For many of us, Bible study is an integral part of our lives. We may read selected scripture along with devotional materials on a regular basis as a spiritual discipline and if we are in a small group or class we may have assigned reading and questions to ponder. For my clergy and lay speaking friends, we may read and research and study the text in preparation to offer a word from the pulpit. It seems less often that we place ourselves in a posture of meditating on a small passage of scripture, or practice Imaginative Contemplation where we actively engage with our feelings, emotions, and senses to place ourselves in the scene.
It’s one thing to read the scripture asking what the scripture could have meant to the people of Jesus’ day and could mean to us in general. Another level is to ask “What is this scripture saying to me? Does the text have a “word” for me in this day and time? Thomas Merton has given us some guidelines to help us in meditation. We need a quiet place away from normal distractions-a room in your home, a chapel, a garden, a park. You can meditate alone or with others. “The most important thing,” Merton says, “is to seek silence, tranquility, recollection and peace.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer required the seminarians at Finkenwalde to meditate thirty minutes every morning for a week on the same passage of scripture. In Life Together he explained what should take place:
In our meditation we ponder the chosen text on the strength of the promise that it has something utterly personal to say to us for this day and for our Christian life, that it is not only God’s Word for the Church, but also God’s Word for us individually. We expose ourselves to the specific word until it addresses us personally. And when we do this, we are doing no more than the simplest, untutored Christian does every day; we read God’s Word as God’s Word for us.
Friends, I encourage you to give lectio divina, visio divina, imaginative contemplation or other meditative practices on scripture a try. It’s often a means of grace where God speaks to us on a very personal level. Here are a few resources that you might find helpful:
Let’s go deeper!
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you are encouraged to use this pdf:
Claire – Scripture as a Means of Grace and Guidance
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