Monday, 22 February 2016

Sermon February 21, 2016 Lent 2

In my sermon last Sunday I spoke of the special calling of the church – that is a calling for a kind of renewal that is not based on action and activity in the outer world.  Our culture is very good at that and the church also sees the need in our society and responds by doing things to meet the needs which are there.  However, there is another kind of renewal which is unique to the church and is something that our society is very much in need of – it is Spiritual Renewal. 
I finished a program in Spiritual Direction in 2014 at the Mount Carmel Centre for Spirituality in Niagara Falls.  In that program I studied how to help people discern where God is in their lives and how to be more aware and open to where the Holy Spirit is calling them.  The ministry of Spiritual Direction is actual not the best name for what we are learning to do.  What the Spiritual Director does with the directee does not actually direct them.  Rather a Spiritual Director is a companion on their spiritual journey.  There are actually three persons in Spiritual Direction – the Director, the Directee and the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who does the direction and shows both the Director and Directee the way in which God is working in their life.

During the Sunday’s in Lent, I will be a Spiritual Companion for St. Anne’s and St. John’s.  Each Sunday in Lent we are exploring a different way in which we can learn to pay closer attention to how God is working in our lives and where The Holy Spirit is calling us to travel in this Lenten journey which lies ahead of us.  It is also my hope that you will find some of these ways to be meaningful for you and that you will chose to incorporate into your lives on an ongoing basis.

As I mentioned Spiritual Direction involves listening and recognizing how God is working in your life.  A significant part of that is developing an active prayer life.  Of course God has made us as unique beings—each one of us is unique and different.  Not every form of pray will be something which resonates with each of us and a way which we will find meaningful.  Often it is a matter of finding one or two that is right for us. There are many ways of prayer and I want to begin our journey by exploring one particular way.  The one I would like to explore with you today is Lectio Divina.  Don’t be put off by the Latin name – it actually means Holy Reading. 

There are four steps in Holy Reading.  The first is to read the passage—the Lectio.  During the reading the intention is to be non-judgmental—just be open to what the passage is speaking to you.  Is there something especially in the passage that catches you attention – a phrase or a word?  Make a mental note of this.  You can use any passage from scripture or an inspirational work that is meaningful for you.  I will be using the scripture passage that we head from Philippians.
The second step is meditation—meditatio.  Here we reflect and ponder on what we have read or heard.  Remember that Mary, at the nativity pondered what she had seen and heard in her heart.  Ponder and see how Jesus is speaking to you in the passage of phrase or word that resonates with you.  Ask yourself what does this mean for my life today?  Direct it to God at work in your life. 
The third step is Responding – Oratatio.  This is a prayer—a prayer which is unique and personal to you and comes from the heart.  This may lead to response in your outer life but it is an inner response initially.  It may be surrendering your will to God – not something we do easily but something which is important if we are to follow where Jesus leads us. 
Finally there is Rest – Contemplatio.  This is resting in the presence of God.  It is a knowing that God is with you and that you are in God’s hand.  As it says in the passage from Philippians:
Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

Now let us have a few minutes of silence to centre ourselves and I will begin by reading the passage.  You don’t need to remember the steps – I will guide you at the beginning of each step.  

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