We’re now stepping into June and the beginning of summer, I’d like to share a few more ideas for new spiritual practices as suggested by my colleague in ministry, the Rev. Linda Kurtz, who serves at the First Presbyterian Church of Lexington, Kentucky. As we look towards a future in which those of us over the age of twelve can all be safely vaccinated, I invite you to consider changing up the way you pray and seeing if one of these practices might enrich your conversation with God.
Pray in Color
Sometimes, when we pray, we can’t find the right words. Sometimes, our minds wander and our bodies won’t stay still. Sometimes, it feels like we need to embody our prayers, to give them more than simply words as we lift them up to God.
You are invited to pray in color using these prayers for when you feel anxious from Illustrated Ministry. The document is designed to be printed double-sided. Use one coloring sheet and save the rest for later. Use them all today. It’s completely up to you. May you feel God’s presence with you this day.
Color Scavenger Hunt
Go on a color scavenger hunt in the outdoor area around your home. Using paint chips, crayons, or just the general colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple), see what you can find in nature to match each color as closely as possible. If you experience colorblindness, help those you’re with keep count of items, or specifically use bright, distinct shades that are easier for you to see. How many different colors can you find in your yard?
After you’ve finished, read Genesis 9:12-13 or Ezekiel 1:28. What do rainbows, themselves made of a variety of colors, mean to God’s people? Do you find peace or comfort in rainbows? When is the last time you saw a rainbow?
Special thanks to Colleen Earp, associate director of outdoor ministry at Camp Hanover in Virginia, for this idea!
Reflect on Rituals
Rituals are a central part of life whether it be in how meals are shared together, or how major events are marked…. Rituals give us places to be playful, to explore the meaning of our lives, and to rework and rebuild family relationships. They connect us with our past, define our present life, and show us a path to our future as we pass on ceremonies, traditions, objects, symbols, and ways of being with each other, handed down from previous generations.
— Evan Imber-Black, Janine Roberts in Rituals for Our Times: Celebrating, Healing, and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships
Name the one ritual — religious, family, or personal — which means the most to you. Why is it so significant? How, when, and/or where did you learn it? Are you engaging in it differently in this time of global pandemic? If so, how? Has this ritual helped you navigate this time of great loss and change? How or how not?
Compare Scripture Translations
The Bible has been translated more than 450 times — and that’s just in English. Compare multiple translations of the same Scripture passage to see how it illuminates your understanding of the text.
First, choose the text you’d like to read. You might choose your favorite passage or story from the Bible. You might choose one of the daily lectionary readings. You could even open a Bible you have at home and see what page it opens to.
Then, select at least 3 translations to read the text in. We suggest starting with your go-to translation — the Bible you typically read. Then, pick 2 or more other translations. Here are some ideas of translations you might read:
- the New Revised Standard Version, which we typically read in church
- the Common English Bible, a translation finished in 2011 that has more contemporary language, but still remains very true to the original text
- The Message, a more idiomatic, poetic translation of the Bible
The easiest way to look at the same text in various translations is to visit BibleGateway.com, a free resource that allows you to search for a particular text and choose the translation you’d like to read. Simply visit the website, type in the Scripture passage you want to read, and select the translation from the drop down menu.
As you compare translations, consider which words and phrases vary across translations. How does this impact your understanding of the text? Which version do you find most accessible? What questions still remain?