The meditation is unusual in that people act out the healing in pairs. I've participated in this in both roles and it certainly can take you out of your comfort zone, so be aware of that. Of course, you don't have to do the meditation in that way, particularly if human contact is going to be an issue!
Here is a self-directed meditation option suitable for individual use with an audio recording and an instruction / reflection sheet.
Audio recording - Guided Meditation. Play below or right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) to download. 8.5mb mp3 file. Duration 8 mins 50 secs.
The UCA national Worship Working Group (of which I'm a member, but that's another story) has a good practice of rading and discussing a book together. We've just come to the end of "The Worship Mall" by Bryan Spinks who teaches at Yale University. I'm sure that he's excellent in his field (for example, I'd be very interested to read his book on the development of early baptismal liturgies), but this book has annoyed me in many ways, not the least of which is the chapter on alternative worship, which is just plain wrong on both detail and analysis in so many ways. (I haven't heard what jonny baker thinks of his coverage...)
One of the later chapters on Celtic worship is annoying to the extent that it mainly examines whether what people claim as Celtic worship todays is actually rooted in historic Celtic practice. While I understand that this is of interest to a liturgical scholar (and find his comment that much of the recent stuff is more "postmodern Celtish" rather funny and true), he's missed a great opportunity to look more deeply at why and how this is currently appealing. To be fair, he does make comments about that, but mainly in terms of romanticism (a great quote from Tolkien though, about the Celts being like a grab-bag of magic to draw from).
On the plus side, he referred to "Celtic Daily Prayer" from the Northumbria Community. This arrived in the mail today (no coincidence, I ordered it...). It's a substantial 800 page resource with Daily Office, Complines, a month of daily meditations, Communion liturgies, a Family shabbat, saints and festival calendars, notes of some particular saints, resources for rites of passage, times ans seasons, blessings, daily readings for two years. To be honest, I don't even know the history of the community. It just sounded like a worthwhile resource. From my initial scan it looks brilliant.
I now have to go back to my other few Celtic prayer books and work out whether Spinks thinks they'd be the real deal or just more contemporary rubbish that people seem to find helpful...
Yesterday I flew to Melbourne for the day to present a paper at an annual Symposium on Children's Spirituality hosted by the UCA Centre for Theology & Ministry. This is a great initiative by Chris Barnett to promote some academic reflection on ministry with children. It was attended by about 75 people from across the denominations - churches and schools - and Uniting Church ministry candidates.
Marian de Souza from ACU spoke about "The spiritual dimension" of education. Glenn Cupit from UniSA talked about positive and negative influences on the spiritual lives of children. Due to an early flight home I missed the final presentation.
My paper was from the perspective of faith communities. I showed video excerpts from two inveriews that were conducted as part of my research. I invited people to think about what the interviewees were saying in terms of faith/spiritual development and children. I used Stephen Bevans' Models of Contextual Theology to help people think about how a leaders' or churches' theological perspective on faith/revelation and culture/context might shape its approach to faith development with children. ie. is there a correlation between these things and how they view and engage with the "world of the child"?
I didn't really have enough time (hard to do all that with video clips in 45 mins...) but I did receive a few positive comments afterwards.
It's been helpful to help me work through a bit more how valuable this approach might be for my ongoing research.
I hate numbered lists and I hate them more when they use alliteration. So why am I posting eight "E" words. Today I was part of a consultation led by Sarah Wilke who heads up the Upper Room in the US, the Methodist spirituality publisher. She wanted to explore how they engage with those Gen X and Y who are on the fringe of outside the church, yet questing spiritually. It's a great question and it was wonderful to be part of a group of local educators and ministers to toss the topic around.
During the session I scribbled a page full of notes and I thought I'd unpack and share them here since I didn't get them all out at the time.
There's been a bunch of research done on the spirituality of young people, both in Australia and overseas, and I've blogged about that from time to time. For some reason I wrote down eight "e" words that summarise some of that combined with some of my own observations.
Eclectic - young people are comfortable 'putting together ' a fluid spiritual identity, drawing on different beliefs, practices and traditions. This relates to Anthony Giddens' notion of self-construction of identity in late modernity. It was reflected in the Gen Y spirituality research done in Australia. They're not necessarily interested in the whole system or package.
Experiential - people like Len Sweet and Mike Slaughter have been saying this for ages. Experience over information is the name of the game. I think partly that is the culture of the time, the 'language' of media, but it's also about seeing if it works for me.
Enjoyment - the Gen Y research in Australia found that young people mainly wanted to enjoy themselves. They hope for a good life now and later. They want to have fun and enjoy positive friendships and family relationships. I suspect that they don't assoociate church with enjoyment...
Electronic - we talked about about platforms today, but not about mediated spirituality much. We live in the electronic age, and I've written elsewhere about the connection between technology, spirituality and sexuality. Intimacy, transcendence and adventure connect these three things.
Environmental - the Australian Gen Y research found significant levels of concern by young people for the environment, even if they didn't know what to do about it. There's a bit of a paradox here between young people spending more time indoors glued to a screen and a heightened concern for our planet. Nevertheless voting patterns also reflect this reality.
Experimental - young people's spirituality is not only eclectic and experiential, I think it's also experimental. It is about creativity, adventure, new horizons. I wonder what it means for faith to be an active adventure.
Epsiodic - this isn't in any research that I've seen but time and time again I've encountered young people whose sense of God is connected to events - a big monthly youth worship service, a biennial youth convention, an annual leaderhip conference. These 'high points' are both transformative and sustaining.
Ethical - The "Spirit of Gen Y" study suggested that young people who were more 'spiritual' were also more ethical. This is a more complex argument and one that I'd want to contend. Nevertheless the study suggested links between spirituality/religion and ethical values or behaviour. The quest of young people to work out what is right and responsible is undoubtedly a spiritual quest.
I'll offer some more thoughts in the next couple of posts.
Tomorrow night at Alive@5 we're exploring prayer. For the last couple of years I've written a blessing each month related to the theme of the evening. We close each evening saying a blessing together. Tomorrow night I'm giving out copies of these blessings for people to take home. When our girls were smaller, they each had a little box next to their bed with a bunch of little evening prayers printed and folded. They were mainly from Iona. At the start we'd hold hands (one twin in top bunk, one in bottom bunk, me sitting on bottom bunk) and say one of the prayers together. But they could also choose one and read it for themselves anytime. I like to believe they were learning about prayer. Anyway, here are some of our Alive@5 blessings. They're meant to be simple. They were all written rather quickly!
Blessing God Surprise us with unlikely friends Surprise us with impossible dreams Surprise us with acts of kindness Surprise us with unexpected visitors Surprise us with showering rain Surprise us with sprouting seeds Surprise us with your unconditional love
Bless us on the journey, God Bless us on the open road Bless us on the difficult climb Bless us at the dead end Bless us in the thick scrub Bless us on the mountain peak Bless us at the coming home Bless those who travel with us And everyone we meet
At the national in-service last week I led a session on youth spirituality, revisiting some previous material - five metaphors for spiritual growth and five questions to ask about young people with whom you are in ministry. This started with my interest in how and why people look at spirituality differently when they research it, so the full session (I did a truncated version)
My free copy of the 2013 Upper Room Disciplines just arrived in the mail. I was asked to write a week of daily reflections. The resource is used worldwide, with the readership of about 60,000 people. I think its the only time in my life when I'll get to be in a book which has Will Willimon as a co-contributor!
The editor and I had a real battle over a number of my reflections in terms of either biblical interpretation or modern application, quite unlike my previous work for the Upper Room on other resources. It was worthwhile, rigorous discussion, and shows how seriously they take their role in producing prayer resrouces that take Scripture seriously. I had done my exegesis carefully and wasn't prepared to back down. It also showed me how difficult it is to work with an editor whom you've never met face to face when the two of you just can't seem to 'get' what the other is saying.
One of the debates was about my writing of a modern parallel of Jesus entering Jerusalem for Holy Week, and making the main figure a female. I was told that someone thought it was a pro-Sarah Palin statement! In fact, it was written just after Kevin Rudd got shafted by the Labour Party. I was thinking about how forces so easily turn against a perceived saviour.
Anyway, my prayers go to the Upper Room team, and to those who might use this resource next year to aid their spiritual journey. Here in Australia you can get it from MediaCom.
[I'm not sure that they'll be asking me to write for this again...]