You want Advent to be a time of spiritual growth -- but you need a new way to connect with God.
You try to pray -- but the conversation is one-sided.
You go to Scripture -- but study leaves you dry.
And wouldn't it be easier if you had some company in the journey?
Now's the time.
Video from 2016
My four week online class will teach the classical approach to Lectio Divina -- and make Advent the renewal you need it to be
For nearly 2000 years, Christians have grown deeper in relationship with God through the practice known as "lectio divina" It means "divine reading." It is a prayerful, thoughtful, faithful way to let the Bible lead to connecting with God.
- It is more deeply engaged with the Bible than typical prayer.
- It is more deeply prayerful than typical Bible study.
We will focus on the classic monastic practice as taught in the medieval guidebook The Ladder of Monks (made accessible for today in my short book Love Your Bible: Finding Your Way to the Presence of God with a 12th Century Monk.)
And the class is designed around diving into some of the most beautiful biblical texts about the coming of Christ: the great "songs" from Luke 1 and 2.
All made easy and fun with video lectures, written guidance, and discussion forums.
- You will learn the classical four-step process of lectio divina, as well as seeing the modern variations.
- You will be invited to practice the four steps daily [or as close to daily as possible!] deepening your sense of the process.
- We will make one step the major focus each week, honing it as a new skill.
- All will have opportunity to build community and learn from others by sharing in a private discussion forum.
Make this Advent a time to connect with God in a new and ancient way.
What we WILL do:
- We will actually practice each step of classical lectio divina to learn in depth and gain mastery.
- We will keep each step in the context of the four-step cycle, reinforcing the flow of the process.
- We will keep it practical and manageable -- I'll encourage you to spend 15 minutes per day practicing lectio divina, but you are free to work at it at a pace and frequency that works for you.
- I will make reference to my little book Love Your Bible: Finding Your Way to the Presence of God with a 12th Century Monk (Owning it is not required, though you can get it for free...)
- We will have weekly video lectures to introduce the week's step of the practice.
- We will have discussion forums available to build community and learn from each other.
That little bit of regular prayer practice is crucial.
Advent is a busy season in our culture. That may get in the way of daily practice. We both know that, and it is perfectly fine.
But lectio divina is a skill. Any skill takes practice to learn. My aim will be for you to practice often enough that the four steps become natural and habitual.
What we WON'T do:
- I won't make any demands of you -- only invitations to a life-giving practice.
- I won't promise that classical lectio divina is easy and effortless. Learning a skill, even a spiritually rewarding and refreshing skill, takes time and effort.
- We won't be doing the practices most commonly referred to as lectio divina. We won't stop with quick or superficial reactions to the text.
- We won't be doing anything even vaguely "new-age-y" or non-Christian. Classic lectio divina has formed the lives of countless faithful and effective disciples for many centuries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I'm a pastor and Advent is intense. I don't have time for this right now.
A. That makes perfect sense. Though registration closes at the beginning of Advent, you don't have to make use of the course in Advent. If you register, the course will remain available to you for the forseeable future.
Q. Advent is short this year! Week 4 is only one day long. How can I make this work?
Good question. In 2017 the course will start a week early, on 11/27 which is Christ the King, in order to add some wiggle room.
Q. I'm an introvert. I don't want to post in the forums.
A. I understand -- I was online a long while before I started posting. You are not required to post in the forums. They are there to help you. I suspect some will want to build friends there, learn from each other, and support each other. However you are totally free to just watch the videos and explore the practice of lectio divina on your own.
Q. Is there a way to do this with my small group?
A. Absolutely! You can sign up at the "Leader" level, and that will give you permission to share the videos with your group or class. (An internet connection will be required.) Plus at the "Leader" level you'll get a pdf small group leader's guide and a special thread in the discussion forum to ask questions and help other leaders of lectio groups.
Q. I already have a quiet time. How will this fit in?
A. You have a couple choices: You can either let the daily lectio divina practice become your quiet time during Advent (and having some structure and relevant Scripture might be a help...) or you can do your regular practice and add lectio divina as an extra block of devotional time for the month.
Of course if you don't already have a daily prayer time, you'll need to add one, at least for Advent. But that is what the class is for, right?
Q. Why do you charge money for the class?
I do some things as a volunteer, and hope others do too. But other things are my paid work. Creating the class costs me time, and having my website costs me money. When I teach in churches, or lead retreats, or speak at conferences, I get paid for taking time to help people by sharing my knowledge. It is the kind of thing Paul was talking about in 1 Cor. 9:9-14 and 1 Tim. 5:17-18.
Q. Is this a "synchronous" class?
No. For those new to online education "synchronous" would mean we all have to show up at the same time. This is technically "asynchronous," meaning you are able to do the work when you choose to.
Each Sunday a new week of the class officially begins. Hopefully within that week you will watch the videos, do the practice, and converse in the forums. But really it is all at your own pace.
Q. Will there be homework?
A. Yes, but it won't be graded! Each week you watch the video, optionally read a bit of Love Your Bible, and practice lectio divina as instructed for about 15 minutes per day. There are also discussion forums for those who want to chat with other participants.
Q. Will there be space for discussion and reflection with other participants?
Yes, I'm setting up discussion forums. Not everyone will want that, but I think those who join a discussion group will get the most out of the class. Organizing small groups is the goal, but I'll need people to let me know if they want to be in one or not.
"No dry academic, Gary is an engaging speaker who held his audience right to the end. With his rare combination of an historian’s mind and a pastor’s heart, … His winsome style, poignant illustrations ... undergirded a very practical presentation for all those wanting to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength."
–Bill Ditewig, Minister of Adult Discipleship, Mission and Evangelism, Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Santa Ana, California
As a Teacher
Gary Neal Hansen received the John Knox Coit Award for Excellence in Teaching and Advising from the University of Dubuque in 2007.
As a Writer
Kneeling with Giants was named "Devotional Book of the Year," from UK booksellers' association Christian Resources Together.
and "Best Book of the Year on Spirituality," from Hearts and Minds Books.
"The participants of the event Gary led were fascinated to learn about Lectio Divina as taught in the 12th century. They enjoyed it and one of the comments I heard the most afterward was “This was a blessing!” ... this was not as much a lecture with people listening and taking notes, but a time where all practiced lectio divina and shared about it. ... He is wonderful, humorous, down to earth and very knowledgeable.
—Rev. Anne-Cecile Baer Porter, Director of Spiritual Formation, University Place Presbyterian Church, Tacoma Washington
If, before December 31, 2017, you regret signing up, I'll refund your money with a smile.
Of course. I want you to be happy.
Here are some of the topics we'll dive into:
- How classical lectio divina is different from related spiritual practices.
- How to "read" Scripture so it is way more than taking in the words.
- How to "meditate" on Scripture so that you get more out of it and keep it with you.
- How to "pray" Scripture so that you wrestle with God's promises and calling.
- How to practice "contemplative" prayer even if you don't know what the word means.
- And, of course, you'll discover how fun it is to explore a new spiritual discipline in the good company of others who love Christ and who want to learn from history and cross the lines of denominations!