St Simeon the God Receiver
What does it mean to receive God? What does it mean to “see” your salvation?
Those are questions that come to mind when you pray your way through “The Song of Simeon,” the old man to whom Mary introduced the Baby Jesus in the Temple.
The Orthodox call him “St. Simeon the God Receiver” — God promised him that he would see the savior, and there he was, holding God Incarnate in his arms.
Classical Lectio Divina
If you are a regular here, you may know I’m teaching an online Advent class on classical lectio divina.
I’m teaching the classical version, as practiced in the Middle Ages. It’s not a superficial reaction to a text after reading it a couple times. Back in the day lectio divina was a full-on mind/heart/spirit engagement with the Bible and a journey to the presence of God.
It is a four step journey:
- “Reading,” which is shorthand for serious study.
- “Meditating,” which means quietly repeating and chewing on the text in your mind and heart.
- “Praying,” which isn’t separate from the Bible but grows out of what you have been discovering about yourself in the text.
- “Contemplating,” which is not emptying your mind but looking toward the God you just prayed to and — waiting.
In the class this week we are practicing lectio divina on the “Song of Simeon,”
All this week I have found the contemplation stage deeply comforting. It is easy to drift off, yes, but it is always good to return to gazing toward God.
And waiting, watching, is something both appropriate to the season and inevitable in life. Think of St Simeon and St Anna in Luke 2, waiting all those years in the temple. And at last they saw their salvation — it was a Person.
Contemplation allows me to give in to the waiting. I gaze into the face of the One for whom I wait.
And it helps to have an icon, a holy image of the scene from which I am contemplating God in lectio divina. It brings me back to waiting and watching.
If icons trouble your Protestant sensibilities, rest assured that nobody worships them. One looks through them, as through a window, to better see the One we do worship.
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