Summary: Teaches how to do a "lectio divina", as an applied example of the contemplative stream of Christianity.
The Contemplative Stream: How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God
February 12, 2005 (Lectio Divina on Mark 10:46-52)
I want to tell you a little story, to help you understand one of the ways that people talk to God and worship God. Over the past little while we’ve been talking about how God made us different as people – some that are really enthusiastic and like to worship God with big music and dancing and, and others that like to sit in total quiet, with nothing around them. This week, in the adult service, we are going to talk about another one – called “contemplative”. It is a way of worship that concentrates on one thing.
Here is my story. On Wednesday night, I was working quite late – I left the church here at about 11:15 (we had an elders meeting…). When I got home, I expected everyone in my house to be fast asleep, but my wife, Joanne, wasn’t – she was still awake. When she heard the door open, she came downstairs (in her pajamas…) and said, “Oh, I’m so glad you are home. I’m worried about Thomas.” You see, Thomas was sick again this week with another cold and stuff.
Now, let me tell you something about me. I am a man. Now, I hope that is pretty obvious, but one of the things about most men (and me in particular) is that we like to solve problems – we like to make things better, we like to fix things. And, we get frustrated when we can’t fix things. And so right away, when Joanne said she was worried about Thomas, I tried to think of how I could make Thomas better so that Joanne wouldn’t have to worry. And, you guessed it, I couldn’t, and so I felt frustrated. Then later on I felt tired because Thomas was sleeping in the middle of my bed and kept kicking me in the head all night long…
The next day, I started to think about why Joanne was glad I was home when I couldn’t fix the problem. And I figured it out – it was because I was with her. I was here. She was no longer alone, but now both of us were together and could walk through the problem together.
Did you notice a moment ago that I told you that “contemplative” worshipers concentrate on one thing? That one thing is this: that God is with them. That right in the middle of life, whatever problems or joys there might be, they are never alone because God is with them. They love to spend time in prayer, talking to God and listening to Him, sometimes imagining that they can crawl right up into God’ lap and sit on His knee and wrap their arms around Him and give Him a big hug. That is the one thing: being in God’s presence, especially in prayer.
Call To Worship
The idea of the past 6 weeks has been for us to explore How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God, and as you just heard this morning we want to explore the Contemplative Stream, also known as “The Prayer Filled Life”. It appeals to people who are by nature contemplatives, it also appeals to naturalists and often those who worship best through using their senses. In this next time of worship through song, I invite you to engage your heart in worship in the contemplative stream. Pray the songs, use your imagination, study the flower alongside Rom 1:20 (“since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”). Because God is with us, His love and presence and power are here. Let us enter in.
Teaching Time (Later in the service)
As with all the streams, Jesus is our best example of a contemplative. We might think that, since Jesus was God, He wouldn’t need to be a contemplative person who desired to be in the presence of God. But once we appreciate how at the very center of God is relationship, between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we quickly realize that the opposite is true. Jesus wanted and needed to be in the presence of His Father, and wanted and needed and was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus took time to be in prayer. Luke 5:16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” A chapter later, just before Jesus chooses the disciples, Luke tells us that “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12). It is a pattern that continues throughout Jesus’ life, even on the cross.
Ways To Read
I’ve decided to do things a little differently this morning. Instead of preach a sermon on the contemplative stream, and try to explain what “the prayer filled life” looks like, I want to teach you a way to actually do it. My premise is this: most weeks, I take a text from Scripture and I study it, read it in its original context to determine what it meant; and then I try to read our present context and apply the truths in Scripture to our lives. My hope and prayer each week is that God would speak to all of us through His Word. This approach is very much a part of the “evangelical stream”, which we examined several weeks ago, where the main point is to understand and discover the truth and then obey what it says.