GPS GUIDE | Week of July 5, 2020
Weekly Grow-Pray-Study Guide
We're on week 5 of our worship series, "Searching for Beauty - Returning to the Heart of Worship." Along with the worship series, we'll be sending out a weekly devotional guide called the GPS - the Grow-Pray-Study Guide - which will provide a weekly supplement of resources to guide you on your journey of faith.

In case you missed it, view this week's online worship service below.
The Beauty of a World Without a Why
"The beauty in other beings exists completely for itself–not for any reason other than that the joy of existence is the purpose of life.”
- Dr. Wendy Farley
READ | Scripture Reading
The Song of Songs is biblical poetry at its most lush. In this book, adoration for another is full of metaphors from nature–the voice is like the coo of a dove, the curve of the landscape is seen as the curve of the Body. Perhaps the hills and mountains are the curve of the Beloved Creator and our bodies are to be seen as the beautiful handiwork of the same Artisan of Life. In this passage for today, the culminating conclusion is that there is no flaw in the utter beauty of the subject of adoration. This does not mean that perfection is the goal, but that there is no flaw in imperfection. And the beauty of the one beheld is not dependent on the judgment of the beholder.
You are encouraged to use the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina as you read this week's scripture passage. Try reading the scripture through 3 times, aloud if possible. Pause when a word or phrase seems to “jump out” or “shimmer” as you read. Why does that word or phrase seem to stand out? What is God saying to you in this moment? What action is God calling you to?

Let us enter this Lectio Divina allowing judgment to suspend, to lift, to dissipate so that we might adore all things, even ourselves, as the “Dearest” to whom this letter is addressed.

Song of Songs 4: 1-7 (Inclusive Bible)

[Look at you—so beautiful, my dearest!
Look at you—so beautiful!] (a)
Look at your eyes, sweet as doves
         behind the veil that your hair makes,
         as it cascades from your head
         like a flock of young goats—
         black ones, bounding down off Mount Gilead.
And your teeth are sheep:
         white as the day they were born,
         or newly shorn, and freshly washed,
         each with its perfect mate.
Not one of them is alone—
         why should we be?
And, ah, the lips of that lovely mouth—
         a ribbon of scarlet.
Your temples, behind that veil,
         glow like the halves
         of a freshly sliced pomegranate.

Your neck has the grace of David’s Tower,
with its jewels hung round it
like the shields of a thousand warriors.
And your breasts—like the twin fawns of a gazelle,
         hiding among the lilies.
All my nights, till the sun
         comes chasing its shadows,
         let me play in these perfumed hills,
         these mountains scented with myrrh.
[You are utterly beautiful, my dearest;
        there’s not a single flaw in you.] (a)

(a) Ref: CEB
WATCH | Interview with Dr. Wendy Farley
Each week, we'll be provided with a video discussion between Dr. Wendy Farley, Professor of Spirituality and Dr. Marcia McFee, Professor of Worship, as they delve deeper into the week's themes and ideas.

Watch the week 5 discussion:
REFLECT | Reflection Questions
These questions - based on the sermon & interview video - can be used as personal reflection questions, or as discussion questions with a friend or small group.
  • A “world without a why” is described by Dr. Farley as the idea that all beings have inherent worth simply because they are created “beautiful, beloved, and dearworthy” by God–not for any other reason. How do you relate to this idea that our worth is not measured by “doing” things that we perceive to be merit-worthy?

  • What motivates you to the work and activities you do? Are you able to do these things from a “peaceful place” or is it a place of “anxiety” about worth? What expectations do you place on yourself and others?

  • What might you do to increase your love of God, self, and neighbor? How might you create a way to be reminded to check on the patterns of our mind that are creating obstacles to peace, to being open to our neighbor, awareness of the love of God?
PRACTICE | Weekly Spiritual Practice
This series invites us to integrate spiritual practices into our daily lives as a way of opening to the Divine in deeper ways, thereby training our spirits for compassion in all things.

This week, we’re going to use a practice of paying attention to help us notice when we use critical or judgmental thinking – either toward our self or toward another. And we’re just going to notice it and allow ourselves to wonder about it. Try asking, "I wonder how I can let this reaction go?" And then – bring that to Christ in prayer. Admit that this is not the reaction or thoughts that you want to have and ask for help.

A contemplative practice that can take you one step further is to spend some silent time with your palms open on your lap, contemplating further what negative messages and expectations you want to let go. Then, as you pray for help, imagine them lifted and released.
You are also encouraged to draw a heart to your mirror this week, using a dry erase marker or even a tube of lipstick.

You may want to put a note nearby, “Look at you! So beautiful, Dearest. So beautiful." Believe this voice of the Divine... for the beauty of the earth.
PRAY | This week's prayer requests
  • Prayers for Larry Conrad recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Treatment will be outpatient radiation therapy followed by surgery and rehab. Larry was the pastor at PCUMC along with his wife Mary Beth and sons Ben and David from 1988 to 1996. David and his wife Katie and their son Jack attend PCUMC. Larry is a chaplain at MercyOne Hospital in Des Moines. Please hold Larry and his family in your prayers throughout treatment and recovery.
  • Prayers for Diane Hammond's sister-in-law who continues to need blood transfusions every month or so because of the side effects of her cancer treatment.