Tonight! Spiritual Practice: Walking the Labyrinth

landscape curve pattern texture

March 10th, 2021
7:30-9:00 PM

SIGN UP FOR TONIGHT’S CLASS

 

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Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

What is a Labyrinth?

  • An ancient symbol representing “the meandering path of the soul through life, death, and rebirth.  This symbolism may have originated in the labyrinth’s similarity to the twisting paths that lead to and come from caves, which symbolize the womb.” (London & Recio, 124)
  • ”For medieval Christians, walking the labyrinth was a ritual reminder that if they held onto their faith, they would lose their way, but would be guided by God.  …  [But] it isn’t possible to lose one’s way in a labyrinth.  There’s only one way in and one way out, regardless of how many twists and turns occur along the path.” (London & Recio, 124-125)
    Here are two different finger labyrinths for you.  Choose your favorite one, or the one that speaks the most to you, and print it out.  Follow the path with your finger just as you would if you were walking it. We will do a Labyrinth Meditation together during our time together, but I invite you to do it on your own as a spiritual
    practice this week.  

Here is a Meditation you may wish to follow.  Of course, you are welcome to create your own. 

  • Set an intention.  Do you wish to meditate on an aspect of your life, receive guidance about a problem or concern, or simply open your heart and mind to inspiration.  You may wish to repeat a word or short phrase that is special, meaningful, or sacred to you, to help you focus your thoughts on your intention.
  • Offer a blessing or a prayer before you begin.  Then, move forward.
  • Become aware of your thoughts and feelings.  Allow them to guide your pace.  
  • Check in with yourself as you near the center.  How do you feel?  Do you wish to speed up, or to slow down?  Relax, be patient.  You will get there when you are meant to arrive.  
  • Remain at the center for as long as you need. Take time to be still.  Listen.  Receive whatever message is meant for you.
  • When you are ready, offer a prayer, reset your intention, and  begin the journey back.
  • Repeat your mantra if you wish.
  • Remain focused on your intention.  Remain open to further or deeper messages.  What is the Spirit saying to you?
  • At the end, as you approach the exit which was the entrance, remember:  “All endings are beginnings and beginnings are endings.” (London & Recio, 127)
  • Just before you exit, take a moment to become still and centered, offer a prayer or blessing, and then move out of the labyrinth.
  • Afterwards, you might want to write in a journal about your experience, reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and realizations. 
    Consider how to integrate these discoveries into your daily life.  

We will meet via Zoom starting at 7:30 PM.  I look forward to spending this time with you as we Embrace our Spiritual Journeys, cultivate our faith lives, and connect with God and one another.  

Toward Embracing Life and Faith Together,

Rev. Stacy

Bibliography
London, Eileen, and Belinda Recio, Sacred Rituals: Connecting with Spirit through Labyrinths, Sand Paintings & Other Traditional Arts. Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds Press, 2004.


Resources

Uncomfortable Conversations- A Discussion Group

An invitation to heal racism by talking about it. That is what author Emmanuel Acho believes is the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease, talking, ”Until it gets uncomfortable…and then some.” We will use Mr. Acho’s  book “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” as our guide. We’ll discuss topics like implicit bias, the N-word, reverse and systemic racism, black family struggles, interracial relationships and how to be an ally. The segments are short, so I will send out excerpts ahead of our conversations and share some to open the meeting. I’m not requiring, but highly recommend that you purchase the book as a valuable resource, especially as you may want (hopefully) to start conversations of your own. 

We will meet on Zoom every 2nd and 4th Tues. of the month from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Topics and intro will be sent out the week before along with the Zoom link. If you are interested in joining these conversations at any time, please send an e-mail to treasurer@uccsimi.org and I will put you on the list to receive notices. Feel free to forward invites to family and friends. The more people talking, the greater the impact. 

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Acho’s introduction, “Consider this book an invitation to the table. It’s a special table- but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those uptight, where’s-your-VIP-reservation places, rather a come-as-you-are joint for my white brothers and sisters and anyone else inclined to join us. The room where this table sits is a safe space, by which I mean a space to learn things you’ve always wondered about, a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered. For all of you who lack an honest black friend in your life, consider me that friend.”

He also has a you tube channel and has created other content. I encourage you to check him out in advance of our first meeting. 

I look forward to our time together

Peace

Carla Ritter

Guided Meditations

Thursday Evenings at 8 p.m. on ZOOM


I think of God as a Presence that I can be in relationship with, one that I can draw wisdom from, who guides me, and fills me with peace and love. The spiritual practice of meditation helps bring me into that presence. Meditation reduces stress, cultivates a sense of inner peace, helps us to find clarity of purpose, and can produce healing, as some in our medical profession have been finding out.


Each Thursday evening for 20 to 30 minutes I lead a guided meditation, followed by a short time of sharing. The meditations draw from Christian, Buddhist, and Inter-spiritual traditions i.e. Loving Kindness Meditations, Tonglen, Relaxation Meditation, Examen, Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer and meditations focused on themes of Gratitude, Peace and Love. 

All are welcome to join us on ZOOM. Just fill out the contact form below, and I will send you the link to join. 


Finding peace during these challenging times. 

Susan Brecht


Meditation Group Inquiry

Meditation Group Inquiry

We would like to hear from you. Please send us a message or ask a question by filling out the form below and we will get back to you soon.

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Book Study

Every Tuesday morning from 10AM-11AM beginning February 23, 2021 (via Zoom video conferencing)

Have you been feeling sad, angry, fearful, hopeless, isolated, lonely, stressed out? Then you are not alone. Most of us have been feeling one or more of these emotions over this past year.

How do we find hope to move forward?

How does love in action become a soothing balm and daily part of our lives right now?    

The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” kept running around in my head, then a book was sent to me by Sojourner’s Magazine; “Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubled Times” by Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. You may have heard him preach at Prince Harry’s wedding.     As I read it I thought ‘More people need to read this book!’ So I’ve decided to lead a book study on ZOOM if there are others who would like to join me. We would arrange the time and frequency of the gatherings based on peoples’ schedules. The book is a fast read, 250 pages with 12 chapters, plus an Introduction and Appendix: Love in Action – a Daily Planner.    

NY Times best selling author Jon Meacham says this about “Love In Action”:

“This is a profound and essential book. At once personal and universal, intimate and sweeping, it frames the great question of our time — with is really, the great question of all time on this side of Paradise — with passion and eloquence. Michael Curry, priest and bishop, plays the prophet in these pages, drawing on his own remarkable life to show us the way we might make our own lives, and the lives of nations, warmer, better, and nobler.”
Jon Meacham



If you are interested in joining in this book study, contact us using the form below.

As the song goes

“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”

I look forward to hearing from you.
Susan Brecht


Book Study Inquiry

Book Study Inquiry

We would like to hear from you. Please send us a message or ask a question by filling out the form below and we will get back to you soon.

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I would like to receive your weekly newsletter, The Grapevine. *

Fun projects you can do at home for the entire Family!

Forming and Nurturing Our Faith
Continuing to Learn and Grow – For All Ages

Faith Formation Resources for the beginning weeks of the new year.
Fun projects you can do at home for the entire Family!
Click the buttons below to print yours.

Remember: The little ones feel “Quarantine Fatigue” too! It’s important to keep them engaged and provide outlets for their creativity. We know parents everywhere must be chomping at the bit for schools to be back in session and regular activities return to pre-Covid schedules. We hope this series of activities provides some quality time for your family during this holiday season!

#1 – Color Your Own Epiphany Star!


Crafts, Coloring Pages, Discussion Questions and more!

#2 – First Sunday After Christmas Activities

#3 – Second Sunday After Christmas Activities

#4 – Second Sunday After Epiphany Activities

#5 – Baptism of the Lord Activities

#6 – Third Sunday After Epiphany

#7 – Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

#8 – Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

#9 – Sixth Sunday After Epiphany

An At-Home D-I-Y Advent Wreath

advent wreath

Since we are celebrating Advent by being good neighbors and staying home this year, I encourage you to make your own Advent Wreath.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like.  All you need are five candles and a plate.  You can add greenery around the plate if you wish.  The five candles can be traditional or battery-operated; they can be votives, pillars, or tapers, any size.   Place four of them in a circle on the plate, and one in the center.  The four surrounding candles represent the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  On Week 1, one candle is lit, and each subsequent week, another candle is added until on Week 4, all four are lit.  The fifth candle in the center, called the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve.  

You may wish to have your Advent Wreath close by in your sacred space or worship area when we gather together in worship each Sunday.  As the candles in the Sanctuary are lit, you may join in by lighting your candles at home.  After worship, you may find it lovely to sit and bask in the wonder, delight, and quiet of this reflective season of waiting.  You could also do this after sundown, and think of the Light of the World coming through the darkness.  Perhaps we could share our Advent Wreaths with one another during our Coffee and Fellowship time after worship. 

Please note that while traditionally the candles are purple for Hope, Peace, and Love, and rose for Joy, and white for the Christ Candle, in this year of everything being non-traditional, feel free to use any candles that you already have at home.  This is meant to bring you some calm, thoughtful inspiration during the season of Advent, not to add stress and burden to you.  

  ~ With Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love

    In the time of Advent During Coronavirus,

   Rev. Stacy

Holiday Masks and Potholders!

Sunday, Dec. 20, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., 370 Royal Ave. Simi Valley, CA, back outdoor patio.

Come and check out the new artistic creations in oh-so-fashionable
holiday facemasks and new holiday-themed potholders.  Also available are
lush and decorative sprigs of church-grown mistletoe,
all ready to hang. 
All items are only $5 each.  Facemasks required, hand sanitizer
available, social distance, you know the drill.  Home deliveries in Simi
Valley are possible after 4:00 p.m.

For More Information or for Directions

Visit our CONTACT US Page

Ready to be Under the Mistletoe?

mistletoe

Fresh, healthy, 8-in. MISTLETOE sprigs are for sale, grown on our own UCC grounds!  In the forest, mistletoe is a bit of a scourge, a parasitic plant that latches on to trees and feeds off of them. But at Christmas, it becomes a symbol of romance. So where did the tradition of kissing beneath the mistletoe come from? The plant’s association with romance dates back to ancient Norse mythology. Frigga was the Norse goddess of fertility, motherhood, and the household, and the possible namesake of Friday. She declared mistletoe to be the plant of romance, requiring a kiss to all who pass under it.  According to the tradition, it’s bad luck
to refuse a kiss beneath the mistletoe.

They will be available on Sunday, Dec. 20 during our Holiday Sae.  $5 for each freshly packaged sprig, with proceeds to the church. 
(Keep refrigerated until ready to hang.)

Please inquire using the form below and we’ll arrange your delivery!

Or see our Potholders and Masks Post Here for more items avilable.


Mistletoe
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Spiritual Life and Growth Group

Embrace Your Journey: Exploring the Practice of Spirituality 

Would you like to explore your faith in a small group setting, allowing for a deeper relationship with others and with God?

Are you interested in exploring different ways to grow spiritually?

Would you like to pray for a longer time than is possible during Sunday Worship Gatherings?  Would you like to explore various, alternative ways of praying and connecting with the Divine?

Are you open to hearing from our Still-Speaking God through a variety of spiritual practices, including such proven methods as the Examen, lectio divina, visio divina, journaling, prayer walks, creative work, self-care and visioning?  

Then, I invite you to spend some time with me and others who are seeking depth, centering, rejuvenation, and connection for a richer, more expansive spiritual life which encourages growth, awareness, attentiveness, and nourishment.  This is time for you to take for yourself, to reflect, listen, share, and practice the Presence of God that you may integrate the spiritual into the human experience, day by day.  

We gather once a month, on the second Wednesday of each month, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, via Zoom. 

Let’s Embrace Life Together!

Rev. Stacy Thomas


Want to register? Or find out more? Use this form, and we’ll be happy to get back to you!

Growth Group Inquiry
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Send me access information for the following virtual events:
I would like to receive your weekly newsletter, The Grapevine. *

Photo credits: Clemens van Lay and averie woodard on Unsplash

Serving Those in Need During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to look at our various ministries and adapt them to the realities of the time. We have had a longstanding relationship with The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley and have been active participants in their Community Dinner program. Gathering for meals at our church property posed a health risk, but we wanted to continue to serve the community during the current public health crisis.

Every month, the $65 we would have used to provide a Community Dinner is designated for the Center along with any new donations we receive for the Community Dinner Fund that month. A volunteer offered to be a buyer for items that The Samaritan Center need and have difficulty locating.
 
Let’s reach out with our compassion and actions.

Would You Like to Help?

Please visit our https://uccsimi.org/giving/ and select “Community Dinner” as your choice under “Designated Giving.”