December: Christmas labyrinth
The service is based on the original structure by Kev and Ana Draper, first used at Grace in 1997 and modified for Christmas in 1998.
There are four aspects: God, Self, Others and Planet. The labyrinth is the ‘God’ station. Self, Others and Planet are separate stations.
There isn’t room to do things on the path, so we put a star on the floor in the centre to make it christmassy.
People were given a 'Christmas card' with the words for the inward and outward journeys.
At the beginning of time the earth was in darkness; and we are in darkness.
But we shall move towards the warmth and nourishment that is God, our life source.
God created and created and keeps on creating. God sees that it is good. God labours to bring life; and gives birth to abundance.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Through the Word all things were made; without the Word nothing was made that has been made. In the Word was life and that life was the light of men and women.
The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.
The world that was in darkness has seen a great light - heralded by a birth-star in the dark sky of Bethlehem. Just as the wise men journeyed towards God by following the star, so we ask you to journey, to press on toward the light of life.
As you journey, begin to focus on God.
God pours out into the universe with life-giving light, with love.
Experience the love, feel the warmth. Choose life.
As you journey out of the labyrinth take your encounter with God with you.
Reflect on how this encounter might affect or change you.
Think about taking the light out into the world.
And about what it might illuminate.
Mary was asked to carry The Word, the pulse of the cosmos within her. She literally carried God into the world.
Mary said yes and changed the course of history - carried the light of the world and allowed it to shine.
So that we might see it, and respond.
She had a choice, as we have a choice.
Choice cuts: sometimes like a sword to the heart. It did for her. Choose carefully.
Jesus made agonising choices. Look where that got him, they said. It got him all the way to us.
As the journey seems to be ending, it is only just beginning. We are caught between a world that is passing, and a world that is yet to come.
Someone once spoke of a road less travelled. Of a narrow path. Today, we are going on a journey...
A video loop of the earth from orbit (ISS footage)
You are out in space
Floating, weightless, calm and secure
Watching the earth
Listening to its uninterrupted stream of noise
From the silence of infinite space
From here there are no visible countries
It's not like a map or a globe
There are no lines for territories
No colours to mark out countries, historical separations, human definitions...
Just rock, sea, forest and desert
Evolving, eroding, reforming, colliding
Life, death, birth, turning -
Movements and currents
Massive and caught up in the energy of creation
You are looking for signs of ownership
You are looking for clues of permanence
But all is slowly changing
To whom does this all belong?
Who has the right to claim its power, plunder its resources?
You are out in space
Breathless and patient
Awe-struck and motionless in front of this big, bright ball
This great God-filled gift
This unbounded blessing you can only call
Take a small handful of seeds and look at them.
(NB these are for birds not humans)
Each seed contains all the information needed to reproduce its own kind.
It also provides food for birds, animals and people.
Every plant produces enough seed to sustain itself and to sustain many other creatures.
The generosity of nature is like the generosity of God.
Even the uneaten, unproductive seed returns to the soil as nourishment.
It is not like human products.
Take the seeds home and put them somewhere that birds can eat them.
Key: This is the key to the front door of a home in Jaffa for a Palestinian family who had to flee their home in 1947 and have been unable to return. May Palestinians who had to flee carried the key expecting to return of course. But now for them and for those whose homes have been destroyed the key has become perhaps both a memory of home and as a symbol of their longing for home.
Rubble: This is a piece of rubble I was given in 1998 by a Palestinian whose home had been destroyed. He asked me to tell his story and remember his family and those whose homes were destroyed. There is now a lot more rubble.
Messages: A film by Amos Trust of messages from people trapped in Gaza in the bombardment.
This is a ritual by Yoko Ono. There is a rubber stamp 'Imagine peace' given away at Ono's 2004 'Odyssey of a Cockroach' exhibition. We stamp those words on cards and place them on a world map in places that we pray for.
'You created my inmost being
You knit me together in my mother's womb
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well'
(Psalm 139 13-16)
Look at yourself in each of the mirrors - what do you see in each? What is different?
Do you see someone that is 'fearfully and wonderfully made'?
Does what you see make you want to praise or cringe?
He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it. 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
(Matthew 22 37-40)
What do you think Jesus meant when he said to love others as we love ourselves?
Who are you?
Stop to feel your pulse
Life is running through you
Life is a gift of God
Feel your fingertips
Look at the pattern on them
Each is unique
You are unique
You are made in God's image
You are loved by the Creator who is proud of you, the created.
Look again in the mirrors
Ask God to show you the real you, the you without image, the you that God sees
Take a verse from out of the bag as a reminder through Advent and Christmas of who you are.
Richard did mulled wine. People brought mince pies and other things. There was a Christmas cake from Lynda.
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