Spiritual Practice: Expression in Clay, Pastels and Mandalas

Expressions in Clay, Pastels, and Mandalas  –  Spiritual Practice for Lent

Week of March 12

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 Mandalas are common in Buddhism. They have been shared with all of us as a way to focus in on prayer through color and concentration of breath. You are invited to select the mandala design you are most drawn to.

Take in 3 breaths (invoking the presence of the Trinity) and then, without thinking too hard, select a color. Begin on the outside of the design. Then, watching your breathing, notice also what thoughts are coming up for you. When your attention starts to wander, this may be an invitation to select another color. As you move from the outside towards the inside of the design, follow your breath and focus in on the Trinity….What has come up for you?

Let the working of your hands reflect the prayer of your heart.


Art offers a chance to lead us into prayer not just through our words or our minds, but our hands! The invitation to prayer through art is a way to notice your breath through your selection of colors, by the strokes you make, or by the rhythm you proceed into your breath and art. In art practices, there is a chance to focus on: the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, your Faith and then get “lost” in the art work, through your breathing and see where the Spirit takes you! Use these physical tools as an outpouring for your prayer, meditation, and reflection. As you spend time with these media, you may want to think about someone or something in your prayers, a favorite scripture, something on your mind.


Expressions through clay …

􏰀􏰁Take a long, deep breath and slowly exhale.
􏰀􏰁Think about what you would like to ponder in this place today.
􏰀􏰁Close your eyes and take another deep breath.
􏰀􏰁Take the clay in your hands.
􏰀􏰁Spend a moment being with yourself and your God.
􏰀􏰁Let your hands start when and how they will, and watch the expression flow.

OR … just pick up a piece of clay—breathe in the Spirit of God, and let your hands take you where they will!


Expressions through pastels …

􏰀􏰁Enter into a time of silence
􏰀􏰁Pause to call out to God and ask that you might know God’s presence. 􏰀􏰁After a brief reflection (longer if you’d like), begin to draw … and simply be open to viewing your heart and your faith.
􏰀􏰁If your mind begins to wander, you may want to choose another color.


 

The text describing the above Spiritual Practice has been excerpted from packed “Exploring Spiritual Practices” from Silent Retreats at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.  We thank the writers of the packet. 

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Spiritual Practice: Embodied Prayer

Spiritual Practice: Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Practice for week of March 5

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God has given us a body; we come in every shape and size imaginable. Our body moves through space and time – articulating our passions, energy, emotions, dreams  yearning for connection and communion with one another and with God. There are many forms of Embodied Prayer. Labyrinth walking, artwork and even breath prayer are forms of embodied prayer offered at this solitude retreat. The invitation here is to practice movement that brings us close to the Divine. In this way, we connect to the truth that God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ; and we are now Christ’s hands and feet for the world. We honor the mystery and grace of being…of being a body. When we move to music and rhythms, in community, it is possible to experience sensations of wholeness, flow and tingly energy – awareness that we are alive and that the Spirit is alive in us!

At the heart of Embodied Prayer is the understanding that our body is a great source of wisdom and healing for us – a profound gift. As we access the gift of body wisdom in community, we open deeply to God, our neighbor and our- selves. All that is required is an open heart and a willingness to explore.

Here is the text for our embodied dance for Lent:

#286 “Breathe on Me, Breath of God”

Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,

that I may love what thou dost love,

and do what thou wouldst do. (Repeat 2 times)


The text above is from the “Exploring Spiritual Practices” packet used during the Silent Retreat at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Lenten Practices for the Spirit and Resistance

Lenten Practices for 2017 @ The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church

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Lent is a time for purposeful centering, a time when we have the opportunity to dig into the broad landscape of our faith seeking to love God, neighbor and ourselves with our whole hearts, minds and souls. I love the honesty of this season — this time of wrestling to discern who we truly are and whose we are called to be.

During this season of Lent, I invite you to engage in a combination of spiritual practices and practices of service, reconciliation or resistance.  We begin with spiritual practices to draw us deeper to our individual lives of faith and community-wide relationship from God. Then emboldened through a these practices with God, we engage in our feet, hands and hearts to enter more deeply into God’s world by serving the world, reconciling with a neighbor, or resisting policies or actions that hurt God’s beloved community.

During children’s time (in worship) and gathering time (the time just before Sunday School), we will be learning and a different spiritual practice.  The hope is that you as a family or as a individual will continue this particular spiritual practice throughout the week as well as meditate on the scripture passage from the previous or upcoming Sunday.  The last column is left intentionally blank for you to fill in what accompanying practice you will commit to each week.  I have included 25 ideas in no particular order below the chart.

Here is ‘schedule’ of Spiritual Practices and accompany practices of service, reconciliation or resistance for you to use throughout Lent.

Blessings,  Alice


Lenten Spiritual Practices and Practices of Service, Reconciliation or Resistance

Biblical Story

Spiritual Practice

Practice of Service, Resistance or Reconciliation

(you write in these yourself)

First Sunday of Lent

March 5

Jesus’ Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Second Sunday of Lent

March 12

Nicodemus

John 3:1-17

Expressions in Clay and Mandalas

Third Sunday of Lent

March 19

Women at the Well

John 4:5-42

Biblical Storytelling

Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 26

Jesus sees the Blind Man and heals him

John 9:1-41

Labyrinth Walking

and Spiritual Walking

Fifth Sunday of Lent

April 2

Lazarus comes to life

John 11:1-45

Breath Prayer

Palm Sunday

April 9

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

Meditative Yoga

Holy Monday, April 10

John 12:1-11

Lectio Divina

Holy Tuesday, April 11

John 12:20-36

Spiritual Journaling

Holy Wednesday, April 12

John 13:21-32

Contemplation with Artwork

Maundy Thursday, April 13

John 13:1-17, 31-25

Spiritual Conversations

Good Friday, April 14

John 18:1-19:42

Breath Prayer

Holy Saturday, April 15

John 19:38-42

Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Easter, April 16

John 20:1-18

Biblical Storytelling


Ideas for acts of service, resistance and/or reconciliation for all ages (in no particular order).  Alice’s suggestion is to pick one a week for Lent and one a day for Holy Week.

  1. Read through all or one of the Gospels and then reflect on what it means for your life.
  2. Learn about an issue you care about and then attend a protest.
  3. Write to your member of Congress and then deliver the letter.
  4. Attend a Bible study at the church or study the Bible with family or friends. 
  5. Make a breakfast casserole for the guests in the Radcliffe Room.
  6. Write a letter to someone you know who is feeling left out and welcome them. 
  7. Email Alice a letter of greetings to email the children at First Havana in Cuba.
  8. Read a book about something you do not know that you should know more about.
  9. Learn all of the names of the students in your class, in the office you work with or in your neighborhood.
  10. Ask a neighbor if they would like help with their garden.
  11. Make dinner for your family and then help freeze the extras for another meal.
  12. Collect and deliver adult sized spring and summer clothing for the Radcliffe Room Clothing closet.
  13. Write a note of appreciation for your teacher or colleague.
  14. Donate money to your church or someone in need.
  15. Plan on singing with the children’s/ youth choir or with the adult choir.
  16. Volunteer to help clean up the clothing closet at church.
  17. Collect and deliver extra children’s and teenage books to donate to the book giveaway at Community Club.
  18. If there is someone in your life who who have had a disagreement with, go and make peace with them.
  19. Spend 40 days or a week giving something up that you like.  Use those days to focus on your faith.
  20. Write a blog post about your faith and practices for the NYAPC church blog. Email entry to Alice.
  21. Write a Opt. Ed for the newspaper.
  22. Learn a hymn by heart.
  23. Make a handmade gift for someone who doesn’t receive many gifts.
  24. Take someone who is experiencing homelessness out to lunch.
  25. Share your Lenten practices with someone else.

Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness (NYAPC Children and Youth 5/22)

Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness is on the rise in our region, especially among families.  3.5 million Americans will experience homelessness and 1.5 million of those are children. According to the National Cimages-2oalition for Homelessness, in the last 20-25 years, the 2 major factors for the rise of those experiencing homelessness are a shortage of affordable housing and an increase in overall poverty.  We see this reality all around us, in our neighborhoods, church, school, and in the many the other places we call community.

This Sunday as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, I think the Trinity has something to say about how we relate to those who experience homelessness and how we as God’s creatures should seek to relate to one another.  In the Trinity, we see the the three parts (or beings) of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing in perfect union with one another.  Each part of the Timagesrinity perfectly indwells another part of the Trinity.  Though they are different and distinct, they are all One.  We confess that this One and Three, Three in One God,  is a concrete  God very much alive and active  in the world.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann  says that the New Testament witness, the story of the gospel is “the great love story of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a divine love story in which all are involved together with heaven and earth.”

It is this love-story for the world that drives this perfect unity existing from creation to revelation, from birth to death, and from the experience of being a creaturely being on Earth to seeking to being part of God’s kingdom here on Earth. We too are to strive to live in perfect harmony with one another. 

We, of course, are fallen sinful creatures who clearly don’t live in perfect harmony with one another.  We do all kinds of things we shouldn’t — thinking not so good things about even those we love the most – and doing all the things we know we shouldn’t do – lying, cheating, boasting….But just because we don’t live in harmony doesn’t mean that we should try.  Affirming the power of the God who created and continues to create new life, the power of God who did a NEW and AMAZING thing in Jesus Christ, and the every powerful force of the Holy Spirit, we too can lean into Trinity-LIVING with one another.

I hope we can experience a bit of Trinity-Living this Sunday, as we gather with the children, youth and participating adults to learn about what it means to be experiencing homelessness here in DC.  We will learn some facts about experiencing homelessness, hear stories of being homeless in DC, and  have a chance to make a personal care-kit and a card  for someone experiencing homelessness.  These time together will hopefully serve as an entry point to lean a  a little further into our calling to see God’s good creation in every being and to stretch ourselves into new relationships modeled after the relationships of God.

Here is the plan for the children-youth-parent-teacher contingent for 5/22:

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Pentecost! NYAPC Children and Youth

Happy Pentecost!  Happy Birthday, church!   This Sunday, May 15th will be a fun time to be a child (and hopefully a youth) at NYAPC.  We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Birthday of the Church, and our diversity/ unity as One Church.

Throughout the morning will PLAY with HOLY SPIRIT sticks that I made (idea thanks to Pinterest). In the Gospels of Luke and John,  John the Baptist says that Jesus Christ will baptize us with both water and fire.  The Holy Spirit comes to us in so many forms — fire, water, the dove, and the wind for example.

We can experience the Holy Spirit  every part of life, for the the Holy Spirit is God’s energy and support for all of creation.  Using these Spirit sticks, made from sticks the little guy and I found in our neighborhood and ribbon, we will use our whole bodies to move like the Holy Spirit we see all around us.

During Gathering Time will also have fun with GLOW sticks with a HOLY SPIRIT dance and act-silly party. Happy Birthday, church! 

It is our last week of the Holy Moly series this year for Sunday School.

  • PreK: Will have fun!
  • K-4: classes will learn the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-45
  • Middle and High Schoolers: Will continue to plan for youth Sunday.  Please see your email for the planning document.

Next week, May 22, we will be doing a special mission-project to benefit the guests and friends from the Radcliffe Room.  We will be assembling personal care-kits and helping sort clothes for the Radcliffe Room homeless ministry.

For worship play, we will read the story of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-21 from the Desmond Tutu Storybook Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We will also read a few books from the local library “The Secret Birthday Message” by Eric Carle, “Say Hello, Ciao, Holy, Konichiwa…” by Rachel Isadora and “One Family by George Shannon, which all touch on the important themes of Pentecost:  New Beginnings (birthdays), diversity, and unity within diversity.

 

 

 

 

 

Discipleship! Children and Youth for April 17, 2016

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Upper Elementary Students Bowling Fun! 

As a reminder, you are invited to PARK-PLAY Saturday, April 16 from 10:00-11:30 am at Bluemont Park in Arlington.  The Tewells will bring the eats.  Hope to see you!  (If you would RSVP to me (alice) if you haven’t already, that would be great.)


 

Hello!  This week we continue to think and talk about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  For gathering time, we will continue with the great math problem the upper elementary kiddos started last week.  We will talk about discipleship and JOY, particularly the connection of discipleship to the things we love.  I talk about this idea (and the math) more here.

For worship play, the kiddos will read the story about Tabitha-Dorcus from Acts 9:32-43. I’m preaching on this text this week. The take away for the kiddos is to think about Tabitha’s amazing care and generous acts toward those who needed help the most. (The widows).  We should remember Tabitha as a great disciple who served people by making clothes for them.  Clothes making, especially back then was really hard work!  She might even had to shear the sheep, spin the wool, and then weave it on the loom before even sewing it together. How has someone shown God’s love to you by making you something? How can the kiddos show God’s love by making something with their hands for others? 

If there is enough time, the children will read Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon and other related books.

During children’s time in worship Marilyn Seiber will be sharing pictures the children at the First Reformed Church of Havana, Cuba made on gratefulness.  Our children will be invited to draw pictures on what gratefulness means for them.  In the context of the Tabitha story, they might think of the feelings of gratefulness the widows felt when making the hand-spun-sewn clothes.  Without Tabitha, they might not clothes to wear!  Tabitha’s hand-made clothes for them were literally life-giving.

For Sunday School, here’s what’s coming up:

  • PreK:  Class 2 of 2 on NOAH!
  • K-4:  Mary and Martha
  • Middle School/ High School:  Statements of Faith Part 2!

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-Alice

(beginning)STEM Sunday School – JOY + Discipleship = ?

Last week some of the upper elementary kiddos did a great math problem.   We were talking about what it means to be a disciple (a follower of Jesus Christ).

Days in the week (7) multiply by hours per day (24) = 168  hours

They figured they spend about 3 hours a week at church.  So, 168-3 = 165 hours.

Then they figured they sleep about 8 hours a night.  S0 8 X 7 = 56

165 total not-in-the-church building hours minus 56 hours of sleep = 109 hours

109 hours is the number of hours each week that we are to be active disciples in the world. 

So, what do you DO with your 109 hours?  How do you ACT in your 109 hours?  What do you THINK about? How do you EXPERIENCE this time?

We’ll be considering this question for the next few weeks.

We might think 109 hours –that’s a lot.  That’s a lot of time serving others — and frankly a lot of time being actively loving and kind and … perhaps that might sound a bit tiring.

And it should sound like A LOT because it is.  But is also shouldn’t sound like an impossible to accomplish number.

Being a disciple is all about serving God.  And serving God should be about JOY.

What brings you JOY?   

So the math problem for this week is:

X = One thing that representing the thing that brings you joy; X will always be 1 for this problem…

Y = the number of hours you do that thing in the a week

Z = total number of hours to think about how that thing that brings YOU joy is growing you as a disciple of Christ

(X)(Y)  =   Z

For example, for me,

X = running outside;  Y = 3 hours a week

so (1)(3) = 3

So for my mighty 3 hours,  my faith is strengthened through outside running.  My senses are cleared.  I’m grounded to the land through the strike of my foot on the pavement and the passing scenery.  I’m connected to those around me by just witnessing who also uses the path.  When I run, I give thanks for the strength to do just that, to live in a place where I feel safe and secure, and to be able to have the freedom in my day to spend working on my mental and physical health.  In these 3 hours, I hope I’m renewed a bit to be a disciple in the world.

So, what brings you JOY?  How does this JOY help you be a disciple of Christ? 

Here’s the challenge:

Figure out what brings you joy!  It can be lots of things.  Take a picture of each thing. Then, think about how that thing helps your faith grow.  When your faith is growing, you are growing as a disciple of Christ.  Write a caption on the photo and email it to me or post it to the church Facebook page.

Here’s my example:

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Running + Faith = Helping me get grounded 

(And I’m clearly not a math teacher/ leader/ guide, so I hope the kiddos (or anyone) can help me come up with a more complex math problem)

-Alice