One of the practices that I find especially soul-nourishing is reading the daily lectionary in the mornings. The lectionary provides four readings: 1) a psalm, 2) an Old Testament reading, 3) a general reading from the New Testament and 4) a gospel passage. The daily lectionary provides a cycle of readings that last three years and covering a large portion of the whole Bible.
I use a simple iPhone/iPad app by Jim Coates called “Daily Office Lectionary.” You can find daily readings on the “Revised Common Lectionary” page on the Vanderbilt Divinity Library webpage. I find reading the lectionary on iPhone or iPad a helpful way to engage the scriptures first rather than email, Facebook, web browsing and such. It has a way of redeeming what can become a distraction for me.
After I read, I will usually take a few moments to reflect and journal on a particular reading that captures my attention. As a writer, I am also a extensive journaler.
Below are a few excerpts from my morning prayer journal from some mornings in June 2014:
Eph 5:8-11, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
I was darkness, but now, in the Lord, I am light. That sounds like an identity statement. I could live who I actually am. The fruit of the light is everything that is good and right and true. It can be the focus of my life to seek what pleases the Lord. He enjoys good fruit in my life, not emptiness and unfruitful activities. Remind me today, Spirit, that I am light in the Lord in this dark world.
Gal 4:31, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”
This is Paul’s image for living under laws and living in the power of the Spirit. One is an outside-in, oppressive dynamic and the other is an empowering, inside-out dynamic. When am I living as though I was solely burdened with the impossible task of living, Pharisee-like, up to all the laws of God? When am I living in communion with the Lawgiver who enables me to live well and welcome?
The difference is relationship. The first is vision of life for (and strangely distant from) God. The second is a vision of life with and in God.
Ps 119:99-101, “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.”
The richest source of insight in my life is not books I read, or speakers I hear, or any human mentor, but God speaking to me, especially through the gift of the scriptures. As I chew, taste and take in what God says, I find myself growing more and more wise. God is wiser than the wisest human sage. And this path of wisdom comes as I live in the wisdom of God as opposed to just learn or know it as information to store away. God shows me how to keep my feet out of places that would drain and damage me (and others), and how to walk in a way where life lives.
Ps 105:3-4, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
What is it to “glory” in something or someone? It is to brag about their goodness, beauty or quality. It is to want to talk with others about that someone or something. I’m invited here to glory in the holy name of God—God’s character and nature.
God is amazing, beautiful, true, and good. God is everything I dream about and desire. It is in this “glorying” that I can let my heart enter into joyfully. I allow my inner person to be inspired, stirred and moved by the very presence of God within me. I keep looking to the Lord’s face and the Lord’s strength.
Reflection: How might you translate your own reading of the scriptures into a personal response? Could journaling like this help you? When would you like to give that a try?