Amazing to consider

 
Those who were at the October 2021 Presbytery meeting might recognize this verse from Isaiah 40:26, which I posted in the chat to encourage us.
 


Call to Worship

(inspired by Psalm 147)

Celebrate God’s grace!
How comforting it is to know God always accompanies us.
Approach God in awe!
How amazing it is to consider that God has created each of us
      and each star in the heavens.
Praise the living God!
How good it is to sing praises together.

~ written by Ana Gobledale, and posted on Worship Words.
 


 
The story behind the card

I made this card towards the end of a two-week stay at Dutch L’Abri, returning home in time for our October 2021 Presbytery meeting (via zoom). This card is one of a whole pile of cards I made on my last full day at L’Abri, to give away to the staff and guests. I took photographs of all the cards I made, but I only kept this one, and happened to have it on me during our Presbytery meeting, tucked into a notebook.

In our discussions around the future of our Presbytery and the different charges, it seemed a timely reminder, worth sharing: If not one of the stars is missing because of God’s great power and mighty strength, surely we can trust ourselves and our congregations to God’s care and sovereignty too.
 

Playful prayer


 

While I was trawling the internet for play-related prayer topics and resources I came across a website called PLAYFUL PRAYER with the tagline, ‘Exploring creative communication with God’.

The blogs posts are by Susanna from the UK. She writes,

This blog exists to inspire you and I to play and explore with different ways of communicating with God. There are many different ways to learn and express. I happen to be a visual and kinesthetic learner: Truth and beauty sink into my spirit when I see and do. Don’t get me wrong, I do love words: There’s great power in spoken and written word but sometimes I get a bit ‘word weary.’ So, recently I’ve been having lots of fun praying in creative ways.

Here are some ways it’s helped me:

  • Focus when I pray for others (I’m easily distracted!)
  • Going deeper into understanding the bible
  • Emotional healing, overcoming fears, breakthrough freedom and spiritual growth
  • I’ve found new ways to worship God, thank him & mediate on his character
  • Ways to express myself when I can’t find the words
  • By creating something physical and visual it helps to share the joy with others

 
The most recent blog post is dated January 23, 2018. Still, the site is a treasure trove of ideas to inspire playful prayer activities where you are – in your family, church and neighbourhood.

PLAYFUL PRAYER posts you might like:

 

Check it out. Creativity, playfulness and prayer are always in season.

 

Safe to play

I have joined forces with my sister, Daphne (seated in the distance). Together we started this low-key outdoor art project in my neighbourhood in Rotterdam, open to passersby. We meet for a few hours on a Friday afternoon when we can, weather-permitting. We call ourselves “ZO MA outdoor art”. (ZO MA is a version of “zomaar” which means “just like that”.) Daphne’s medium of choice is chalk and mine is frottage, standing up against a tree and transferring some of the texture of the bark onto paper using a thick graphite stick or pencil. I usually turn the results into mini zines (A4 sheet of paper folded and turned into an 8-page booklet). You can find examples of my frottage experiments and mini zines on instagram (irene.bom)

 

A few quotes on the topic of play from a conversation between Esther Perel and Krista Tippett on onbeing.org:

“… playfulness comes with a certain element of letting go.”

“… play and curiosity are so intimately interwoven.”

“… play is when risk is fun. You can’t play when you are in a situation of danger, anxiety, or contraction. So you have to feel safe in order to play.”

 
May you find a safe place to play risk free and follow your curiosity, and may you pass on this gift to others too.
 


A benediction

May God’s blessing rest on each one of you.
May God’s light shine on you, and make your path clear.
May hope carry you through the challenging times,
and gratitude be your response when life is good.

May your days be filled with curiosity and adventure,
and may you discover the incomparable joy
of living lives that bring honour and glory to God.
Amen.

 
~ written by Christine Longhurst and posted on re:worship
 


From the blog
To dance with God
Ding! Dong! Curiosity
Heart’s desire
 

Small beginnings

 

Some things start small and grow over time. Maybe the best things.


The Gift

This time 3 years ago I was working on 12 prayer poems for my series on the Holy Spirit which I entitled The Gift.

You might like to revisit the series as Pentecost 2020 approaches.

 
There’s also a PDF booklet available containing all 12 prayer poems and the verses that inspired them.
 


Prayer-Poems

After completing the series, I wrote the blog post, On Writing Prayer-Poems. This post continues to attract readers in increasing numbers: 18 views in 2017; 36 in 2018; 212 in 2019 and 129 and counting this year.

Prayer-poems are a great way to engage with Scripture. You could make it an online group activity, reflecting on Scripture together, writing and sharing and giving feedback in the group and later sharing your creations with others.
 


Thy Kingdom Come

Don’t forget, Thy Kingdom Come 2020 starts on Thursday.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:

  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness

This year’s theme is “The Father’s Love”.

Download the app on your phone (android | iPhone & iPad) or print out the PDF prayer journal from the website.
 

Wonder-full psalm


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Here is an active prayer by Roy DeLeon, inspired by Psalm 139, a truly “wonder-full” psalm and one of my favourites.

 
 
Note:
Roy DeLeon’s book includes drawings for the different poses, but the written “instructions” should be graphic enough to get you praying with body, heart and soul.

 


An active prayer

inspired by Psalm 139
 

O God, you know when I am happy;
Inhale: Express your joy with a smile coming from your heart and radiating out through your hands and feet.

You know when I am in the gutter.
Exhale: Sag your body down, depleted of energy, drained of life.

You know well the choices I make
Inhale: Lift up your arms.

And the paths they lead to.
Exhale: Bring your arms down toward your front foot and check the path you took today.

Your thoughts go beyond my reach;
Inhale: As you breathe in, reach up.

Your depth beyond all thoughts.
Exhale: As you breathe out, reach down, letting your head dangle freely.

I open my eyes, and there you are.
Inhale: Look up toward God in the heights.

I look inward, and there you are.
Exhale: Close your eyes and feel your humanness.

Thanks for your wonderful gifts.
Inhale: Count your blessings and give thanks. Smile.

Because of you, I am wonder.
Exhale: Smile. Radiate God’s joy.

 
from Praying with the body: Bringing the psalms to life by Roy DeLeon, p. 94
 


 
From the blog
Summer-friendly spiritual practices
Fearfully and wonderfully made
walk, run, soar

The Gift revisited

The Gift

 
This blog usually features the prayerful writings of others. One major exception is the series, “The Gift”: 12 meditations with readings and original prayer poems on the Holy Spirit that I published between Ascension Day and Pentecost last year.

As a gift to you for Pentecost 2018, I’ve repackaged the 2017 series as a 16-page booklet in PDF format, ready for printing. To get your copy, click here.

For the original blog posts, click here.

Also, check out the Index to see what else this blog has on offer (past posts/series) and maybe consider signing up (if you haven’t yet done so) to receive future posts in your email inbox.
 

Call of the wild ones


Last year’s clutch of Egyptian goslings behind Rotterdam Central Station
 

On the eve of Ash Wednesday and a new season of Lent, here is a “wild” poem by Joel McKerrow that I found on the Northumbria Community website.

 

As the tamed horse
still hears the call of her wild brothers
and as the farmed goose flaps hopeful wings
as his sisters fly overhead,
so too, perhaps,
the wild ones amongst us
are our only hope in calling us back
to our true nature.
Wild ones
who have not been turned to stone
by the far-reaching grasp of the empire
and its programme of consumer sedation,
the killing of imagination.
Where, my friends,
have the wild ones gone?

Joel McKerrow
 

Can you hear the wild ones calling?

Jesus: ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’ (Mark 4:9)


More Joel McKerrow

Curious to find out more about Joel McKerrow, I found this youtube video featuring another of his “wild” poems: We Dance Wild by Joel McKerrow

You can find the words to “We dance wild” and some backstory on the Abbey of the Arts website.
 

Unite my divided heart

O Eternal One, guide me along Your path so that I will live in Your truth. Unite my divided heart so that I will fear Your great name. Psalm 86:11, The Voice
(Illustration: Irene Bom)

 

This post – the first post in 2018 – introduces the theme for the month of January: Heart.

(source: Logos Bible Software)
 

In other words …

Here are some other English translations of Psalm 86:11 to help flesh out the meaning of the words, “unite my divided heart” (from The Voice).

Good News Translation
“Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and I will obey you faithfully; teach me to serve you with complete devotion.”

The Passion Translation
“Teach me more about you, how you work and how you move, so that I can walk onward in your truth until everything within me brings honor to your name.”

New American Bible (Revised Edition)
“Teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth, single-hearted and revering your name.”

Evangelical Heritage Version
“Teach me your way, O Lord. I will walk in your truth. Give me wholehearted commitment to fear your name.”

Modern Evangelical Version
“bind my heart”

Names of God Bible
“focus my heart”


Related topics to explore to your heart’s content

  1. Our Daily Bread devotional entitled The divided heart
  2. 131 references to “heart” in the Psalms (NRSV)
  3. From the blog: Prayer sheet on Theme: Do not lose heart
  4. 70 phrases and expressions that include the word “heart” from www.dailywritingtips.com

Get creative

If you’re feeling inspired, design your own “postcard” featuring a Bible verse or quotation that speaks to you.

Up to us

How does the theme on a journey resonate with you personally? It’s a useful umbrella for all sorts of things, like “Journey through Lent”, for example.

Here’s one of my “on a journey” memories:

Some years ago now I had the opportunity to write a song for a CD project aimed at outdoor types. Not being much of an outdoor type myself, I was very grateful when a fellow commuter – a thoughtful Dutch man who regularly goes on walking holidays – had a lot to say on the subject.

“Do you mind if I take notes?” I asked.

In the 10-minute train ride from Utrecht Central to Houten on my way to work I gathered enough quality material to seed a whole song.

The CD project fizzled out, but the song has become a standard in the Two Doors Down repertoire, with me on guitar and vocals and Margriet on backing vocals and melodica.

Here’s a video of us performing “Up to us” in a noisy cafe in Dordrecht at our EP release in 2014:


Lyrics

1. Out on the trail – part of the landscape
Sensible shoes and good company
The swish, swish of our bodies in motion
I’m lost for words, lost in reverie.

We’ve got all we need to make a memory
Back to basics, minimum fuss
We know where we are
and kind of where we’re going
The rest is up to us (x2)

2. I do admit that nothing much happens
And I forget what we talked about
We cook, eat, sleep and get on with living
I’m walking on air, I’m on walkabout.

Chorus

3. Reading the map we can see the future
Making our way one step at a time
I’m rich, richer than I ever imagined
All I survey, in a way, is mine.

Chorus

We’re part of the elements – the cold, the heat
I’m thankful for every sensation – even sore feet.

Chorus

Blessing

Lord,
Make me a blessing.
Those that I meet
Make me a blessing.
As I walk down the street
Make me a blessing.
This day, even this hour
Make me a blessing.
It lies in your power
Make me a blessing.
At work and at home
Make me a blessing.
Wherever I roam
Make me a blessing.
That people may see
I am a blessing,
For you are with me.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p. 108

On Writing Prayer-Poems

Psalm-inspired prayer poems for LENT 2021 (Year B)
Not unless | Not forsaken | Sweet words | Talk about it | You are right | Cornerstone

 

prayer poems

PDF handout

I confess. I tend to borrow prayers from others. See the prayer sheets, for example, which are collections of prayers on a theme, sourced from books or other websites like re:Worship.

But sometimes you have to stretch yourself, so when I was putting together the series that became “The Gift” (Preparing for Pentecost) I decided to try my hand at writing some original prayers to accompany the Scriptures I had selected.

I’d like to share what I learnt from writing the twelve prayer-poems I wrote for the series. I hope you, in turn, will be inspired to write prayer-poems of your own.

Continue reading “On Writing Prayer-Poems”