— Fr. David’s Blog of 7/17/2020 — Read the Bible in a disciplined manner and ask how God wants us to re-imagine ourselves.
One of my spiritual practices is that of sacred reading or Lectio Divina. This ancient practice is a powerful way to enter into the story of scripture by first reading a piece of scripture (out loud if possible), meditating on a word or phrase in the selected passage, allowing a prayer to form in your heart after meditating on the word or phrase, and finally resting in God before ending this practice.
Last month I began with the Book of Genesis and my plan is to follow this pattern of reading the scriptures until I conclude with the Book of Revelation. The pattern that I have chosen is one of many ways to engage this ancient practice and I encourage you to begin by opening the Bible and choose a passage that draws you in to study and pray. If you would like to talk to me about this, please contact me and we can set up a time. I hope you will.
Recently I began the Book of Exodus and currently I am reading the story of Moses and Aaron and their encounter with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. On several occasions Moses and his brother plead with Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to travel three days so they might worship the Lord. Each time Moses calls upon different plagues such as frogs, lice, hail, waters of blood. After each plague, Pharaoh relents only to change his mind and refuse to let the people go. In the Common English Bible, Pharaoh, “remains stubborn. He would not listen to them, just as the Lord said.”
COVID-19 at times may feel like we are in the midst of a plague and we might find ourselves asking God, “Why is this happening and when will life get back to the way it was in March?” It is easy to become discouraged and I have been plenty discouraged many times over the course of the last four months but maybe the question we ought to ask is, “how God is calling us — in the midst of a worldwide pandemic — to re-invent or re-imagine ourselves moving forward?”
In the Episcopal Church in Delaware, the New Normal Task Force has written a document to assist parishes with the process for regathering. Bishop Brown and Canon Kirkpatrick have been very clear that this process will be different for every parish and will take time. This is especially true as COVID-19 cases increase and we learn that churches around the country have become hot spots and people have contracted the virus. At the end of the document there is a section entitled, “Moving Into God’s Future.” I want to share a four of the questions and invite you to take time in the next few weeks to ponder them.
- What is your learning about yourself during this time and how are you personally changing?
- Where have you seen glimpses of grace as God has been at work in your life and the life of your faith community.
- What do you miss most about how we gathered as a community prior to the pandemic?
- From your learnings, what are two (or more) things you perceive God is inviting you to do or be?
Take some time and take each of these questions and apply the steps I outlined above with Lectio Divina. Don’t rush and please email me if you would like to talk about how God is acting in your life at this time. Even though I will be on vacation for a couple of weeks beginning July 11, I am available by email and we can set up a time to see one another via video conference when I return in early August.
Pathways of Grace
Last week I shared with you the invitation to participate in this three week zoom course in September led by my friends Robert Gallagher and Michelle Heyne. Please reach out if you questions or let me know that you wish to participate, and I will send your name and email to Robert and Michelle.
Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
-Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765