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Kingdom Practice 1: Lectio Divina

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Kingdom Practice
Week 1

Lectio handout

Lectio handout

Introduction

This week, we are practicing Lectio Divina (pronounced lex-eo diveena), which means “divine reading.” This ancient practice stems from the belief that Scripture is alive and active (Heb. 4:12) and seeks to help us listen for what God’s word is saying to us in the present moment through the Holy Spirit.  Unlike other methods of reading Scripture, or our typical approach, in which we try to “figure out” a particular passage or understand it intellectually, Lectio is intended to open us to hearing what God is already saying to us.  Lectio is not a way to force or manipulate God to speak to us; we, of course, have no ability to do that.  It is simply one way we seek to be attentive.  Some days you may hear nothing but silence.

We have set forth below some suggestions about posture as you prepare to practice, the key elements of the process, a passage of Scripture to engage with each day this week, and some additional resources you might find helpful.

Posture

An important element of all spiritual practices is our posture.  This week, as you practice Lectio Divina, consider the posture of your body, your mind, and your heart.

Body.  Try to find a physical spot that is comfortable and relatively free from distraction.  Position your body in an open posture – uncrossed arms and legs, relaxed hands, and ability to breathe deeply.

Mind.  Set a timeframe on your practice so that your active mind can be at peace knowing that it need only set aside your daily responsibilities and duties for a defined period of time.  If this is your first time or first time in a while, start with 10 minutes.

Heart.  Express your willingness to be in God’s presence and to set aside any hurt or judgment you feel in the moment.  Try speaking this simple phrase, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”  (1 Sam. 3:9)       
[colorbox color=”” border_color=”” background_color=”lightgrey” border_width=”” border_radius=”” padding=”20px 20px 20px 20px”]Lectio Divina

As you practice Lectio, try remembering these three words – Read, Listen, Repeat.
Here is one way to engage in this practice:

Read.  Read the passage slowly.
Listen.  Sit silently for one minute and pay attention to what words or phrases stand out to you. 

Read.  Read the passage a second time and intentionally pause between phrases and sentences.
Listen.  Prayerfully ask: To what area of my life does that word or phrase relate?  Sit silently for two minutes and listen.

Read.  Read the passage a third time, again slowly.
Listen.  Prayerfully ask: Is there an invitation or next step for me, related to this word or phrase?  Sit silently for two minutes, and without trying to figure out the invitation or next step, just listen.

When you have completed this process, feel the freedom to sit quietly for a minute or two, or write down the words or phrases that stood out to you, or the invitation you heard God opening to you.[/colorbox]

Daily Scripture Readings:

Monday: Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Tuesday: Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Wednesday: Mark 10:46-52

Thursday:  Mark 10:46-52

Friday: Matthew 14:22-33

Saturday:  Matthew 13:44-46

 

Additional Resources about Lectio Divina:

Article: Lectio Divina: Engaging the Scriptures for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton,

Book: Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading, Eugene H. Peterson, 

Video:  Lectio Divina

 

 

 

 

Setting Up the Chapel

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The Chapel

The Willow Chapel

So excited.  We spent yesterday setting up the Willow chapel in preparation for our first gathering of The Practice this Sunday night.  I can’t possibly convey how much we’re looking forward to this new adventure.

Our goal for the chapel is to help it feel like a holy living room.  Simple, reverent, and human.  The chairs are set up in the round because we long to become a tribe together, and the Eucharist table is in the very center of the room because we know that Christ is the very center of everything.  It’s simple, but hopefully the room will preach louder than any words.

Becky and I even had the chance to run through some of the opening liturgy.  Friends, we can’t wait to dive into this with you.

T minus three days…

Preparing for The Practice

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A few ways to begin…

Hello everyone! As you know, we’re meeting for the first time on Sunday, March 9th. (More info here)  We’ll gather in the chapel to hear the heart behind this experiment, worship together, and begin practicing the way of Jesus. Please join us. Everyone is welcome! The only requirement is that you have a deep desire to engage with Jesus and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We don’t exactly know where God will lead each of us, but it has the potential to change everything.

Before the 9th, please take a few minutes to read this chapter from Mark Scandrette’s “Practicing the Way of Jesus”.  Mark beautifully articulates why practice and prayerful action are central to the life of a Christ-follower, and he shares stories of how his community actually lives it out.  Our journey will look different here in Chicagoland, but the heart is the same.  You’ll LOVE his passion and creativity.

And then, if you’d like to go deeper, check out the two books below.

Really excited to go on this journey with you all,

Aaron and the Practice team

 

Living in Christ

Living in Christ

There is truly no one who has formed our understanding of spiritual formation and the Kingdom of God more than Dallas Willard.  And Living in Christ’s Presence is one of the final teachings Dallas gave at the end of his life with John Ortberg.  Absolutely brilliant.  If you’ve never read Willard, this is a great place to begin.

“Jesus is calling us to our part of seeking the Kingdom of God with all our heart.  That is our first priority: seeking the Kingdom of God.  Now, when you seek something, you look for it everywhere….  To seek the Kingdom of God is to look for it to be present and for it to be an action, and then identify yourself with that action.  (Matthew 6:33)  Find out what God is doing where you are and identify with it.” (Dallas Willard)

Practicing the Way

Practicing the Way

You’ve already read the first chapter, but I highly recommend picking up the whole book.  Not only does he offer a compelling vision of life with Christ, but Practicing the Way of Jesus is packed with stories and stories about how they actually, practically, experimentally, creatively, and courageously live it out.

“The invitation to follow the way of Jesus doesn’t help us cope with the busy lives we have or support our quest for the American dream. It does offer us a radical alternative to the ways of this world that are making us hurried, weary and tired.”“Practicing the way of Jesus begins with having an imagination for life in the kingdom of love, desiring that life, and then taking steps to live into that reality through tangible changes in how we live in our minds and bodies.” (Mark Scandrette)

Welcome!

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And so it begins…

Hello!  Thanks so much for being interested in The Practice.  We’re really excited to see what God does with a little tribe of people who humbly work to put Jesus’ words into practice.  Not just believe them in our heads, but to flesh them out into every area of our life…for the glory of God and the healing of the world.

As you may know, this is a grand experiment.  The Willow leadership has given us the freedom and blessing to try new things, explore new paths, learn from as many different perspectives as possible, and give God the space to lead us all into deeper partnership with Him.

We really hope you’ll join us.

But be warned:  it will be messy and unpolished.  We don’t exactly have a ten year plan.  Or a ten minute plan!  (Ha.)  But I can say with all my heart that God has already been leading and guiding the process in beautiful ways.  And He will not stop.  Ever.  All is grace.

So let’s begin gathering together on Sunday nights to see where God might lead us….

Sunday, March 9th
7-9pm in Willow’s Chapel

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll share some thoughts, resources, and ways for you to begin preparing to dive into all this. Please look for an email early next week. Thanks!

Learning the unforced rhythms of grace together,
Aaron and The Practice team