Home

Hello and welcome to all. Just call me “Joanie” and I hope you will join this Christian blog and we can have some lively chats. This blog is non-denominational and non-controversial.  It is designed to present biblical history, and other biblical-related Christian topics. You will not find “hell-fire and damnation” preaching here. Open discussion is encouraged. I will contribute articles to share with you and hope we can learn more about the Bible, it truly is like an onion; layer upon layer.

Liminal Living


V. J. Berry

Copyright 2012 by V. J. Berry

            Liminal space or existence in religion is a sacred space in which dwells a sacred time. It means a threshold; for the Christian, it means we live between heaven and the world. We are ready on the threshold to step over into heaven, but have not yet received the call. Living in the liminal (limen) is also described as “in-between-ness” and “already, but not yet.”  For the Christians who are part of the Kingdom of God on Earth, this means the “already” pertains to victory over sin, death, and hell (1 Cor. 15); the “not yet” means that Christians are still living in a fallen world where sin is rampaging. We live with God’s promise of victory, but have yet to enjoy the glory of heaven. Paul wrote of this in Philippians 3:18-21. And while we wait, we live in the limen, waiting for our call to cross over the threshold.

            Theologians point to two examples in the Old Testament of liminal space. One of the examples is about Jacob’s encounter with God between Heaven and Earth (Gen. 28:12-19); the other is about Isaiah’s meeting with God in the temple of holiness (Isa. 6:1-6). Theologians also suggest that a person experiences the revelation of sacred knowledge from God in this manner.

Engaging God with All Our Senses

Engaging God with All Our Senses

V. J. Berry

Copyright 2012 by V. J. Berry

                The Scriptures tell us about God and we can get a head and heart knowledge of Him in a somewhat single dimension, but we know that God is more than that because His fundamental nature is a mystery beyond our full understanding, and it requires us to go beyond reading about Him to truly know Him by using all our five senses. Church services often include the experience of all our senses in symbolism and rites to bring us into a worshipful state of mind. In many churches, when a person enters, they see inspirational stained-glass windows; the Word of God is heard both in sermons and songs praising God. People touch each other in greetings, their Bibles, their hymnals. The faint scent of incense wafting from the censer can be detected and the taste of bread and wine from the communion lingers – all reminders of Jesus Christ, of the Father, of the Holy Spirit. When entering into the state of the senses to be with God invite Him in and throw out your ego. To love God completely, we need to submit completely, worship Him with all your senses and your mindset should be adjusted toward a relationship with Him. “Loving God is an act of the will that must engage the whole person” (K. Boa, 2001).

”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with your entire mind and with all your strength” Mark 12:30 NIV).

            We should think of God as someone we can walk and talk with on a daily basis, not as some far-off aloof deity. I cannot count the times I have heard someone say that they feel close to God when they spend time walking in a park or other wooded area where they could meditate and take a leisurely nature walk. A friend who mentors women at her church uses a nature walk in her ministry. She took me on one of her walks to demonstrate how calming and meditative the walk could be using all five senses in worshiping God.

            At the head of the trail, she told me that conversation would be kept to a bare minimum and we said a simple prayer asking God to instill the mindset that we wanted to have a relationship with Him and that we were submitting ourselves to His will, and we were willing to worship Him with our entire range of senses. I recommend that you concentrate on one sense at a time for a better and more memorable experience. How you choose the order of your senses (see, hear, touch, smell, and taste) is up to you.

            For example, let’s say you are taking this walk and will be concentrating on sight as your first sense. Look around you; what do you see? Really see? Is it the shape of leaves, insects, birds in flight, a creek, colors of nature, the sky and the clouds? They are all parts of God’s creation we look past every day in our busy lives and all which have a purpose for being. Stop along the walk, close your eyes. What do you hear? Do you hear bird songs, the hum of cicadas, the chirp of crickets, the wind rustling through the leaves, water trickling over rocks, the voice of God?  What are you stopping to touch? Is it the texture of bark, the smoothness of a river rock, a pretty wildflower, the wind touching your skin, the hand of God? As you continue your walk with God, what do you smell? It is the earthy fragrance of loamy soil and the scent of wildflowers blending for natural incense? God gave directions to Moses in Exodus 30 on how to make incense especially for Him. And God likes the aroma of Christ in Christians (2 Cor. 2: 15-16) As for taste, it could be the sweet taste of life for the experience of walking with God or the actual taste of something you may find on your walk such as berries. I would like to think it was both. At trail’s end, it would be nice to show your appreciation for God’s creations in the natural world with a “thank you prayer.”

Mary Magdalene was not a Prostitute

Mary Magdalene was not a Prostitute

By V. J. Berry

Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute and she was not called a prostitute until the sixth century when Pope Gregory misidentified her in trying to identify a woman who washed and anointed the feet of Jesus. Mary’s name is neither mentioned in the text nor the town she from which she came. She was always addressed as Mary of Magdalena or Mary Magdalene(a).. The popes are only considered infallible by their church on doctrinal/dogmatic matters. Calling Mary a whore was not something he had a right to do. In 1969, Pope Paul VI effectively repealed and separated Mary Magdalene from this disrespectful slur on her name – over 1400 years after Gregory misidentified her. In Luke 8, she is listed with two other women and all three are considered wealthy and helped fund the ministry of Jesus.

Meditation and Contemplation Using the Protestant Rosary

Meditation and Contemplation Using the Protestant Rosary

By V.J. Berry

©2016 by V. J. Berry

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you9” 1 Thessalonians 5.

Yes, Protestants have a rosary. Most of us are familiar with the Roman Catholic rosary, but every major religious tradition has included the use of prayer beads or a prayer rope tied in intricate knots. The tradition goes back thousands of years. The Anglican/Episcopal (Protestant) rosary is different from the Roman Catholic rosary in that it has fewer beads and has no set prayers. You pray what is on your heart. There has been a recent surge of interest among Protestants to use the Anglican rosary and women’s groups in some churches are making them to distribute to encourage prayer.  Because other Protestant denominations use the Anglican rosary, it will be referred to as the Protestant rosary. The Anglican Church was the first Protestant breakaway church from the Roman Catholic Church. This article will explain the origin and meaning of the Protestant rosary, how to pray it, and how to make your own to make it more personal.

Origin of Christian Rosaries

 The origin of the Roman Catholic rosary occurred sometime between the 12th and 15th centuries. It was in the mid-1980s, when The Rev. Lynn Baumann created the Anglican rosary to aid in completive prayer1.  There is a difference between meditation and contemplation. Meditation is the active partner of contemplation in that it involves action (unhurried) through reading scripture and quiet outward prayer (usually). Contemplation is the quiet, still partner that involves being patient and waiting to receive what God offers while you pray inwardly because you have entered into the prayer of Jesus; meaning that you are spiritually alive 2.

Why pray a rosary?

The main reason for praying a rosary is that it helps deepen your prayer life. The touch of the beads aids in focusing on your prayers, and helps keep your mind from wandering. What lies in your heart, your focus, and your intent are important. The rosary is only one of several ways to engage in prayer.  “Remember, you are free to pray the rosary any way you wish. It is a private devotion3.”   We pray to talk to God and to listen to Him. The true purpose of prayer is to be calm in our spirit to allow God to speak to us. Praying the rosary is an aid to help us enter into His presence.

Difference between Catholic and Protestant (Anglican) rosaries

It may help to know the difference between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant rosaries, especially if you want to make your own or as a gift. The Protestant or Anglican rosary is made up of 33 beads while the Catholic rosary has 59. The Anglican rosary is divided into four weeks of seven days each; the Catholic rosary has five divisions of ten (decade) beads each. A single large bead separates the divisions on both rosaries. The Anglican rosary features a plain cross, while the Catholic rosary features a crucifix and small religious medal4.  The rosaries are prayed by touching the cross and each successive bead in order. The difference in this is that there are no set prayers for the Anglican prayer beads. Instead, the rosary is to be an aid to meditative prayer that Christians can adapt to their own spiritual needs. The Catholic rosary is prayed in a traditional devotional pattern that also involves the recitation of Hail Mary on each of the decade beads5.  A word of caution here, any kind of prayer in any denomination can become empty phrases. Always pray from the heart.

Symbolism

The Anglican rosary was designed to be symbolic as well as a prayer and meditation aid. The 33 beads represent the 33 years Jesus lived among us. The cross is a reminder of why Jesus died on the cross, our identity in Him, and to pick up the cross and follow Him. The Cruciform (large) beads form the points of the cross and also represent the four cardinal points of the earth, the four seasons, the sanctity of time, and the Creation. The large bead above the cross is called the Invitatory bead which is an invitation to trust God, offer our worship and praise. When the rosary is arranged in a circle, it represents God’s unending love and our Christian unity. The four groups of seven beads are called Weeks. The seven beads represent the seven days of the Creation and the Sabbath, our offerings, time, and lives. Seven is associated with completion and perfection in Hebrew and Christian mysticism. This does not mean that we have achieved perfection yet, but it is the continuing work of God in each of us toward that goal6.

According to Delaney (2013), it is traditional to use the number seven to represent spiritual perfection and contemplation. Furthermore, according to tradition, the rosary circle is prayed in an unhurried manner, bead by bead, three times to emphasize the Holy Trinity. “In the Middle Eastern tradition, 99 is the complete number for Divine names,” (Delaney, 2013). He further states that if the cross is prayed at the beginning or the end, then the total would be 100, matching the Orthodox rosary and signifies the fullness of creation. Following the rosary prayers, a period of silence is usually observed for reflection (Delaney, 2013).

Praying the rosary

            If you have not used a rosary, it will take a little practice to become comfortable using it. If at all possible pray around the rosary three times because as you settle down in the prayers, you will go deeper into them and meditation and contemplation are made more possible. Begin with holding the cross in one hand and slide the fingers of your hand over the beads. The first large bead above the Invitatory bead is the first Cruciform bead and where you begin your journal around the rosary to the right (counterclockwise). The rosary is also known as the circle of prayer

Following is an example of praying the rosary. You can write your own prayers, use scriptures, or use prayers from books printed for this purpose and inspirational poetry. If you have a Common Book of Prayer as used by the Episcopalians, there are many appropriate prayers that could be used. Let us begin.

  • The cross: In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
  • The Invitatory bead: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
  • The Cruciform beads: Be the eye of God dwelling with me, the foot of Christ in guidance with me, the shower of the Spirit pouring on me, richly and generously.(Pray this on each of the four beads). After the first Cruciform bead, pause and offer thanksgiving, intercessions, and petitions, and then continue on with the Weeks beads. If you think of another prayer, pause after the next Cruciform bead and offer that prayer.
  • The Weeks: (Pray each phrase on a separate bead; repeat on all four sets; on the last round drop down to the Invitatory bead and cross and close).
    • I bow before the Father who made me,
    • I bow before the Son who saved me,
    • I bow before the Spirit who guides me in love and adoration,
    • I praise the Name of the one on high.
    • I bow before thee Sacred Three,
    • The ever One, the Trinity7.
  • The Invitatory (on the last time around): The Lord’s Prayer.
  • The Cross (on the last time around): Let us (I) bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 “Remember, you are free to pray the rosary any way you wish. It is a private devotion8.”                                                                                         

Making the rosary

The rosary is a time-honored pathway to prayer. You can purchase an Anglican rosary at most Christian book stores, online at Amazon or specialty sites, and some jewelry stores, or make your own. By making your own rosary, it is personal and more meaningful to you. I suggest that if you make it; start with the basic 33-bead rosary to give you a feel for how it is constructed.  You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. The rosary is made for prayer and it is up to you and how you want to use your creativity.

Example The rosary below was purchased online and is made from olive wood. Spacer beads are used before and after the Cruciform (large) beads and the Invitatory bead above the Cross. The bead count for this rosary is 28 medium beads, 4 large Cruciform beads, I Invitatory bead, and a cross, and 10 small spacer beads.

Example

Protestant Rosery

                                                            Photo courtesy of R. Millsap (2009)

References

1Delaney, C. (2013). Differences between the Anglican & Catholic rosary.

3Gurri, M. Ph.D. (2013). Anglican prayer beads: Prayer for joyful journeys. Lexington, KY Joyful Rhythms

4Delaney, C. (2013). Differences between the Anglican & Catholic rosary.

5Ibid.

6Rick Millsap. (2009). The Anglican rosary. Retrieved from www.trinityreno.org/Anglican%20Rosary.pdf

7Ibid. Poem by Sister Brigit, Carol, S.D.

8Ibid. Quote by Pope John Paul II.

9Life Application Study BibleNew International Version (NIV). (2005). Carol Stream, IL:   Tyndale House Publishers.