Community Dedication

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Timothy 4:7b-16

One of the methods I use during meditation and study of Scripture is lectio divina. Lectio divina is a Latin term meaning “divine reading” and through this process of reading, listening, and meditating those that practice lectio divina experience Scripture as the living Word of God through their interaction with it.

To practice lectio divina follow these steps:

  1. Select a passage of Scripture (I recommend no more than 10 verses so the passage is easy to comprehend and follow from beginning to end) and read it aloud.
  2. Pause in silence for 1 to 3 minutes. Perhaps close your eyes.
  3. Read the Scripture passage aloud a second time and notice if there is a word or phrase that stands out to you or lingers with you after you finish reading the passage.
  4. In your journal – either paper or electronic – write down the word or phrase that stood out or lingered on; meditate on that word or phrase. Consider the circumstances in your life that helped bring that particular word or phrase to the forefront for you. Take a few moments to capture your thoughts in your journal.
  5. Share a prayer with God.

As I practiced lectio divina with our text for this Sunday, the word that lingered with me is godliness. “Train yourself in godliness,” Paul writes to Timothy, but what does godliness mean?

For me training for godliness means becoming more of a servant. While I understand God as my Lord and Savior, I also understand that God is my greatest example of servanthood, especially in the person of Jesus. Philippians 2:5-8 reads, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a [servant], being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”

I have learned that to grow as a servant – and grow in godliness – means seeking opportunities to serve and rest, to study and fellowship, to be surrounded by a team and to be alone, to be loud and to be silent. Recently I was reminded of the lesson that serving is not about the task that is accomplished. Serving is about the person that is served. If I forget that, if I neglect the person I serve, then all I have done is accomplish some task; I have not served.

My second reflection on godliness as growth in servanthood pertains to the eternal nature of godliness. I Timothy 4:7b-8 assures that training in godliness has implications and impact on both sides of eternity. On this side of eternity we are called to be the sheep that fed Jesus when he was hungry, gave him drink, clothed, visited, and welcomed him (see Matthew 25). On the other side of eternity we take up our cross with the great cloud of witnesses that cheers, supports, and offers lessons through the witness of our lives to God’s people on earth (see Hebrews 12). The goal, then, of this life is not to reach the new life of eternity and kick my stiletto-wearing feet up. The goal of this life is to serve my way to new life and to continue my service there – perhaps in the same way and perhaps in entirely different ways.

I just really hope there are still stilettos.

I encourage you to try on the practice of lectio divina with our Scripture passage this week. Read the living Word of God. Listen for the word or phrase that lingers. Meditate on it. Respond to it. Discover something new about God. Discover something new about yourself.

Prayer:”Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Now I will not forget your love for me and yet my heart forever is wandering. Jesus, be my guide and hold me to your side, and I will love you to the end. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”* Amen.

*”Thy Word Is a Lamp,” The United Methodist Hymnal 601.

 

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All Saints Sunday: Seeing The Glory of God

Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 11:28-44

In third grade I received my first Bible – a red leather red letter NIV Bible. Shortly after receiving it I attended a Third Grade Bible Retreat to learn all about this library I had just been gifted by my home church. At that retreat I learned about the history, compiling, and composition of the Bible; biblical languages; how to look up Scripture addresses; and some very useful trivia. Did you know that King Solomon had a muster of peacocks delivered every three years!?

At the end of the retreat each student was given some additional sheets of Bible Trivia we could look up on our own. Well, little third grade Sarah, being the assignment completer she was (is) completed the packet in a week.

Not much has changed…except my hair is a little longer, my heels are definitely higher, and my mother does not have to beg me to wear a dress.

I remember that one of the trivia challenges was to identify the shortest verse in the Bible. I found it in John’s Gospel, “Jesus wept.” The knowledge that Jesus cried affected me deeply. I knew that Jesus was born of a woman like me. I knew that Jesus walked the earth like me. I knew that Jesus ate with his family and friends like me. But to know that Jesus cried…like me? Jesus became all the more real, all the more human in that moment.

Jesus wept because he missed his friend Lazarus who he loved dearly; he wept over the loss of his friend and disciple. Throughout my years in ministry I have joined Jesus in weeping at the bedside and graveside of ones that are nearing the end or have completed their journey in faith. I have held hands, received teachings, and made commitments to look after the family and friends left at this time.

Once I was even made to promise I would have my prostate examined yearly! I hope my congregant forgives me for not following through with that…

I have cried the precious tears that say, “I love you today; I love you always.” I have cried the precious tears that say, “I miss you today, I will miss you tomorrow, I will see you again.” And it is because of the precious tears that Jesus cried and his authority to call Lazarus forth from the grave that I am assured I will see – that we will see – our loved ones again. Jesus cried as a response to present pain and suffering, but in his completed Kingdom, every tear will be wiped away. There will be no mourning, no crying, no suffering, no pain. All will be whole. All will be well. And death will be no more.

There is definitely more time passing between my weeping and being reunited with loved ones than in Jesus’ weeping and calling Lazarus to life. But the power and gift of the resurrection is already at work. We will be reunited in the fulfillment of the resurrection, all that was loss will be gain, and the glory of God that we have seen just a glimpse of will be on full display.

Prayer: “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord. Grant us grace so to follow your holy saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which you have prepared for those who sincerely love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”*

*”All Saints,” The United Methodist Hymnal 713.

Remember to Fall Back one hour this Saturday Night/Early Sunday Morning!!