Reading with our ears open
(by Rev Paul Graham)
Welcome to the first of the midweek articles. These are in lieu of our Sunday Evening Service and so will be written by those who would otherwise be taking those services. Where possible (and feasible), they will also have a something of the flavour of the evening service, meaning that they may differ in style to the Sunday “Thought for the Week”.
This Sunday’s evening service was going to be led by me, with Alban preaching. However, as this is the first time we’re attempting this, it wasn‘t fair to ask him to write something. Fear not, though, because he is on the rota for mid-April, so you won’t have long to wait.
It has been my occasional practice in the evening service to select a Psalm and reflect together on it using the ancient practice of Lectio Divina: what it may have meant then and how it resonates with us today as we read and pray. Having reflected in my Sunday “Thought” on the way that there are Psalms that reflect our current circumstance, it seems right to look at one in some more depth and, as it were, hold a mirror up to ourselves as we read.
As we read this Psalm together in our own homes, we’ll follow the four steps of the Lectio, as described below. Let’s start with a prayer:
Who accompanies on our journey,
Meet us afresh through your Word.
Bring light to illuminate us;
Understanding to enlighten us;
Grace to embrace us
And your Holy Spirit to inspire us.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you –
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.
- Lectio (read/hear)
Read through the Psalm at least twice. As you do, it may help to pause and imagine what the Psalm may look like. If it helps and is practical, read the Psalm out loud. Immerse yourself in the world of the words…
- Meditatio (meditate)
As you read the Psalm again, notice if a particular word or phrase seems to leap off the page at you. Ask yourself the question – does anything resonate louder in your mind as you read? Think about what God might want to say to you today…
- Oratio (pray)
Using the phrases of the Psalm, bring yourself before God in prayer. Where do you and the Psalm meet? Invite God into the conversation…
- Contemplatio (what next…)
As you surface from this time spent with God and this Psalm, ask him to show you what next. Reflect on how this experience has changed you, your understanding and your place in today. Go with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, into all that the coming days have in store for you…