The Thin Place Trend Continues

The contemplative trend continues to surface in Mennonite publications, as recently shown by a two part article called Moving thinward[1] in the Canadian Mennonite by Troy Watson[2]. It’s about ‘thin places,’ believed by some to be places where we can feel God’s presence more readily because the barrier between the spiritual realm and the material is thinner than in other places. Another article about ‘thin places’ was recently published in the MB Herald, called Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas[3].

Could this growing interest in Celtic spirituality and thin places be the fruit of a concern back in 2007 about Lilly Endowment grants that were being given to congregations and their pastors? These grants for pastors to go on sabbaticals with contemplative/emerging overtones have been as recent as 2012.

“. . . according to the Lilly Endowment document that lists the winners of the 2012 grants, pastors will:

. . . seek to regain spiritual vitality through the ancient Christian practice of walking as pilgrims in several countries—the path of Jesus in Israel, the path of the Exodus, some or all of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in Spain, the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul in Greece, Turkey and Italy—and making retreats in Benedictine monasteries, walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, and living in sacred space on the Isle of Iona and other Celtic spiritual destinations.

Winners represent various denominations including Southern Baptist, Independent, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopal, United Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, Evangelical Free, and Mennonite.”

SOURCE: Question to the Editor: What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11280

Whether or not Troy Watson’s recent visit to the contemplative community of Iona was due to a grant, he writes that he’s always been drawn to environments that evoke ‘a sense of sacred space.’ In part two of Moving Thinward he says that “…for Abraham, Jacob and their descendants, Bethel was a thin place” and of Mount Sinai, “This mountain was clearly a very thin place.”

Are there such places to be found today? We know from the Bible that the holy place (the temple) was the only place on the entire earth that God dwelt after sin and death entered the word and man was separated from God. Sacrifices ceased in the Temple in Jerusalem when it was destroyed in 70 AD, but access to the Holy of Holies, where God met man, was already no longer available by then because Jesus was the final sacrifice, once and for all, and the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn.

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” Hebrews 10:19,20

Because Jesus is the only way to enter God’s presence, any so called sacred space we now make or attempt to find in order to enter that realm is idolatry. There can be no places on earth where the veil between us and God’s presence is ‘thinner.’ Where ever there are efforts to find thin places where God meets man, such as the contemplatives making their sacred spiritual spaces to sense God’s presence, or the practice of the presence of God through prayer techniques – it is idolatry. The God of the universe already made a way to dwell within each believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent after His ascension. Those who believe are now called the temple of the Holy Spirit. No place on earth is worth making the effort to find. He lives in us. Praise the Name of the LORD!

Endnote:

1] This is part one:

Moving thinward (Pt. 1)
By Troy Watson
Feb 25, 2015
Viewpoints
I’ve always been intrigued with “thin places” long before I ever heard the term “thin place.”
Since childhood, I’ve been curiously drawn to old churches, temples, cathedrals, monasteries, ruins, holy sites, natural “wonders,” remote wilderness, solitary night skies—anywhere that evokes a sense of sacred space. Part of the appeal has been the beauty and mystery I so often find in these environments, but occasionally I’ve been so overwhelmed by divine energy in these places it was as if I’d stumbled upon holy ground.
I’m not the only one. Countless people have experienced God in places like these. Sometimes in exactly the same place.
Almost two years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Island of Iona. Iona has long been considered a thin place by people from various religious and spiritual backgrounds. . .
*More here:
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/moving-thinward-pt-1

Here is part two:

Moving thinward (Pt. 2)
By Troy Watson
Mar 25, 2015
(Volume 19 Issue 7 Canadian Mennonite):
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/moving-thinward-pt-2

2] Troy Watson is pastor of Avon Mennonite Church (www.avonmennonite.com/troywatson.htm) in Stratford, Ontario. He is the founder of the Quest Christian Community (www.questchristiancommunity.ca), an alternative faith community in St. Catharines, ON. (a Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada affiliated initiative) whose aim is ‘Christ Consciousness.’ Pastor Watson recently reviewed The Naked Now, a book by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr that explores the lost tradition of mystical Christianity. Of this book, Watson said “I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been reading spiritual authors such as Eckhart Tolle.” (See: http://www.mcec.ca/content/naked-now-richard-rohr)

3] Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/should-you-find-yourself-a-thin-place-this-christmas/

*Photo of Altar in The Chapel The Chapel at Iona Abbey by James Denham

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What does meditation, Jungian psychology and the labyrinth have to do with the Mennonite Brethren?

Can nice people who create beautiful music be sincerely deceived and lead other well meaning people astray? When reading about the following retreat which is taking place today, keep in mind that this ‘Christian mystic’ is one of the retreat leaders at the Mark Centre which is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Conference of BC.

Saturday, March 28 Soul Care Day Retreat
Soul Care Day Retreat – with a theme of Receiving Forgiveness for self and Extending Forgiveness to others
When we can receive love and forgiveness in greater measure for ourselves,we are able to extend that in greater measures to those around us. Aligning with Love is a way to guide us into a deeper journey of forgiveness in our lives. Forgiveness is a key to bring greater transformation in all our relationships.
A full day of care for the soul – for 12 women.
Our day will be a flow of group time and personal time, including lunch and snacks.
Group times will include music meditation, stories, forgiveness teaching and meditation, poetry and sharing together.
In your free time you can choose to rest, do journaling meditations that will be available for you, walk the outdoor labyrinth, or sit at an art/icon station.
$85 for the day. If finances are a difficulty, please indicate what you are able to afford on your registration. Please pay $25 registration down below to reserve your spot and the remainding $60 upon arrival by check/cash/credit.
 Cathy AJ Hardy is a Christian mystic and the retreat will hold elements of Jungian psychology, Celtic Christianity, poetry, and art. Cathy has been leading retreats with the Mark Centre in Abbotsford, MCC in Abbotsford, and at the Westminster Abbey in Mission. She also leads day retreats through her home. She is a singer-songwriter, poet, and retreat facilitator.
(cathyajhardy.com/events/saturday-march-28-soul-care-day-retreat/)

What does Christian mysticism, meditation, Jungian psychology and the labyrinth have to do with the Mennonite Brethren? Biblically and theologically, these have absolutely no place in any Christian ministry. This information has been posted simply to create awareness in the hearts of the remnant of believers within the Mennonite Brethren denomination. Pray for those who have taken the contemplative path. The teachings of contemplative spirituality seem inviting, but are leading many astray.

Note: The goal and strategy of the (Mennonite Brethren affiliated) Mark Centre is serve thousands who will inspire millions to embrace a lifestyle of contemplative listening to God. Those who want to learn more about the Mark Centre or the labyrinth may use the search box on this blog to find previous posts.

RELATED:

The Mark Centre and Silent Prayer – Strategy to Affect Millions
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-mark-centre-and-silent-prayer/

What is Jungian analytic psychology, and is it biblical?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jungian-analytic-psychology.html

Carl G. Jung
 Man of Science or Modern Shaman?
http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/nathan/jung.htm

LABYRINTHS, Prayer Paths That Promote the Occult
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm

What is Christian mysticism?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-mysticism.html

Researching The Labyrinth

As today’s Christians are justifying the revival of the ancient labyrinth in their universities, colleges, church camps, retreats, and youth conferences, here is some interesting research on its origins . . .

Proverbs 2 (KJV)

10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;

13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths

‘Sacred Space Holy Time’ at Mennonite College

Another Mennonite youth labyrinth experience took place recently, this time at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ontario.

Sacred Space Holy Time
by Lorie Williams
Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
KITCHENER, ONT.
Posted Jan. 28, 2015

On Friday, December 13, students in Ms. Bauman’s grade 10 Church History course had the unique opportunity of experiencing a prayer labyrinth.
Patricia Horst Wagler, a pastor and trained labyrinth facilitator, led students and staff in exploring the history of the labyrinth as a Christian tool for prayer. She explained the meaning and symbolism of the shape and various features of the labyrinth, and the benefits for many of an active, physical way to pray. She described walking the labyrinth as a way to focus the mind and give insight into one’s life and spiritual journey.
She then invited students to walk the labyrinth in silence. While this was a new experience for many students, they respected the silence, took their time and reflected thoughtfully on this experience of active prayer. Some found it a bit weird! Some found it calming, some noticed it helped them find clarity with a problem or decision, and some liked the way they could use their whole body to connect with God.
An open invitation was extended to anyone else who wanted to walk the labyrinth during their spare or at lunch during Friday’s Sabbath Space.
Warm thanks are extended to Patricia for helping us to create this sacred space and holy time.

SOURCE:
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/sacred-space-holy-time

ALSO HERE:
http://rockway.ca/2015/01/13/sacred-space-holy-time/

Patricia Wagler, who led the grade 10 class through the labyrinth, was recently ordained (Jan. 11) at Tavistock Mennonite Church, where she is the associate pastor. She is also a labyrinth retreat workshop facilitator and a spiritual director, having received her spiritual formation and direction training from Jubilee Ontario. Wagler became a certified labyrinth facilitator through Veriditas, whose mission is to connect people with the labyrinth. This season of Lent (Feb. 18 – April 8 from 3 – 8 p.m. on Wednesdays) Tavistock Mennonite Church offers an open invitation to walk the labyrinth (www.tavistockmennonitechurch.ca).

What would Menno Simons say about that?

Related:

Labyrinths – Popping Up at Lots of Seminaries and Christian Colleges
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7933

Labyrinth at USMB Youth Conference this Spring – UPDATE!!!

UPDATE!!! February 24th

Menno-lite was notified this morning that the Named 2015 committee had ‘recently decided to cancel the labyrinth’ but had neglected to remove the information about the labyrinth from the website.

They are to be commended for doing so, however, perhaps they should be asked to publish their reasons for putting it there in the first place, and for leaving it on the website after they had decided against it.

The alert will remain as posted as a reminder to pray for and keep the leaders of the Mennonite youth accountable. Bless the prayers of the faithful!

************

This April 9-12 the National Youth Conference of the US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches called NAMED 2015 will be held in Denver, Colorado.[1]

The following is one of the activities listed under “ATTRACTIONS” on the website of Named Denver 2015.[2]

PRAYER LABYRINTH

The Labyrinth is an interactive installation for spiritual journeys. It’s for anyone who wants a break from surfing the surface of culture to contemplate the deeper things of life. The Labyrinth reshapes a 12th-century ritual for the 21st century. Its maze-like path takes you on a symbolic journey, creates space to unwind and think—in particular about our relationships with ourselves, one another, our planet and God. Designed for young and old alike, it provides a mixture of rituals and visuals, of contemplative words and contemporary ambient music, of symbols and media to help guide the spiritual traveler.
Labyrinths were a feature of many medieval cathedrals, one of the best remaining examples is found in Chartres Cathedral in northern France. Unlike a maze they have only one path—there are no dead ends. People walk labyrinths slowly, as an aid to contemplative prayer and reflection, as a spiritual exercise or as a form of pilgrimage. This contemporary version includes music, meditations, art, media and symbolic activities at intervals along the path. Participants walk the Labyrinth with a MP3 player and headphones, in their own relaxing soundworld, at their own pace. Each track contains meditations, instructions and music relating to a part of Labyrinth.

SOURCE: http://www.Named2015.com/contentpages/32538/bc907310-f3d8-4d4a-b0a4-f2cb97b04af2/PrayerLabyrinth.aspx

This is not the first time that Mennonites have sent their youth to events where they learn to walk the labyrinth.[3] In fact, it is becoming increasingly more common. Is this spiritual trend something that youth should be exposed to at a Christian conference? Read the following links and decide.

LABYRINTHS, Prayer Paths That Promote the Occult
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm

Enter the labyrinth
http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm

________
Endnotes:

[1] The National Youth Conference will be held April 9-12, 2015, at Hyatt Regency Downtown and Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo.
http://www.usmb.org/departments/National-Youth-Conference/page/named-2015.html
[2] http://www.Named2015.com/
[3] See previous posts:
Mennonite College Dedicates New Prayer Labyrinth
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/mennonite-college-dedicates-new-prayer-labyrinth/
Children Experiencing Mennonite Labyrinth
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/children-experiencing-mennonite-labyrinth/
Mennonite Brethren Sponsored University Promoting the Labyrinth and Taize?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/mennonite-brethren-sponsored-university-promoting-the-labyrinth/
Mennonite Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/mennonite-labyrinths/
Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/mennonites-and-prayer-labyrinths/
MB YOUTH SOARING WITH CONTEMPLATIVE MINISTRY?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/mb-youth-soaring-with-contemplative-ministry/

Mennonite College Dedicates New Prayer Labyrinth

A student walks the college’s new prayer labyrinth.

Hesston College dedicates prayer labyrinth

Hesston (Kan.) College and the local community now have a new place to go for quiet contemplation or prayer with the completion of Hesston College’s prayer labyrinth.
With candles lighting the path, the labyrinth was dedicated Oct. 30. Bible and ministry faculty member Michele Hershberger led participants through the labyrinth in prayer while local musician Ben Regier set the mood with guitar and mandolin music.
“The labyrinth provides a place to let go of resentments, worries and emotional hurts while walking towards the center of the labyrinth and then to receive God’s love and peace while walking away from the center,” said Hershberger.
Prayer labyrinths offer a way of praying that brings a person’s whole body into the prayer. Individuals walk toward the center of the labyrinth and back out – a physical action that serves as a reminder of the spiritual action they are taking.
“Our physical bodies and spiritual beings are interconnected,” said Clay Stauffer, Hesston College exercise science faculty and labyrinth committee member. “The labyrinth, with its walking and praying, activates this interconnectedness.”
The idea for a prayer labyrinth on the Hesston College campus started in 2002 when former physical education instructor Jen LeFevre returned from a sabbatical where she experienced a prayer labyrinth and thought it would fit well with campus values. LeFevre taught a physical education class called prayer walking where students walked around the campus and town focusing on contemplation, meditation and prayer.

Read more here:
https://themennonite.org/daily-news/hesston-college-dedicates-prayer-labyrinth/

[The Mennonite provides Anabaptist content and is a publication of Mennonite Church USA. The mission of The Mennonite is to help readers glorify God, grow in faith and become agents of healing and hope in our world.]

Also see the announcement at the Hesston College website, here:

PRAYER LABYRINTH DEDICATED AS A CAMPUS SACRED SPACE
http://www.hesston.edu/2014/11/prayer-labyrinth-dedicated-campus-sacred-space/

[Hesston College is a Christ-centered community where each student is educated and nurtured academically, socially and spiritually. As a two-year liberal arts college, we believe that your first two years should be treated as more than something to get out of the way. They should be seen as an opportunity to lay a solid foundation for the rest of your life.
Hesston College is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA and connects to the denomination through Mennonite Education Agency. The president of Hesston College is a member of the Council of Mennonite Colleges, an organization composed of the presidents of Mennonite colleges in the United States and Canada.]

__________

NOTE: To see other posts on Menno-lite regarding Mennonites and the Labyrinth, click HERE.

Mennonite Brethren Sponsored University Promoting the Labyrinth and Taize?

Is this Mennonite Brethren sponsored university condoning the labyrinth? Rather than warning about the labyrinth as an inter-religious and mystical device, this recent blog article appears to recommend its use…

Labyrinth
by STEVE VARVIS on JANUARY 8, 2014

I first became acquainted with labyrinths through my studies in Medieval literature and culture. One of the most famous labyrinths is embedded in the floor of Chartres Cathedral just south of Paris. Chartres is one of the most famous of medieval Cathedrals, and the labyrinth is well known because of this. The pattern of the labyrinth has been used in a famous study of Chaucer called “The Idea of the Canterbury Tales.”

Read more @ blogs.fresno.edu/stevevarvis/2014/01/08/labyrinth

Steve Varvis is Provost of Fresno Pacific University, an accredited Christian university established and sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren Church.

Coincidentally, also recently promoted at Fresno Pacific University was an ecumenical contemplative chanting prayer service called Taize:

TAIZÉ PRAYER.
Thursday, February 6, 7:00 p.m., Ashley Auditorium.
Taizé is a meditative prayer service that incorporates simple, repetitive song and chant, scripture readings, and periods of group silence in a setting of peace and soft light that fosters communion with God. Through Taizé, participants can worship in a community setting, while remaining open to the voice of God in their hearts.
Taizé Prayer is an ecumenical form of prayer meant to foster reconciliation and peace among all people. Christians of all traditions share in this ecumenical group. Taizé Prayer is meditative common prayer. Gathered in the presence of Christ, we sing uncomplicated repetitive songs, uncluttered by too many words, allowing the mystery of God to become tangible through the beauty of simplicity.

From Milt Friesen @ http://squawkbox.fresno.edu/node/602

Both the labyrinth and Taize are contemplative practices that being accepted by nearly every compromising Christian denomination today.

Related:

Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/mennonites-and-prayer-labyrinths/

The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?
By Carl Teichrib http://www.forcingchange.org/the_labyrinth_journey

Enter the labyrinth http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm

Understanding Taize Worship http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/taize.htm