When I was a young Christian, it was common in the communities of faith in which I found myself to aim at reading through the Bible in a year. I’m grateful for my vision of Scripture today because of how many times I took on that discipline. At the same time, I ended up with a great deal of undigested and unpracticed insights. It sometimes formed in me the habit of reading more than I could actually put into practice.
These days I find myself slowing down with scripture. I often still read a few chapters recommended by the Book of Common Prayer lectionary. (That’s what many Anglican Christians do, and I am one of those). But I often will keep my eye open for a line or two that shines on my attention. I carry them into my day, enjoying them like I might a favorite hard candy.
A passage I return to often to find fresh nourishment for my soul is John 15. I recently led a group in a fifteen-minute personal meditation time there. I often print the passage on a sheet that we copy for each person present. It gives them something to focus on and somewhere to write their reflections. It focuses their attention on the passage in question.
Meditation is a way of slowing down as we read scripture. The goal is not the number of verses read. The goal is being nourished by scripture. We slow down. We listen. We reflect. We feel. We share our hearts with God.
In my own time meditating on John 15, a few insights came that felt timely and life-giving.
First, Jesus calls himself the true vine (v. 1). If He is the true vine, then there are many false vines to which I’m tempted to attach. Greed. Lust. Pride. Anger. Envy. Jesus, as the true vine, gives us life. False vines make big promises, but eventually suck life from us.
Second, Jesus invites us, from our place of abiding in him, to ask whatever is on our hearts and it will be done (v. 7). Asking in prayer is a very tangible way for me to abide in Christ. Asking draws life into me from Jesus as the source.
I may recognize within myself a hunger or thirst and I ask for what I need. The true vine has abundance for my good and my benefit. What are my thirsts? My hungers? God invites me to ask specifically for what would satisfy my hunger and quench my thirst.
Finally, Jesus does not first call me servant but friend (v. 15). When it comes to a meal, a servant serves the table. A friend sits at the table. Jesus wants me seated at his table. He wants to share with me everything the Father has given him. Some of us behave as though we were servants rather than sons and daughters—friends. We are wanted and welcome in the presence of God. This is what God wants. This is how God works.
P.S. – If you haven’t already taken advantage, we created a free Lectio Divina mini-course. You would find in it a tool to help you slow down with scripture. Just click the link to get access to it.