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by Tim Isbell, posted for the 2019-2020 Christian year

Meditations through the Christian Year

I started writing meditations in December of 2018, intending to do it for a full Christian year. Instead of writing articles for humans, I determined to address each meditation to God. I thought it might enlighten my personal prayer life and possibly turn into something I could publish in the next year.

A year later, I counted 71 written meditations, meaning that I spent about five days refining and living in the context of each one. The entire project was incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. I intend to revisit each meditation throughout the upcoming years and add some fresh ones.

“Responsive prayer” means we invite God to speak to us through scripture, the creation, Christian writings, music, or art. It’s not a time to study. It's a time to absorb, reflect, and ask God to share what’s on his mind. When we read a text meditatively, God's Spirit draws us into a sense of delight and profound cherishing. It helps me to scribble a few notes to remember those insights before responding with thanksgiving, praise, or in any way that seems right.

Within a few hours, I convert the scribbles into a short draft addressed to God. Over the next few days, I dwell on the material and refine the draft, using it as a preamble for times of prayer. Often, I read right before going to sleep; many mornings, I wake up with fresh insights. Each meditation in this project accompanied me through several days of normal life.

I organize these meditations in a large document according to the Christian calendar, but most of them fit anywhere in the calendar. So, follow along through the year on the website, or use the Table of Contents to find one that interests you. If you'd like to have a clean document version to view, download, or print, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations - published. Or you can access this same document by typing into the address bar of any browser.

The starting point for the meditations in this project come from:

Scripture. I start with passages from the current year’s Revised Common Lectionary but freely range across the three-year lectionary cycle. Please resist the temptation to just read my meditation. You’ll find the experience is much richer when you read and reflect on the scripture link provided at the top of each meditation. To track the lectionary, I use Gloria’s Lectionary Page. Gloria is a personal friend.

Christian writings. For this first year of writing meditations, my main source is Steve Bell’s Pilgrim Year Series (which also follows the Christian calendar). It includes booklets for each of the seven seasons, as well as playlists of songs for each season. I use this playlist often. Throughout this document, I abbreviate this material as PYS. I highly recommend that you give some of Steve's booklets and music a try.

I’m certainly no saint or spiritual giant. But since God spoke to Balaam through a donkey, I’m sure he can talk to you through these Responsive Prayer Meditations.

The Christian seasons

There are seven seasons of the Christian year and the Revised Common Lectionary is comprised of a three-year cycle of readings. Following these ensure a balanced diet of all the major themes in Christian faith. 

Advent includes the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day. It is a time to prepare us for the incarnation of Jesus as well as his second coming.

Christmas - begins Christmas Day and extends through the next two Sundays.

Epiphany - is a 5-7 week season to tell of God’s revelation of Christ Jesus to the Gentile world. The variation in length derives from the lunar calendar.

Lent - begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for another 5-7 weeks, ending on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. It’s designed to prepare our hearts for Holy Week by focusing on two things: 1) individual and communal attention to sin and confession, and 2) acts of mercy.

Holy Week - begins on Palm Sunday and its last day is Holy Saturday (the day before Easter).

Easter - begins on Easter Sunday and extends through the Day of Pentecost. It is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the promise of the eventual resurrection of his followers, and the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers.

Ordinary Time - begins on Trinity Sunday through the end of the Christian year (around Thanksgiving). In this season, we fill in the rest of the major themes of Christian faith.

The rest of this document contains meditations, written to the Lord, and in the order of the seasons of the Christian calendar. Use it any way you like, including passing it along to others.

Terminology for addressing God

  • l address the Trinitarian God (the divine team of three persons) as God.
  • l address God the Father as Father.
  • I address God the Son as Jesus or Christ or Lord Jesus.
  • And I address God the Spirit as Holy Spirit, Spirit, or sometimes the Spirit of Jesus.
So, go ahead and click on the link of the current Christian season and experience some of the meditations along with me.

Blessings, Tim

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