In December I’m posting several Advent Reflections: some quotes, some images, some meditations. It’s not a series so feel free to dip in and out as and when you have a moment or are looking for new inspiration.
Praying with the scriptures is a wonderful way to enter more deeply into God’s story. I first learnt to do this using Lectio Divina, a Benedictine prayer practice. In Lectio Divina we read or listen to the scriptures slowly and prayerfully several times. We look out for a word or phrase that particularly stands out to us, and explore prayerfully with the Lord why this is significant to us. It’s a very special way to pray.
Below I have typed a passage from Isaiah, some parts of it are well known and other parts less so. It is a wonderful passage to read as we enter into Advent and explore the contrast between dark and light. It has struck me how hard it is for us to really understand the relief of light as we are rarely in total darkness, and even more rarely unable to get out of the darkness. In this day of electric light we do not get stuck in the dark at sunset. I thought of the parable of the woman and the lost coin. If she had not found her coin before sunset, the search would have to wait until sunrise, or be continued in the poor light of an expensive and precious candle. Any work not finished by sunset had to wait until morning. Nursing a sick family member through a dark night, perhaps not even lit by the moon, would find you rejoicing at the sight of the first dawn I think. By trying to enter into and understand this deep darkness I hope we will find even greater joy when the light shines into the darkness this Christmas.
Prepare yourself to be prayerful and read the passage slowly two or three times, or if you prefer to listen then take a moment to still your mind and body before listening to the recording below, where I read the passage twice.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government
and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9: 2-7 (ESV)
I was particularly struck by the 4 names used to describe Jesus in this passage; and the sense that together these personas are all that we need to walk with us through life. A completely trustworthy counsellor; a Father who loves us unconditionally; a mighty God who can do anything; and a Prince of Peace who wants only what is best for us.
If you would like to share anything that stands out to you in the comments, please do. I would love to hear, and pray for you.
If you enjoy this form of prayer, please visit my friend Lissy who has shared a number of more complete Lectio Divinia podcasts on her site.