Saturday, August 02, 2008

Introducing Chewing on the Word: Lectionary Ruminations

Within months of being ordained, I toddled off to a monastery for a few days of reflection. While there, my sommelier of all things Benedictine introduced me to lectio divina ~ a way of reading for spiritual insight and soul nourishment rather than information.  My favorite aspect of the classic practice was ruminatio, chewing on the text–allowing the text and Spirit to roll around inside of you until something tickles your imagination or feeds your soul.  Our weekly morsels will come from tomorrow's lectionary Bible texts.

Alone, wrestling all night, being injured, wanting to be blessed, prevailing... the story of Jacob in Genesis 32:23-31 is so familiar.  How many nights have been spent in agonizing prayer - struggling with God–worrying, waiting, wrestling.  It is here, in the midst of the night of anguish that we come face to face with God.  We are changed.  No longer the sure, confident, striding one; we limp.  And yet, the blessing of a new identity and a new purpose irrupts at daybreak.  We, like Jacob, are transformed, renamed 'Israel,' God's people, and our prevailing comes at a cost; we have been humbled.  No longer can we run ahead, chasing our dreams, arrogant and encouraged in our prevailing through the dark night; we (blessedly) limp ahead.

The theme of blessing and brokenness continues in Matthew 14:13-21.  Jesus invites the disciples to bring to him whatever they have in order to feed the crowd.  They have only five loaves and two fish.  The disciples insufficiency is enough. Jesus blesses the disciples insufficiency, breaks it apart, and feeds the crowd.  How many miracles have been denied by people who were sure they didn't have enough_______ to _______: education to teach, money to give, time to share, courage to visit the prison, etc.  Jesus says, 'Bring me whatever you have.  I will bless it.  I will break it apart.  I will feed the people who follow me with what you have. What you have is more than enough!'

Like the woman who goes to the Children's Hospital Cancer Camp every summer once told me, "I know what it's like to lose a son to cancer. Out of my heartache flows joy for these sick kids." 

Feel free to share what stirs you by posting a comment. Peace!

Tomorrow is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.
Photo by Juergen Kurlvink

No comments: