LECTIO DIVINA - FOURTH 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, Healer of our Every Ill1

Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow.


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 not followed the Spirit’s lead, today?
Allow time for a response from each individual.
Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain not following has caused.”

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you followed the Spirit’s lead, 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 filling you with what you need for 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 1 Samuel 16:10-13 (MSG)2

10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”
11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”
“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”
Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”
12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.
God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”
13 Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.
Samuel left and went home to Ramah.

From Tuesday:
A reading from Psalm 233

1 YHWH, you are my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 In verdant pastures you give me repose.
Beside restful waters you lead me;
3 You refresh my soul.
You guide me in right paths
for your name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil;
for you are at my side.
5 Your rod and your staff give me courage.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup brims over.
6 Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in your house
for years to come.


From Wednesday:
A reading from Ephesians 5:8-144

8 For once you were darkness, but now in Christ you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to God. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake!
    Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”


From Thursday:
A reading from John 9:1-235

1As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. 2The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?”
3“Neither”, answered Jesus,
“It wasn’t because of anyone’s sin -
not this person’s, nor the parents’.
Rather, it was to let God’s work shine forth
in this person.
4We must do the deeds of the One who sent me
while it is still day - for night is coming,
when no one can work.
5While I am in the world,
I am the light of the world.
6 With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud. 7 Then Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” - “Siloam” means “sent”. So the person went off to wash, and came back able to see.
8 Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing the blind beggar began to ask, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said yes; others said no - the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar.
But the individual in question said, “No - it was me.”
10 The people then asked, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
11 The answer came, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. When I went and washed, I was able to see.”
12 “Where is Jesus?” they asked.
The person replied, “I have no idea.”
13 They took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. 14 It had been on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened this one’s eyes. 15 The Pharisees asked how the individual could see. They were told, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.”
16 This prompted some Pharisees to say, “This Jesus cannot be from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like these?” They were sharply divided.
17 Then they addressed the blind person again: “Since it was your eyes he opened, what do you have to say about this Jesus?”
“He’s a prophet,” came the reply.
18 The Temple authorities refused to believe that this one had been blind and had begun to see, until they summoned the parents. 19 “Is this your child?” they asked, “and if so, do you attest that your child was blind at birth? How do you account for the fact that now your child can see?”
20 The parents answered, “We know this is our child, blind from birth. 21 But how our child can see now, or who opened those blind eyes, we have no idea. But don’t ask us - our child is old enough to speak without us!” 22 The parents answered this way because they were afraid of the Temple authorities, who had already agreed among themselves that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why they said, “Our child is of age and should be asked directly.”



From Friday:
A reading from John 9:24-415
24 A second time [the Pharisees] summoned the one who had been born blind and said, “Give God the glory instead; we know that this Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner or not,” the individual answered. “All I know is that I used to be blind, and now I can see.”
26 They persisted, “Just what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 “I already told you, but you won’t listen to me,” came the answer. “Why do you want to hear it all over again? Don’t tell me you want to become disciples of Jesus too!”
28 They retorted scornfully, “You’re the one who is Jesus’ disciple. We’re disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from.”
30 The other retorted: “Well, this is news! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. 32 It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. 33 If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing!”
34 “What!” they exclaimed. “You’re steeped in sin from birth, and you’re giving us lectures?” With that they threw the person out.
35 When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?”
36 The other answered, “Who is this One, that I may believe?”
37 “You’re looking at him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”
38 The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus.
39 And Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice - to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”
40 Some of the Pharisees who were nearby heard this and said, “You’re not calling us blind, are you?”
41 To which Jesus replied, “If you were blind, there would be no sin in that. But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.


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, Healer of our Every Ill1

Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow.


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. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress; 2006: #612.
  2. THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Found on Bible Gateway; accessed 03.14.20.
  3. Schreck, Nancy, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, Psalms Anew: In Inclusive Language; Saint Mary’s Press, Winona, MN.
  4. THE HOLY BIBLE, (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Found on Bible Gateway; accessed 03.17.20.
  5. From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.

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