The Christian faith is a relationship with God and with each other. Our emotions, our intellect, and what we do physically, enhance our relationships with each other and with God. This is Christian formation. Therefore, Christian education draws from multiple experiences. First is our participation in worship. In addition, we spend time with God in prayer, by reading the Bible, by sharing our thoughts and experiences with each other and through serving God’s people. The Church of the Epiphany offers many ways to experience worship, prayer, the Bible and service. Come join us for fellowship, conversation, and reflection at any or all events. We look forward to seeing you there.
Spiritual Practices – A How To Guide
Centering Prayer is one form of Christ-oriented meditation. It is based on historic practices for quieting the mind that go back to the earliest days of Christianity. Centering Prayer is based on using a word, repeated over and over as a focal point for the attention. Any distracting thoughts are allowed to pass by, the conscious mind does not engage with the thoughts. Repeating the word helps our busy brains to prioritize our attention on God.
- Schedule a time and place where you can be undisturbed for at least 20 minutes. It should be relatively quiet. It should have a comfortable place to sit. A straight-backed chair where you can place your feet flat on the ground is ideal. If you are comfortable doing so, some people prefer to sit on a cushion on the ground. You may wish to light a candle to signify your intention to be available to the presence of God.
- Select a word that you will use as your focal point whenever you practice Centering Prayer. It should be a short 1-3 syllable word or phrase like: Father, Abba, Jesus, Lord, Peace, Shalom, My Beloved, etc. It should be meaningful for you, but not distracting. Use the same word each time you practice Centering Prayer, rather than selecting a new word each time you pray.
- Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and breathe several deep breaths. Quiet your body and your mind. This often takes approximately 1 minute.
- Begin to repeat your focus word to yourself silently as the symbol of your intention to be present to God. As you become aware of other thoughts and sensations, simply let them go without engaging them. Return to repeating your focus word.
- Continue to be open to God’s presence for a period of 20-25 minutes.
- At the end of your scheduled time of meditative prayer, say the Lord’s Prayer or other formal prayer to signal the close of your time of Centering Prayer. Stretch then sit quietly and consider your time of prayer for 1-2 minutes before you re-enter your other activities.
Practitioners suggest that persons schedule at least one session of Centering Prayer daily. Some persons suggest two sessions, one in the morning and one in the early evening work well, also.
Latin for divine reading, Lectio Divina is a historic method of reading scripture prayerfully, as contrasted with academic styles of studying the Bible. The goal of Lectio Devina is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us by emphasizing and applying specific portions of Scripture to our own individual lives. Pick a short passage of scripture, a paragraph or an intact parable. The passage should be short enough that you can read it 4 or 5 times, slowly and meditatively.
- Read the passage through slowly in order to understand the literal meaning of the passage and the sense of what is happening.
- Read the passage through a second time, slowly, “listening” for the Holy Spirit to emphasize a word or short phrase that seems to stand out to you during the reading.
- Read the passage through a third time, slowly; looking for insights or applications related to the word or phrase that you noticed during your second reading. Pause and reflect on your word/phrase, and your insights related to them. Why did that word/phrase stand out for you? What do you think the Spirit is saying to you? Is this an affirmation or a challenge? Do you need to respond in some specific way?
- Read the passage through a fourth time, slowly. Let the word/phrase sink into you. Spend a few moments meditating on it. Thank God for your time together, for the gift of scripture, and
Imaginative Reading or Ignatian Prayer
Ignatius of Loyola, the C15th founder of the Jesuits, is credited with developing a way of reading scripture which puts the reader into the story. It is a way of making Scripture real in our own lives through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Pick a narrative passage of Scripture, a story. One example is the story of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Ask God to reveal God’s self to you as you read. Read the passage through slowly, to understand what is happening in the story.
- Read the passage a second time, this time looking for a character with whom you identify. In the Bartimaeus story, it may be Bartimaeus, Jesus, one of the disciples, or a person in the crowd.
- Read the passage a third time. Sense the environment, what it feels like to be your character: the heat of the day, the scents, and the feel of dust on the road. For example, in the Mark 10 passage, if you are Bartimaeus, feel the hunger that a beggar feels, the rejection of those who can see. As you read, stop at sentences or phrases that seem emotionally charged. Proceed slowly, enjoying the time you spend as one of the persons in the story.
- Sit and meditate on what you experienced. What is your experience telling you: about yourself? about God? about your interactions with others?
- Spend time in prayer talking to God about what you have learned.
Current Opportunities at Epiphany
On-going Classes and Studies
- A study of “Anglican Writers and the Foundations of Faith” based on two books, Anglican Identities by Rowan Williams and Glorious Companions: Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality, by Richard H. Schmidt.
- The Wednesday study continues, but watch for updates in the bulletin.
- The eStudy of the Nicene Creed will continue through the end of July.
- The August eStudy will be based on Sharing the Faith You Love, by Therese and Richard Boucher.
- Early this fall we’ll have a Quiet Day of reflection with Julian of Norwich. Watch for more details in coming issues of the STAR.
On Sunday mornings after worship and coffee, join us in the Farmhouse at 11:30 for conversation, insight, sharing, Scripture, and community.
Want a mid-week spiritual refresher? Come on Wednesday mornings for worship and stay for the 11am study in the Parish Hall.
Job commitments keep you away from our daytime studies? You can participate in our online study. They are made available to the congregation’s email list on a regular basis. Our “eStudies” are based on topics requested by the congregation or tied to the themes of the liturgical year. Most are 4-6 week series that include background information, Scripture passages, reflection questions, and resources. Our current eStudy – starting in September – will be on the origins of our Bible.
Want some time away from all the stress and pressures of your life? Quiet Days are mornings spent with God and a few friends. Listen for God’s voice using some of the classic forms of prayer: Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, prayerful reading of Scripture using the reflections of Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, Quaker Worship Sharing, and free time for private prayer, reflection and journaling.
God speaks to us through many avenues – including our families and our family in Christ. Epiphany offers many events for the whole family to grow together through fun, food, and experiencing God’s love. Even if you don’t have kids in your home, come share with your Epiphany Family.
* Our next Family Day will be in October. Stay tuned.
* Camp Epiphany is our Vacation Bible School, held at the beginning of June. Adult studies offer an in-depth look at the same theme our Epiphany kids and teens are studying. In 2013, we looked at the history, geography and theology of the Missionary Journeys of Paul.
Formation through Service Opportunities
We grow closer to God as we grow closer to each other through service. Adult Education supports our Vestry and Outreach Committee work by providing resources to the congregation about the needs and the groups we support. Look for articles in the STAR newsletter on Epiphany’s role in the FOOD CHAIN starting in October with: growing produce working with Harvest for Humanity; providing staples such as bread beans and babyfood with Matthew’s Crossing (November); and, cooking and serving meals to those who are hungry at Paz de Cristo (Dec).
Education for Ministry Group
Education for Ministry (EFM) is forming in September. We will face the difficult and often subtle task of interpreting the riches of the church’s faith in a complex and confusing world. EFM helps support our faith and also teaches us to express our faith in day-to-day events. Please contact the parish office for more details and contact/sign up information.
Elaine Pope – Director of Adult Christian Education
After retiring as a research and development technologist for Intel Corporation, Elaine Pope is a student at Fuller Theological Seminary at the Phoenix campus. She is interested in Christian formation, ecumenical dialogue, and the intersection of theology and science. Her current studies include Christian spiritual formation practices across denominations – from Orthodox to Quaker. She has been practicing various forms of Christ-centered meditation for over 15 years. Elaine has a Master of Science in Materials Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA in Management of Technology from University of Phoenix. She is a Stephen Minister, retreat leader, certified instructor of Centering Prayer and has facilitated Bible studies and small groups for over 20 years. Elaine’s passions are helping adults experience their relationship with God more fully, ecumenical shared worship, and a connected community in Christ. She brings these experiences to her role as Director of Adult Christian Education at Epiphany
Please contact the Parish Office for information on Adult Education.