Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina)

Open Bible by Petr Kratochvil
Open Bible by Petr Kratochvil

“Read your Bible.” But how?

I’ve benefitted from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefitted immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information.

Lectio Divina means “holy reading” or “divine reading.” The idea is to deliberately reflect in God’s presence on God’s words, inviting God to echo his words in us today. The most classic formulation of this ancient Benedictine practice is the four-part: lectio (read), meditatio (meditate), oratio (pray), and contemplatio (contemplate).

I’ve also seen a slightly adjusted form, which I’ve used in groups and individually.  It goes like this:

    1. Read: What does the passage say?
    2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word)
    3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying?
    4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?

Lectio works best with smaller passages–a few verses from the Psalms or Proverbs… perhaps some words of Jesus or a Pauline prayer. Colossians 3:15-17 is a good place to start, if you’re new to the practice:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In a group setting, readers (four different ones) can read the passage out loud (slowly) before each of the four movements. Individually, one could just read and re-read the passage before each of the four movements.

I’ve also found benefit in doing the fourth “respond” movement creatively: maybe I respond not just seated through prayer, but perhaps there is a response through song or drawing or movement that I can offer.

There are other approaches to Lectio; it’s certainly not meant to be formulaic. But whether I do it in 5 minutes or 30 minutes, with a group or by myself, I find that I am always impressed with how much God’s Word/words still can speak today–if I quiet myself enough to listen.

Praying Morning Prayer (beta site)

MP Beta

My friend Ben Rey has made a really attractive site for praying Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. The site is in beta right now, but you can use it to pray each day–it’s got the liturgy and Scriptures. Ben says:

Thanks again for participating in the Morning Prayer (MP) beta testing. The initial goal of this site is to provide individuals and communities access to Morning Prayer in its simplest form. Simple both in terms of the selected liturgy/scripture readings, and in terms of the layout for your tablet or mobile device. 

Your feedback will either reinforce or change that vision. Think of this as your Morning Prayer site. What do you want for yourself, for your church, for your friends and family? So please complete the brief feedback form on the website at some point in the first week.

The readings start for this coming Sunday, March 7 and will be updated automatically. We will launch the website onto it’s own domain in a few weeks with changes made based on your feedback. Please feel free to share this link/email with others, as the more the merrier in beta testing.

Here’s the site. You can offer Ben feedback here.

A Perfect Song

“North American Field Song,” by the Innocence Mission:

Lyrics:

Raincoats, Finlandia,
Raincoats and lakes.
The best words, I take along
in my field bag.
Across the morning, the beautiful air,
I will be aware.
I’ll speak if I dare,
and

Stay calm,
stay calm, stay calm,
stay calm in the meantime,

Stay calm,
stay calm, stay calm,
through the red and the green light,
stay calm.

No one can be so embarrassed as me,
I say to these trees,
where I walk with my head down.
Across the morning, the beautiful air,
I will be aware
my Father is there
and stay calm….

Who is the New Pope? Bergoglio (now Francis I) of Argentina

Pope Francis
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images, via NY Times

The cardinals today selected a new pope. From the New York Times:

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to ever lead the church.

The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

Read more here.

There is a New Pope

White Smoke
Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press, via NY Times

From the New York Times:

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday. The name of the new pope, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, by tradition would not be revealed until he appeared on a balcony on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

No name yet, but that will come soon. More here for now.

Lenten Worship

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has a “Lent Resource Guide” that will be helpful for worship planners during this season.

Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. … As a period of preparation, Lent has historically included the instruction of persons for baptism and profession of faith on Easter Sunday; the calling back of those who have become estranged from the church; and efforts by all Christians to deepen their piety, devotion, and readiness to mark the death and resurrection of their Savior. As such, the primary focus of the season is to explore and deepen a “baptismal spirituality” that centers on our union with Christ rather than to function only as an extended meditation on Christ’s suffering and death. (from the Worship Sourcebook, p.551-552)

The guide is here.

More than 125 youth workers at Open Boston

Open Boston Worship More than 125 youth workers gathered at Gordon College on Saturday, February 2 for Open Boston. An initiative of The Youth Cartel, Open Boston brought together more than 20 speakers to lead sessions on topics ranging from student leadership and youth ministry innovation, to soul care and strategic relationship building. Interactive sessions enabled mutual collaboration throughout the day, evident from the event’s Twitter hashtag. An opening and closing session of worship served as bookends to the day.

Open Boston was preceded by Open Seattle and will be followed by Open Paris. The Open events are about “celebrating fresh ideas in youth ministry.”

I spoke about developing student worship leaders. Here’s the handout (PDF) I used.