October 22, 2017 / LECTIO DIVINA / Sara Wolbrecht / Mark 1:4-11
This month, we have been walking the path of compassion, what we defined as “being with suffering” seeing the connection, the relationship between two points, and how we see, feel, and act with compassion. Which I have experienced as really challenging and deeply meaningful. Today, we pause together on the path of compassion to listen.
As our video reminds us, listening, paying attention is part of our focus and practice this fall – paying attention to Kairos, to our lives, growing in our sensitivity to hearing God, especially because life is filled with change – including, we hope, God’s invitation to let ourselves be changed – mind, heart, soul change. And so today we open up our time together to practice paying attention to our lives, listening for what God is saying. And we’ll do this by listening to a passage from the bible through the practice of Lectio Divina.
For those new to it, Lectio Divina is Latin for “Holy Word” or =“Divine Reading.” A practice that has been around since the 3rd Century (I personally deeply appreciate that this is a practice that is 1500 years old), and it was formalized in the 12th Century, that involves rereading a section of the bible, listening for a word that gets our attention, then prayerfully holding that word, looking for connections to our life now – and what God is saying to us in it.
Reading and listening to the bible in this way affirms how we believe that scripture is not a static, one-dimensional text, but it’s still alive and kicking today. In this fall series as we lean into listening for God, God can be heard and experienced in this living, breathing ancient book we call the bible. God hooks us as we read it. Even when we read passages we have read before, we will hear it in a different way – because as people who are living through change and being changed – we are in a different place than we were the last time, or even last week (right?). So we’ll hear and experience fresh things every time we read scripture. Which is pretty amazing. This is a practice for us to keep in the ol’ tool belt, as something to practice on our own or in smaller groups. Also, just to name that: you may find that Lectio is just not your jam, and that’s ok, too. Thanks for hanging in, even if that’s the case.
Our reading today is from Mark’s gospel (if you’re listening or watching online, and want to turn to it, it’s Mark 1:4-11, The Message version).
As we listen, I invite you to keep your S hook handy (did you get one?). This fall we keep passing them out as we make this journey through chunk of change – these hooks are meant to be a reminder for us, grounding us in the practice of paying attention to how God has our attention, hooks us. So keep it handy now, as a prayer stone, a touchstone of how God speaks to us in the midst of listening to the bible.
We have practiced Lectio Divina a few times on Sunday mornings together, and it has become a regular practice we come back to, to be people who listen for God, and who open up the Bible to let God speak into our lives, our context, here and now.
So let’s begin. Please get comfortable in your seat. Connect with your breath, roll your shoulders back. The first step in Lectio is READING. We read the text. Staying in that place connected to your breath, attentive, our first-time reading is to just hear the text. No agenda. I invite you to listen with your eyes closed if that’s comfortable for you.
(not on screen) Mark 1:4-11 (The Message) - Sara
4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
Now this next time through, we listen for a word or phrase that touches our heart, that gets our attention. That’s what we listen for – one word or phrase. (If you are a more visual person, pull out that bulletin insert, and the text is on the back for you to follow along). Otherwise you can keep your eyes closed. Do not expect lightning to strike, just something that shimmers for you, or you feel curious or confused or stirred by. When the word or phrase is found, gently recite it to yourself, repeat it and reflect on it during the short silence that follows the reading.
Mark 1:4-11 (The Message) - Sara
(Silence) If you are willing, I invite you to share out loud the word or phrase that has touched your heart. Just the word, no commentary yet.
…Thank you for sharing. The second step is REFLECTION. We each ponder the word that has touched our heart and ask where the word or phrase touches our life today. As we do this, do not be afraid of distractions, or busy brain. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of ourselves that, when they rise up during Lectio Divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of our self. Embrace those things that come up, listen to them. The question: God, what are you saying to me? is what we hold as we listen. Continue to repeat your word while holding it in dialogue with God, listening for WHY this word grabs our attention today, as we hear the text again, this time read by Dani, with silence after.
Mark 1:4-11 (The Message) - Dani
(Silence) We’ll have a chance to share what we’re hearing in a moment, after our final reading.
The third step is RESPONDING. The third and final reading is for the purpose of experiencing Christ "calling us to respond." What is God in this text calling us to do or to become today or this week? It is our second question name din our video for the fall: God what am I going to do about it? God is always inviting us into transformation, into seeing our lives in a fresh way – like with more compassion as we’ve named these past weeks. How are we invited to be or to do or to see things differently? Please note: answering this question may take longer than the next few minutes – you may need to savor it this week. We listen for our response, as we hear the passage a final time.
Mark 1:4-11 (The Message) - Sara
And now we make space to share what we’re hearing. We’re going to try things a little differently than we have in the past – once when I was on sabbatical y’all tried this. And that is to break into groups of three (four if absolutely necessary, but not two), and to just take one minute each to name the word or phrase, and why you think this is coming up for you, what is interesting, curious, or disruptive about it. Aim to take no more than a minute each – and do know that you can just say the word or phrase, and say – I don’t know why that came up. I just liked it. Connecting with folks you don’t know or at least did not arrive here with is particularly beneficial – (because you can share with your friend or family member later). Let’s move smoothly and decisively into groups of three (and it’s ok if you stand up and move around). Take just a minute each to share.
Is there anything that you would like to share about what’s coming up for you or in your group, what God is saying in this time? …Thank you for sharing, friends. For sharing your experience, your Kairos, your curiosity.
For me, I am so deeply grateful that Peter’s baptism landed TODAY – in the midst of our Chunk of Change series. And that it so naturally worked to then spend time in this text of Jesus’ baptism. To change – the kind of change God is interested in us is heart change – to become who God made us to be. And baptism is a defining moment of identity. This moment where we stand at the water and know that who we are is not what we do (neither our accomplishments or our failures), not what we have, and who we are is not what others say about us. Who we are is what God says about us – God’s words here to Jesus, at his baptism, are the same words spoken to Peter and to each of us at our baptism, and even more importantly, everyday of our lives: “You are my Son, you are my Daughter, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
What kind of week have we had? What kind of heartbreak have we faced? What compassion have we extended in the midst of the overwhelming suffering in our lives and world? No matter what – this is what God says to us – we are chosen and marked by God’s love. Period. God loves the way God made you.
In the midst of my week, man, did I need to remember that. Thank you, thank you, for listening for this good word, together.
In whatever is coming up for you, I invite you to also consider an additional response. I remind you of a practice we’re engaging in every Sunday through the fall. You’re invited to name a Kairos moment or situation in your life, and write it down, a word or short phrase that captures what you’re hearing from God, on these small wooden hearts and circles – whether it’s the word you heard this morning, or something from this past week. We’ll take time to do it during communion and after worship at the tables we have set up. Just carry up your S hook to the table, write something about your Kairos, and then take your S hook to hang it up. Writing down a question mark is ok if you’re not sure what God is saying. But we intentionally do the practice every week, building our muscles for paying attention to our lives, to God, to change.
As we finish our time in Lectio together, the fourth and final step of Lectio Divina is to REMAIN. To simply rest as the Beloved of God in the presence of God. To hold what we have heard spoken through the bible, spoken through each other, as a word of grace and hope for us. For God most certainly speaks through us as a gift with and for each other.
As we “remain” and finish this holy time together, let’s continue to hold this sacred space for each other as the band comes up. And let’s pray as we remain with God, together. Please reconnect with your breath – open your palms:
God, thank you that you have met us here in this practice of listening and thank you for this reminder that to be marked with the cross of Jesus means to be marked by your love. Thank you that we carry that mark on us always.
Thank you that there are so many ways in which you do this work in us – and thank you for the practice of paying attention that draws us back to you – hearing how your story is unfolding in our story, hearing our story in scripture – and in the words shared with each other – It is breathtaking to experience you in this way. And in all of it to hear a vibrant invitation to follow Jesus with this one wild and precious life we have been given. We do it now, together, by your grace and for your glory.