Centering Prayer today was about peace. So many things running around in my mind as I work on the Church's mission project, the Christmas Shoppe. Lists to make, gifts to purchase, people necessary to help...all those things kind of clawing at the edges of my consciousness, so it was rather difficult to stay focused on peace, but that is what I need in my life in order to make sure that this annual effort goes well for the people in our community and for our congregation. It was difficult to focus, but at last I managed to shut the other stuff out . . . breathe in, breathe out . . . . peace. . . peace. And then I finally managed to find some peace, and I was ready for today's scriptures.
- How does the Holy Spirit help you understand the Bible? I love this reading from 1 Corinthians! "God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven't crossed the mind of any human being. God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. Who knows a persons's depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has know the depths of God except God's Spirit. We haven't received the world's spirit but God's Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. These are the things we are talking about -- not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit -- we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people."
When we let ourselves experience the presence of the Holy Spirit we can receive wisdom that comes from the very depths of God's being. How do I experience this extraordinary presence? Sometimes I sense the Spirit's presence in the midst of conversation with friends, acquaintances, and sometimes, even strangers. We will be talking about what is happening in our lives, and they will say something and all of a sudden light is illuminating a scripture passage or a sermon point that wasn't clear until that very moment. And you know something . . . I'm not sure I've ever shared with those folks that they have helped me experience the Spirit's presence in my life. I need to take the time to let people know how they have helped me grow! There have been times when I'm preparing a sermon for church . . . researching a passage, reading theologians thoughts on the passage and I come across some writing that just jumps off the page and into my brain and heart, and I get so excited by this new understanding of something I've never seen or understood before. The Holy Spirit, in its knowledge of the depths of God and me is sooo powerful!!
- What does Psalm 119 say about how reading the Bible can transform your life? I think, at its heart this passage is saying that to know God's heart and mind, and to accept His guidance in your life can lead to true happiness, contentment and safety; because if you really let everything the Spirit has to offer into the depths of your soul, you live your life in a new way, where temptation and fear don't have any chance of taking root. When you let God in and try to sustain a relationship with him, you try so very hard to do what God calls you to do. And in deepening your relationship with God, you can transform relationships with other people to reflect God's widsom.
- Do you mostly read with you head or your heart? Usually I approach scripture reading this way: first, I read it with my head, just trying to understand what the writer meant. I mostly use a study bible, so I will read the notes and footnotes to get a better understanding of historical context and the writer. Then I go back and read the passage again, this time trying to discern what God wants me to see in the passage, so I guess I use my head and my heart.
Sometimes I will read a passage over and over and not understand anything about what it ought to mean to me in the 21st century. That is why I am so grateful that for the personal conversations and objective writings I wrote about earlier. Knowing God isn't really a solitary occupation. Other people, their perspectives, their life experiences, their spiritual experiences help enlighten me on a daily basis to God's infinite love. God made us to live in relationships.
Lord, give me new insight as I read your holy words. Transform every part of my life until I take on your character and grace. Amen.