Meditation – Christian-Style: Eating God’s Word

Meditation – Christian-Style: Eating God’s Word

Christian meditation is centered on the word of God, and the way Luther put it, meditation is like rubbing an herb to release the flavor. I love that image. I have a mint plant outside my front door. To rub it is to feel its ridges, to be calmed by its softness, and to be awakened by its potent smell. I can taste the leaf, chew on its sharp flavor, and eat it.

~Gretchen Ronnevik, Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted, 134

Dear People of God,

When we hear the word “meditation” we often associate it with “clearing our minds.” With getting rid of all the distractions. We think things like emptying ourselves so that we can find ourselves, perhaps find the “real me.” Any distractions that come by we are to imagine like driftwood floating on the river. We simply acknowledge the driftwood and then let it pass by. Now, maybe there is something fine and dandy about this kind of emptying of the mind as meditation. Perhaps it can bring relaxation and calm. Perhaps it can help us lose our grip on all that worries us.  

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I have some pushback on this sort of meditation. Why? Because these practices are meant to point you inward—inside yourself. It assumes that truth, peace, wholeness, healing, and beauty come from within. That they are things we can cultivate, like a garden. Therefore, I wouldn’t call them a Christian meditation. There’s something much more flavorful to the uniquely Christian use of meditation. Commonplace meditation seeks to empty oneself. In Christian meditation, we are not seeking to empty ourselves—we are being filled to the brim! Our minds are not being emptied; our minds are being filled with words. Specifically, God’s word—God’s speech. This word comes from God to us from beyond ourselves. I like how Gretchen put it—that the word is like a mint leaf that we can feel the ridges of, that we can be awakened by its potent smell—and especially that she says we can eat the word. 

The only God we want to deal with is the one who puts himself in the word. The word about Christ, that is. When God speaks, it is an entirely different thing than what we find within ourselves. In ourselves we are topsy-turvy, unsettled, and prone to be turned over by the winds. But the word, that word that comes from beyond ourselves—that is the one thing we can depend on. We have the comfort that when God speaks God’s word God never lies. His word is freedom. His word is forgiveness. His word is hope. His word is healing. His word is Christ crucified who justifies the ungodly—and that is the particular charism of particularly Christian meditation. And this meditation is a feast! A feast for your ears, for one. So I encourage you when you read the scriptures by yourself, locked in your room—that you read the word out aloud. Be intentional to hear some preaching when you keep the sabbath day holy. So you have a word from God for your ears, you also have a word from God for your tastebuds. God feeds you his word. Communion. The Lord’s Supper is the word put in a thing you can eat. So, eat away. That word will fill your mind and your heart and your soul. May you burst at the seems because you’ve eaten so much! This is a food coma you don’t want to miss. God’s word will not leave you unsatiated. 

Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church
Rock Springs, WY