by Kristin Huffman, Mission Advocate
Spending time in Scripture is one of the ways we make space for God in our minds and souls. When we focus our attention on God’s Word, marinating on a few verses, we have the opportunity to see and hear Him in new and deepening ways. One way to sit with the Bible is Lectio Divina. Literally translated to “divine reading,” Lectio Divina is an age-old method of reading God’s Word, with roots tracing back to St. Benedict in the 6th century.
For this week’s Lenten reflection, we’ll meditate together on some of the verses that help remind us of our role as image-bearers to the world. While we’ll focus on Matthew chapter 5 for this devotional, I’d also recommend reading Revelation 7:9-12 (NRSV) and Isaiah 49:5-6 (MSG) sometime this week to further your reflection. As you go through these references, pray for the peoples and places in the world that currently don’t have access to the Good News of Jesus. Ask God to show you your role in making His Kingdom known around the globe. If you’ve never participated in a Lectio Divina before, scroll down below the scripture references for more information on how to implement this practice.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep an open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:13-16 (MSG)
Steps for Practicing Lectio Divina*:
Prepare yourself to receive from God. Slow down, relax and intentionally release the chaos and noise in your mind to Him. Close your eyes and breathe out slowly. Ask God to give you an openness to hear from the Spirit. Take as long as you need.
Read the passage slowly, allowing the words to resonate and settle in your heart. Enter into the scene in your imagination. Imagination is a God-given gift. Envision the scene. Carefully watch the people. Listen to how they interact. If the passage is not a scene but rather a promise, counsel or exhortation, then soak yourself in its message + meaning. Now that the words are familiar to you, read the passage again. This time, also listen with the ear of your heart for a word, phrase or detail of the story that shimmers or stands out to you. Do not choose this yourself. Let the Spirit bring it to you.
Read the passage again slowly. As you do so and for a few minutes afterward, linger on the word or phrase that stood out to you. Sit with the word or phrase and savor it as a word of God for you. Why do you think these words resonated with you? Ask God, How does this connect with my life today? What do I need to know or be or do?
Read the passage one last time, listening attentively for anything else God might have to say to you. Allow the Scripture to lead you into a response of prayer. Do not censure your thoughts or requests. Let them flow out spontaneously and freely before the Lord who loves you. Hold nothing back. Respond to God’s invitation to you.
Deeply receive God’s Word and rest in His presence and love. Give yourself some time to wait and be still before you reenter life as usual. Take God’s Word to you with you throughout the day. God loves to give to His children; rest in the beauty + hope of that.