Lectio Divina Biology
Lectio divina is a monastic practice of reading biblical scripture, developed in the 3th century by the early Christian scholar, theologian and ascetic Origen of Alexandria, Egypt. (See image top right).
Origen discerned reading of the scriptures as a sacrament and wrote “When you devote yourself to divine reading… seek the meaning of divine words which is hidden from most people”. This is particularly true in (Luke 8:10) where Jesus only reveals the truth to those closest to him, his disciples. Jesus would equally preach the Kingdom of God in the form of parables to engage minds to think and contemplate his teaching. To dilute or over simplify theological concepts is like explaining a joke; it loses its zeal, emotional impact and robs a person of epiphany.
Lectio divina can be practised by anyone at anytime; all you need is a quiet place where you can sit down with a Bible (any translation of the bible) and read. To start with all you need is ten minutes of your day to practise.
Four steps of Lectio Divina:
- Lectio/ reading of scripture: Reading a text with no preconceptions, with no bias, to approach the text with a neutral mindset. To humbly receive the text as the inspired Word of God. This objective step is simple yet most difficult step in lectio divina.
- Meditatio/ meditation: Meditation deepens our understanding of how the text relates to our lives today. This is a moment in time during where we reiterate the text, whether silently, verbally and reflect on the words and meaning within context.
- Oratio/ prayer: Connecting with God in a form of quiet prayer. Prayer can take many forms whether a person kneels, sits cross- legged on the floor, sitting on a chair or lying in bed. However, the latter of these forms will reduce a person’s attentiveness and response to practising lectio divina.
- Contemplatio/ contemplation: After prayer, further review of text is required to recap the true meaning of the text and to reflect again on the life application. Contemplatio is not achieved within a day or a week. It is a small part of a continual life journey with God.
Through continual works of lectio divina and maintaining a strong faith in walking with Jesus Christ we can only then slowly awaken from our worldly sleep and truly experience the true beauty of this world with God’s grace.
When we live in Gods world and submit our lives to his keep and mercy we can expect to be rewarded with some natural benefits along the Way.
BioMedical benefits of Lectio Divina
- Reduced inflammatory markers such as INF-gamma and Interleukin 6 reduces the autoimmune damage our innate immune system conducts when we undergo prolonged periods of high stress subsequently elevated levels of the hormone, cortisol. This occurs when we become tired and/or after prolonged periods of psychological and physical stress.
- Reduction in cortisol levels; lower free radical oxidative stress results in less cellular damage. Human metabolism naturally protects itself from oxidative stress by calcium release in and around cellular function, however, this function is limited in excessive conditions.
- Research conducted in 2010 by the University of Bonn found regular meditation stimulated neural plasticity increasing grey matter in the brain and increased gamma wave frequency responsible for higher consciousness and awareness, this is not referring to an alternative universe, however, it does reflect our ignorance to our cognitive potential. (Luke 8:17)
- Traditional Lectio Divina would sometimes take place during prolonged periods of fasting or intermittent fasting as a practice of self discipline and peity. Intermittent fasting presents evidence of increased Brain- Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which has been shown to stimulate neurogenesis, the regeneration of neurones in the brain. Moreover, improving cognition, synaptic connectivity and increase in longevity. A decrease in BDNF has been observed in individuals suffering from depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s.
- Lectio divina can be practiced in small group sessions; this practice strengthens fellowship within the community. Reading, meditating, praying and discussing theology is continuously producing evidence of how it benefits mental health. Global research continues to identify how living a spiritual life strengthens an individual’s cognition when confronted with high stress and difficult situations. A study in 2011 at the University of McGill in Canada was one of many studies which identified the efficiency in severe mental health recovery in those who practiced private and personal prayer with regular attendance to meetings of Worship.
It is important to note when we receive Christ as our saviour from living a blind life and accept God as our creator we can slowly understand our perspective and knowledge of life is not the full reality. We have a choice to what we spend time; watching on TV, reading, doing or not doing and who we spend our time with or not. God gave us a gift of choice and freedom to follow him or the world.
Jesus came to show us the Way, the one path to true happiness in life (John 14:6), it is truly our own freedom we sacrifice when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the noise of the world and the flashing lights of secular ideas.
When we slow down in our busy lives and reconcile where we are, what we are doing and importantly where we place our hopes and ambitions. Lectio divina is a small gift in a moment in time to connect with God and open our eyes to the world around us and to reflect on where we are in God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:9)
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Letters and a language is all I see, an ancient code of mysterious wisdom.
Excitement elevates my curiosity as I begin decoding logos.
Calm and at peace I feel in the stillness of silent solitude, as my body relaxes my mind races with anticipation.
Tracing each word with my finger and thought I slowly digest bread crumbs of truth.
Intellect serves me no assurance as I lose myself, entwined in words of divinity.
Obsession grips me, holds my eyes to each word. I close my eyes and take a deep breath while raising my head, I exhale.
Drenched in peace when mind victors over the battle cries of the world.
I pray to my creator to be filled with the spirit, as navigator and comforter.
Vanity disappears, humility replaces all expectations. The mind is willing but the body withers.
Inspired and lifted I open my eyes and smile.
Now I know the beauty, the peace and love of God through Christ alone. I am burdened yet overjoyed in receiving my mission.
Peace be with you,
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I was listening to a sermon tonight by "John Miller". He looked at this short portion at the start of the Epistle James. If you don't know the Epistle which is a really fancy way of saying 'a letter' is often attributed to Jesus half brother, James. Here it is so you don't have to look elsewhere for it....
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
it just seems so appropriate to the very present trials we are facing. The passage is also very certainly reassuring. The first two sentences remind us that trials and hardships are absolutely a part of our Christian journey, a part of the human condition. The bit that lifts me and also challenges me is in the first four words. "Consider it pure joy". Really, that's not easy, but we are to be lifted. Our spirits are to be raised up, and I hope yours are as you read it. We are to be joyful when we endure because it is normal to face such things.
In fact the passage goes on to point out that it is through such trials that we as God's work can become nearer to being finished. We learn, we develop.
John Miller talked about how his own life experiences, having a child, losing loved ones had enabled him to be a better pastor and help others. This certainly rings true, doesn't it.. The more we endure, the more we experience, I hope the more empathetic and compassionate we become. We start as Christians with a heart for Jesus, a desire to learn about him to know him. As we grow we gain a heart for the poor, the lonely, the weak, the vulnerable. This compassion is a combination of human experience and time spent with our God.
It draws me onto my point really. I have confessed before that prayer is something I have long struggled with. I am more of a person of action than stillness and silence. I know, that my best response to a crisis is a pause and a prayer and yet my first reaction is always to barrel in. The passage above points to that need for prayer in time of trial. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should as God, who gives generously". When I find myself faced with difficulty I know the message is clear. Keep going, it was always thus and is meant to be that we should have trials, we improve as a result. Yet we do not face them alone, pray to the father for wisdom and he will give generously whenever you face a trial.
Have a great week my friends.
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Well what a fantastic year we have had in Messy Church 2018 to 2019. We have seen lots and I mean lots of new faces every session this year. That's made for some lively and exciting sessions. Sometimes the building has been packed.
We have worshipped God every time in all kinds of ways and that's one of the reasons we, the church are here. We have also spent time alongside our community, letting them know they are loved and that we are here. That's another portion of our mission. Of course we have also shared the good news of the gospel with lots of new people. That's another essential part of our mission. Finally we have had fun and that makes it even better.
So, why am I writing, well none of the fun, crafts, worship and food happen without the work effort and dedication of so many people within the church. This is true testament to a people obedient to God's call and loving the community just as we are commanded.
We now have a little respite as we enjoy a summer holiday from messy church and a chance to recharge those batteries, physical and spiritual.
So a massive thank you to you all and I am looking forward to 2019-2020. Thank you messy churchers! With love !
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