Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. A song keeps going through my head these last few days as I prepared for Sunday’s lectionary theme, “Prepare a Sanctuary”. This is a song often sung around a campfire at retreats and camps. It is one of the ways we close the campfire, having shared in fun and fellowship, recognizing the ever-presence of God in all the moments we engaged with him individually and in community. It can provide a transition to a deepening relationship with God, or it can be seen as a meaningful step before we go back out into the secular world. I want to share the words with you using a spiritual practice called lectio divina which is usually used for prayerfully reading scripture. The message or petition of this song is truly a parallel to scriptures given to us in the old and new testaments.
Lectio Divina means “divine reading” and it is a way to take the words of scripture and personally engage in finding a deeper meaning. Some describe it as reading with the “ear of the heart.” So let’s begin with step one – read the words all the way through, looking for a word or phrase that stands out to you.
“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. And with thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary, for You.” This song is a conversation that we initiate with God; a prayer of the heart. Read it again and let the words flow into your mind and soak down to your heart.
Don’t restrict yourself to a specific number of times you read it. This is your time. Feel free to read it again. I find that reading it several times just takes it deeper and deeper into my conscience. What word or phrase stood out to you as you read it? There is no right answer. This is a time when you are conversing with God, so let the Spirit speak to you.
As you reflect on this word or words, repeat them over and over. [Do that now.] Each one of us probably picked different words. Use the silence to repeat them and open the “ears of your heart” to hear God’s response to you. Do you feel encouragement? Peace? A desire to deepen your connection to God?
For me, the first time I used lectio divina with this song, the words “prepare me” stood out. “Prepare me.” “Prepare me to be a sanctuary.“ At that moment the sanctuary represented a peaceful place devoted to worship. I realized that I deeply needed that. I needed to find that place within me where I could wall off the outside world and center my heart and mind on God and devote myself to God. Please realize that whichever words stood out to you and what they meant to you is personal. It is your time with God.
And what you hear as God’s response is also unique and personal for you. Give time to your experience. Take the feelings and reverence of the moment to extend your reflection, your thoughts, and your understanding. Take those thoughts and respond in prayer to God, telling him however you feel led to respond.
Then take a moment and just sit in silence with God.
What was your experience using the words of this song?
I pray you engage in this spiritual practice and allow this special time with God. Any scripture can be used. And it is okay to expand this to use other songs or text. I would love to hear your testimony of your experience. (http://www.cofchristdc.org/contact)
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.