A new series from
Worship Design Studio
Includes video pieces for use in online, livestream or live worship
Friends - I know you are struggling to create online worship and still have the time to stay connected to the pastoral care needs of your congregation, as well as take care of your own well being. Let us help you with worship. We are producing video sequences for this series to sprinkle throughout the liturgy that can help you create a cohesive visual, and deeply spiritual, theme without doing a lot of image production work. But they are also in fully-scripted form for those of you doing non-video-based worship (i.e. phone, print only). A series about the theology of beauty and compassion is a perfect opportunity to offer beautiful imagery without the stress of creating it yourself. I am praying for you, your worship team, and your church community in these times. Please e-mail us if you need a hardship rebate on your purchase.
Peace & Passion,
Dr. Marcia McFee
Creator and Visionary of the Worship Design Studio
Click the button above to see a preview of the first week of the series
The Role of Beauty - A Theme for our Times
An early 6th century theologian described God as “beguiled by beauty.”
The Creator was lured by a longing for beauty and so set in motion a world of immense diversity and goodness. We were made for this Divine Goodness.
We were made inherently worthy, not by our “doing,” but by our simply being.
All things are beautiful–not by a standard of “pretty” as seen by our eyes,
but by an essence of sacred worth that is sensed by the spirit.
This is the root and heart of compassion and justice.
Practices of contemplation help us train our gaze to these deeper truths.
In this worship series we will dwell with the God of Divine Goodness,
deeply in love with us, and practice ways to return that love as we
fall more deeply in love with creation and with one another.
A six-week fully-scripted worship series by Dr. Marcia McFee, Creator and Visionary of the Worship Design Studio, based on a book of the same name by contemporary theologian Wendy Farley, Ph.D.
• Can be done anytime
(originally released for summer 2020)
• Includes six fully-scripted worship experiences by Dr. Marcia McFee, adaptable for your context
• Includes six video interviews with Dr. Wendy Farley for use in preaching preparation, small groups, or as part of worship (see a Preview Excerpt of these interviews HERE)
• Includes video packages for insertion into pre-recorded, live-stream, or in-person worship
• Theme song “For the Beauty” arranged by Chuck Bell Music, recordings and sheet music included; original music “Look Around” from Marsha Charles
• Includes suggestions for small groups, children and youth
FAQ: Release Date?
This six-week series was released in early summer, 2020 but can be done any time of year. Because it was created out of the need to adapt to online worship, this is our first series that comes with video packages for the service.
Dr. Wendy Farley's book is available now for purchase HERE! The book had not yet been released at the time this series was originally created, so the materials for this series include six video interviews (see a Preview Excerpt HERE) with Dr. Farley based on the material for each week of the series. You may use these videos in your sermon preparation and/or small group study (each video is accompanied by discussion questions). Sermon fodder notes regarding the scriptures are also included.
GET THE SERIES NOW
Your purchase of this series also includes free access to the Worship Design Studio 3.0 App! During the purchase process, you will be invited to create a member account to the WDS App if you are not already a member (if you are, you will be invited to sign into your existing account). Please note that we have a new website now! If you formerly accessed the Worship Design Studio through a yearly subscription, you are still able to access all the subscribers-only materials on our new WDS 3.0 App. All of our community members, including subscribers and free members, are invited to access the "Beguiled by Beauty" series through our new site.
After purchasing with your credit card, you will have instant access to the materials in the App. You will also receive a confirmation e-mail to your inbox. Contact us after purchase if you have need of a hardship rebate in this time of pandemic.
Synopses and Scriptures for the Series
© Worship Design Studio, 2020
All quoted fragments in the synopses are from Dr. Farley’s work.
Week 1: Beauty, Contemplation, and Radical Compassion
Synopsis: All things are beautiful–not by a standard of “pretty” as seen by our eyes, but by an essence of sacred worth that is sensed by the spirit. This is the root and heart of compassion and justice. Beauty is the threshold to Divine Goodness and a door into radical compassion. “The difficulty and crisis of the world is overwhelming. It is virtually impossible to bear it without very deep resources. A life of prayer does not take us out of life but deeper into it.” We pursue a contemplative life to intensify spiritual capacities so that we might live as Beloveds of God who extend Goodness in the world.
Scripture: Ezekiel 31: 3-7 (Inclusive Bible)
Look to Assyria, once a Lebanon cedar
beautiful branches, dense shade, towering height;
its top among the clouds.
Springs nourished it,
and deep waters made it grow tall;
their streams flowed around its base,
sending their channels to all the trees in the countryside…
It was majestic in its beauty with its spreading boughs,
its roots reaching deeply into an abundance of water.
Week 2: We Are Made for the Beloved
Synopsis: A Christian mystic of the 14th century, Julian of Norwich, lived during one of the worst centuries of human history, including the black death pandemic that wiped out millions of people, famines, floods, war, and corruption. In her writing, she addresses what she believed to be at the root of suffering–the misplaced idea of God’s rejection. Suffering is part of being human, but what makes suffering so soul-destroying is our forgetfulness that God is with us. Without this core belief in beauty and sacred worth, we engage in self-and-other-destroying behaviors, inducing further suffering. Contemplative practices invite us into union with the Divine One, healing the wounds of forgetfulness.
Scripture: Psalm 16: 7-11 (Inclusive Bible)
I praise YHWH, who guides me;
even at night my heart teaches me.
I’m always aware of your presence;
you are right by my side,
and nothing can shake me…
You show me the path to Life;
your presence fills me with joy.
Beautiful things are always in your right hand.
Week 3: Awakening to Beauty, Falling in Love with the World
Synopsis: We try to satisfy our thirst for meaningful life with so many distractions and addictions. Awakening to beauty is to find the well that never runs dry. For it is in beginning to truly see the world with our spirits that our soul’s thirst is quenched. “The resilience and beauty of the natural world is a sign of hope, even when things are difficult.” A tree is scorched by fire and yet new sprouts shoot up, defiant and optimistically reaching toward the sun. A crack in a sidewalk reveals the seeds just beneath the surface just waiting for a chance to break through. “Divine beauty shimmers and shimmies through the universe and in every barrio where someone is singing or weeping. Because of beauty, our spirits are enlivened.” Contemplating this resilient beauty draws us back to our own vitality and the promise that we, too, are capable of new life.
Scripture: Psalm 147: 1-11 (Inclusive Bible)
How good it is to praise our God!
It is a pleasure to make beautiful praise!
YHWH rebuilds Jerusalem,
and gathers Israel’s exiles.
God heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
Week 4: Abyss, Mystery, and Wonder
Synopsis: The spiritual part of ourselves is a “divine abyss.” It is a dimension that is not touched by words, thoughts, ideas and feelings. Our bodies were made for perceiving the beauty of the world–a flower, a kiss, a stunning and vibrant green hillside, a newborn baby. And yet all the art in the world cannot capture exactly what it feels like to experience the Divine nature of these things. The path of unknowing is to both savor what the senses can take in but also wonder at the mystery of unfathomable depths of even a single atom. For those living a contemplative life, this is a “sweetness of longing and of tasting in which one ceases to praise and becomes pure praise, an unending chant to the divine goodness.”
Scripture: Psalm 135: 1-3; 13-21 (Inclusive Bible)
Alleluia! Praise the Name of YHWH—
sing praise, you who serve the Most High,
who stand in the house of YHWH,
in the courts of God’s house!
Alleluia! God is good!
Sing praises to God’s name because it is beautiful!
Week 5: The Beauty of a World Without a “Why”
Synopsis: 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. When we accept this non-utilitarian goodness, we tune into the raw delight in the world. “Beauty decenters our ego by helping us realize that life is its own justification.” As we let go of how everything relates to us, serves us, benefits us, we begin to appreciate all things for their own worth and beauty, and our desire for their flourishing intensifies. When we turn this idea onto our own selves, we can let go of the expectations of others and the societal standards of beauty in regard to our own worth.
Scripture: Song of Songs 4: 1-7 (Inclusive Bible)
Look at you—so beautiful, my dearest!
Look at you—so beautiful!
Week 6: From Beauty to Compassion and Justice
Synopsis: Our series ends with a reaffirmation of our call to contemplative action in the world. The awareness of one another’s beauty is the “seedling for the birth of compassion and justice. The celebration of this beauty of beings, their communities and ecosystems, cannot exist without mourning assaults on them.” A contemplative life can empty us and ready us to become instruments of the Good. We will affirm our plans to continue practicing “a way of beauty” that makes life “rich, courageous, generous, and joyful.”
Scripture: Isaiah 52: 7-10 (Inclusive Bible)
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of one who brings good news—
who announces peace,
and brings news of happy things,
and proclaims deliverance,
saying to Zion, “Your God reigns!”