Christmas through the Eyes of the Heart: An Introduction.

00-Scenes-from-the-life-of-mary Memling

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Today’s Visio Divina: Scenes from The Life of Mary, Hans Memling (1480)

Today’s Lectio Divina: So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught. Luke 1: 1-4 (MsgB)

(Each of us) are wired in different ways. Some of us respond better to the written word, some to the spoken word, some to music, some to art, some even to movement. Through this exploration of prayer, I’ve found we can connect to God in each of these ways. Though we may have a preferred sense through which to pray, the richest prayer life will come through experiencing God through all your senses. Kathryn Shirey

Experiencing God through all your senses.

That’s why those of us who train others in the ancient art of spiritual direction encourage a variety of spiritual practices in our on-going pursuit of Christ. Two ancient disciplines first developed by Jesus-followers in ages past are called by fancy Latin names: Lectio Divina (which simply means divine reading) and Visio Divina (which simply means divine seeing). These two spiritual practices, when brought into your devotional life with God, can bring a new vitality to your journey with Jesus.

This Advent season, I invite you to join us for a 14-session blog series which combines the reading of the Christmas story, as found in God’s Word, with seeing, using fourteen pieces of beautiful artwork that can bring your imagination to life. We suggest that you bookmark our home page to stay current with all fourteen entries between now and Christmas Day.

Let’s begin today with Luke’s introduction to his Gospel and a wonderful artistic overview of the life of Christ, as experienced by Mary, Jesus’ mother. Keep in mind that it’s Luke, Paul’s traveling companion, who most likely interviewed Mary, giving us the most details about the Christmas story, so we thought it appropriate to start our journey with the good doctor’s introduction. ENJOY!

Here’s how to best use Lectio Divina & Visio Divina during this Christmas season.

1) Prepare: Find a quiet place where you can be free of distractions. Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, asking God to enter into your time of prayer. Welcome Jesus into your midst, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you through your reading of God’s Word and your meditation on the Christmas image in today’s blog.

2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and slowly read today’s Christmas text. Notice what words are drawing your interest. Ponder slowly on those words. Ask the Holy Spirit to work with your imagination, drawing you deeper into these familiar words. Close and rest your eyes a minute.

3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and scan the entire image we’ve given you today. Let your eyes be led. Focus on the part of the image that catches your eye and name it. Sit with the picture for a moment. Close your eyes, once again, imagining that piece of the image in your mind.

4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your attention. Pray, asking God to bring forth a word, a thought, an image, or an emotion that might be associated with what you are seeing. Close and rest your eyes.

5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze, one final time, at the whole image. Slowly re-read the Christmas text for today as well. Pause. Breathe. Go slow. What is God speaking to you today through these words and this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend some time processing these things with Jesus. Pray a prayer of closure, asking the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower you as you go through your day. In closing, you might want to journal a few notes about your Lectio Divina & Visio Divina experience today.

What is Jesus speaking to you today through these Christmas-time words and image?

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