This past Sunday I tried an experiment with my congregation.
We have two services in the summer, one in collaboration with other churches in town on the beach. And the other in our own sanctuary. Overwhelmingly, our congregation goes to the beach and we have a smaller crowd for the indoor service, which is what made this idea doable. I don’t think this would work with a large gathering, for our smaller setting it worked great.
Lectio Divina, if you haven’t done it before, is a way of reading and reflecting on a text. I read the text below three times, pausing between each reading to give space for people to meditate and reflect on what they’d heard. Then after the third reading, I opened up the floor for discussion, questions printed below.
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 (Common English Bible)
25 Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor because we are parts of each other in the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil. 28 Thieves should no longer steal. Instead, they should go to work, using their hands to do good so that they will have something to share with whoever is in need.
29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
5 Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
Questions for Reflection:
1. What spoke to you? What made you think about something in a way you hadn’t thought about it before?
2. Paul says “be angry without sinning.” What do you think that means? How do we do that?
3. Paul advises his hearers to “say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community.” How do we discern what is helpful, what will build up, and when it is needed?
4. What do you think of the image Paul uses of “imitating God like dearly loved children”? Does it change how you think of faith?