Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lenten Walk 1: Why Ephesians?

I've never done anything like this, taking one book in the Bible and slowly meditating on it, letting it soak into my soul.

During Advent 2008, I read a chapter a day of the Gospel According to Matthew, but I didn't take it very slowly, and I certainly didn't spend a lot of time considering it, blogging about it, reading commentaries on it.

So, how did I get to this as my main spiritual practice for Lent?

Well, during Easter season last year, I became entralled with the readings from the Acts of the Apostles. I'd heard many of the readings before, but never quite like this, a little every morning, unfolding early church history in bits and pieces. I was mesmerized.

I had also just completed facilitating an eight-week Bible study that had frustrated me while also lighting a spark of interest in me. I asked Father for a recommendation, some sort of non-partisan study or commentary that would help me get a deeper understanding from Acts. He recommended Collegeville Press, and I found their commentary on Acts. I bought it, set it on my bookshelf, and promptly forgot about it.

As I approached Advent 2009, I kept finding myself drawn to Ephesians. I would run across a verse here or there that touched me, and it was always from Ephesians. When I used to write CRHP witnesses, I used Ephesians liberally throughout. So, I wanted to spend this past Advent reading Ephesians, just as I had read Matthew the year before.

But that never happened. Advent 2009 was a blur, and my intentions never became a reality.

A few weeks ago, in Spiritual Direction, Father asked me what spiritual reading I was planning for Lent. I mentioned the commentary on Acts that I had never opened, but said that Acts didn't feel very "Lenten." Father liked the idea of focusing on one book in the New Testament, and agreed that Acts might not be the best choice. "Is there another book that you think you might want to read?"

Enter Ephesians.

It's a short book. In my beat-up copy of the New Testament, it takes only 6 pages to cover the 6 chapters of Ephesians. But, I am going to take it slowly, one chapter for each week of Lent. I am hoping that re-reading, meditating, soaking in the Word will change me. How? I don't know. But I am hoping that it will.

My commentary sums up Ephesians like this: Ephesians "represents the voice of the faithful struggling under new and difficult circumstances to recall and remain faithful to the original inspiration of the gospel. The unfathomable 'love of Christ' is still with the church; Ephesians invites a continuing rediscovery of the ancient tradition so that that love can be more vibrant in the church and so that the church can reach out more effectively to the world." (p.94 New Collegeville Bible Commentary)

Hmmm... should prove to be interesting food for the journey.

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