Last Sunday I announced that I would be leading a new group that will meet before worship to spend some time with the scriptures we will be using from the Narrative Lectionary during worship this coming year. I shared that my plan was to use lectio divina to guide our time together, but I was reminded by a few people afterward that this term might not be as familiar as I was assuming it would be.
You mean not everyone spends their days swimming in religious jargon?
Lectio divina is a Latin phrase that translates to “divine reading.” As a way of approaching scripture, it is much less concerned with a deep theological study of the text and more about reading with an intent to listen contemplatively for the Spirit speaking through the words, images, and stories. There is a lot of value in deep study and the ways it can help us understand the meaning of different words or the contexts of the various passages. But there is also a lot of value in simply spending time with scripture in a more intentionally meditative way.
What this looks like in practice is that we will read the text three times (ideally hearing it in three different voices). During the first readthrough, participants are simply invited to listen and let it wash over them. During the second, the invitation is to narrow in on a word, phrase, or image that stands out to each person, sharing those around the circle. For the final reading, participants will listen for an invitation the Spirit is making through the passage. This is the “so what” piece where we seek the fruit of our contemplation, trusting our ability to listen and respond to the movement of God’s Spirit within and through us.
In some ways, I see this akin to our movement toward a more “play” centered approach to children’s Sunday School classes. It’s not about finding the “correct” interpretation of this or that scripture passage but about wondering together, listening deeply, and, yes, remaining playfully engaged with the stories of our tradition. Maybe I’ll even bring some Play-Doh for people to play with while we listen.
If you are interested in joining, we will meet every Sunday from 8:30-9:15 in the Upper Room (just outside the elevator on the upper floor). You can come whenever you are able, even if that’s only every once in a while. As we spend this year looking at the narrative arc of scripture in worship, my hope is to provide more opportunities for all of us to continue that exploration in other ways.