Getting ready for this weekend is like getting ready for a major feast day! There’s a menu to plan, a truckload of snacks to buy, commercials to rank and bets to place. Super Bowl Sunday is an American holy day of obligation, and God forbid you schedule anything else, even Mass, for that afternoon or evening.
So who will it be: Seattle or Denver? I caught a debate over their wide receivers that got me thinking about (what else?) how we read the Bible.
Denver has Demaryius Thomas, and Welker, and Decker…three of the best! And Seattle? Just average, or so they say. But look at the stats: Baldwin, Tate, and Kearse may not catch as many balls as Denver’s trio, but when they do, get ready for a big play – maybe 20 yards or more. It’s what you do with the ball when you catch it, that counts.
Which brings me to reading the Bible, particularly the kind of personal, prayerful reading and meditation that brings us to the goal of bearing fruit in our lives.
There are three parts to the job of receiving (at least as I recall from my Powder Puff days):
1. Anticipating the Throw
The wide receiver has his attention on the quarterback. He runs into position, reaches out, gets his hands and eyes in the path of the ball.
In a similar way, we prepare to receive the Word, we don’t just grab it “on the fly.”
Find a quiet place to read, remove distractions, pray. Like that wide receiver, fix your attention on the “QB” – God – and then fix your eyes on the “ball” of the word. Read the passage several times if needed. Focus. Get it firmly in your sights.
2. Making the Catch
A football catch often starts with the fingertips, then the hand, then sometimes the crook of the arm and the chest.
“Grab onto” the part that stands out to you, and don’t let it go. You might have to mull it over first. Meditate on the word, allow it to sink in. Hold it close to your chest, in your heart. Receive what it says, don’t try to direct it.
3. Converting the Play
Here’s where some pundits give Seattle the edge: they turn their catches into yards, even more than Denver does. The quarterback targets a particular player not to show off his throwing arm or the receiver’s skill, but so that player will move them closer to the goal.
What kind of receiver are you?
Turn to God in prayer and ask him: Why this word to me, today? What is the goal? What do you want me to know/learn/do?
Then, do it!
You may not make a lot of touchdowns, but that’s OK. In fact, that’s part of the game. Just like that receiver, sometimes the ball will sail right past you. You may fumble a few. Some throws you’ll set right down, or you’ll move just a few yards. But the more you do it, the more forward progress you will make.
How many of us read Scripture like we’re spectators at the Super Bowl? We sit in the stands (or in the comfort of our living room) and watch the action, analyze the plays. When it gets boring, we wander away for chips and soda or join another conversation. We can get the plays from someone else another day.
The problem is – we’re not meant to be spectators of Scripture. It’s the Word of God, a personal message from the Lord of the Universe, directed to our hearts. We’re meant to receive that Word, not just to observe. And if we want to receive the Word of God, we can learn a lot from those receivers on the football field.
By the way, as a former resident of Denver, it’s Broncos all the way for me. But I’ll be watching for some great plays from the Seattle offense!
Hear Sarah speak about receiving the Word in “Lectio Divina: Divine Reading for Personal Transformation” – available on CD or mp3.