Friday, February 10, 2006

formed by scripture

Excerpt from a letter I sent to our church staff as we started a new year together.

I would like to see us deepen our sense of shared spirituality. I would like to make two suggestions in this regard.

1 – We make a commitment to read the same Scriptures together in our individual devotional practice. This is of course optional, but it would be quite nice to know that we are all (literally!) on the same page as it were in terms of our individual formation through the Scriptures. I am not sure what you currently use and I am loath to dictate something to you that is perhaps alien.

However to do this we would need a common starting point. I personally like to engage the Bible rather than someone’s thoughts about the Bible. So rather than use a devotional guide I use the Church Lectionary reading, which offers the option of 4 readings for each day – Psalm, Gospel, Epistle and Old Testament. I always use a Psalm; and usually the Gospel (every now and again, if I need a break or feel challenged by a difficult bit of Scripture, I also read the Epistle or Old Testament.) So I am being bold enough to include a Lectionary Reading guide that could form the basis of an individual yet collective reading.

(If we settle into a shared pattern like this, we could also
a) inform the church what we were doing this and invite them to join us if they want.
b) begin to use the Psalm of the Sunday regularly in our church services,

2 – I would also like to suggest a fortnightly Friday gathering over morning tea for 30 minutes (10:30-11:00) to share Scripture corporately. I would suggest the following regular pattern.
a) Reading aloud the Scripture (we could use the lectionary reading for that day):
b) Individually reflect on the following: Key word or phrase; What is it saying in context?; What is God saying to us?; What am I saying to God?
c) Share our reflections together:

This would not require anyone to prepare a devotional, yet would allow us together to be formed by the Scriptures. I really want this sense that together we are standing accountable, not to a person’s devotion, but to the Scriptures.

Update: Excellent further discussion by Nigel Wright here, where he offers the possibility of gathering around not only text, but music or image. Which is probably what we were doing with our Advent Art postcards in December; everyone in the church was given a postcard with an art image, ritual and Scripture. So this offered individual nourishment, and then in the services we invited artisticly inclined people to speak to the art, and a musician to play a piece of music.

Posted by steve at 02:44 PM


  1. Nice one Steve, our fortnightly lectio-divina times are one of the best things we have done over the last couple of years. They have lifted that sense of shared spirituality in our team. We are now implenting a missional order which will pick up the daily shared practice as well – and open this to others.

    Comment by phil — February 10, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  2. If it runs as you hope (and I sincerley pray that it does) it might be worth putting the daily readings on the Opawa website or whatever paper communication exists with the congregation so that they can join in, or at least get a feel for what is gong on…but you have probably already thought of that!
    I used to kick hard against this sort of structure, but many years on, I cannot imagine life without it – there is something very powerful about a group of people coming together in scripture (even when they are not physically together).

    Comment by Nigel — February 11, 2006 @ 12:25 am

  3. Following Easter week last year we took a few weeks to catch just such a sense of cor[orate rhythm and patterning for our mission life. We started the Caim each wednesday 7.15-7.45am/pm both ends of the day. It also is simple in format and not requiring huge preparation. Sitting lightly, yet gathering to the text – it has been a wonderful journey for us and amazing conversations in and around the text which has often fed into our Sunday and more! We ran from May till December there without breaks, just opening the space and having someone lead quietly thoguh the readings and plenty space for reflection/meditation. We haven’t gone as far as sharing in our half hour, though sometimes we have. It is now at a stage where we have several people at each session share the lead with me over the weeks, so it is truly a body thing now and growing. We are also seeing people drop in when they want, which is just what we hope. We are about to make it more widely known. So follow that lead and hold the text daily together! Go for it!

    Comment by fyfe — February 13, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

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