A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
The Labyrinth Experience
Many churches have found that a 'Labyrinth' can be a very helpful and moving experience for people wishing to spend time with God and to explore personal prayer and meditation. What follows will give some basic information and ideas for those wishing to pursue this further.
How to make a labyrinthL~
The Circular labyrinths are quite difficult to make but a rectangular one can be made fairly easily.
Purchase 'Stanley' cotton twill professional dustsheets from Homebase/Focus Do-it-all etc (not too expensive - about £12-£15 each). These come in various sizes but I suggest buying one 12' x 12' and one 12' x 9' and sew together along the 12' edge giving you a total area of 12' x 21'.
Iron the seam, on the reverse side, so that the whole sheet lies flat. Using 'Duck Tape' (also available from Homebase/Focus Do-it-all) create lines as per diagram, using a double width of 'Duck Tape' to form the central cross shape.
You may want to use a flame retardant spray if you intend using candles on the labyrinth.
This size can accommodate seven stations. I suggest that you don't allow more than three people onto the labyrinth at any one time to allow space for reflection.
Suggestions for various stations:L~
- The journey to the Cross - using symbols at each station to represent Jesus' journey to Calvary.
- The 'I AM' sayings with stations focused on particular 'I AM' sayings from John's Gospel
- Our personal journey- with stations reflecting the various stages of life
- The nature of God - i.e. The God of relationships, The God who loves us, The God who knows us, The God who reveals himself etc;
If you feel nervous about attempting to make your own labyrinth, contact Linda Ashford (Headway Vice-Chair) on 01784 462396 and if she has time she will make one and send to you for a reasonable cost.
Soft music is provided in the background.
Preparing to Start the JourneyL~ Meditation 1
A visual aid that helps us to connect all five senses (ie. something to taste, smell, touch, see and the background music to listen to). Allow all five senses to be used here.
Christians believe that, in fact, we have a sixth sense: the ability to experience God. Just as we can smell, taste and touch so we can connect with our creator. Use the Labyrinth to help you explore your sixth sense.
Possible Bible readings: Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7 and Proverbs 8: 35 and 9:10 are placed around the visual aid.
The Journey So FarL~ Meditation 2
A barrel of water with a pile of pebbles at the side.
Participants are encouraged to reflect on their journey so far with its ups and downs.
Message: Few of us manage to go through life without experiencing some kind of hardship, pain or loss whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Use the pebbles to reflect on those times of hardship and ask yourself the question 'Am I always going to hold onto these things and allow them to crush me, or are there some things which at this point in my life I am ready to let go of and move on?’. When and if you feel able to, drop the pebble(s) into the water as a sign of your willingness to let go and move on.
Meditation: The words of 'Footprints'.
The God Who KnowsL~ Meditation 3
Cutout pictures of different people from magazines (some black, some white, old and young etc) are stuck on a board.
Participants are asked 'What do you know about these people, and what do you imagine their lives are like?'
Message: God knows each one of us better than we know ourselves because he created us.
Bible reading: Psalm 139
The God Who LovesL~ Meditation 4
A wooden box, with a lid, inside which is placed a mirror so that when participants open the box they see their own refection (I found a very suitable box in Boots photography section but am not sure if they still do them).
Words on the top of the box explain that inside the box is the image of someone of great value and great worth, someone so important and special that God was prepared to come down to earth in order that this person should know just how important and special they are.
Bible passage: Possibly verses from John’s first letter.
The God of RelationshipsL~ Meditation 5
Provide a small table and paper and pencils. Invite participants to think about those they are close too, family, friends, work colleagues. How important are our relationships?
Alternatively, a ‘relationship tree’ where people write down the names of those they want to pray for on a label and hang it on a branch OR give thanks to God for the relationship they have with him by writing it on a label and hanging it on the branch. Words from 'I am the True Vine' might be relevant here.
Message: God has made us because he loves us and longs to share in a deep relationship with us (Genesis 1:27).
Think of something you have made in the past: maybe you’ve knitted a jumper, painstakingly put together a model boat, baked a cake or painted a picture. There’s a certain amount of pride and sense of achievement when we’ve accomplished something satisfactory. That’s how God feels towards us, for we are his creation.
Bible readings: Malachi 2:10, Isaiah 45:12, Jeremiah 31: 3, 1John 3:1
The God Who Reveals HimselfL~ Meditation 6
Message: Many people ask the question 'If there really is a God why doesn’t he reveal himself?'
A visual aid is used which reflects the many ways in which God reveals himself to mankind. ie. a nativity set, a Bible, pictures of creation.
Possible Bible verses include: Isaiah 7:14, Galatians 4: 4-7, Philippians 2:5-11, Jeremiah 29: 11-14a, John 1:1, Psalm 145
The God Who Presents Us With A ChoiceL~ Meditation 7
Message: As we come to the end of the Labyrinth we are faced with a choice: to stay as we are or to face the challenge of discovering more about this amazing God. God has given us the freewill to choose.
Visual aids: A signpost which speaks of the various choices we have to make in life with regard to vocation, relationships etc;
A candle with Jesus’ words 'I am the light of the world'
A piece of bread – 'Man cannot live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord'
A picture depicting forgiveness with the words from John 3:16
As people finish the Labyrinth they are invited to write their comments in a visitor’s book and a written invitation is given to them to take part in a forthcoming course explaining the basics of the Christian faith.
Suggested courses might include:
- Essence…exploring Christian Spirituality
- The WHY course
- The ALPHA course
- Christianity Explored
We are all on a journey. In many ways our journeys are similar: we all have the same beginning in life and we all have the same end. Maybe there the similarity ends.
But a lot of what we experience in life is shared by many others, albeit in different ways. The Labyrinth is designed to reflect our journey in life. Unlike a maze it is not designed to get you lost, but to represent the intricacy of life with its many twists and turns.
As you travel through the Labyrinth take your time; there is no rush. Stop at each of the meditation spots and follow the instructions given. Christians believe that we don’t travel through life alone, but that God the Creator travels with us.
Many people, whether they have a faith or not, claim to have had a spiritual experience at some point in their lives. Some spiritual experiences are positive and some are negative. Christians believe that God is a God of love and only wants us to have positive experiences … of himself.
The Labyrinth has been designed to help you to experience something of the nature of God; it is important that you participate with an open mind. Allow God to speak to you through the various meditation spots. If you need help or guidance please ask the stewards on duty.
Please be assured that no one will be putting any pressure on you; this exercise is purely between you and God. You may start and finish the Labyrinth in your own time.
We would welcome your comments in the visitor’s book. If you are interested in exploring the Christian faith through other courses that we offer please indicate in the appropriate place on the form that you will find at the end of the Labyrinth. We will send you details without obligation.
Thank you for your participation.
Much more detailed information and many more ideas about creating a Labyrinth can be found in Essence by Rob Frost (Kingsway Publications, 2002, ISBN 1 84291 111 2). See especially pages 90-101.