An Online/ ITF Hybrid Devotional for the Epiphany Season
Where and who are the places you call home?
Somewhere in between homecomings and homegoings?
Welcomed in by a community?
Are you enclosed by walls?
In a time where conversations about walls are dividing and tearing beloveds apart, what would it look like if we were to dismantle the fences that separate us and used for hospitality as opposed to hostility?
Epiphany, a time of blessing dwellings, is a time to #GTFOH. Not to get the fuck out of here, but instead, to go the fuck on home, tearing down walls and offering places of welcome. Jason Chesnut and I were talking about how to make this devotional even more embodied as we figure out what it means to find the places we call home, and not necessarily in the sense of a physical building.
Following below are the prompts. Feel inspired to create and share those creations online with the #GTFOH hashtag. If you want to host a gathering, invite some friends over and use the suggested ITF Community Prompts. If gatherings aren’t your deal, we got you; feel free to explore the suggested ITF component.
For those who have joined Jason and me in this wandering, thank you. Just… thank you. ❤
Week 1 (January 6-January 12): Not a stone to be left on stone
Online: Thrown down (Mark 13:1–2)
ITF community component: What does it look like to gather as a Christian community… but not within the walls of a church? Invite some friends over, take some time to read the entirety of Mark 13 together, and wonder what worship can look like during the season of Epiphany in different spaces and places. Where would you want to try out a worship service (like a local park)? What do you want to try out for the act of worship itself (like a flash mob?) Get some sticky notes, dream and scheme, and ponder on the ideas for trying out something new.
IRL component: Travel down a road/ path that is familiar to you. Travel this path slowly. What is something you haven’t noticed before on this passageway?
Week 2 (January 13-January 19): Swords beaten into ploughshares
Online: Arbitrate (Isa. 2:1–4)
ITF community component: Gather together and read the entirety of Isaiah 2 together. What are the materials in our life that create conflict and war? What would it take to transform those materials into something that creates peace? Such a work takes practice; find something (really, any thing) ordinary in your daily life. Take that something and create something new, something that can bring you peace. Repeat.
IRL component: How can people embody going from violence to peace? What would it look like to take an active an embodied part in an organization that promotes peace? Where do you need to find peace within yourselves to maintain this work?
Week 3 (January 20-January 26): Any tree to not bear good fruit
Online: Fire (Luke 3:7–9)
ITF community component: Gather together to read the entirety of Luke 3 and pay special attention to the ancestors of Jesus. In order to understand who we are in the present, we need to have a better comprehension of our past, and not just the past we were taught. More often than not, we have been taught a censored history, which needs to be burned away for new growth. Take the time to learn about the indigenous people of the land you currently occupy. Learn about the indigenous people where your loved ones are.
IRL component: “Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees…” What does it mean to bear good fruit, to keep a plant alive and healthy? Take in a plant. Care for it. Water it. Heck, even talk to it. Record what it feels like to cultivate this new relationship.
Week 4 (January 27-February 2): David wanting to build a house for God, God saying nah, I’m good
Online: Settled (2 Sam. 7:4–7)
ITF community component: Read the entirety of 2 Samuel 7 together. Reflect on God’s words to the prophet Nathan on God’s humble beginnings in a tent. We all started somewhere. With that start, what would the first five sentences of your autobiography be? Talk about your beginnings and origin stories with one another. How are these stories similar and/or different?
IRL component: Part of being settled and feeling “at home” is feeling at peace. What is something that can bring you peace? For each thing that brings you peace, write it on a small stone. Reflect upon each stone, then bury the stones in the ground as a foundation for feeling settled.
Week 5 (February 3-February 9): Ezekiel digging through the wall
Online: Wall (Ezekiel 8:7–13)
ITF community component: Take some time to read the entirety of Ezekiel 8 together and ponder the potential of “stuff” to accumulate in our lives. What do you need to survive is oftentimes different from what we would like to have. What would it look like to gather the stuff that you don’t necessarily need, but you know that someone else could use? If you have such items, bring them to your ITF community gathering — someone there may have a need for what you have! For all the remaining items, offer them to an organization that doesn’t only work with donations in the community, but also does the work of accompaniment and empowerment.
IRL component: Walls can be effective boundaries, but at the same time, they can be incredibly isolating and separating people and communities from one another and from the reality of the world. What is something (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) that is keeping you separated from other people? What would it look like to remove that separation?
Week 6 (February 10-February 16): A house with many rooms
Online: Dwell (John 14:1–4)
ITF community component: Read the entirety of John 14 together. Take the time to breathe and dwell with one another in the space where you are gathered. Move within the space, breathing and dwelling in a different location. If you are in a space that has multiple rooms, move from room to room and take time to dwell. If you have chalk, bless the doorway or the floor for you and future inhabitants.
IRL component: Have you ever heard the phrase “I cannot see the forest for the trees”? It’s not being able to notice something that is immediately in front of us. Where are the places and spaces you frequently find yourself? Where you live, your car, a local coffee shop? Take a few deep breaths; what does it feel like to intentionally be present in that space? Does something feel new? Different? Do you feel new or different?
Week 7 (February 17-February 23): Old and new Jerusalem
Online: gate (Rev. 21:25)
ITF community component: What experiences can we have as a community in delving into what is both old and new at the same time? Gather a collection of small blank canvases, art supplies, and a group of people. For every verse in Revelation 21, have a person paint something (but not recognizable shapes) on the canvas that relates to that verse. Pass that canvas on to another person, rotate it, and paint something on the new canvas you receive with the next verse. Repeat the process until you have read through Revelation 21. Professor Larry Gross, Concordia University, Portland, OR created this practice of process painting from experience with an art therapy session. There is no wrong way of process painting.
IRL component: As followers of Jesus, we are a people of death and resurrection, a constant transition and moving from and within old to new. What is something you’ve always wanted to try, but have had the internal voice of doubt? What would it be like to do that thing you’ve always wanted to try, whether it be dancing, drawing, singing, etc? Create something new and do something you’ve always wanted to try.