Having arrived in a rush from Oregon, with some of her luggage unpacked, Lani Wright led Tuesday’s opening morning Bible study in a session she called “Leave Your Bags Behind.” She invited the participants to leave behind their preconceptions and to enter into a time of questioning and receiving questions, of conversation with God and with those in attendance, and with ourselves.
At the heart of the process is asking good questions to determine not only the meaning of the text for its time and our time, but also to interpret how it transforms us and our actions.
Wright introduced those at this first morning gathering of NOAC to the idea of using the classic method of spiritual reading known as Lectio Divina, as a lens for delving deeper into scripture and into themselves.
Her key questions included:
“Did you notice…?” Instead of suggesting what one ought to notice, she invited her listeners to fill in the blanks, “clearly identifying what you saw, felt, touched, tasted, and thought,” as you read scripture.
“Why did that happen?” All were invited to delve into thoughts, feelings, and actions.
“Does that happen in life?” Generalize the experience.
“Why does that happen?” Where else do we see that happening? Lani asked all to tease out patterns and cause.
“How can we use that?” Getting at the heart of things – how are we changed?
Using the opening of John 14 as her example, she asked participants to discover their passion and purpose in the Lectio Divina process, where one reads, meditatates, prays, and contemplates scripture. In this passage, originally intended as a farewell to give assurance to those whom Jesus left behind, Lani suggested that we might learn: Jesus is with God; there is plenty of room in God’s house; believers will all be with him; and there is one God who is revealed in Jesus, who is a creator for all.
Those in attendance paired up to share their reflections in what turned out to be an active Bible study for participants. “Our job,” she said, “is to create space for each of us to be curious, to heal, and to learn.”
–Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and a member of the NOAC volunteer communications team
Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.