September 24, 2017 / CHANGED THROUGH SCRIPTURE - LECTIO DIVINA / Sara Wolbrecht / Luke 7:11-17
Friends, we are here together in the fall and in this Chunk of Change sermon series together, paying attention to the changes around us, and listening in them for the chances to let God lead us into change.
We’re celebrating and exploring the ways in life gets our attention, we get hooked by something significant in our lives, and invited
Last week we challenged each other to pay attention to Kairos this week, to make note of, even write down the moments, the situations we encounter where we recognize something deeper underneath the surface of those moments and circumstances. Were you mindful of Kairos this week? It’s ok if you forgot this week, it’s a new day today.
Last week we also name dhow our time in worship here is never just about me getting up and telling you some interesting and entertaining information. But we sculpt the experience of Sunday morning to be one of actual experience, experiencing the sacred mystery of God and life, and a time to practice paying attention to our lives and practice the love that Jesus demonstrates for us.
And this morning, our time now is absolutely this. An experience, a practice of listening to our lives, listening for God, and doing that 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 (just a little while), 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.
Which 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. 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. So we’ll hear and experience fresh things every time we read scripture. Which is pretty amazing.
Our reading today is from Luke’s gospel (Luke 7:11-17, The Message version, if you’re listening or watching online). In this passage, Jesus and the crowd who is traveling with him, they are heading into the city of Nain, 5 miles southwest of Nazareth, when they encounter another crowd, a funeral procession, heading out of the city to bury the body, because ritual purity laws did not allow bodies to be buried within the walls of the city.
As we listen, I invite you to keep your S hook handy (did you get one?) as that touchstone of remembering how God hooks us, speaks to us in the midst of listening to the bible. I invite you to listen with your eyes closed if that’s comfortable for you.
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.
Luke 7:11-17 (The Message) - Sara
Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.
They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.
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 stirred by. When the word or phrase is found, gently recite it, repeat it and reflect on it during the silence that follows.
Luke 7:11-17 (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.
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. 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 we named last week of asking: 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 Matt, with silence after.
Luke 7:11-17 (The Message) - Matt
(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 we named last week: God what am I going to do about it? God is always inviting us into transformation, into seeing our lives in a fresh way. How are we invited to be or to do or to see things differently? We listen for our response, as we hear the passage a final time.
Luke 7:11-17 (The Message) - Sara
And now we make space to share, for those who would like to. You do not have to worry about sounding smart or insightful or being articulate – you can be brief. I’ve noticed in my experience, our own willingness to speak up of how we’re experiencing God – God always uses it to speak to someone else. And in the week that we have had in our world, so much devastation and disaster, many of us are hungering to hear words of grace from God spoken by others – this is a great way to practice that. So let’s see together: what word/phrase spoke to you and what have you been noticing about it? How are you invited to respond? (For this part we’ll use a mic so that we can be sure everyone can hear).
…Thank you for sharing, friends. For sharing your experience, your Kairos, your curiosity. I invite you to also consider two specific responses, one for this morning, one for this week. First, this morning, I remind you of a practice we started last Sunday, and we’ll engage with 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 something 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.
The second response is simply to continue or begin letting Kairos seep into your awareness of what’s possible during the day. To pay attention to the deeper levels of possibility in the regular, everyday stuff of your life. There is a Kairos moment that happens in our text we just read, yes? For this woman, mother, widow, who was walking the road of her day, in her grief she was met by Jesus along the way. Maybe we can be people whose sensitivity is increased just a notch to notice, like the crowd, when we’re in a place of holy mystery, that God is at work among us.
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.