For each day of Lent, I will be posting here a Lenten devotional, composed at the behest of the Anti-Racism Team of the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. These devotionals will also be available, as a paperback book or on Kindle, through Amazon.
Each week, this devotional for the forty days of Lent will consider passages, mostly from the Hebrew Bible, that stress God’s love for diversity. Each weekday the devotional reading will consider one particular aspect of that week’s Scripture readings, concluding with a prayer. Our emphasis throughout will be not so much on the negative—that racism and exclusion are unacceptable (although of course they are!)—but on the positive: that God has created us in all our racial and cultural and sexual diversity, and that God loves and values us in and for our differences, not in spite of them.
On each Sunday, the Gospel for that day from the lectionary will be presented without comment. You are invited to meditate on these Gospel readings by observing the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina. This Christian discipline involves reading the Gospel slowly and carefully, attentive to what is said, and also striving with a Spirit-inspired imagination to be present within the narrative. A helpful guide to Lectio Divina by Dr. Martha Robbins, Director of the Pneuma Institute and Joan Marshall Associate Professor Emerita of Pastoral Care at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is presented below. The Pneuma Institute is an independent, ecumenical organization offering workshops, retreats, and services pertaining to spiritual growth and development, and spiritual leadership in today’s world. For more information about the Pneuma Institute visit www.PneumaInstitute.com, and to obtain an order form for Dr. Robbins’ Guided Meditations on Sacred Scripture, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless you as you read, reflect, and pray through this season of repentance and preparation.
PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE – (LECTIO DIVINA)
Adapted by Martha Robbins, Th.D.
Choose a passage from Scripture: (Also good to read passage before going to bed.)
Recall that God is yearning to reveal God’s Word to you; to surround you with Love as God is always present to you. Attitude of expectancy, willingness, openness.
Trust that God will speak in God’s own way and time.
Prepare yourself for listening to God by breathing, centering, focusing.
Ask for the gift to know, love, serve God more fully as revealed to you in this Scripture.
Read the passage slowly. Perhaps a verse at a time, aloud, or in rhythm with your breathing. Notice which words, phrases, verses catch your attention. Repeat words, phrases whenever you desire – especially those that draw your attention.
Reflect on what the Word may be revealing to you or how it may have something to say to you about who God is; what Christ may be saying to you; what it may illuminate about your relationship with God, family, others, your work/ministry, the poor, study, vocation. How does this Word (phrase, verse) addressed to you intersect your life?
Imagine yourself in the story (if a story passage) & let it unfold. What you are seeing, and hearing from the characters in this story? What is your response to what you see and hear? Allow yourself to interact with any of the characters in the Bible story. Let the Holy Spirit reveal the meanings of what you see, hear, say and its implications for your own life.
Linger wherever you feel drawn or moved, if a word or phrase touches you (e.g., you feel God’s love, a sense of peace, joy, sorrow, confused or disturbed by what the words are saying to you). Don’t hurry to move on. Let these words sink in, “chew on them” in order for them to become a part of you. Repeat them, take them to your heart.
Let prayer arise out of you, thanking God, praising God, or sharing your sadness, confusion, questions, joys, or ask for God’s help or forgiveness. Sometimes your prayer may be wordless – experiencing joy, gratitude, wonder, tears. Whatever is going on within you can be gathered up and directed toward God as the Spirit prays within you. Be honest with God; carry on a conversation as one friend to another. Offer yourself or those parts of yourself that were revealed to you to God; let God’s word heal, consecrate, and transform you, “let this mind and heart be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
Let yourself be drawn into a deep peace, joy, love, silence! Let God’s Spirit pray in you.
Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in ways to embody this Word in your daily life. What is God inviting you to do?