Homily: August 23, 2015

Pentacost 13, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar In our first reading today

We hear General Joshua throw down a challenge.

 

It's the end of a very long military campaign -

The home town Canaanites versus the invading Hebrews.

The battle is over- the Hebrews have won!

 

But the Hebrew peoples’ need to choose God continues.

 

“Choose this day whom you will serve”

Joshua demands.

 

“Either the God who liberated you from Egypt

and helped you conquer the land

OR the gods of the Canaanites and Egyptians.

 

But as for me and my house 

we will serve the Lord.”

 

Powerful words.

This was the scripture reading used at my parent's wedding ceremony in 1955.

 

You already saw the Bible from their wedding.

yellowed with age, despite its rebinding.

 

The Scriptures set a tone for my family’s life together.

 

We were the typical Lutheran Church Missouri synod family-

Church and Sunday school every Sunday.

 

Baptism and Confirmation?

Of course!

no questions…. asked or allowed.

 

Our family read a Bible based Devotional every day together-

at breakfast-  Like it or not.

It’s one BIG reason I didn’t learn to enjoy breakfast

until my freshman year in college.

 

My dad was very clear

On what God asked of him.

And I treasure that about him.

 

But here we are -  a generation later.

 

How do YOU AND I understand the scriptures?

How do WE discover what God wants us to do?

What’s OUR process?

 

My parents thought that they had it all sewed up-

 

“Need advice?  Here's your Bible.

That’s all you need.”

 

Our lives are not so simple.

 

It DOES begin with the Bible -

God's Word.

 

But the Word has to find a home in our hearts.

It has to resonate within us.

 

There is one way… very special to me

by which God's Word moves into my heart

and through my heart into the community and the world.

 

It’s called Lectio Divina,

in Latin

or in English Divine Reading.

 

I learned it from my friends

the Benedictine monks and oblates of St John’s Abbey.

 

It’s not just for monks-

It’s a gift from God for all people.

 

It’s not just reading the Bible-

although it can and often does start there.

 

It involves

meditating upon,

chewing over,

sitting with something-

 

whether that something be a scripture story,

a brief passage,

or just a single word from scripture.

 

It could also be a picture or a work of art,

Or even simply a situation in your own life.

 

It really doesn’t matter WHAT we are thinking about-

As much as HOW we go about it.

 

This is not an intellectual exercise-

or some kind of emotional calisthenics.

 

It’s a journey from up here in the mind

to down here in our heart-

where God already dwells!

 

What’s important in this process is how we sit

with whatever it is we are pondering.

 

Lectio divina is how I make big decisions,

 

It’s how I work on sermons,

sometimes how I say my daily prayers.

 

It involves lots of quiet,

as much silence as I can muster in my busy life-

and as few words as possible.

 

In that silence,

we can wait to understand how our own spirit

responds to God.

 

And sometimes,

the response IS itself that message from God.

 

Lectio divina is not easy to do-

It takes both concentration

And also relaxation.

 

It also takes some time-

from one minute to sometimes almost twenty minutes,

For me.

 

A time of silence,

A time of pondering.

 

But lectio divina

and the messages it delivers

don't just stay here

in our heads and hearts.

they move through us into the community where we live.

 

This is definitely not just a navel gazing,

Individualistic spiritual practice.

 

Whatever message or truth we discern in lectio divina

is really only proven to be true

as it moves from us out into the community

and connects us with the larger world.

 

There are at least two ways that happens-

We need the community to discern if indeed what we heard

was REALLY God’s voice- or just something else.

 

Sometimes its difficult to tell that on our own-

But in a faith community

Those insights can be both validated and shared.

 

I have a number of folk who come to meet me regularly for spiritual direction-

And consistently

I find that I receive as much back from them-

perhaps even more

than the guidance that I’m able to give them.

 

We all hold the truth together.

 

It’s what General Joshua asked of the Hebrews.

It’s what my parent’s generation lived, ate, drank,

Slept and worked.

 

Lectio divina.

It’s what God asks of us today-

Each in his or her own way-

there’s not a single method or pathway to that process.

 

But I want to leave you with a chance to practice this discipline today.

 

I am going to say a phrase from our reading today

Three times-

 

And I want you to take a moment of silence now

To begin pondering it-

Meditating on it

Doing lectio divina with it.

 

Ready?

 

Choose this day whom you will serve.

(silence)

 

Choose this day whom you will serve.

(silence)

 

Choose this day whom you will serve.

(silence).

 

Amen.