#jesusbirthatoz Week 3

#jesusbirthatoz, Advent, Coloring Prayer, Labyrinth, Prayer

If you are reading this, you probably already know a little something about the birth of Jesus.  You know about shepherds, and angels, and a manger, and some Wise Men.  It might be such a familiar story to you that you barely even hear it when you gather with friends and family to light candles and sing Silent Night.  But do you know the whole story?  The story surrounding Jesus’ birth, and all of the people who waited for his coming and celebrated his birth?  From now until January 21, our parish is going to read through the whole story, from beginning to end, verse by verse, day by day.  Each day, there will be a few verses from the Bible, a focus image, a couple of questions, and a prayer.  You can receive these devotions in church, one week at a time.  I will also be posting them daily on Instagram and Facebook, if you prefer the digital version.  Here, on Good God Ideas, I will make them available one week at a time in pdf form.  God bless your journey from the throne to the manger to the throne!

The Story of the Birth of Jesus Devotion Book Week 3

Need weeks one and two?  You can find it here:  https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/jesusbirthatoz-week-1/
https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/jesusbirthatoz-week-2/

Week Three:  Mary’s Vision

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Exploring the Maze of Faith: Living the Labyrinth

Labyrinth, LYON Assembly

This workshop will be presented at Nebraska Synod LYON Assembly 2015:

Have you ever had trouble just sitting down, sitting still and praying? Is your mind a prayer wanderer? Do you wish to deepen your prayer practice by involving your whole body? Come and explore the ancient prayer practice of the labyrinth in several forms with Pastor Breen Marie Sipes of Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish. Come dressed for the weather, as at least part of this workshop will be outside.

Introduction:
How many of you know what a labyrinth is? (Solicit responses)
How many of you have actually experienced a labyrinth before? (Solicit experiences)
The first thing to know about a labyrinth is that it is NOT a maze. It is an ancient prayer practice that involves a one way journey in and a one way journey out. It is not possible to get lost, and for me, that is one of the best parts of a labyrinth. I don’t have to worry about where I am going or how I will get there, and I can trust that I will get to the middle and back out just by following the path.
Labyrinths were used in the middle ages as a sort of pilgrimage. It was preferable to go to an actual holy site, such as Jerusalem or another important place, but this was a long journey and not always possible. Walking a labyrinth while praying gave a pilgrim a pilgrimage experience without actually having to travel a long distance to get there.
Labyrinths were largely forgotten or destroyed in the intervening centuries. They are gaining popularity now as a way to pray with your body. Sometimes, we have minds that wander if we try to just sit and pray. Engaging your body in one way or another can help you to keep your focus on the journey, on God, and on your prayer.
In today’s workshop, we will experience four different types of labyrinths in stations. You can find more labyrinth resources here:  https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/category/labyrinth/

Station #1: Online Labyrinth: Plug in your headphones and follow the on-screen instructions. http://www.labyrinth.org.uk/onlinelabyrinthpage1.html

Station #2: Walking the Labyrinth:  We walked the outdoor labyrinth at Church of the Good Shepherd in Hastings.  If you don’t have access to a permanent labyrinth, you can make one out of painter’s tape here:

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/making-a-painters-tape-labyrinth/

COGS Labyrinth

MEDITATIVE WALKING: On the Way In
Remove your shoes. You will be walking on holy ground. Walk the labyrinth slowly and deliberately, focusing on the path only a few feet ahead. Don’t worry about when it will be time to turn; you will get there. Don’t worry about the path that you are taking; you will get to the center (it is not a maze). Practice walking this
way all the way into the center. You may sit and listen for God’s presence for a few minutes before making your way back out.

BREATH PRAYER: On the Way Out
As you make your way out, you may repeat the same short prayer with each step. Some examples include:
Thank You (left foot) God (right foot) or
Watch (left foot) over me (right foot) or
Holy (left foot) Spirit (right foot) or
I shall (left foot) not want (right foot).
Continue this practice for the entire path of the labyrinth. Pause and say, “Amen” as you reach the exit, and continue on your journey.

Station #3: Table Top Labyrinth: Read through both activities and choose one before you begin using the table top labyrinth.

Table Top Labyrinth

LEAVE IT WITH GOD
Before you enter the table top labyrinth, choose a marble from the dish. This marble represents something that you wish to give over to God’s care. Using the marble, trace the path of the labyrinth slowly and deliberately. There is only one way to the center, so there is no way to get lost. While you move the marble, pray about this thing that you wish to leave with God. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence. When you feel that your time in the center is over, you may leave your marble in the center. Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path with your finger that brought you in in the reverse. When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, having released your burdens to God.

-OR-

TAKE IT WITH YOU
If you don’t have anything in particular to leave with God, ask God to show you what God will give to you to take with you from the labyrinth. Trace the path of the labyrinth with your finger tip. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence. When you feel that your time in the center is over, take a marble, which represents what God has given you to take with you, from the center. Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path with the marble that brought you in in the reverse. When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, carrying your stone. You may choose to place the marble in a place that you will see it often, or keep it in a pocket, purse, or backpack to carry as a reminder.

Station #4: Drawing a Fingertip Labyrinth: Use the paper and pencils provided, along with the instruction booklet, to draw your own labyrinth. When you have completed your drawing, do the activity below, tracing the labyrinth with the eraser on your pencil.

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Find a PDF of the Instruction Booklet here:  Drawing a Finger Tip Labyrinth

INTERCESSIONS: On the Way In
This type of labyrinth “walking” includes intercessory prayer. Trace the labyrinth with the eraser on your pencil, and, at each turn, pause for a few moments and pray for someone or something specifically. Then, make the turn and trace to the next turn. When you arrive in the center, you can spend some time writing or drawing about the people or things you prayed about around your labyrinth.

PETITIONS: On the Way Out
On the way out of the labyrinth, you can also pause and pray, this time for yourself and things that you need. When you reach the exit of the labyrinth, pause for a few moments to thank God for the opportunity to talk to God. You can spend some time writing or drawing about what you prayed for on the way out on the back side of your labyrinth. When you are finished, say “Amen” and go on with your journey.

Walking the In and Out Labyrinth

Labyrinth, LYON Assembly
Church of the Good Shepherd, Hastings Labyrinth

Church of the Good Shepherd, Hastings Labyrinth

This is the type of labyrinth that I would use for the beginning of a retreat weekend, or week at camp, or Lenten mid-week worship.  It is a way to ground the whole experience in prayer and to invite God to be present in a tangible way.

At the end of the retreat, week, etc., I would invite them to walk the labyrinth back out into the world.  Here is a way to go in and go out that we will use at the Nebraska Synod LYON Assembly 2015.  We made ours with painters tape in the entry of the church.  You can find instructions as to how to do this here:  https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/making-a-painters-tape-labyrinth/

Thanks to fellow LYON leader Emily Keebler, we offered a youtube playlist with theme music for LYON as we walked.  You can find her playlist here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL791PVjNW6XvqNsgy962uBUNP6cCgAdvR

Walking in Together:

Line up as a group with your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you.  The person in the front will lead you slowly through the labyrinth.  You may listen to meditative music as you walk, or pray together out loud.  One example of a way to pray might be to pray “Guide us” on the left foot, and “Spirit” on the right foot.  No matter which way you choose to do it, please be in an attitude of prayer.  God bless the beginning of your journey!

Returning to the World:

At the beginning of the retreat/week/worship, you were given the opportunity to enter the experience through a labyrinth.  Now that it is time to depart, you will have the same opportunity.  As you walk the labyrinth, reflect on what you will be carrying with you from the weekend back into the world.  What is God calling you to do or to be as a result of this experience?  What tools or resources do you need to make that call into a reality?  When you have exited the labyrinth, take a few moments to discuss your reactions to any of these questions as a group.

 

Making a Painters Tape Labyrinth

Labyrinth, LYON Assembly

Supplies:

2 rolls Blue Painters Tape (2” wide preferred)

A floor with square tiles (not required, but makes it easier)

A pattern:

St. Peter, Byron Labyrinth

St. Peter, Byron Labyrinth

St. Paul, Hardy Labyrinth

St. Paul, Hardy Labyrinth

Church of the Good Shepherd, Hastings Labyrinth

Church of the Good Shepherd, Hastings Labyrinth

Instructions:

  1. Print out the pattern you wish to put on the floor.
  2. Start by using the painters tape on the floor to do the outside edges, smoothing the tape as you go.
  3. Once you have completed the outside edges, work from the outside in, making sure that your paths between rows of tape are wide enough to walk between.

You can see pics of completed labyrinths here:

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/labyrinth-footsteps-and-breath/ 

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/labyrinth-pause-and-pray/

Labyrinth: Footsteps and Breath

Labyrinth

St Peter Labyrinth

Here is another painters tape labyrinth that I constructed in a small portion of the basement of another one of the churches I serve.  The floor is cold there, so I highly suggest wearing socks if you plan to take off your shoes!

MEDITATIVE WALKING:  On the Way In

Remove your shoes.  You will be walking on holy ground.  Walk the labyrinth slowly and deliberately, focusing on the path only a few feet ahead.  Don’t worry about when it will be time to turn; you will get there.  Don’t worry about the path that you are taking; you will get to the center (it is not a maze).  Practice walking this way all the way into the center.  You may sit and listen for God’s presence for a few minutes before making your way back out.

BREATH PRAYER:  On the Way Out

As you make your way out, you may repeat the same short prayer with each step.  Some examples include:

Thank You (left foot) God (right foot) or

Watch (left foot) over me (right foot) or

Holy (left foot) Spirit (right foot) or

I shall (left foot) not want (right foot).

Continue this practice for the entire path of the labyrinth.  Pause and say, “Amen” as you reach the exit, and continue on your journey.

Labyrinth: Leave it with God or Take it with You

Labyrinth

Table Top Labyrinth

I asked my husband to make a labyrinth for me that I could trace with a finger or a marble, and this is what he came up with.  The activity listed below can work for this labyrinth or a walking labyrinth.  For the table top labyrinth, you may leave the marble in the center and use your finger to trace the way out, or place a marble in the middle, trace with your finger on the way in and use the marble on the way out.

Leave it with God

Before you enter the labyrinth, you may choose a stone from the basket at the entrance.  This stone represents something that you wish to give over to God’s care.  Walk the path of the labyrinth slowly and deliberately.  There is only one way to the center, so there is no way to get lost.  While you walk, pray about this thing that you wish to leave with God.  When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence.  You may stand, or sit in a chair, or sit on the floor.  When you feel that your time in the center is over, leave your stone in the provided basket.  Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path that brought you in in the reverse.  When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, having released your burdens to God.

Take it with You

If you don’t have anything in particular to leave with God, ask God to show you what he will give to you to take with you from the labyrinth.  When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence.  You may stand, or sit in a chair, or sit on the floor.  When you feel that your time in the center is over, take a stone, which represents what God has given you to take with you, from the provided basket.  Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path that brought you in in the reverse.  When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, carrying your stone.  You may choose to place the stone in a place that you will see it often, or decorate it, or simply write what God has given you on it.

 

Labyrinth: Pause and Pray

Labyrinth

Hardy Labyrinth

My confirmation students and I constructed the above prayer labyrinth in about 30 minutes with painters tape.  Then, we engaged in the following activity.  It was amazing how quiet and focused they were, really seeming to enjoy their time with God.

INTERCESSIONS: On the Way In

This type of labyrinth walking includes intercessory prayer.  Walk the labyrinth, and, at each turn, pause for a few moments and pray for someone or something specifically.  Then, make the turn and walk to the next turn.  When you arrive in the center, you can spend some time doing praying in color for the people or things that you mentioned in your walk.

PETITIONS:  On the Way Out

On the way out of the labyrinth, you can also pause and pray, this time for yourself and things that you need.  When you reach the exit of the labyrinth, pause for a few moments to thank God for the opportunity to talk to him.  Say “Amen” and go on with your journey.