Exercise 7A & 7B: Lectio By Finding Ourselves in the Scene

Background: Many forms of Lectio Divina help the reader to place themselves in the scene.  This is not a time to got bogged down in getting the historical details just so; the important thing here is that we are bringing new life to the reading by considering how it might have happened.  Generally speaking, there are 2 elements to this.

The first is to use the imagination to identify ourselves with the people who appear in a story.  They do not need to be specifically named.  For example, if a crowd is mentioned, we might simply imagine ourselves as a member of this crowd.

The second is to engage the senses.  The easy and obvious are what it might have looked like and sounded like.  The more challenging is the tastes, smells, and textures of the place.  Investing head space into these more challenging senses can be incredibly powerful.

Invoking a sense of playfulness and seeing the text as a spring board can be helpful.  Part of the process is to trust that the Spirit is present, here.  And so if you find yourself having “walked away” from the scene as it unfolds, this can be a great thing.

Two exercises follow.  The first is a rather generic format that can be used for any text.  The second is a specific exploration of one passage in particular.

On the whole, narratives will be more fruitful for this practice than instructional, didactic texts.

Exercise

1)  Read through 1-2 pages of narrative.

2)  Read again.  This time searching for a passage between 1/4- 3/4 of a page that speaks to you.

3)  Read the passage identifying the characters that are either explicitly mentioned or implied.  Explore who you might be in this scene.

4) Imagine (perhaps by rereading) the scene from this characters perspective.

5)  Consider all of the senses: How did it sound there?  How does it look?  How does it smell?  What is the temperature?  Can you reach out and touch anything there?

6)  Can you imagine any additions to the scene not expressed by the text; perhaps what happens immediately before or after?

7) Re-read the whole selection.

8)  Spend some time with God, exploring why this perspective came to you and what God taught you through the experience.

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Exercise B:

1) Read the following passage:

The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,[a] “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e]away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

 

2) Having read that passage, you might focus on the following section:

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e]away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

3) Make a mental list of the people implied or explicitly mentioned in the text.  This might include: Jesus, the Jews who came to offer support, Mary, Martha, and perhaps professionals involved in the funeral.

4) Choose who you are going to identify in this passage.  If you chose Martha, imagine her mourning from Lazurus.  Imagine her getting the news that Jesus is finally arriving.  Did she hear from a local?  From someone in advance of Jesus’ party?  Did she see them coming on the horizon?

5)  Are the words recorded the first ones she says to Jesus?  Does she run through his entourage?  Is she angry, sad, or mystified?  Does she yell or whisper?  What clothes are the people wearing?  What is the weather like?

6)  When Jesus says that he is the ressurection, are others watching and listening?  As Martha, what is happening in your heart and mind when you tell Jesus that you believe?

7)  As you, Martha, go back to find Mary, what are you thinking and feeling?  Is there a breeze that carries a scent?  What do you discover your sister doing?  What is her expression like?

8) Do you– Martha– stay in the house?  Or do you follow Mary and all the rest?  What is their mood?

9)  How do you feel as Jesus weeps?  Does he reach out and touch you?  A while before, you would have agreed with the people who are complaining.  How do you feel about them now?

10)  Re-read the whole passage that is listed above, the entire event with Lazurus.

11)  Consider what you learned through this experience of Lectio Divina.

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One thought on “Exercise 7A & 7B: Lectio By Finding Ourselves in the Scene

  1. Pingback: You are welcome here. | The Faith-ing Project

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