LECTIO DIVINA - THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT

Introduction for tonight:
Continuing our theme of 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, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.

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 Exodus 17:1-7 (MSG)2
1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”
4 Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”
5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”
6-7 Moses did what [God] said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”

From Tuesday:
A reading from Psalm 953
95:1 Come, let us sing joyfully to God!
Raise a shout to our rock, our deliverance!
95:2 Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; and sing our praises with joy.
95:3 For YHWH is a great God,
the great Ruler, above all gods.
95:4 O God, in your hands are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks are yours.
95:5 Yours is the sea, for you made it,
the dry land as well, for your hands formed it.
95:6 Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before YHWH, our Maker.
95:7 For you are our God,
and we are the people you shepherd,
The flock under your care.
If only you would hear God’s voice today!
95:8 “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the days of Massah in the desert,
95:9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tested me even though
they had seen my works.
95:10 For forty years that generation provoked me,
until I said, ‘The hearts of these people go astray,
and they do not know my ways.’
95:11 Then I took an oath in anger:
‘They will never come to my place of rest.’”


From Wednesday:
A reading from Romans 5:1-114
5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our [Savior] Jesus Christ,
5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.
5:8 But God proves [Divine] love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died 
for us.
5:9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by [Christ’s] blood, will we be saved through [Christ] from the wrath of God.
5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of [the only] Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by [Christ’s] life.
5:11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our [Savior] Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

OR5

5:1 So, since faith makes us right in the eyes of God, we have peace with God because of our Savior Jesus Christ,
5:2 who has made grace - the source of our strength and confidence - totally free and accessible to all of us; so much so that we’re able to reflect God’s glory in the world, which is reason to sing and shout and tell everyone all about it!
5:3 And there’s more: we can even be glad in our times of trouble, knowing that struggle produces compassionate patience,
5:4 and patience produces a tempered character, and character produces expectant hope for what God is doing next,
5:5 and this kind of hope does not disappoint, because God's abundant love has been poured into our hearts so richly through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5:6 Before we had done anything to deserve it, Christ died for all of us.
5:7 We can probably understand someone dying for a really important or impressive person; we get how certain personalities inspire selfless sacrifice.
5:8 But God’s love was proven when Jesus the Christ died for us, without us being 
worthy, aware or having done anything to deserve it.
5:9 Now that Christ’s selfless sacrifice has made us right with God, we can rest assured that our relationship with God is completely secure.
5:10 For if we were made friends of God by Christ’s self-giving while we were far away from God, just imagine how rich and full life will be, now that we’re friends with God, because we get to live in Christ’s New Life.
5:11 And, now that we are made friends with God and brought so close to God through our Savior Jesus Christ, we can sing and shout about it to everyone!


From Thursday:
A reading from John 4:5-263
4:5 [Jesus] stopped at Sychar, a town in Samaria, near the tract of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph,
4:6 and Jacob's Well was there. Jesus, weary from the journey, came and sat by the well. It was around noon.
4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
4:8 The disciples had gone off to the town to buy provisions.
4:9 The Samaritan woman replied, “You’re a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” - since Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans.
4:10 Jesus answered, "If only you recognized God’s gift, and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him for a drink instead, and he would have given you living water.”
4:11 “If you please,” she challenged Jesus, “you don’t have a bucket and this well is deep. Where do you expect to get this ‘living water’?
4:12 Surely you don’t pretend to be greater than our ancestors Leah and Rachel and Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with their descendants and flocks?”
4:13 Jesus replied, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.
4:14 But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty; no, the water I give will become fountains within them, springing up to provide eternal life."
4:15 The woman said to Jesus, "Give me this water, so that I won’t grow thirsty and have to keep coming all the way here to draw water."
4:16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and then come back here."
4:17 "I don’t have a husband,” replied the woman. "You’re right - you don’t have a husband!” Jesus exclaimed.
4:18 “The fact is, you’ve had five, and the man you’re living with now is not your husband. So what you’ve said is quite true.”
4:19 "I can see you’re a prophet,” answered the woman.
4:20 “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you people claim that Jerusalem is the place where God ought to be worshiped."
4:21 Jesus told her, "Believe me, the hour is coming when you’ll worship Abba God neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
4:22 You people worship what you don’t understand - after all, salvation is from the Jewish people.
4:23 Yet the hour is coming - and is already here - when real worshipers will worship Abba God in Spirit and truth. Indeed, it is just such worshipers whom Abba God seeks.
4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth."
4:25 The woman said to Jesus, "I know that the Messiah - the Anointed One - is coming and will tell us everything."
4:26 Jesus replied, "I who speak to you am the Messiah."


From Friday:
A reading from John 4:27-423
4:27 The disciples, returning at this point, were shocked to find Jesus having a private conversation with a woman. But no one dared to ask, “What do you want of him?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
4:28 The woman then left her water jar and went off into the town. She said to the people,
4:29 "Come and see someone who told me everything I have ever done! Could this be the Messiah?"
4:30 At that, everyone set out from town to meet Jesus.
4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Jesus, "Rabbi, eat something."
4:32 But Jesus told them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
4:33 At this, the disciples said to one another, "Do you think someone has brought him something to eat?"
4:34 Jesus explained to them,
"Doing the will of the One who sent me
and bringing this work to completion
is my food.
4:35 Don’t you have a saying,
'Four months more
and it will be harvest time'?
I tell you,
open your eyes and look at the fields -
they’re ripe and ready for harvest!
4:36 Reapers are already collecting their wages;
they’re gathering fruit for eternal life,
and sower and reaper will rejoice together.
4:37 So the saying is true:
'One person sows; another reaps.'
4:38 I have sent you to reap
what you haven’t worked for.
Others have done the work,
and you’ve come upon the fruits of their labor."
4:39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus on the strength of the woman's testimony - that "he told me everything I ever did."
4:40 The result was that, when these Samaritans came to Jesus, they begged him to stay with them awhile. So Jesus stayed there two days,
4:41 and through his own spoken word many more came to faith.
4:42 They told the woman, "No longer does our faith depend on your story. We’ve heard for ourselves, and we know that this really is the savior of the world."

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, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.

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: #751.
  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 03.06.20.
  3. From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.
  4. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), uploaded from Oremus Bible Browser; accessed 03.07.20.
  5. Emily’s version; based on the NRSV, the Message, and The Inclusive Bible.

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