A few weeks ago, the leader of our Bible study group took us through an experience of Lectio Divina (Latin for "divine reading") using the Scripture passage where Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:3-15.
Lectio Divina is an opportunity to hear and respond to a Bible passage where the leader reads the passage aloud three times, and the listeners have a different task with each presentation.
First reading: Listen for a word or a phrase that is impressive, then hold the word or phrase in your thoughts.
Second reading: Connect that impressive thought with a present life situation to which the Scripture relates, and give a silent prayer.
Third reading: Reflect on the personal invitation from God in the Scripture, and respond with prayer or writing.
Here is the reading from that evening. As you read it today, stay tuned for the word or phrase that is impressive to you. If you can, do the second and third readings and tasks. Jesus is speaking:
- John 10:3-5,7b,9b-12,14-15 – The watchman opens the gate for [the shepherd], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.
I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. (NIV)
When "He calls his own sheep by name" was read aloud at my Bible study, I came to attention as if I had heard my name. God invited me during that Lectio Divina experience to place complete trust in Him. He reminded me of who He says I am and His powerful love for me. I took it right to heart and put some uncertainties out of my mind.
When we come to Scripture, let us open ourselves to hear God's invitation for us in that moment. Let us give the words a few moments to sink in. I find that it pays to let the Word work like yeast in my life.
Prayer: Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we seek the full life that He came to bring. Help us to keep our hearts open to hear His voice. Amen.