One thing I ask of you, [Divine Goodness],Psalm 27:4 (Inclusive Bible)
one thing I seek:
that I may dwell in your house all the days of my life,
to gaze on your beauty
and to meditate in your Temple.
An early 6th century theologian described God as “beguiled by beauty.”
The Creator was lured by a longing for beauty and so set in motion a world of immense diversity and goodness. We were made for this Divine Goodness.
We were made inherently worthy, not by our “doing,” but by our simply being.
All things are beautiful–not by a standard of “pretty” as seen by our eyes,
but by an essence of sacred worth that is sensed by the spirit.
This is the root and heart of compassion and justice.
Practices of contemplation help us train our gaze to these deeper truths.
In this worship series, beginning August 23rd, we will dwell with the God of Divine Goodness,
deeply in love with us, and practice ways to return that love as we
fall more deeply in love with creation and with one another.
September 27th “From Beauty to Compassion and Justice”
In preparation for worship this week, grab a candle and write out somewhere you can see, “A contemplative life can empty us and ready us to become instruments of the Good.… for the beauty of the earth.”
If you have children at home, make a simple megaphone from rolled up paper for them to find.
Download the order of worship bulletin here.
September 20th “The Beauty of a World Without a ‘Why’”
If you would like to dig a bit deeper into “Beauty Without a ‘Why'” you can watch the interview between Dr. Marcia McFee and Dr. Wendy Farley…
In preparation for worship this week, grab a candle and write out somewhere you can see, “Look at you! So beautiful, Dearest. So beautiful. Believe this voice of the Divine Lover… for the beauty of the earth.”
If you have children at home, this week is easy – we will pretend to see stars!
Download the order of worship service here.
September 13th “Abyss, Mystery, and Wonder”
You can explore “Abyss, Mystery, and Wonder” more deeply by watching this interview between Dr. Marcia McFee and Dr. Wendy Farley:
In preparation for worship this week, grab a candle and write out somewhere you can see, “The more we know, the more we know we don’t know. Wonder and awe that leads to care of creation is good… for the beauty of the earth.”
If you have children at home, this week is easy – we will pretend to see stars!
Download the order or service here.
September 6th “Awakening to Beauty, Falling in Love with the World”
Download the bulletin here.
We try to satisfy our thirst for meaningful life with so many distractions and addictions. Awakening to beauty is to find the well that never runs dry. For it is in beginning to truly see the world with our spirits that our soul’s thirst is quenched. “The resilience and beauty of the natural world is a sign of hope, even when things are difficult.” A tree is scorched by fire and yet new sprouts shoot up, defiant and optimistically reaching toward the sun. A crack in a sidewalk reveals the seeds just beneath the surface just waiting for a chance to break through. “Divine beauty shimmers and shimmies through the universe and in every barrio where someone is singing or
weeping. Because of beauty, our spirits are enlivened.” Contemplating this resilient beauty draws us back to our own vitality and the promise that we, too, are capable of new life.
You can dig deeper into this week’s subject by watching this interview with Marcia McFee and Wendy Farley:
To Practice This Week:
This week’s ritual action could include the journaling we suggested in the children’s time–take a moment each day to contemplate your own healing process. Or it could be a contemplative moment of fixing something you’ve been putting off for a time. Does something needs some super-glue or spackling or mending? If so, do this with a prayerful intention. You may want to put a note somewhere in a highly-visible place–“Find beauty within the imperfections of life and accept peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. Be reminded to offer grace for imperfections… for the beauty of the earth.”
To Ponder This Week:
Beauty is essential–as important to us as other sustenance. Our spirits
need things to live just as our bodies need things to live. God makes us for
and out of beauty. How do you feed your spirit? How do you quench the
thirst of your soul?
“Spiritual resilience” can empower us even in our most difficult times. Dr.
Farley says that sometimes the awareness of that spiritual resilience can
lead to adoration of Divine Love even in the hardest times. Remember a
time when you were aware of this Divine presence. Consider writing a
psalm or poem of adoration about that time.
What do you see in nature that reflects a call to thrive? Where do you go to
see hope through nature? Try an “intentional wander” — either in the world or on a remembered journey — and move from your mind to your senses and describe what your senses are experiencing.
Download the kintsugi coloring sheet here.
August 30th “We Are Made for the Beloved”
Our contemplative practice for this week is a time of feeling warmed by God’s love. Set a reminder to spend some time “warmed” by sitting/walking in the sun or sitting/lying while wrapped and cradled in a soft blanket. As you do so, allow your mind to slow, your heart to open, your eyes to drink in your surroundings. You may want to put a note nearby, “Your very essence is warmed by the presence of divine love. Be reminded to offer that warmth to others… for the beauty of the earth.”
To explore this week’s topic further, take a look at Dr. Marcia McFee’s interview with Dr. Wendy Farley:
And reflect on these questions…
Dr. Farley says that we have the capacity to hold both the beauty and the suffering of life together. The Holy Spirit invites us to sit with both at once. What is an example in your life of experiencing beauty in the midst of suffering?
Dr. Wendy Farley speaks of “forgetfulness” as a way that people feel distant from God. We forget who God is and how we are beloved by our Creator. What mental habits have you perhaps developed that are in conflict with the belief that you are beloved? What practices could help you keep new affirmations in front of you daily?
What has helped you in the past to remember your belovedness? Can you
imagine now a time when you have been loved and expand that into an
awareness that God’s love for you is multiple times more vast than even
A Christian mystic of the 14th century, Julian of Norwich, lived during one of the worst centuries of human history, including the black death pandemic that wiped out millions of people, famines, floods, war, and corruption. In her writing, she address what she believed to be at the root of suffering–the misplaced idea of God’s rejection. Suffering is part of being human, but what makes suffering so soul-destroying is our forgetfulness that God is with us. Without this core belief in beauty and sacred worth,
we engage in self-and-other-destroying behaviors, inducing further suffering. Contemplative practices invite us into union with the Divine One, healing the wounds of forgetfulness.
In preparation for worship this week, grab a candle and and write out somewhere you can see, “Your very essence is warmed by the presence of divine love. Be reminded to offer that warmth to others… for the beauty of the earth.”
If you have children at home, have a blanket somewhere they can find it. We will use that during our children’s lesson.
Download the order of worship here.
August 23rd “Beauty, Contemplation, and Radical Compassion”
Download order of worship here.
All things are beautiful–not by a standard of “pretty” as seen by our eyes, but by an essence of sacred worth that is sensed by the spirit. This is the root and heart of compassion and justice. Beauty is the threshold to Divine Goodness and a door into radical compassion. “The difficulty and crisis of the world is overwhelming. It is virtually impossible to bear it without very deep resources. A life of prayer does not take us out of life but deeper into it.” We pursue a contemplative life to intensify spiritual capacities so that we might live as Beloveds of God who extend Goodness in the world.
Continuing the Conversation…
You can dive deeper into “Beauty, Contemplation, and Radical Compassion” by watching an interview with Marcia McFee and Wendy Farley, on whose work the series is based and considering these questions for reflection. Consider responding here or on our Facebook page!
Can you imagine God as one who is “in love with the world,” and “beguiled
by beauty?” What happens when we begin to see not with our eyes, but
“with our spirits?”
Do you need practices that can help sustain you? How do you already have
practices of “contemplation” as it was described by Dr. Farley? How might
you be reminded to “micro-moments of deep noticing?”
How have you understood compassion and what new insights does Dr.
Farley offer you about cultivating more compassion in your life?
To Prepare for Worship…
Gather items to help you create a sanctuary space. Candles, prayer rugs
or scarves, bells, pillows, any ritual items that represent your personal
connection with the holy…you can get creative here. And this doesn’t have
to be a permanent spot in your home — you can always repurpose the
space for normal use during the week apart from worship.
Wind chimes are an item of focus for this series. There are lots of cool DIY
craft ideas for making your own wind chime! Look on Pinterest and Google
to find suggestions. You might hang your wind chime somewhere close to
your chosen worship spot so it can catch the breeze.
Make signs for each week of the series with messages that affirm our
central messages. You could make and decorate cardboard/chalkboard/whiteboard signs to display in your home as a reminder of the worship theme throughout the week, or even simply write these affirmations in a journal and meditate on them. Here are the messages to put on signs for each week of the series:
August 30th: “Your very essence is warmed by the presence of divine love. Be reminded to offer that warmth to others… for the beauty of the earth.”
September 6th: “Find beauty within the imperfections of life and accept peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. Be reminded to offer grace for imperfections… for the beauty of the earth.”
September 13th: “The more we know, the more we know we don’t know. Wonder and awe that leads to care of creation is good… for the beauty of the earth.”
September 20th: “Look at you! So beautiful, Dearest. So beautiful. Believe this voice of the Divine Lover… for the beauty of the earth.”
September 27th: “A contemplative life can empty us and ready us to become instruments of the Good.… for the beauty of the earth.”