LECTIO DIVINA - FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT

Introduction for tonight:
For ease of leadership and Sabbath rest, we offer a practice of Lectio Divina each Sunday.
Lectio Divina is a prayerful way to read the Bible and spend time with God. It involves reading the text multiple times, with stretches of silence between each reading to notice the action of the Spirit in the words.
You and your family are invited to let the pause between readings be as long as is comfortable. Because part of the process is to slow down, you might try increasing lengths of silence as you deepen in the practice. The length of time you spend on this practice is up to you.
Each Sunday evening, we invite you to choose the text that you would like to revisit for Lectio Divina. We will post all of the past week’s readings so you have every option accessible. We highlight shorter sections, typical of the Lectio Divina practice, and invite you to repeat only those few verses, the entire text, or the verses of your own choosing. Let the choosing of a text be part of the family’s discussion and practice.


CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.


As you light the candle, you might sing together the refrain of, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.


Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.


LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.


You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:


“In one or two words, how have you lived as your little self, today?”


Allow time for a response from each individual.


Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by letting your ego be your guide, today.


Pause


You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:


“How have you lived as your True Self, today?


Allow time for a response from each individual.


Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for living within you each day.”


Pause

LECTIO DIVINA
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.


Choose one of the following readings.
Lectio Divina usually utilizes shorter texts than those we typically read in worship. We have highlighted the verses within each text that we feel are central to the week’s theme or are the most helpful for prayer.
Feel free to read the entire text, the highlighted portion, or another portion that is more meaningful to you and your family.


Introduce the reading with words like this:


Tonight we get to choose our reading. Which story from this week was our favorite?


Allow a moment or two for consideration and conversation. When a text has been chosen, continue with:


We’ll read through our text three times.
As the words are read, listen for a word or phrase that speaks to you.
As we enter into silence, focus on that word or phrase.
Consider what the Spirit is saying to you, stirring in you, or lifting up in you.
As the text is read the second and third time, listen again for a word or phrase that 
speaks to you. It might be the same word or phrase, or it may be a new word or 
phrase.
Again, during the second and third silences, focus on that word or phrase.
Let your intention be openness to the Spirit’s presence in those words.


Read one of the following texts through once:


From Monday:
A reading from Ezekiel 37:1-142


1The hand of YHWH was upon me, and it carried me away by the Spirit of YHWH and set me down in a valley - a valley full of bones. 2 God made me walk up and down among them. And I saw that there was a vast number of bones lying there in the valley, and they were very dry. 3God asked me, “Mere mortal, can these bones live?”
I answered, “Only you know that, Sovereign YHWH.”
4And God said, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of YHWH! 5Sovereign YHWH says to these bones: I am going to breathe life into you. 6I will fasten sinews on you, clothe you with flesh, cover you with skin, and give you breath. And you will live; and you will know that I am Sovereign YHWH.’”
7So I prophesied as I was commanded, and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and all the bones came together, bone to matching bone. 8As I watched, sinews appeared on them, flesh clothed them, and skin covered them. But there was no breath in them.
9Then God said to me, “Prophesy to the wind; prophesy, mere mortal, and say to it: ‘Thus says Sovereign YHWH: Approach from the four winds, Breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’”
10I prophesied as I was commanded, and breath came into them; they came alive, and stood up on their feet - a vast multitude.
11Then God said to me, “Mere mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. The people keep saying, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is gone, and we are doomed.’ 12Prophesy, therefore, and say to them, ‘Thus says Sovereign YHWH: I am going to open your graves and raise you up from the dead, my people. I will return you to the land of Israel. 13When I open your graves and raise you up, you my people, will know that I am YHWH. 14Then I will put my Spirit into you and you will return to life, and I will settle you back on your own land. Then you will know that I, YHWH, have spoken and made all this happen, says Sovereign YHWH.’”

From Tuesday:
A reading from Psalm 1302


1Out of the depths I cry to you, YHWH!
2God, hear my voice!
 Let your ears be attentive
 to my voice, my cries for mercy!
3If you kept track of our sins, YHWH,
 who could stand before you?
4But with you is forgiveness,
 and for this we revere you.


5So I wait for you, YHWH -
 my soul waits,
 and in your word I place my trust.
6My soul longs for you, YHWH,
 more than sentinels long for the dawn,
 more than sentinels long for the dawn.
7Israel, put your hope in YHWH,
 for with YHWH is abundant love
 and the fullness of deliverance;
8God will deliver Israel
 from all its failings.



From Wednesday:
A reading from Romans 8:6-113


6The mind focused on the little self is obsessed with the self, the ego; this leads to suffering and death. But the mind focused on the Spirit: the Christ-Self or True Self, on God-within, this is the grounding of life and peace. 7The mind focused on the little self neglects and opposes God; it does not yield to God’s will lived out within or around it; it cannot focus on God’s will; 8therefore, those who are consumed with the little self cannot please God.
9 But you are not your little self; you are surrounded and held by the Spirit; the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not attend to the Spirit of Christ will not know what it means to live in Christ. 10But for everyone open to living from their Christ-self, even though they still experience limitation and brokenness, the Spirit empowers them for a different kind of life and right relationship with God, others and self. 11When the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit that gives you life like Christ’s.


From Thursday:
A reading from John 11:1-164
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the [feet of Jesus] with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, [Rabbi, the one] you love is ill.’ 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Only Begotten may be glorified through it.’ 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
7 Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ 8The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ 9Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ 11After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ 12The disciples said to him, [‘Rabbi], if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’


From Friday:
A reading from John 11:17-414
17 When Jesus arrived [in Bethany], he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, ‘[Rabbi], if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.’ 23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24Martha said, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27She said to him, ‘Yes, [Rabbi], I believe that you are the Messiah, [God’s Only Begotten], the one coming into the world.’
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ 29And when she heard it, [Mary] got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘[Rabbi], if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘[Rabbi], come and see.’ 35Jesus began to weep.36So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘[Rabbi], already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’
41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43When [Jesus] had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Silence for as many minutes as your family finds comfortable.


As I read the passage again, listen for an image, word or phrase that stands out to 
you.
During the following silence, focus on that image or word.


Re-read the same text.


Silence for as many minutes as your family finds comfortable.


We will read the passage a third time.
Listen again for an image, word or phrase that stands out to you.
During the following silence, focus on that image or word.
Wonder what the Spirit is saying to you through that image, word or phrase.
In the reading and the silence, let the presence and love of the Spirit wash over you 
and bring you rest.


Re-read the same text.


Silence for as many minutes as your family finds comfortable.


At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:


I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.


Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.


PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:


As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how the Spirit was 
with us: 
Where or in what way did you experience the Spirit in this time?


After a moment or two of resting, encourage people to write, draw or doodle about their experience.
You might offer the following journal prompts:
*Write the word or draw the image that stood out to you during this time.
*What feelings did you have during tonight’s practice?
*What might the Spirit be saying to you in your image?


Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.


Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.


BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.


As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.


Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”


Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”




  1. With One Voice, Augsburg Fortress; 1995: #686.
  2. From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.
  3. Emily’s revision, based on The Message, The Inclusive Bible, and the NRSV.
  4. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), uploaded from Oremus Bible Browser; accessed 03.20.20.

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