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The Abundance of God: Prayer Stations

In a worship series focused on justice, the best concrete actions are, of course, acts of justice. These stations are not meant to be the end of the response. They are meant to reinforce worship and serve as additional motivation for working toward justice beyond the walls of the church building.

This cycle of stations is designed to be used, one a week, in coordination with the four Sunday series on abundance. For each week, there's also a recommended question for public comment, to be written at the top of a sheet of paper posted on a wall, or perhaps on a whiteboard. Giving space for people to post some of their reflections provides an opportunity to move these stations from individual to communal. Position this paper or board near the prayer station, but not in a place where people can read it while they are at the station itself. This way people are able to experience the station individually before joining in the communal part of the experience.

These questions will engage older teens and adults intellectually. A younger child will be able to participate with some guidance. Remember not to be overly worried about how much the youngest children “get” from the experience. Even the smallest things they experience at their own level will benefit them.

Setup Notes

There are a number of ways to approach the setup and use of these stations. Your choices will depend on the size of your congregation, the traffic patterns in your facility, and your own worship habits and customs. A narthex or entryway might be the easiest choice. But if your narthex is often a busy or bottle-necked space, this might not work. A brave choice might be to set up the station in a corner of the worship space itself. For some congregations, it might work to encourage use of the station before and after worship. For others, it might even be possible to use the station throughout worship, or at designated times.

Whichever options you choose, make sure to find ways to let your congregation know about the opportunity to use the stations.

Keep people of all ages and abilities in mind when considering the setup of these stations. The lower children's tables often used in Sunday school rooms are a great option for keeping the display at a lower eye level. Some people might welcome a few floor pillows on which to sit and take some extra time. Those with mobility issues may need a chair that's easy to sit in. Print the meditation guides in a large, clear font so that they are easy to read.

Be thoughtful about how things look, smell, sound, and feel. Keep in mind that the objects that are important to the meditation should be given center stage: anything you place on the table should add to, rather than distract from, the main objects.

Recruiting a small team of people to help with these stations is essential. Ask one person to help assemble the necessary materials. Find a few volunteers who enjoy making things look beautiful. And try to recruit someone to quietly and unobtrusively monitor the station each week. I often ask for a volunteer who will both pray for those who are using the station and keep an eye on things in case the setup needs tweaking or straightening while it is being used.

For each week, there is a materials list, a setup guide, and a meditation. I recommend printing each of these as a separate document. Print the meditation directions and mount them on stiff paper or place them in a tabletop frame. If you have different volunteers gathering materials and doing setup, you can hand the appropriate guide to each person.

Abundance in Creation

Texts

Genesis 1:24-31
Psalm 104:24-30
Matthew 6:25-34

Materials

  • table
  • light cloth for draping the table
  • large flat container for planting (such as a plastic under-bed storage container). Optional: ask someone in your congregation to build a custom box that will be more attractive
  • gravel
  • soil
  • wheat or rye grass seed (make sure it’s a seed with an initial germination time of under one week so that you’ll be able to see progress)
  • smooth rocks or pebbles (craft stores sell small bags of rocks or pebbles)
  • placard with the meditation directions printed on it
  • butcher paper, chalkboard, or another place to collect responses
  • a basket of markers, pens, or chalk for responses

Setup

The intention is for this station to provide a visual reminder that can be used throughout this worship series: the planter you choose could be displayed near the prayer station every week, or even at the front of the sanctuary. When preparing this station, get advice from your congregation’s best green thumb, and ask whether that person would be willing to care for the planted box during the month so the grass stays green and healthy.

Add about an inch of gravel to the bottom of the box. Then fill the box with soil to a level that is about 1 inch (3 cm) below the top edge.

Drape the table with the cloth. On the table place the soil-filled planter box, a container full of seed, and a container full of river rocks.

Near the table but placed somewhere that it won’t distract people while they sit or stand in front of the station, hang a large sheet of paper. At the top, write “What has God provided to nourish you?” Leave a basket of markers nearby.

After worship has ended and people have finished their work with this station, you will need to sprinkle a shallow layer of soil over the seeds and make sure that the box is watered and cared for during the rest of the month.

Meditation

“From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth” (Ps. 104:13-14, NRSV).

In the beginning, God made everything the world could need. There was light and water and soil and air, and there were plants to nourish all living things. Already and especially at the beginning, God was taking care of creation.

Imagine what it was like for God to trace the mountains and plains of the earth. Place a stone or two on the soil in this box to give this patch of earth some character and beauty of its own.

Spread some of the seed on the soil. It will grow, and this place will be full of green, the color of life and abundance.

Abundance of Grace

Texts

John 4:5-30
Romans 5:6-11

Materials

  • table
  • light cloth for draping the table
  • a mirror (large, but smaller than the table)⎯that can lie flat on the table
  • wide variety of colors of construction paper
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • placard with the meditation directions printed on it
  • butcher paper, chalkboard, or another place to collect responses
  • a basket of markers, pens, or chalk for responses

Setup

Drape a table with the light cloth. Lay the mirror, reflective side up, on the table. The mirror will represent water. Set the paper, scissors, pencils, and placard with directions alongside it.

Near the table but placed somewhere that it won’t distract people while they sit or stand in front of the station, hang a large sheet of paper. At the top, write “What can God forgive that I cannot?” Leave a basket of markers, pens, or chalk nearby.

Meditation

“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” (John 4:29, NRSV).

The Samaritan woman at the well has no idea what she’s getting herself into when she asks Jesus for some water. She’s got a simple need: she’s thirsty. But Jesus sees her whole life, all of her needs, and wants to give her water that will satisfy every thirst.

Jesus sees her for who she truly is: a sinner. And he still loves her. God’s grace is abundant: God sees us for who we are and still loves us too.

Pick your favorite color of paper, trace your handprint on it, and cut it out. Place your hand so that it is touching the “water” (symbolized by the mirror). Now pick your least favorite color, the one that’s hardest for you to love. Trace your hand on it and cut out this second colored hand, and place it touching the water as well. Remember that God loves us as well as those who are hardest for us to love, and there is more than enough of God’s grace to satisfy everyone who is thirsty.

Stewardship of Abundance

Texts

Deuteronomy 24:19-44
John 12:1-8
Acts 4:32-37

Materials

  • table
  • light cloth for draping the table
  • 10-15 glasses and cups in a variety of sizes
  • several large bowls full of a variety of attractive marbles, pebbles, or beads
  • placard with the meditation directions printed on it
  • butcher paper, chalkboard, or another place to collect responses
  • a basket of markers, pens, or chalk for responses

Setup

Drape a table with the light cloth. On the table place the cups and glasses; the large bowls full of beads, marbles, or pebbles; and the meditation instruction card.

Near the table but placed somewhere that it won’t distract people while they sit or stand in front of the station, hang a large sheet of paper. At the top, write “What do you have more than enough of?” Leave a basket of markers, pens, or chalk nearby.

Meditation

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45, NRSV).

The world is full of lovely things. God intended it to be this way: creation is filled to overflowing with God’s beautiful handiwork.

Pick your favorite cup from the table. Fill it up with your favorite things from the bowls. Enjoy everything that is good about these marbles (or beads or rocks).

And now, remember that there is more than enough in creation. Begin to place some of your marbles back in the bowls. Let go of them. Keep one or two favorites, though, as a reminder that God has provided enough for all of us to delight in creation.

Abundance of Hope

Texts

Psalm 146
Revelation 21:1-4

Materials

  • table
  • glue sticks
  • large piece of butcher paper, with a large black-and-white line-drawing of a rainbow on it. In each color band, write the name of the color that should go there (for simplicity, use red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • irregularly shaped 1-2 inch (3-6 cm) pieces cut from magazines. Get help collecting pieces in all the colors of your rainbow. You’ll need enough to completely cover each color band.
  • placard with the meditation directions printed on it
  • butcher paper, chalkboard, or another place to collect responses
  • a basket of markers, pens, chalk for responses

Setup

Drape the table with the light cloth. Set out the magazine pieces and the glue sticks. Add the meditation instruction card to the table.

On a wall nearby or next to the table, tape up the butcher paper with the rainbow outline on it.

Near the table but placed somewhere that it won’t distract people while they sit or stand in front of the table, hang a large sheet of paper. At the top, write “What do you pray for God to transform?” Leave a basket of markers, pens, or chalk nearby.

Meditation

“‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new’” (Rev. 21:4-5, NRSV).

There are times when the pain and sadness in our lives make us lose hope. It’s hard to work for justice when we feel like we can only take small steps in that direction.

But we have hope: the transformation of the world is not in our hands. It’s in God’s hands. And the transformation of the world is a promise that we see unfolding, a little bit at a time, here and there.

In Revelation, we get a picture of this time when the whole creation has been transformed and turned back to the abundant goodness that God intended it to be. Imagine that time when the world as we know it is changed.

Use the scraps of paper, cut from magazines that tell us how the world is now, to add color and create a mosaic of a rainbow, a sign of God’s promise for us. As you glue your pieces on with a glue stick, pray for the world to be changed, and give thanks for God’s abundant promises to us.