Thursday, 26 May 2011

Feasting on the Word of God

At our housegroup meeting last night we tried something called 'lectio divina'. It's a way of reading the Bible that focuses on imagination and contemplation, rather than analysis. With lectio divina, you're not reading the Bible to understand what it means but rather inviting God to speak through the Bible, illuminating what he wants to teach you at this particular time. Here's what the Wikipedia entry says:
Lectio Divina has been likened to 'Feasting on the Word'. The four parts are first taking a bite (lectio), then chewing on it (meditatio). Next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (oratio). Finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (contemplatio).

I particularly like this description of the meditatio phase:
Once we have found a word or a passage in the Scriptures that speaks to us in a personal way, we must take it in and 'ruminate' on it. The image of the ruminant animal quietly chewing its cud was used in antiquity as a symbol of the Christian pondering the Word of God. Christians have always seen a scriptural invitation to lectio divina in the example of the Virgin Mary 'pondering in her heart' what she saw and heard of Christ (Luke 2:19). For us today these images are a reminder that we must take in the word – that is, memorize it – and while gently repeating it to ourselves, allow it to interact with our thoughts, our hopes, our memories, our desires. This is the second step or stage in lectio divina – meditatio. Through meditatio we allow God's word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels.

I think we all found it a bit odd, this contemplative reading, but it was a refreshing and different way of reading than we are used to. I'll definitely be trying it again and hoping that, as it becomes more familiar, I'll find God speaking to me more and more. Hopefully I'll be able to get over the strangeness of reading the Bible without trying to analyse it and work out what it means!

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