Contemplative Service

Event details

  • February 18, 2018
  • 6:00 pm

Sundays, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary

Every Sunday evening around 5:50 p.m., simple and open-chorded melodies quietly fill the Sanctuary. As we enter and find our resting place, we begin paying attention to our breath. Rather than changing our breathing, we merely feel the rhythm of our breath, noticing each inhale and exhale. Imagine the rush and chaos of our lives resting outside the room. We being to find ourselves immersed in silence, melodies, and ritual.

In his book, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, Wayne Muller elaborates on ritual:

Ritual calls us back to the center, back to the breath, a short meditation, a chant, a mantra. With each candle, song, and prayer we are loosed from the anchor of habitual concern, and rest in the rhythm of eternity, enormous sweeps of time that bear us up, in the divine inhale and exhale.1

As we slow ourselves down and focus on simply being present, our breathing evolves into music, prayer, and ritual.

Also known as contemplative reading, “lectio divina” is an ancient spiritual practice. It begins with reading a short passage of scripture (or other inspirational writing), followed by moments of silence. In the evening service, we spend time with this practice by reading a short excerpt of the psalm from the daily text. The chosen passage is spoken three times. Silence follows each reading, inviting the text to   absorb into our beings. Muller writes, “Without grasping for meaning or answers, let the phrase live in the breath, using it to bring awareness back to this moment whenever the mind wanders.”2 The intent is not to try to analyze or wrestle a meaning out of the text, but rather allowing the words work on us.

Following this period of contemplative reading, we sing a song inspired by the text. We enter ritualistic singing during our prayers as we respond to sung prayer petitions with a chant-like response: “We need your mercy. We need your grace.” After our sung prayers, a time of open space begins where we may light candles and interact with elements of water, oil, bread, and wine. We may also remain seated and pay attention to our breathing because sometimes it is all we can do to just be present. At the end of the liturgy, there is no rush to leave. Instead, feel free to remain in the room, praying, meditating, and lighting candles. Together, we rest in the presence of an ever-active, ever-present, mysterious Love.