We sit in a circle. It’s a small prayer space, but it’s our space. A safe refuge from the hubbub and noise of the café. Tuesday at 2 is a regular break, a time to breath and a space to take stock.
We usually do a Lectio Divina together, a simple way of doing bible study.
If the Lectio Divina diagram bamboozles you then let me explain to you what I always teach about Lectio Divina. The four stages are: read, think, pray and do!
1) We read the scripture out loud 3 or 4 times. As we listen or read the scripture we ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate what He want’s to speak to us about. He usually highlights a word or phrase.
2) We think and meditate on the scripture. What is God saying to me? It’s time to ponder and wonder as to what God may be saying.
3) We pray out what we have connected with. It may be a word, a scripture a feeling or impression from what we’ve read together. It may be a tongue or picture a word from God’s heart to others.
4) We ask the question: ‘What will we do with what we have learnt?’ Is there a need to repent of something that we may have been challenged about in our reading? Do we need to change our mind about something we may have believed about God that the scripture has revealed otherwise? Do we need to share what we have learnt with someone else? (Hence me writing this and also sharing with the Light College staff and students what I felt God speak to me about.) Or, there may be a direct command or instruction from the scripture that we need to be obedient to obey.
On Tuesday we looked at Mary’s song from Luke 1 and I felt God speak through it so powerfully:
And Mary said:“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the low estate of His servant; surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
50 His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has pulled down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
The prayer response in the Lectio Divina was powerful and varied but there are two things that I felt God speak to me about:
1) From now on. Mary declared that ‘from now on’ generations would call her blessed. But that phrase ‘from now on’ really struck me. We serve a God of the ‘from now on!’ The God who gives me a new start. The God who cleanses me and announces that His love and mercy are new every morning!
He specialises in making all things new. He is the One who takes the broken and bruised aspects of my life and says ‘from now on.’
2) Mary announced that ‘generations would call her blessed’ but it wasn’t until 33 years later on that she began to see the fruit of this promise. The fact is, straight after this declaration of faith over herself she was shamed. The shame of being betrothed and pregnant was taboo. Joseph (being honourable) decided to separate from Mary, rather than bring into play the full force of the law and have her publicly shamed and possibly stoned to death. Her sentence? Adulatory. Joseph would have assumed Mary had been sleeping with someone behind his back. How else could she have become pregnant? Mary wasn’t called ‘blessed.’ Bearing in mind her culture of the day she would most likely been called ‘slut.’ A far cry from the promise of faith she sang over herself.
9 months later after her faith-filled statement about generations calling her blessed Mary is homeless. Looking for a place to give birth and struggling to find a welcome anywhere in Bethlehem. The only choice is the unsanitary conditions of a cave/stable amongst the animals. Without Detol spray to kill the 99.9% of germs, Mary would have placed her new born baby in a saliva coated feeding trough. Only some shepherds, the outcasts and scum of her day showed that she was indeed blessed. But generations were not calling her blessed. Far from it.
Soon after his birth Jesus’ very life was at risk as Herod sought to kill him. While every boy baby was brutally murdered he escaped with his mum and dad into Egypt. A refugee fleeing infanticide.
Generations were not calling her blessed.
33 years later she watches her son die a brutal death upon a cross. A criminals death. It’s only 3 days later that the promises and declaration Mary made begins to bear its fruition. The church feebly starts… a generation starts to whisper that she is blessed. I imagine as people began to be filled with the Spirit and begin a new life that Mary is pointed out amongst the gathered disciples. “Look, that’s Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus!” people must have said as the church emerges and miracles break out once more across Jerusalem.
Mary claimed what would be hers for the future, some 33 years later. So the challenge I gave to The Light College team this morning I pass on to you: have the long game in mind. How will you invest in faith into something now that will mean generations in the future will call you blessed?