Below are resources for you as you listen to God in Scripture. Many congregations, clergy and diocesan organizations, including diocesan staff and Diocesan Council, have adopted Dwelling in the Word as a spiritual practice and the foundation for meetings. Keep in mind, they haven’t added extra time to their meetings, they have simply built this practice into the normal flow of their meetings together.
Why Listen to God in Scripture by Dwelling in the Word?
Dwelling in scripture is an ancient Christian practice, but for many of us it is a new spiritual practice. Dwelling creates space for the Spirit to open up our imagination and helps us to form community based in scripture. All that’s required is the scripture, questions for reflection and a willingness to share your experience with others. As we practice dwelling, we listen deeply to each other – listening one another into free speech. Listening and attending is the first step in our journey of joining God in our neighborhoods.
Dwelling helps us re-enter the biblical narrative. When we dwell in the same scripture repeatedly over a significant period of time, the text begins to live in us as we live in the text. As a group engages the practice together, it can form a shared sense of the challenges facing us and shape our imagination.
How does Dwelling work?
- Choose one passage. We’ve provided a few already for download below.
- Have two people (male/female) read the entire passage out loud.
Before the second reading ask people to be open to the Spirit through these questions:
- As the text is read a second time, where do you stop?
- Are there words, phrases, ideas which grasp you?
- How do you think the Spirit of God might be nudging you?
- After the text is read again invite people to ponder the questions.
- Following several minutes of silence ask people to pair off with someone in the room and answer the questions.
- Each gives the other 2 minutes and listens to where the other has stopped and how they have responded to one of the questions.
- Reflecting in a group of three: The important thing to remember when listening and reporting out in a triad is that everyone is heard and everyone's thoughts are expressed. It may be helpful to decide before reporting out who will express the thoughts of each. For instance, Person A reports on Person B, Person B reports on Person C, and Person C reports on Person A. In this, each person in the triad is listening intently and reporting out.
- Invite people to share with the broader group, what they have heard their partner say. This is difficult! Many people will default to reporting what they said instead o reporting what their partner said. However, this is an important way in which we practice listening.
- After 20-30 minutes, continue with the purpose of your gathering as you normally would – Vestry Meeting etc.
Video demonstration of Dwelling in the Word
In August 2017, seven people from around the Episcopal Diocese of Newark agreed to be videorecorded as they Dwelled on Luke 10:1-12, and that session has been distilled into this brief video. Watch and learn about this simple, ancient practice of listening deeply to God and one another.