Sunday, November 29, 2009

advent blessings creative prayer stations

Updated: based on the interest in this post, I’ve added another post with four more creative advent ideas, this time more do at home, type stations.

We kicked off Advent at Opawa today. Someone noted how much work is involved. “Too right,” is my response. It’s like adding a tablecloth, some flowers and mood music to an everyday meal. It draws attention to the church seasons and gives distinctive shape to the church year. It’s an essential spiritual practice to the Christmas consumerist frenzy.

This year we are tracing Incarnational themes through four church blessings/benedictions. The hope is also to add some content to what we hear regularly as church services end, plus ensure a real God focus as I conclude my ministry at Opawa.

Alongside the first Advent banner (which looks stunning against the black background curtains), three “blessing” stations were presented. Physically, they are marked with black wooden stands, draped in cloth. They will be with us for the weeks of Advent, with the “blessing” texts changed each week.

Scriptural prayer: (Spark from here) Consider the words from Numbers 6:24-27. What strikes you? What questions would you like to ask the writer? In the white space, around the words, write or draw your comments and questions.

Intercession bowl: Write or draw the names of people and places you want to see blessed this Christmas. Place them in the bowl.

Fridge magnet prayers: (Spark from here) The Bible is written in Hebrew and Greek. As words are translated, they take on different shades of meaning. This provides an opportunity for prayer and reflection. First, consider words of similar meaning.

(spread on table — lord/protector/saviour/redeemer/provider/the/and/you/us/his/her/with/in/be/bless/benedict/kiss/impart/watch/guard/keep/strengthen/sustain/protect/shine/glow/highlight/enlighten/illuminate/magnify/reflect/gracious/kind/merciful/give favour/hug/lift up/hold/extend/face/peace/shalom/tranquility/whole of life)

Second, arrange the words into your prayer of blessing. When you are satisfied with your work, write your prayer in the Advent journal. Please note that by writing out your prayer, we are asking your permission to display it publicly, perhaps on the church website or projected at a service or in an outside art installation.

So here are three of the “fridge magnet” blessings. I think they’re great. I’d love to be able to have this projected into our outer building walls.

Redeemer, wholeness of my life, illuminate your will and love
Provider, sustain me through life, provide me with your blessings
Protector, be gracious to me, be merciful
Saviour, show me your peace. Shalom.

The Lord give you his favour with the whole-of-life-shalom
The Lord bless you
Face to face. Amen

For Ill and old people; Merciful protector
Hold
Kiss
Keep
Guard
Watch in the whole of life

Further links:

  • Advent journals here
  • Lots more Advent resources here.
  • Mark Pierson describes his Advent work here. It’s great work. He uses art, which we have tried at Opawa, but found it difficult to get traction around – the juggle with copyright, with how to mix art and the preaching, with finding people to introduce art and because of the creative energy that goes out of the church due to the Christmas Journey.
Posted by steve at 05:31 PM | Comments (4)

4 Comments »

  1. I’ve thought about having prayer stations in our sanctuary before. Have to figure out where to put them. I’d like to have one as people come in, as a way to prepare for worship. Our Sunday school curriculum, The Way of the Child, has different stations (gazing, reading, art, journaling, world, sand), so the kids are used to stations like that. Perhaps Advent is the perfect time to add one.

    The intercession bowl sounds like the easiest. Maybe that’s the way for us to start. But I love the idea of the fridge magnet prayers. I think it’s hard for many people to “come up with” a prayer, but if the words are there, and it’s a matter of putting them together, more people might try it. I love the prayers your people wrote.

    In fact, I like these ideas for using in our Sunday school room.

    Thanks!!!!

    Comment by Suzanne Gorhau — December 1, 2009 @ 4:28 am

  2. Fantastic, thank you for posting this! As we engage with Advent this year for the first time as a new faith community we’re having some fun exploring different ideas.

    Blessings to you!

    Comment by Jason Coker — December 1, 2009 @ 7:08 am

  3. thanks Suzanne. Please though don’t reduce stations to just something for kids at Sunday School. Here at Opawa, it’s time and again, been our kids who have lead us across the generations in liturgical renewal.

    While adults tend to think, “this is different, what do I do, will people notice me” etc … kids just do it. So by all means start your station in the Sunday school.

    But then bring it into church, and perhaps during a song, invite people to participate if they want, with the kids leading the way.

    Always offer options “you are welcome to during this song, to stay where you are, or if you want, to walk around the stations while we sing …”

    steve

    Comment by steve — December 1, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  4. just fixed the link that wasn’t working! sorry,

    steve

    Comment by steve — December 1, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

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