Scripture reading is an important spiriutal discipline in my life. There are seasons when I long for in-depth Bible study and there are seasons when I long for more of a meditative style scripture reading. The first approach is informational, the second is formational. Both are important on the spiritual formation journey.
Lectio Divina is the style of reading scripture I enjoy most regularly. Clearly, it is one of my favorite ways of spending time with God as my new devotional Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit includes 40 different selections for Lectio Divina (latin for meditative reading). It's a fairly simple way, yet also very transformative, to spend time in scripture as you read and reflect on how the scripture touches you. You read, reflect, respond, and rest in God's word.
But, where do you start and how do you select a passage if you don't have a guide in your hand? In this season of life, my time in scripture follows the lectionary (a 3-year cycle of readings throughout the old and new testament). There are two main tools I use as my guide for following the lectionary. The first one is published by Upper Room Books each year, Disciplines 2017. This in-depth little book is loaded with deep yet also brief daily thoughts from 52 various writers. Each week the writers reflect on the weekly lectionary passages and invite you in to deeper reflection and study. I have turned to Disciplines over the years (for my personal study and for leading small groups). This year, I am truly humbled to be included as one of those 52 writers in the 2017 edition and Iook forward to journeying with these thoughts throughout the year.
Next up, and newest to my spiritual formation tool kit, is the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner. This planner includes the current lectionary passages for the week and follows the liturgical year. The liturgical year is also known as the Christian Year. It includes all the seasons of the church (lent, advent, easter, etc.). If you're new to discovering the rhythm of the liturgical year and long for a community of resources, check out Sacred Ordinary Days! My friend, Jenn Giles Kemper, is the founder of this soul-stirring company (you can check out the new calendars at the link below). Sacred Ordinary Days now offers weekly and monthly formatted planners for your year and include much more than simply a guide to the liturgical calendar. Great for personal reflection and for daily planning. Check them out!
It is with Lectio Divina, the Lectionary, and embracing the Liturgical year that I discover the rhythm I long for in a new calendar year. How do you plan to spend time in God's word in 2017?
I’m excited to announce Holy Listening with Breath, Body and the Spirit is now available!
You can find out more about the book and what people are saying by clicking here or by visiting Upper Room Book's site. The book is currently a #1 new release in its category on Amazon! This great response is thanks to YOUR amazing support and encouragement since the book’s official release date is not until January 1st! However, it is already available online for purchase (and yes, just in time for Christmas gift-giving).
Curious to know more? Click here to read a Q & A interview with me about how and why I wrote this devotional book and what my hopes are for you as the reader.
A Christmas Prayer
by Paula D'Arcy
WHEN LIFE FORCES US TO WRESTLE with what’s difficult, give us courage.
Teach us that there is a purpose in everything we experience,
and everything is more than it appears to be.
This world is permeated by your Presence, and is your Presence in form.
May we be drawn to your Voice above the other, competing voices.
Great and Holy one, we pray for Peace.
Take us to the abode of Peace for which all hearts long.
WE PRAY TO FIND STILLNESS WITHIN our busyness,
and Rest in the midst of our celebrations and activity.
Show us how to walk more gently, more patiently, on the Earth.
Let Kindness be born within all hearts.
Teach us to draw together as one people.
May our prayer rise up like fire and be Light for a troubled world. This we know, Something is trying to be born in us. Take our hand as we set out anew.
Looking for music to accompany your Christmas prayers? Click for my Advent Playlist on Spotify (music is free to stream, an account is required to sign-in).
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC