This week I invite you into a heart-centered prayer practice that is quite ancient but has found its way into the spirituality and faith of the United Church in recent times, and has been part of studies and meetings here at Como Lake. It will be part of online Contemplative Worship this Sunday, June 28th. Thanks to Rev. Jenn Swanson for the following explanation.
Lectio Divina: (literally means divine or sacred reading). There are traditionally five steps to reading scripture this way. You can do this in as much or as little time as you wish. The reading of scripture this way invites you into a deeper, more personal relationship with the text…and sometimes you will “hear” different things each time you do it. Here are the steps:
1. Prepare: perhaps light a candle, or take some deep breaths, or sit somewhere that makes you feel calm, then spend a few moments in a prayer of invitation…saying something like: "God, let me hear you speaking to me".
2. Lectio (Read): read the scripture text. Listen carefully for any words or phrases that jump out for you. Don’t force this…just notice what arises.
Choose a passage you would like to dive more deeply into or perhaps one of these:
Isaiah 43: 1-3a (Do not be afraid…)
Luke 8:4-8, 11-15 (The good seed)
Mark 1:16-20 (Jesus calls the fishermen)
Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)
3. Meditatio (Reflect): read the passage again, focusing on the points that jumped out at you the first time. Pay attention to where God has nudged you. Reflect on what God might be saying to you.
4. Oratio (Respond): read the text one more time and then respond by journaling or just by pondering what has arisen for you from this experience. Writing it down often helps to open up your ideas and so that you can come back to reflect on them again later.
5. Contemplatio (Rest): spend a few moments after you have written or pondered…in silent contemplation. Sit quietly and let God work! Be still…and see what happens. Then end your contemplation time with a prayer of gratitude.
If you want just the questions, here are some suggestions for the 3 readings of the passage:
1. What word or phrase beckons, intrigues or captures your attention?
2. Allow the word or phrase you identified to unfold more deeply. What feelings or images arise for you?
3. How does this word/phrase connect with your life right now? Is God calling you to do or change anything?
Evening Prayer from Philip Newell's Sounds of the Eternal
Bless me in the night, O God, and those whom I know and love.
Bless me in the night, O God, and those with whom I am not at peace.
Bless me this night, O God, and every human family.
Bless us with deep sleep.
Bless us with dreams that will heal our souls.
Bless us with the night’s silent messages of eternity that we may be set free by love.
Bless us in the night, O God, that we may be set free to love.