Thursday, October 8, 2015

You Don't Look Jewish!

Her disappearing friendly smile alerted me to her confusion …

You don’t look Jewish.

Keeping my smile, my words put her at ease. No, I’m a Christian. Our conversation continued to flow over the constant announcements of next flights and boarding groups.

She a Bible study leader and me on my way to facilitate one of my Sabbath-Living retreats affirmed that we had much in common.

Sabbath-Living is my name for the retreats I’ve been leading for the past several years. Sub-titled, Developing a Life-Style of Connecting with God, provides clues to the content of the time. Truly this is the heart of many, Christians and Jews alike, but how does that happen?

The retreats are anchored in a 500 year tradition called Lectio (pronounced lexio) Divina or Sacred Reading. Lectio was used extensively in the history of the Catholic Church and popularized by Ignatius of Loyola, an itinerant preacher and teacher, and spiritual director. In the past several years it is enjoying a come-back.

Because the laity didn’t have their own Bibles during Ignatius’ lifetime, the only way to be exposed to the word of God was to hear it read. To memorize it, you listened over and over again. And as you thought about what you were hearing, your prayers became a natural outflow from the words of scripture. You were developing a personal connection (a friendship) with God.

I love the goals of Lectio:
1.     1. To enjoy the presence of the one who is always present with us—God.
2.     2. To grow in your intimacy with God.
3.     3. To be transformed into His image by having the issues of our hearts dealt with in a godly way.

Historically, Lectio includes four parts:
1.       1.Reading, reading, and re-reading.
2.      2.Meditating, thinking about, questioning, pondering.
3.      3.Praying, a conversation with God.
4.      4.Contemplating by taking the truth you are reading, meditating on, and praying over and noticing how it applies it to your life. It’s the ah-ha, the oh-my, the bow on the package.

Over the years, many have benefited from and taken liberty to make lectio their own, to enhance their connection with God. One friend has added a 5th part, journaling. I follow her example. Another friend is developing her love for art journaling as the bow on her lectio package. Sometimes (not very often), I follow her example. A third friend has created Duco Divina or Sacred Doodling to enhance her times with God. 

I’ve dubbed my version of lectio, Sue’s S-C Plan.  I’ve added two pre-lectio pieces that I find enriching and deepening my time with God.

1.      Sit and Stare                                     Creation
This is a time of quieting my heart and enjoying God’s creation. It may last five minutes; it may last thirty. I don’t time it.

2.      Solitude and Silence                        Coffee (or perhaps a cuppa’ tea)
I truly love the quiet of this time. For my husband, silence is soft music in the background; for me, silence is silence. This is the necessary white space of readying my heart.

I’m not legalistic about these two pieces; they easily flow together. And they lead me to …
3.      Scripture                                            Communication (prayer)

As I practice my S-C Plan, my personal lectio, I’m experiencing …
4.      Stewardship                                      Conversion
I’m learning who God created me to be, and I’m growing in my Christian life.

I’m thankful for the Jewish tradition of Sabbath. I’m thankful for the Catholic tradition of Lectio Divina for providing a way to develop a connection with God. I’m thankful for my Protestant heritage encouraging me to know God personally. And I’m thankful for how all of these come together to enhance my friendship with God.

What about you … what is most meaningful to you as you connect with God?

And let me know if I can facilitate a Sabbath-Living retreat for you and your friends.

“Sabbath observance (is) one of our most honest and practical indicators of authentic religious faith. The extent and depth of our Sabbath commitment is the measure of how far we have progressed in our discipleship and friendship with God.”
-        Living the Sabbath, Norman Wirzba

“I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is baby content." Psalm 131:3, MSG


  1. I love everything about your approach to Sabbath Living Retreats!

    1. Thanks Sally. I keep hearing good words about last weekend.