Lectio Divina of Philippians 1:1Continue Reading...
Archives For Lectio Divina
Life has been the pits, including my spiritual life. But things are changing, and meditation through Lectio Divina is helping.Continue Reading...
This one’s in honor of the 4th of July; we’ll be going to our friends’ barbecue shortly. Uh, hopefully the flames will not rise as high as in this picture.
Luke 1:13-17 lectio: soften the hearts of parents to their children. It’s been way too long since we read The Message as a family. We had started reading Luke some time ago, but then our lives exploded with school-end activities, graduations, vacation. So today we picked up where we had left off, with John the Baptist’s father Zachariah in the presence of the angel. We talked about the angel’s description of John.
The phrase “soften the hearts of parents to children” caught my attention. This was to be one of the ways that John demonstrated the coming of the kingdom of God. So its opposite demonstrates our need for God: hardening the hearts of parents.
I thought about this in a couple of ways. One was my heart as a piece of meat. I usually like my steak medium rare—nice and juicy. How do you like your steak… rare? Well-done?
How about burnt to a crisp?
Life burns; adults know this. Jesus warned that we must become like children to see the kingdom of God. Have my imagination, hopes and dreams been burnt, hardened?
The other way I thought of the hardening of parents to their children was in the awful literal sense: being sold by your parents into the world of sex slavery. (Hat tip to Si, the key driver of Protest4.)
++ Soften my heart. Oh God, bring freedom for the prisoners. ++
The Psalms, with all their complaints about life, have been a source of comfort to me this Lent as I continue to wrestle with being unemployed. But a funny thing happened when I reached the end of Psalm 7: When I read the words “heaven-high God”, I suddenly felt like I was in a glass elevator going up fast (like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), looking down at my problems. A lot more was visible from this top-down perspective, and my immediate concerns seemed small. I could tell that God saw a lot more than my desire for that particular job; he knew if I would be happy there.
Lectio for Lent just isn’t happening. I wrote, “It is more important to do it than to blog about it.” But it turns out that when I did it last year and blogged about it, the blogging was an important part — blogging as spiritual discipline. I wanted to be able to post something meaningful every day. This not only created a system of accountability (“shoot, I’d better do my lectio so I can blog about it”) but it also made me wrestle more with the meditations (“what meaningful thing is speaking to me that I share?”).
Without this wrestling, my exercise has shifted to more of a “pray through the Psalms” thing. Which isn’t bad, that too is an ancient practice. But even that isn’t happening every day.
We don’t get a newspaper, so it was by odd chance (if you believe in that kind of thing, which I don’t) that I was looking at a paper yesterday. The front page had something about “yesterday’s Mardi Gras celebrations”. Lent snuck up on me!
Last year, I practiced lectio divina for lent. This year I will go through the first 40 Psalms. I’ll try to post about them, but given my recent blogging record, I’d better not make any promises. It is more important that I do it than blog about it.
I told the kids over dinner that Lent was here, and what I was doing. Kay & I had just been talking about how we can teach our children to spend time alone with God when we’re so lousy at it ourselves. And even when we do practice it, spending time alone with God is a solitary endeavor, so how do you model it? So I was excited when Kay said that for Lent, we were going to ask the kids to take 5 minutes a day alone in prayer.
Luke 1:67-75 lectio: He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives. At home on Monday, I disassembled the fuser assembly for our laser printer, replaced the teflon roller, and reassembled it. You have to understand that I am not a hardware guy; Kay (who is the nuts-and-bolts person of the house) expressed concern that I was getting in over my head. But thanks to the helpful CD-ROM video included in the kit from fixyourownprinter.com, I pulled it off without destroying anything! The printer still prints, and now hopefully I’ve gotten rid of the annoying black stripes.
In the middle of the teflon roller is this thing called the fuser lamp. This must be what gets really hot and bakes the toner onto the paper. It’s the heart of the printer. If other parts are not functioning well, your printouts will be messy, or get jammed, or something. But without the fuser lamp, you will get nothing but blank sheets of paper — even if all the other parts are perfect.
The video said to be really careful when you pull out the fuser lamp. Don’t touch the lamp part at all, because any finger oils could destroy the lamp. I had to pull it out to remove the teflon roller. Once I had the new roller in place, I carefully set the lamp, the power of the printer, back in the center.
++ Lord, you placed your fuser lamp in the center of my life. Help me not to ruin it with my own messy oils. I need the power of your salvation every day. Burn hot, burn true, at the center of all I do. ++
Luke 1:57-66 lectio: No. He is to be called John. Elizabeth and Zachariah have their baby. On the eighth day, family and neighbors come over for the circumcision ceremony, and they’re all calling the baby “little Zachariah”. Elizabeth says no, but they don’t take her seriously, protesting, “But that’s not the way we do things! We’ve never done that before!”
Whether you’re planting an emergent church, home group, or are just trying to get any sort of group together with an eye on doing something new, a warning: Well-meaning people will come and try to name what you are doing. “Oh, it’s a church. Oh, it’s a Bible study. Oh, it’s a youth outreach. Oh, it’s a Gen X thing.”
God’s power is released only when Elizabeth and Zachariah join together in saying, “No. We have a different name.” Let’s not be pigeonholed by anyone, whether they are Christ-followers, normal people… or ourselves.
++ Father, help us to fight the names that we are given, or even the names we give ourselves. Help us to live by the names you give for the dreams you dream. ++
It’s been a long time since I’ve done Lectio Divina with any consistency. I thought that doing it over the 40-day Lenten period would establish it as a habit in my life, but sadly, it didn’t just happen by itself. I guess I need to make it happen. I want it to happen, because the benefits are great.
One of the things I love about Lectio is that it can lead you down trails you would never find if you just stuck to “authorial intent”. One of the things Leonard Sweet talks about is the difference between deductive or inductive reasoning, as opposed to abductive reasoning. I have discovered that Lectio Divina is truly abductive. The process of meditating on the “shimmering word” by reading and re-reading the passage is the best example I’ve experienced of what Leonard describes as “taking an image, and spinning it until it comes alive.”
What’s interesting is that for me, the “spinning” continues all day long; the image is stuck in my head and I keep revisiting it throughout the day. This is in stark contrast to my experience with the conventional “quiet time”, where I would read a passage, check it off as “done”, and live out the rest of my day with no real connection to what I had read. Quiet times may work better for you, but for me, I’m afraid I fell into the modernistic trap of a well-partitioned life.
Well, I was going to share yesterday’s Lectio which was especially peculiar and fun. But I see that’s for another posting.