What to Journal - Bulletin Graffiti and Worship Experience

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I always scribble notes on my bulletin - not just sermon notes, but thoughts about what I see, word art doodles, or  just drawing a line around significant words from the liturgy or a hymn. The bulletin usually gets tucked into my Bible if the rest of the day is busy. I have to be honest -- these "bulletin bites" often get tossed in the trash when too many pages stuffed-in-and-sticking-out signal that a cleaning out is needed! But when I’m moved by words or an experience that I don’t want to forget, returning to reflect and re-organize my notes & “take-always” creates an enjoyable devotion time and marks a step in my faith journey.

 Zion Lutheran Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan -- 150 years old!

Zion Lutheran Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan -- 150 years old!

I recently attended a church that was celebrating their 150th anniversary - the planned celebration and service was a visual delight, starting with the magnificent sunrise. Members had thoughtfully created a special "booklet bulletin" for worship that day, with lots of story and explanation about what and why they were celebrating.

 The "story" they offered for ALL worshipers drew me in and included me in the excitement of this day -- the detail was witness to the love of these people for their church.

The "story" they offered for ALL worshipers drew me in and included me in the excitement of this day -- the detail was witness to the love of these people for their church.

 Behind the order of service, were pages that showed me that their theme was personal -- not just words, but a reminder of what they were DOING.

Behind the order of service, were pages that showed me that their theme was personal -- not just words, but a reminder of what they were DOING.

 Words expressing the heart of early church planners were included and connected me to their faith and forethought as I came to worship: architectural lines designed to sweep thoughts of worshipers upward as they view the stained glass window, with rich symbolism of the Old & New Covenants - the Lamb of God centered as the center of their faith. Certainly something to remember!

Words expressing the heart of early church planners were included and connected me to their faith and forethought as I came to worship: architectural lines designed to sweep thoughts of worshipers upward as they view the stained glass window, with rich symbolism of the Old & New Covenants - the Lamb of God centered as the center of their faith. Certainly something to remember!

This visual inclusion made me want to capture this worship experience, learn from their looking back, and be able to share this with others - so I held onto the booklet. It sat on my kitchen counter until I found time to journal. A journaling Bible can be the place for these memories of faith and worship, to mark a tiny space in time where God encourages you in your walk with Him.

 I was "caught doodling" by my new friend Phil, who was taking pictures after the service (possibly to tell the story for the next 150 years?!)

I was "caught doodling" by my new friend Phil, who was taking pictures after the service (possibly to tell the story for the next 150 years?!)

I traced the doodle from my bulletin right onto my Bible page and copied a photo of the beautiful window from the booklet to add as well (didn't want to forget that!) To finish the page, I added personal words of thanks to God for the beauty of the worship space, and a "take-away" at the top which was inspired by the theme words. These "R words" - remember, reflect, reconfirm, renew, rejoice - really caught my attention as they mirror some of the same ideas behind the visual faith theme words of read, reflect, respond - to reach out. I included the date and a note about my husband's uncle, Dr. Paul Maier, who had been called to this church to begin a student ministry at nearby Western Michigan University. It's important to pass down details about the legacy of faith in your family.

 Thought-provoking words circled during a prayer within the liturgy were joined with God's Word from the theme verse in Hebrews 12:22 to create a prayer in the margin.

Thought-provoking words circled during a prayer within the liturgy were joined with God's Word from the theme verse in Hebrews 12:22 to create a prayer in the margin.

You can see that the margin might be a place to record the visual blessings of a worship place, the sharing of fellowship within a church family, and words of liturgy and song, as well as God's Word. And as you move through multiple steps of journaling - from "bulletin graffiti", to reflecting on the worship experience, to penciling in the page, to re-writing with pen, and then finally tracing over with colored pencil - you are creating a space of time for the Word to soak into your heart.....so that you remember. And most importantly, so that you can share.                                        -- Pat Maier

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