New Bible study released: Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity

Spark_StudyGuide_RGBEditedWebNews release
July 16, 2015

Women’s Bible study to nurture the creative spirit

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario — A new women’s Bible study book, Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity, has been published by MennoMedia, commissioned by Mennonite Women Canada (MW Canada) and Mennonite Women USA (MW USA).

The study is designed to help users rediscover the joys of being created in God’s image and nurture their own creativity. “We hope that women will take a look at stories of God as the original Artist, and be encouraged to develop their own creativity as a divine gift,” says Mary Ann Weber, managing editor for the Women’s Bible Study series.

Written by April Yamasaki in consultation with MW Canada and MW USA, the study is one in a series of Bible studies commissioned by the women’s groups, including studies on justice, self-care, family care, creation care, stewardship of money, stewardship of gifts, and biblical women.

Yamasaki is a pastor at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbottsford, British Columbia,AprilYamasaki who enjoys expressing her love of Scripture and creativity in worship and preaching.

Twelve sessions and one worship session highlight biblical stories of God’s creative Spirit at work. Beginning with the creation story, the study delves into the creativity God demonstrated during the creation of the world and leads readers into how they can rekindle their own creativity in their daily lives.

Users will look at Scripture as a God-breathed work of creativity, to Jesus as a creative artist through interactions and storytelling, to discovering that the Holy Spirit inspires creativity for the common good. “Readers will grow in their understanding of how they can make creativity a way of living,” notes Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia. “The study will help readers better connect with God—the source of creativity.”

Each session brings biblical texts to life, encouraging readers to uncover, develop, and embrace the gift of their own creativity. Sessions include Scripture, suggestions for a visual to aid reflection and stimulate the senses, a section to dig deeper into the text, a series of questions integrating the story with personal experience, and suggestions for session closings. The study concludes with a creative celebration of worship. All sessions are organized into one book for women’s groups, Sunday school, or individual study. A separate retreat kit is also available.

Author Yamasaki is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and Regent College. She writes a blog about faith and writes and leads retreats on spiritual practices, faith, work, rest, and Christian living. She is also the author of Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, published by Herald Press in 2013, among other works.

MennoMedia Staff
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Melodie Davis
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‘Tis the Season to Pause

Guest blog post by April Yamasaki, author of Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal (Herald Press, 2013).

This year from Advent to Epiphany, my church is following the journey of the magi, with a clue each Sunday for where our three wise men nativity figures will appear next. On the first Sunday of Advent, they were upstairs in a Sunday school classroom. This last Sunday, they were in my office–one on the low book case by the door, and the other two on top of my tall shelving unit by the window. Each Sunday they’ll be in a different place in the church, until they finally arrive at the nativity scene in the sanctuary on Epiphany Sunday.

Photo credit Free Digital Photos at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo credit Free Digital Photos at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was delighted when the chair of our worship committee suggested this idea. What a fun and creative way to celebrate the Advent-Epiphany season! It’s great for the children and for all ages in our congregation, as we look for the clue and the wise men each week and anticipate their arrival at the front of the sanctuary.

Their five-week journey through the church reminds us that the wise men travelled a long way before they found Jesus. I imagine them stopping night after night under the stars or perhaps at an inn, resting before the next leg of their journey and wondering what the next day might bring.

In my imagination at least, the magi pause in their journey, and so remind me to pause in my own journey as well. Instead of staying up late and getting up early as I often do, I’m reminded to pause and get a good night’s sleep. Instead of rushing toward Christmas in a whirl of activity, I’m reminded to slow down and look for Jesus every day.

For me, taking this time to pause means that some things have been left undone. I don’t decorate a lot at Christmas, but I usually have our nativity scene and a few other special ornaments set up by now; instead, they’re still patiently waiting in the basement until I can get to them in the next day or two. I don’t do a lot of Christmas baking, but I usually do some; this year, I’ve made just one batch of cookies so far.

Yes, I’m busy with a lot of things as usual, but I’m also taking time to pause and savor this season. There is time to pause in expectation and wonder as God continues to work in our lives and in the world.

How are you taking time to pause this Advent season? Is there something that you need to leave undone in order to pause?

AprilYamasaki

April’s book Sacred Pauses is available from the MennoMedia store here. April posts regularly at her own blog, here.Twitter: @SacredPauses