We are exploring some ways we can use prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice to better embrace the fullness of who we are and who others are, so encountering the living Christ in new ways. These previous notes on daily spiritual practices explore some such practices. I would love to hear which practices help you and how.
Yesterday, I began to talk about some of the practices of Christian meditation which can help enliven our lives individually and which also help influence and inspire my regular daily devotional. I want to spend a few days talking about ways to approach sections of Scripture which can also be doorways to meditation.
The starting place is of course selecting the Scripture to use for your deep meditation on Scripture. I used to struggle over this myself a bit, praying for God to guide me to the right text. I’ve begun in my own life to trust the fact Jesus did not teach the twelve disciples alone but rather in the context of community. As such I don’t need to feel the pressure to build everything in my spiritual journey from scratch. I’ve begun to tap into the ways in which Christians over the years have read Scripture in community.
Two key ways Christians have planned their regular reading of Scripture are the Daily Office and the Common Lectionary. I’ll talk about the lectionary first and then the Daily Office.
The Lectionary is a list of readings from Scripture and other Sacred Christian writings which are mapped out to give an overview of most Biblical texts over the course of a weekly cycle so that most of Scripture is read together in community over the course of three years. There are often between four-six readings each week recommended. One way to approach selecting your text for more in-depth meditation is to take one lectionary reading for the week each day and engage in one of the deep meditations I am going to share about on that text. You will then probably have a few days when you still can pick another text for meditation or have a day or two you miss your practice for whatever reason. The plus of the lectionary is that many churches pick worship and preaching themes for Sunday worship from the lectionary, and there are tons of resources available for further study on parts of the text which you may have questions about after using it for meditation. So using the lectionary for your meditation actually will possibly inspire deeper Biblical study and connection with worship in your own church community. If you choose to use the lectionary to help build a framework for picking out verses for deeper meditation, I would suggest textweek.com as a good resource. They list the Scriptures for each week and some Christian holidays. Also if you want to engage in more research into the texts, or use liturgical prayers or hymns to enhance your time of prayer and worship, they also list liturgies, prayers, and hymns inspired by the texts.
Another resource Christians have used for a long time to inspire their Biblical meditations is the Daily Office. The Daily Office includes a set of liturgical prayers recommend for each day of the year as well as recommended Scripture readings which should if read daily lead you to read through the Bible. Usually my devotionals I post come out of reflections I come to when I meditate on one of the texts that inspire me in the daily office. Two resources I would recommend for finding and using the Daily Office in your daily meditations are the Mission St Clare Daily Office site (http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html) and the website Common Prayer (http://commonprayer.net/). Mission St Clare’s Daily Office site uses the traditional readings for the Daily Office, while Common Prayer is based on a book in a contemporary Christian spirituality movement and as such includes some more contemporary prayers and readings related to social justice. I go back between these two sites in looking for readings for my own time of Christian meditation.
The next few days I will look at some particular practices of deep meditation surrounding these Scriptures. In the meantime, I’d challenge you to really begin to explore setting aside time both for exploring these resources and beginning to engage in both the breath prayer practice I described earlier, and beginning to meditate on these longer texts either in the daily office or lectionary in your own way.
There is something truly life-giving when opening these pages of Scripture begins to open up your heart and life to transformation.
And I sure ain’t whisting Dixie
Your Progressive redneck preacher,