Today is the first day of two weeks at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. I'm continuing in my third year of doctoral studies. My area of interest is missional church leadership. Here is a brief description of the program. Read my first blog entry to find out why I started this blog and how it relates to my program. Click on the "Fuller Studies" category over there on the right if you would like to read a variety of entries on the missional church.
We began our day "dwelling in the word." This is a modified form of lectio divina that we practice corporately on a daily basis. Lectio divina is a way of reading, praying and meditating on scripture with the expectation that God is present and that He can be heard through the text. This devotional reading of scripture can be traced back to the Desert Fathers and other early church leaders, and was given special prominence by St. Benedict. To this day the Benedictine monks set aside time each day for labor, liturgy and lectio.
There are four basic steps involved in lectio divina. First is the lectio, or “reading/listening.” This stage cultivates the ability to listen deeply without distraction. The selected scripture should be read more than once with the option of using different translations and a variety of readers (especially in a group). The listener is encouraged to identify any word or phrase that stands out or “shines.” Even in familiar passages something new might catch the reader’s attention. This is done in deliberate silence and with great patience. Next is meditatio, or “meditation.” In this step the listener dwells on or “chews on” (reminiscent of a cow regurgitating its food) a specific word or phrase asking for God’s help in letting His Word become flesh. The third step is oratio, or “prayer.” While the whole exercise can be considered a prayer of scripture, this segment emphasizes a prayer of contriteness. The listener prays that God will shape him or her through the text. The final stage is contemplatio, or “contemplation.” This is the silent response the reader has to God’s magnificent presence. It is a time of resting in the midst of the Living Word.
Every day for the next two weeks we will be dwelling in Luke 10:1-12.This is a powerful passage of scripture in which Jesus sends out the 70 to teach and heal in advance of his coming. So many questions surface as I read and pray through this. "What might it mean to collect the harvest in an agrarian community?" "Can we understand the full meaning of Christ's use of the word 'peace'?" "Why is hospitality, staying in homes and eating food such a prominent part of this story?" "Why were the disciples instructed not to greet anyone on the road?" "What does the nearness of the kingdom mean?" I have a feeling that asking these and other questions will do me more good than reading for answers.
Other than that we spent the day hearing stories of the missional journey in each of our contexts. There are now thirteen of us pastors left in the cohort (we started with eighteen). For some the conversation has been warm and inviting in their congregations. For others it has been a hard if not impossible struggle. I am grateful for the conversation we are having in our community at North Fresno Church. Here is a blog we have started to chronicle a bit of that journey.