Sometimes I need to be reminded that God has forgiven me. It’s something that I feel I need to come back to again and again. Even although I have been a Christian for most of my life, and have been training for full-time ministry over the last seven years, I still need reminded that God has actually forgiven me through Jesus Christ.
This was my “take home” message from my last session of Spiritual Accompaniment. During this session, I participated in a prayer exercise called Lectio Divina. I have found this exercise useful, and have used it many times before. The pattern we used on this occasion was as follows:
Lectio Divina (Praying the Scriptures)
Lectio Divina is a slow reading of a short passage of Scirpture, in the faith that it will somehow transform. It is an ancient way of praying. Many have had the experience of words ‘leaping off a page’ and its that experience, quiet or dramatic, which lies behind Lectio Divina.
The Four Stages
- Lectio: Read the passage slowly, perhaps several times. Is there a word or phrase which strikes you? It may be encouraging, comforting, challenging.
- Meditatio: Stay with the word or phrase and repeat it to yourself several times, letting it sink into you. Take some time to ponder and consider it. If you wish, write down your thoughts.
- Oratio (Prayer): Speak to God about where your thoughts have taken you and include some time of silence and stillness.
- Contemplation: This is a time of quiet being with God and often the hardest for us in the West. Use your breath to still yourself, repeat your word or phrase and wait.
If nothing strikes you, talk to God about what that nothing is like and what that nothing feels like for you.
The stages may well blend into one another as you practice this way of prayer. The Psalms or favourite texts from the Bible are a good starting point.
The passage we used on this occasion was Mark 2: 1-12. This is a fairly familiar passage, where Jesus heals a paralysed man after his friends lower him through the roof of a house. Because it is such a familiar passage, we used the Message paraphrase of the Bible, because this would force us to pay more attention to the words of the story.
The words which really stood out for my on this occasion were, “Son, I forgive your sins.”
In more traditional Bible translations, these words would read, “Your sins are forgiven”. When I read, “Son, I forgive your sins”, it made things seem more personal.
This phrase stood out to me in a few different ways, which I’d like to share with you. First, I read, “Son”. Jesus was addressing me personally, as His son. As I read this passage, the image that came to mind was the Lord of the universe, in human form, addressing me! I don’t deserve that…and yet, here is Jesus, calling me “Son”.
Next, I read, “Son, I forgive”. This tells me something about Jesus’ identity. This says something about why Jesus comes to me. He comes to forgive.
Finally, “Son, I forgive your sin”. This was the reminder I needed. Even although I am training for ministry, and have been a Christian for years, I still need reminded that Jesus actually forgives my sin when I am sorry.
It is easy to hold on to guilt and remorse for things I’ve done wrong. I am grateful for the reminder that Jesus has granted my forgiveness for my sin, and restored my relationship with God. What a source of comfort and hope this is!!