing (Purgation). From the entrance to the goal is the path of shedding or "letting go." There is a release and an emptying of worries and concerns.
2. Receiving (Illumination). At the center there is illumination, insight, clarity, and focus. It is here that you are in a receptive, prayerful, meditative state.
3. Integrating (Union). Empowerment and taking ownership. The path out is that of becoming grounded and integrating the insight. It is being energized and making what was received manifest in the world.
There are three stages but one path, and it is different for everyone.
"Palms Up, Palms Down"
These three stages can be symbolized with a "palms down, palms up" approach to walking the labyrinth.
"Palms down" symbolizes release or letting go while "palms up" indicates receiving. Enter the labyrinth and walk to the center with palms down and center your thoughts on releasing conflictual issues and concerns in your life. When you reach the center turn your palms up to be receptive to insight. As you walk out of the labyrinth keep your palms up to receive strength and guidance to make your insight manifest. As you leave the labyrinth turn to face the center and bring you palms together for a prayerful end to your walk.
*The concept of the "threefold path" is credited to the Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress in her book: Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool.
The African Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced at the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African."
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage slowly.
2. Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention.
3. Each shares the word or phrase around the group (No Discussion).
4. Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation if possible).
5. Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today.
6. Each shares ( No Discussion ).
7. Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation if possible).
8. Each person names or writes "From what I've heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way?"
9. Each person shares an insight.
Bible Study Tools: The Word Study Method of Bible Study
Step 1 - Choose the word you will study
Step 2 - Find its English definition in the English dictionary
Step 3 - Compare treatments of the word in the various translations
Step 4 - Note the definition of the original word (Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic)
Step 5 - Discover just where the word is used in the Bible
- How often does it occur?
- In which books is it found?
- In which book is it used most?
- Where does the word first appear?
- Where does it first appear in the book you are studying?
- Which writers used the word?
Step 6 - Find the origin and root meaning of the word, how the word was used by the secular culture of the day
Step 7 - Determine how the word was used in the Bible and how it would have been understood in the culture to which the Bible was originally addressed
Step 8 - Write an application
Lectio Divina, literally meaning "divine reading," is an ancient practice of praying the scriptures. During Lectio Divina, the practitioner listens to the text of the Bible with the "ear of the heart," as if he or she is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion. The method of Lectio Divina includes moments of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one's relationship with the Divine.
Like Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina cultivates contemplative prayer. Unlike Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina is a participatory, active practice that uses thoughts, images and insights to enter into a conversation with God. Lectio Divina also is distinguished from reading the Bible for edification or encouragement, Bible study, and praying the scriptures in common, which are all useful but separate practices.
Lectio Divina is intended to promote communion with God and to increase in the knowledge of God's Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray and even sing and rejoice from God's Word, within the soul.
Lectio is typically practiced daily for one continuous hour. A selection from the Holy Scriptures is chosen ahead of time, often as a daily progression through a particular book of the Bible.
Selecting a time for lectio divina is important. Typical methods are to pray for one hour in the morning, or to divide it into two half-hour periods, one in the morning and one in the evening. Using the same time every day leads to a daily habit of prayer that becomes highly effective.
The place for prayer is to be free from distractions. This means it should be isolated from other people, telephones, visual distractions, etc. Some find an icon to be helpful. The same place should be used for lectio if possible, especially as one first begins to practice it. Familiarity with a location reduces the possibility of distraction away from the prayer.
The Four Moments
Lectio Divina has been likened to "Feasting on the Word." The four parts are first taking a bite (Lectio), then chewing on it (Meditatio). Next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (Oratio). Finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio).
This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively several times. Many write down words in the scripture that stick out to them or grasp their attention during this moment.
The Christian, gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. He or she benefits from the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit that imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text. It is not a special revelation from God, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to grasp the revelation contained in the Scripture.
This is prayer: prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace; and as consecration, prayer as the priestly offering to God of parts of ourselves that we have not previously believed God wants. In this consecration-prayer we allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves. ...God invites us in lectio divina to hold up our most difficult and pain-filled experiences to Him, and to gently recite over them the healing word or phrase He has given us in our lectio and meditatio. In this oratio, this consecration-prayer, we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.
This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in His presence.
Sharing our Lectio Experience with Each Other (Operatio - Action; works)
As a contemplative practice, Lectio Divina is practiced to enable the practitioner to creatively engage with scripture on various levels. The expected outcome will be a deeper knowledge of scripture, oneself, others and God, and to see all these in gradually increasing light of faith.
Listed here in brief form are 30 items to look for in your observation part of the Chapter Analysis Method of Bible study:
1. Ask the six vital observation questions: What? Who? Where? When? Why? How?
2. Look for key words.
3. Look for repeated words and phrases.
4. Look for questions being asked.
5. Look for answers being given.
6. Look for commands.
7. Look for warnings.
8. Look for comparisons - things that are alike.
9. Look for contrasts - things that are different.
10. Look for illustrations.
11. Look for causes and effects and reasons for doing things.
12. Look for promises and their conditions for fulfillment.
13. Look for progression from the general to the specific.
14. Look for progression from the specific to the general.
15. Look for steps of progression in a narrative or biography.
16. Look for lists of things.
17. Look for results.
18. Look for advice, admonitions, and attitudes.
19. Look for the tone of the passage - emotional atmosphere.
20. Look for connectives, articles, and prepositions.
21. Look for explanations.
22. Look for Old Testament quotes in the New Testament.
23. Look for the literary form.
24. Look for paradoxes.
25. Look for emphasis through the use of space - proportion.
26. Look for planned exaggerations or hyperbole.
27. Look at the grammatical construction of each sentence.
28. Look for the use of the current events of the times.
29. Look for the force of the verbs.
30. Look for anything unusual or unexpected.
The above are just a few of the things you can look for in your observation step in your Bible study. Don't let this long list discourage you. You shouldn't try to do each one of the suggested items. It will take time for you to get into the habit of seeing more and more things in the text. The more you practice observing, the more alert you will become. So remember: look, search, observe, then write your findings down!
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