… signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars … roaring of the sea and the waves. … ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud ...’
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What is Prayerful Colouring?
Prayerful Colouring is the contemplative practice of colouring-in line drawings during worship or for personal prayer time at home. I find inspiration in the weekly scripture set by the Revised Common Lectionary and create a line drawing reflective of the theology and theme for worship and personal prayer. These drawings are used as a part of the intergenerational worship at The Corner Uniting Church. Aimed at people of all ages, they are designed to be coloured in within the time-frame of an hour of worship, with the intention of expanding the worship experience through visual, aural and kinaesthetic engagement. They are also available to take home, and for those who are unable to attend Sunday. People also use them for inspiration and recalling the worship experience during the week.
Engaging the Five Senses
Two different strands have brought Prayerful Colouring into being: my own personal faith journey and The Corner’s journey as an intergenerational church. I am a visual person and art has always been part of my faith expression. Before being ordained into the ministry, I was an Art and Design teacher. As an educationalist with dyslexia, ADD and very poor aural memory, I developed an understanding of the different ways people process and engage with information through aural, visual and kinaesthetic means. I sought to extend this knowledge beyond the educational environment and into the worship space.
Worship often tends to focus heavily on aural/oral engagement and hearing the written word. I expanded the experience to a more integrated approach of accessibility for all people, including visual and kinaesthetic aspects, to create worship that was as multisensory as possible. Prayerful Colouring is one of these modes of experience that engages worshippers in a way that is beyond gazing at a projector screen. It enables worshippers to make multiple connections in meaningful ways within the worship experience.
Development of Prayerful Colouring at the Corner Uniting Church
Six years ago, The Corner UCA intentionally moved beyond a rather conventional worship to be a completely intergenerational worshipping community. Previously, children, segregated by age, spent a great deal of the worship experience in Sunday School. There was a change to the children staying in worship at busy tables (with multiple activities) positioned at the front of the church. We underwent a visioning process, and a new vision emerged: Faith Intersecting Life. Our mission became: To foster an intergenerational community, offering spiritual depth and growth through relationship with Jesus.
An intergenerational worship team was formed, and we asked ourselves the following questions:
How can we be congruent with our vision and mission with intergenerational worship?
How can worship activities be intergenerational and not age specific?
How can we assist all people to engage fully with the worship experience?
We came to the conclusion that a busy table, as well intentioned as it was, was not congruent with being intergenerational. And so Creative Tables began.
Creative Tables and Prayerful Colouring: How We Use Them
Creative tables are scattered throughout our worship space in amongst the seating, with art and craft materials available for use by the whole people of God, regardless of age. In this way, anyone may choose to participate in these activities throughout worship time. I draw the colouring-in resource myself, making them an extension of the theology and my message for the week, all based around the lectionary readings.
Benefits of Prayerful Colouring
For those who engage with Prayerful Colouring in our worship, the benefits are threefold:
- Focusing: the practice helps people focus on what is taking place around them, particularly during the message or sermon when the attention span of many people wanes after five minutes or so. Many adults have approached me after worship, having done prayerful colouring for the first time, to say with great delight, “That is the first time I have sat through a sermon and heard every word!”
- Mindfulness: through the simple, repetitive action of colouring-in, people are brought into the conscious moment, mindful of space and place.
- Centring Prayer: this prayer involves sight, mind & body. Using a drawing based on scripture that is the focus of the worship service, integrated prayerful connections are made that may not otherwise be made.
Prayerful Colouring Advent 1 (PDF)
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Tags: Mark Hewitt