Easter Evening - our final post, for the time being...

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.
Usually we have invited families to choose which text to revisit for Lectio Divina. However, this week being Easter, the text chose itself: there is an assigned text for Easter evening and it is a perfect text to round out our Lenten Family Evening Devotions.
This will be our final post, for a while, as we determine next steps for ourselves. Thank you for participating!

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 or say the following verse of, Were You There1
Were you there when God rolled the stone away?
Were you there when God rolled the stone away?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble.
Were you there when God rolled the stone away?


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 been shut up in a tomb, today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the New Life of Christ.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused or experienced by being entombed.

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you seen or experienced or walked in New Life, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how your heart is burning within you.
Breathe out: thank God for opening your eyes and ears and heart each day.”

Pause


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

Lectio Divina usually utilizes shorter texts than those we typically read in worship. We have highlighted the verses within this lengthy story that we feel are central to today’s theme and 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 read a continuation of the Easter Story.

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 a portion of the following text through once:

Luke 24:13-492
The Walk to Emmaus
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ 19He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ 25Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38[Jesus] said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’
40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.
44 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

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 or say the following verse of, Were You There1
Were you there when the Christ rose from the dead?
Were you there when the Christ rose from the dead?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble.
Were you there when the Christ rose from the dead?


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; #353 (both verses added by Emily Meyer, 2020)
  2. 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 Oremus Bible Browser; accessed 04.08.20.

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