For those of you, like me, who believe that God inspired the Bible, but that it was written by man (and frankly and historically I do mean man, not mankind), here are two good books that start to pull apart some of the historical, linguistic, and cultural concepts that we have to consider when we read and attempt to interpret the Bible. I have read both of these and have found them both to be insightful. You may not agree with everything they have to say, but they bring up points that you should at least consider.
Do you have any book suggestions that have helped you to better understand the word of God?
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Today was the first day of my offering of Scriptural Meditation to the church that I am serving as a student minister. The meditation is sculpted around a Lectio Divina style reading of scripture, but like my mandala drawing, there is no real interaction with the people present. The reflection and consideration of the scripture is supposed to be personal between you and God. Our reading today was based on Psalm 1, but you can choose any short passage. Here is the structure of the meditation as I walked participants through it. After we have gathered, welcomed each other, and lit the candle to symbolize welcoming God into our presence, the facilitator can begin. Be sure to encourage everyone to find a comfortable position. I personally sit cross legged on the floor, but I arranged some chairs also.
"Listen first to the reading . Hear the word of our Lord. After I finish reading it, we will pause for two minutes to reflect silently on what we have heard." Read scripture of choice. Find a way to time two minutes so that even you are not interrupted. I found a great Tibetian bowl timer as a free app on my phone. After the two minutes, read the following.
"Listen again to this reading. What phrase or word is call to you. Grab a hold of the phrase as I read the Psalm again. Keep the word or phrase in your heart. After I have finished, hold your word or phrase in your mind. Let the word or phrase wash over you. Mull on it. Contemplate it. Repeat it within your mind. We will sit with our individual words or phrases for 5 minutes." Read the scripture again slowly and clearly. After the five minutes, take a deep breath and return.
"I am going to read this passage one more time. You have heard the words. You have found a word or phrase that is calling to you. Now reflect on what God is saying to you. These verses have been read by many, but the Spirit that is speaking through these words is speaking only to you. Feel the words as I speak them again. Feel God within you, moving you. Hear the message you are meant to hear within these words. Sit with this feeling for the next 12 minutes. Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts." Read the scripture again. Time 12 minutes.
"Slowly finish your thoughts. Bring your mind back to the present. Let your body feel the ground below you. Hold on to your thoughts on this scripture. While our time to meditate together is ending, you should carry this time, these thoughts, God’s words with you throughout the day. Let the mediation of God’s words never be far from you." Remind people that part of a spiritual practice is exactly that "practice". It may have been very difficult to be still that long or keep focus. They may not have "felt God" over the ache in their hip. Encourage them though to continue with this practice multiple times before judging it. Close together.
"Let’s take three full breaths together and then together, 'Thank God for being with me today. Amen'"
I hope you will try this practice, if not with a group then within the quite time of your life. We do a lot of talking to God, rarely are we quiet enough to listen to His response.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
We are embarking on a very exciting new journey. While apparently completing my field education was not enough this year, I have decided to work with my minister and some other local ministers to launch a new conversation on our relationship with God. This conversation is going to occur at a local coffee house. We are going to base some of our first conversations around the Phoenix Affirmations. To start the conversation, we asked, "What does God's path look like?" This was my answer to the question. I would say that my response more accurately represents, "What does our path to God look like?"
How would you respond?