The Saint John’s Bible

Every Wednesday at noon we have meditation in the sanctuary. We begin with about ten minutes for silent reflection, breathing exercises, and prayer. I then lead the group in about 15 to 20 minutes of chanted meditation, which usually consists of a Psalm selected from the Revised Common Lectionary, a Kyrie, and the Lord’s Prayer.

The benefits of meditation are well documented and widely sought. Buddhist teachings and practices about mindfulness are beneficial to anyone, and we often utilize them at St Paul. Yet the Christian tradition has its own, long history of meditation in what is called lectio divina or divine reading of scripture. A Benedictine monastic tradition later popularized by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a french abbot of whom Martin Luther (1483-1546) was quite fond, the practice of lectio focuses on the scriptures as a written form of God’s powerful Word. What’s so important in this tradition of Christian meditation is that we slow down, read, and pray the scriptures more mindfully than we are accustomed to do. In the introduction to his German writings, Luther describes his own approach to this lectio tradition as one of prayer to God, meditation on God’s Word, and the experience of trials or difficulties in life, which open the text to us and teach us the great value of God’s promises.

The use of the Psalms as the prayerbook of the Bible has a long history in Christian meditation. “Happy are those . . . [whose] delight is in the teaching of the Lord, and on God’s teaching they meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2), and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The importance of praying and meditating on the Psalms was also greatly emphasized by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German Lutheran pastor and doctor of theology who was executed by the Nazis for his resistance against the regime. For those who are interested to learn more, Bonhoeffer’s introduction to the Psalms can be found below.

-Vicar Gabriel

Introduction to the Psalms