Join Us For Our Contemplative Service Series
We hope that many of you are able to join Bryan and me for our Contemplative Service Series, at 7pm MT on second Thursdays this Fall in Left Hand Chapel.
Together, we’ll explore various practices such as lectio divina and centering prayer, aiming to enrich and enliven our ability to respond to God’s indwelling spirit. No prior experience with contemplative practices necessary, just a desire to connect with God and with each other!
If you are unable to join us for these in-person services, we hope you will consider joining us on this journey of learning about these contemplative practices and trying them out at home. Read on for the practices we will explore in our first few gatherings:
You could say the essence of Centering Prayer is summed up in Psalm chapter 46, verse 11. It says: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Centering Prayer is a practice developed by the desert fathers and mothers of the early church. In Centering Prayer, you are saying yes both to God’s presence and God’s action within.
Centering Prayer is very simple:
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word.
3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a short time.
For now, don’t worry about your choice of a sacred word for your practice. Suggestions I’ve heard are “Presence,” or “Yahweh.” Don’t be worried when you have stray thoughts, because you definitely will. Brains think. That’s what they do. When thoughts arise, let the thoughts bubble away, and simply return to your sacred word.
St. Ignatius was a 16th Century Catholic priest who co-founded the Jesuits and wrote frequently about spiritual practices. One of those practices is “praying with your imagination,” or stepping into a Gospel story fully, imagining the sights and sounds of being there, present with Jesus and others in the events recorded in scripture.
The purpose this meditation is to open ourselves to God’s Spirit through our imagination so that we are able to sense what God might be saying to us through scripture.
One example to try at home is to contemplate the Gospel tellings of Jesus’ birth. Ignatius suggests that we imagine “the labors of the journey to Bethlehem, the struggles of finding a shelter, the poverty, the thirst, the hunger, the cold, the insults that meet the arrival of God-with-us.”
Lectio Divina, or “diving reading” is a way of approaching scripture that reminds us that God continues to speak through the words that ancients recorded—as the writer of the Biblical book of Hebrews tells us, God’s word is “living and active.”
The method of lectio divina follows four steps:
- lectio (reading)
- meditatio (meditation)
- contemplatio (contemplation), and
- oratio (prayer).
The first step, reading, is about reading or listening to a short Scripture passage, noticing a word or phrase that resonates with your mind and heart.
The second step, meditation, is to spend time just pondering the passage. What words or phrases draw your attention? How do you understand what the passage says and what ideas are evident in it?
In the third step, contemplation, we are invited to connect this passage with our own lives. What thoughts come to mind as you consider this passage? How might God be speaking to you through these words? Does this passage suggest something about what’s currently happening in your life?
The final step, prayer, is an opportunity to then speak to God—to respond to the One who loves us deeply by bringing our thoughts and feelings about this passage back to God and completing the circle of communication.
If you try one of these practices at home, we’d love to hear about it via a post in our Community Facebook Group. Let’s learn together and encourage each other to find practices that create spaces of refuge with God in our busy lives.