Loving Mercy

Loving Mercy

•    There has been lots of drama in this little body of Jesus followers over the last few months •    It seems that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong •    In the middle of all of this o    It is easy to get your eyes off the goal of loving people o    It is easy to get caught up in the drama and take offensive at what folks have or have not done •    To help us refocus, I want to take some time to talk about why we are a church o    Why do we gather here each week o    Why do we meet in our homes o    Why do we do what we do o    And what does it mean to walk in mercy and forgiveness (Audio recording of this sermon can be found on the PRV website) Why we meet as a church? •    To Corporately Worship God o    yes, you can worship by yourself, but there is something powerful about coming together as a group to worship God. o     It is interesting to note that pretty every region across every culture has a sense of the corporateness of worship… o    kinda makes you think that perhaps there’s something to it. “When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went...
Lectio Divina – Step Four: Contemplate (Contemplatio)

Lectio Divina – Step Four: Contemplate (Contemplatio)

The fourth and last step of the Diving Reading is to contemplate – that is, to stop and be silent while allowing everything you have read, mediated on, and prayed about take shape in your life. This is where we use our intuition in order to coalesce the previous three steps. It is meant to consummate the union of our mind and God’s truth, our heart and God’s love, our life and God’s life, our person and the person of God. Since it is a time of silence – which is hard for most people – it is easy to skip this part, but we must NOT skip it as it is the most important part. It is during this final step that we let go of our own ideas and plans and let God’s ideas and plans wash over us. It is a time of silent prayer; of breathing in all that happened. The spiritual discipline of “Contemplative Prayer” comes into play here: “Contemplative prayer is silence, the ‘symbol of the world to come’ or ‘silent love.’ Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the ‘outer’ man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.” –from the Catechism of the Catholic Church In other words, the contemplative step is a way of cementing everything together as one. A practical tip: before you start, set a timer for five or seven...
Lectio Divina – Step Three: Pray (Oratio)

Lectio Divina – Step Three: Pray (Oratio)

As mentioned before, the Lectio Divina (or “Divine Reading”, to use the English translation) was developed in the 3rd century by the early church fathers as a way to pray through the Scriptures.  Split into four parts, the Divine Reading helps one to slow down and really allow the Scriptures to seep into one’s soul. The first step is to read a short passage, savoring each word as it crosses your lips rather than trying get through large volumes of verses. Following this, one is to meditate on words of Scriptures – turning them over and over again as they seep into one’s heart. The third step of the Divine Reading, which we will be talking about today,  is prayer – or more distinctly, creating a place where you can talk to God about what was read and meditated on. The last part, which we will cover later on, is to contemplate upon all that has happened with the previous three steps. Four steps working in unity to breath life into the Scriptures and change our souls. Powerful stuff made even more powerful by the fact that countless Jesus followers throughout centuries have walked through these four steps… wow, talk about finding the “ancient paths” of the faith (Jeremiah 6:16).  Enough of the review, let us turn to the third step of the Lectio Divina, praying. Step Three: Pray (Oratio) The third step is where we dialogue with God about what He told us. It is where we move from thinking about – meditating about – and start responding to the message of the Scriptures. It is the place...
Lectio Divina – Step Two: Meditate (Meditatio)

Lectio Divina – Step Two: Meditate (Meditatio)

The next step in the Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) after savoring the Scriptures is to meditate on the words which you just read. It is about stopping and really thinking about them rather than checking an item off your to-do list and moving on to the next thing. In mediating about the words of the Scriptures is to allows the words to seep through you. You are not trying to assign meaning to the words – you are letting the words work through you. To mediate is to hold the Scriptures gentle, turning them around and around so you can see them through different angles and view points. It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to breath life into the words – turning them simple letters on a page to life giving manna from heaven. For without the Holy Spirit, reading the Bible is like than reading the label on a can of soup without actually opening and eating the soup. We HAVE to have the Holy Spirit, and we HAVE to ALLOW the Spirit to move in our lives! This is also the time in which we can use our imagination to enter into the Scriptures like we mentioned before. Here shortly I will talking more about this step as I have some suggestions based upon the four basic personality temperaments…but for now, know that this step is where you allow the word that you have just read to permeate our lives. Here’s an example, a few weeks ago I went into a conference room at work to pray. Opening the Bible my fingers led me to Romans...
Lectio Divina – Step One: Read (Lectio)

Lectio Divina – Step One: Read (Lectio)

The first step in the Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) is to read the Scriptures. While this seems self evident, it really isn’t as we all have different ways of reading. For example, there are some folks whose goal in devotional reading is to make it through large chucks of Scriptures. And while there is a time and place for reading large amounts of Scriptures (after all we NEED to get the overall story line of a particular letter as well as the Bible as a whole), reading with the Divine Reading is not that place. The reading of the Lectio Divina is a prayerful reading. It is using our senses to perceive the works of the Lord – to slowly savor each word. It is a gradual reading of a verse or a few verses, pausing after each word and recognizing how carefully the Spirit chose each word to be recorded. It is reading like you would fondle over a new toy or tool – looking at over and over, turning it over and over, seeing the beauty and life behind the printed text. In fact, I would recommend reading the verse(s) out loud as there is something powerful about physically voicing the Scriptures. In speaking the words out loud, it is almost as if the verses become real and moves from your mind into your heart. It is not a magical formula or a way of manipulating God – it is a way of using all of our senses to experience the words of God given to us. It is about seeing the words on the page –...
Introducing The Lectio Divina

Introducing The Lectio Divina

•    Let’s open our Bible’s to 1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. •    We have tasked that the Lord is good o    Each of us have bowed our knees to the King of Kings •    Now that we have done so, we are to seek to grow in Him o    To “train yourself to be godly” as St. Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:7 •    We are to “CRAVE pure spiritual milk” o    It is a strong desire to learn and grow o    It is following in the steps of The Rabbi o    Getting to know Him •    Which is the whole purpose of prayer o    To align our lives – our souls, spirits, minds, emotions with Jesus •    We pray not to get answers o    We pray because we want to know Jesus o    We want to be WITH Jesus The Ancient Paths •    During the siege of Jerusalem the prophet Jeremiah warned the people against disobeying God •    In Jeremiah 6:16 he is recorded as saying This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look;     ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,     and you will find rest for your souls.     But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ •    Ask for the ancient paths o    Ask for the tried and true...