[This reflection from Steve came just after 7/26/15 in the church newsletter, which is the Sunday he's referring to below. -- Ben]
I just listened to last Sunday's sermon (7/26/15) on our RBC website, and would highly recommend that you listen to it. That could sound very self-serving, but what keeps it from being so is the fact that I was not the preacher. If you listen to the sermon, you will hear a variety of voices, and you will probably recognize them all. The voices are members of our congregation, who shared what had come to them during our practice of lectio divina in the worship service.
Lectio divina is usually done in the context of a small group. It's a way of praying scripture. In a quiet and powerful way, combining the reading of scripture with silent prayer, in community with others, reaches places inside of us that often go untouched. I have not heard of lectio divina being used in public worship. That felt a little edgy to me, but when we planned this as part of our worship, it did not occur to me for even an instant that the sermon would be affected.
It was not until I began working on the sermon that it came to me that Isaiah 58:6, 9b-12 called for a congregational sermon. We have been thinking, talking, and writing about a Call to Prayer, and now we must consider ourselves warned that a call to prayer can lead to a call to preach, and a call to act, and a call to get up, to move, and do something as together we follow the Way of Jesus.
My younger brother is only 18 months younger than I, so we played, argued, and fought together as kids. I remember one July 4th season when we had a bunch of firecrackers. We were out in the front yard setting them off, and when Randy ran out of firecrackers, I had one left. It was usually the other way around. Each of us would have a candy bar, for example. Randy would savor his, while I would gobble mine down. Then I'd try to con him out of half of what was left of his.
But this time, I had the one remaining firecracker. Randy wanted it. I wouldn't let him have it. There's no way to halve a firecracker, and even if there were, I would not have done it. Randy would not appreciate this all these years later, but he begged and whined, and I was immoveable. Finally, I lit the firecracker and tossed it as far as I could. It didn't go off. With a triumphant cry, Randy ran over, picked it up, and held it in the air, laughing.
Then it went off.
This is a tough segue, but we should know that when we hold scripture, it can explode in our hands, in our hearts and lives, and in our life together. We can think we have it, when in truth it has us.
I'll be back in the pulpit next Sunday. There will be no lectio divina in our worship service. But we will keep holding scripture in our hands, with a fresh knowledge from experience that it can rock us and shake us, and create new openings in us for a fresh word from God.
The call to prayer is not for just a moment, nor is it merely a theme for one worship service. What will happen to us, as together we kneel before God, willing and ready to listen, and to move?