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READ LESS, REFLECT MORE

 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
 for my hope is from him. 
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
 my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
On God rests my deliverance and my honour;
 my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. 
Trust in him at all times, O people;
 pour out your heart before him;
 God is a refuge for us.

   Selah
Psalm 62:5-8

I thought it strange for a Christian to say, especially one who was a minister. But he said he wanted to read the Bible less. Then he finished his thought: “I want to read the Bible less and reflect more on what I read.”   

I was taken by his words, feeling the need to do what he said because in general, I do like to read. I was raised on Harry Truman’s adage, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” So, I’ve always tried to read a lot. Then you throw in the Internet, Kindle, and eLibrary, and I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hydrant. I feel an inflation of words. I remind myself of poet T. S. Eliot’s warning two generations ago: “Knowledge of speech, but not of silence; Knowledge of words, but ignorance of the Word.” (poem, “The Rock”) I like the idea of reading the Bible less and reflecting on it more. I need to! 

So, I am taken by the word “Selah” at the end of today’s scripture text. I remember as a boy asking my mother what “Selah” meant. She explained, “’Selah’ means that what you have just read is so important that you need to stop and think about it.” I later learned that my Hebrew professors couldn’t have said it any better than mom!        

“Selah” is used 71 times in the Old Testament, often popping right up in the middle of a passage. It is an interesting word, coming from a root word meaning “to hang”, as in hanging up something to weigh it on scales. In Bible times, food, precious metals, and other commodities were hung up to weigh and to assess value. Thus, when we read “Selah” in scripture, we are being asked to stop and to ‘weigh’ what we have just read. We are being asked to stop and think deeply about it. I think of “Selah: like a railroad crossing sign saying: “Stop! Look! Listen!” This is why I like the ancient spiritual practice of Lectio Divina, or, Divine Reading. After having read and studied the Bible for many years, Lectio Divina has come to be very important to me. We know that Martin Luther was doing Lectio Divina with Psalm 46 (see last week’s eVotional, “Shaken”) when prompted to write the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress”. Lectio Divina comes in four steps READ…REFLECT…RESPOND…REST:

  • READ slowly and prayerfully, two or three times, a short Scripture text. As you read, listen for God speaking to you through the words. Pay close attention to a word or phrase that stands out to you.
  • REFLECT on what you have just read, savoring the word or phrase that stood out, meditating on it.
  • RESPOND to God speaking to you in what you have read. Talk to God about the feelings, thoughts, and questions raised in your reading and reflection. Take time to make this a real dialogue with God’s Spirit living within you.
  • REST in God’s presence for a few moments. For years this step had been missing, but is a vital element in reading and reflecting. In this step, let yourself experience the rest Jesus promises. No need here for any effort or trying to please. Just be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). The old monks called this, “Lap time with God.” Crawl up into God’s lap and rest awhile.

Now, how about a suggestion? Don’t rush away, but take a few moments to take the scripture at the top of today’s page and READ, REFLECT, RESPOND, and REST. After all, it does conclude with “Selah”, telling us it is important to stop and pay close attention! You might start with just the first sentence: “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress…”

My mother was right, as usual! Here is something important to stop, think, and pray about!

A fellow traveler,
Tim

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You will bring water from rock for the community.
Numbers 20:8

We take our name from the Bible’s story of the archetypal Exodus journey during which the people of God came to a place in the desert wilderness where there was no water. Yet, it was there in a hostile wilderness that they experienced God’s provision of water for them and leadership into a new future. We trust in a God who still provides, renews and leads His people.

Rooted in the Word

We are a ministry of Christian renewal rooted in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, as He reveals Himself through His Written Word, the Bible. Through the Written Word we encounter the Living Word in the incomprehensible wonder of His love. We are mindful that knowledge, even of the Bible, “puffs up” while love “builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We engage the Scriptures seeking to love more and know more of love. We purpose to search out God’s Word with both our minds and our hearts.

Ecumenical in Outlook

We honor all followers of Christ who have gone before us, and all who are among us now. We have much to learn and receive from all who have a lived experience of God’s transforming love. By reaching out to embrace the universal Body of Christ we strive to balance orthodoxy (right belief) and right living (orthopraxy).

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.
(Rupertus Meldenius, 1582 – 1651)

Experiencing the Living God

We thirst to know God and not just to know about Him. We long for a living experience of God. We believe that God breaks into our world on the holy ground of His Word, and seek through His Spirit a living encounter with Him there. We daily aim to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30).

The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being. Amen.
—Fursey of Yarmouth, 6th century Irish monk

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