“Lectio Divina”

Download a PDF of this sermon here.

 

Rev. Jocelyn B. Gardner Spencer

May 18, 2014

Scripture:  John 21:1-19

 

In the spirit of testimony, of sharing our stories and our faith, we will do something a bit different today. Instead of a traditional sermon, where I talk and you listen, today we will engage the text together, because God is still speaking, and not only to me, but to every one of us.

We will engage today in an ancient Christian practice called lectio divina, which is Latin for “holy reading.” Some of you have done this before. We tried it in the prayer and meditation workshop we had last fall, and others of you will have encountered it elsewhere.

It is a practice that was first developed in the third century, and it has been used ever since. It’s a practice of praying with scripture, of entering into the text and discovering where God meets us there.

So, in our lectio divina today, Bruce and I will read through the scripture several times.

The first time, I invite you to listen for a word or phrase that jumps out at you as we read the story—something that sticks out, or surprises you, or strikes you for some reason. You don’t have to figure out why at this point—just notice that word or phrase and remember what it is. When we finish the reading, we’ll be quiet for a few moments, and then I’ll invite you to share that word or phrase with someone sitting near you.

After a few moments, we will read the story again. This time, I invite you to listen for where this scripture intersects with your life. It might be something about the word or phrase you noticed at first, or it might be something else. Listen for the resonance between the scripture and your life, between your life and the scripture. When we finish the reading, we’ll be quiet for a few moments, and then I’ll invite you to share a few words with your neighbor about where the story intersects your life.

After a few moments, we will read it once more. This time, I invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying to you, or to us, in this story. What is God calling us to do or be? How is God inviting us to change? What new thing is God doing in our midst? How might we respond? When we finish the reading, we’ll be quiet for a few moments, and then I’ll invite you to share a few words with your neighbor about how God is speaking to you in this text.

I’ll give you the instructions again as we go. But first, let us pray.

Come, God, come, and speak to us now, for we are listening. Whisper in our ears and stir in our hearts, so that we might know what you are saying to us today. Amen.

 

We will read this morning from John 21:1-19. During this first reading, listen for a word or phrase that jumps out at you.

 

Read scripture for the first time, then sit in silence for a few moments and listen for God.

 

Now turn to someone near you and share what you heard. What word of phrase jumped out at you?

 

*          *          *

 

During this second reading, listen for where this scripture intersects with your life.

 

Read scripture for the second time, then sit in silence for a few moments and listen for God.

 

Now turn to your neighbor and share a few words about the connection you noticed.

Where does this story intersect with your life?

 

*          *          *

 

During this third reading, listen for what God is saying to you or to us in this story.

 

Read scripture for the third time, then sit in silence for a few moments and listen for God.

 

Now turn to your neighbor and share a few words about how the Spirit spoke to you. What is God calling you (or us) to do or be or change?

 

*          *          *

 

Let us pray.

Still-speaking God, you have promised that wherever two or three are gathered, you are in our midst. So thank you for the ways in which you showed up today, for speaking through these ancient words and bringing your presence to our contemporary lives. Thank you for the love that is all in all. Thank you for the nurture you pour upon us, and thank you for the mission to which you call us. Bless our reading, and our listening, and our following, for we pray as we do all things, in your name. Amen.