Illuminating Advent with Lectio Divina and your own Imagination!

Lectio Divina, or sacred reading, is a spiritual practice from the Early Church of reading the Bible not as a static text but as a living word with sacred and spiritual meaning. Through the four-part process of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating a short passage of scripture, the reader is drawn into a vibrant and multifaceted experience of dwelling with God.

Add to this ancient practice the ordinary act of sketching, doodling, or drawing your thoughts, and scripture is further illuminated by adding color, imagery, and texture as you illustrate what you hear, imagine, and feel.

Let’s get started! 

All you need is a blank page (or the one provided in the Illuminating Advent Guide, like the one below) and something to write and/or draw with – crayons, colored pencils, markers, pens, etc.

We will start with a prayer.

Step 1 | Lectio / Read
Listen to the passage read the first time. On the outside border of your page, write down all the words or phrases that stick out to you. Leave some room along your border to fill in more words at the end of the exercise.

Step 2 | Meditatio / Reflect
Listen to the passage read a second time. This time listen for a single word or phrase that catches your attention. Write that word or phrase, or an image that represents it, in the center of your page. Spend several minutes illuminating your word, phrase, or image by embellishing the letters, drawing images that illustrate the word, or just writing the word(s) several times in different colors or styles.

Step 3 | Oratio / Pray / Respond
Listen to the passage read a third time. This time start to make connections to the word. This is where we enter a conversation with God through the scripture, asking God to help you see how this passage is connected to you, personally. Spend time drawing all the connections that can be made by illustrating those, too.

Step 4 | Contemplatio / Contemplate
Listen to the passage read a fourth and final time. As you listen to the scripture and look at what you have drawn or written, identify those thoughts and feelings that surfaced during this time and simply offer them to God. Write or illustrate these thoughts and feelings along the remaining border of your page.

Here’s the passage we will be praying with for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Flash Morning Prayer

This is a service of Morning Prayer in less than 400 words, for when you want to pray but need to do it in a flash.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us. Amen.

Lord, open our lips; and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Know this, the Lord himself is God; he himself has made us and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 75:1 We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, calling upon your name and declaring all your wonderful deeds. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ecclesiasticus 51:7-8 They surround me on every side and there was no one to help me. Then I remembered your mercy, O Lord, for you rescue those who wait for you. The Word of the Lord.

Canticle 12 Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; praise him and highly exalt him forever. In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.

Luke 14:11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. The Word of the Lord.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son our Lord,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Give us this day our daily bread, save us from temptation and deliver us from evil. Amen.

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world; for only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care; and guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, me be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary. Amen.

Let us pray now for our own needs and those of others.

Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us.  Amen.

Let us bless the Lord!

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Amen.

Sunday School: How to Write a Collect

The word Collect is the noun version of the verb ‘collect’, as in, to gather up. In the prayer book a Collect is a prayer that gathers our thoughts and intentions together so we can offer them to God.

A Collect has a pretty basic structure, which includes:

O God, you are ________ :
These are the attributes of character of God to which the prayer is drawing our attention.

We ask ____________ ,
This is what the prayer is requesting of God, keeping in mind the quality of God we just mentioned in the address.

so that ____________ ;
This is the intention or purpose of petitioning God.

through ___________.
The last part of the prayer praises God and/or declares our confidence in making our request.

Here’s an example of a prayer written in the 11th century for the Latin mass, but included in the earliest Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer.

The Collect for Purity
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Try writing your own Collect following this pattern:

O God, ________________________: We ask ___________________________________________ ,
so that __________________________________________________ ; through ________________
___________________ .

Sunday School: Power, Authority, and Freedom in Christ

What does it mean to be members of God’s household, whose freedom is in Christ, and also citizens of the United States of America where Christian nationalism has justified the enslavement of black and brown bodies, by also citing the Bible?

First, some helpful ideas from modern biblical scholarship

Every act of reading the Bible is an act of interpretation.

Critical Theory – Understands social history in terms of oppression and power; privileges the experience of oppressed people to understand the suffering nature of Christ.

Hegemonic Power- Institutions perpetuate their own power by making their priorities and privileges normative.

What does it mean to have freedom in Christ?

Galatians 5:1-6, 13-15 (NRSV)

1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;[c] only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,[d] but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Romans 6:20-23 (NRSV)

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Power and Authority

  • Authority of scripture, tradition, and reason – We read the Bible as a source of authority alongside other sources of authority
  • Power – We all have some power. How should Christians use their power? Do we divest ourselves of some of that power in order to liberate others, or do we try to gain power so that we can liberate ourselves?

What does it mean to be members of God’s household, whose freedom is in Christ, and also citizens of the United States of America where Christian nationalism has justified the enslavement of black and brown bodies, by also citing the Bible?



Sunday School: Faith and Politics

Sunday School for Sunday, June 28, 2020

America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis comes with a very challenging 6-week study guide to help congregations educate themselves so they can pursue effective change.

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

The following is found on p. 292 of the Book of Common Prayer

Celebrant        Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
People             I do.

Celebrant        Do you believe in God the Father?
People             I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant        Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People             I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant        Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People            I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Q.        Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
A.         I will, with God’s help.

Q.        Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
A.         I will, with God’s help.

Q.        Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
A.         I will, with God’s help.

Q.        Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
A.         I will, with God’s help.

Q.        Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
A.         I will, with God’s help.

The Celebrant concludes the Renewal of Vows as follows
May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and
bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

What are the rules about churches and politics?

Churches, as nonprofit organizations, must follow certain guidelines when participating in elections. Churches may not campaign, openly or otherwise, for or against candidates for public office. IRS guidelines permit houses of worship to involve their members in the political process through education, voter registration, and candidate participation in town halls. Here are more resources on what your church can and cannot do during election season.

The IRS also has a publication that can be used as a guide for election engagement activities titled  “Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.”

How is the Episcopal Church involved in Politics?

The Office of Government Relations (OGR) represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. and helps to shape the discussion of political issues throughout the Church.

The policy priorities are decided by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church when they meet every three years.


The current priorities of the General Convention are:

  • Creation Care
  • Racial Reconciliation
  • Ending Poverty
  • Migration, Refugees & Immigration
  • Human Rights & Peacebuilding

How can Christians be involved in politics?

“Getting souls to the polls isn’t just about casting our own vote, but about working together so we all can vote and vote faithfully. We can empower every voice in our congregations in this work.”

The Office of Government Relations recently put out this helpful guide, Vote Faithfully: An Election Engagement Toolkit. It includes action steps as well as some scriptural and liturgical resources to help churches as well as individual Christians get involved. This year’s focus is on “getting souls to the polls”!

  • Become a poll worker
  • Register voters
  • Help people get to the polls, or at least know where they are
  • Encourage voter participation by talking to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors
  • Advocate for voter rights, oppose voter suppression
  • Educate yourself on the issues that matter in your community, including ballot measures and local elections

How else? What does it mean to you to be a Christian voter?

Check out our new resource page for Faith and Public Life

Register for our book study on “America’s Original Sin,” by Jim Wallis

Event: America’s Original Sin Book Study

Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and, most recently, Rayshard Brooks, Church of the Incarnation has committed to doing the work of becoming antiracist and learning how to pursue racial justice. Click here to listen to the Rev. Brin Bon’s statement on racism and the church that began this work. 

We hope you will join us for this important conversation, Sundays, 11:30am-12:30pm (CDT), beginning on July 12, 2020. 

Register here for a six-week study using the book, “America’s Original Sin,” by the Rev. Jim Wallis. The study guide will be sent to you once you register. You can buy the book and read along, or you can simply show up for the discussion, using the resources of the study guide. 

We will explore the topics of individual racism, systemic racism, whiteness, and white privilege as we strive to become God’s Beloved Community together.