This is the landing page for my sermon series The Gospel According to Leviticus.
I have been working a curating resources on Leviticus to make it approachable to everyday Jesus followers and I wanted a place to send people where they could find some of those resources. I had a previous post about material on Leviticus, but in retrospect it was primarily just a reshaping of my Bible Study post and thus not that terribly helpful or original. I also wanted a place to send people to have a catalogue of suggested spiritual practices to help them inhabit this sacred world of ours. I posted a smaller catalogue of spiritual practices as a starting place for my first sermon in the series, but I wanted to have a more complete catalogue of possibilities. It is always easier in my mind to explore when there is plenty to meander through.
This is the place for both of those purposes. It is, however, a constant work in progress. Check back in periodically for updates. Use it as you see fit and as is helpful to you on your journey.
Resources for Loving Leviticus
I’d recommend two things for reading the text of Leviticus:
- Read it in the Message. Be sure to find a Bible that includes the book introductions. Eugene Peterson’s introduction to Leviticus is excellent!
- Listen to Leviticus read out loud. It’s up to you whether you follow along in your Bible or just listen. Either way this is a great practice. This is originally how Israelites would have experienced it. Look into the apps by BibleGateway for this – see here (see also their website – here).
A great book for helping get into Leviticus and see its relevance for today is A Journey Through the Book of Leviticus: Holiness, Sacrifice, and the Rock Badger by Mark W. Scarlata (see the link to the Amazon list below. This book is on that list!)
Dive into the text using my “God’s Word Search” method: Leviticus God’s Word Search.
Explore Leviticus using the free online resources I recommend for Bible Study. See here.
And look at all the blog posts that I have related to Leviticus. I have a small series of posts about “Leaning Into Leviticus” to help one get interested in the book. See all posts about Leviticus here.
Practices to Inhabit the Sacred World
Prayer for the World – This is a guided prayer meditation by A New Liturgy. This is part of their second album entitled Blessed to Be a Blessing. It walks the listener through four stages of prayer for their world: neighbors, family, enemies, and world. [You can also find this on Spotify]
Here Are My Hands – A guided prayer meditation by A New Liturgy designed to be used in two parts: on the way to work and on the way home from work. It is a great way to center yourself before and after work and to seek God in the midst of a commute. [You can also find this on Spotify]
Breath prayers – This is a simple, but deeply formative practice of repeating a prayer as many times as one can think of it linked to breathing. The first line (breath in) is usually a name for God or a call for God to listen like, “come,” or “behold.” The second line (breath out) is usually a God-given desire you are choosing to express over and over that day. There is no wrong way to attempt this beautiful exercise. Consider taking a line from scripture or writing your own short simple breath prayer. Here are some examples of breath prayers to get you started:
- “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
- “My soul glorifies the Lord.”
- “My soul finds rest in God alone.”
- “Shepherd, lead me by still waters.”
- “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.”
- “Jesus, I love you.”
Fixed-hour prayers – This is exactly what it sounds like. There are fixed times throughout the day when you pray. The manner for doing this ranges from seven or more times a day to only twice a day and from very simple to quite complex. Here is a range of possibilities starting with the simple and moving to the more complex. Follow them based on your desire and interest.
- Morning and Evening – slowly and prayerfully say the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-8) and/or the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13; see also Luke 11:2-4).
- Morning and Evening – pray the 1662 book of Common Prayer’s (International Edition) morning and evening ordinaries or follow the simplified book of Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours.
- On the way to and from work – Use A New Liturgy No. 5: Here Are My Hands to turn your car into a sanctuary of praise, prayer and contemplative reflection. [It’s available on Spotify!].
- Daybreak, midday, and nightfall – pray using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals [Also available online for free – here] or Every Moment Holy Volume I.
- Practice the full seven set hours of prayer for the Liturgy of the Hours: Matins (2 AM), Lauds (5 AM), Terce (9 AM), Sext (12 Noon), None (3 PM), Vespers (6 PM), Compline (7 PM). [There is an online version if you can not afford to purchase the leather volumes]. See also the simplified versions by Phyllis Tickle.
Prayer Prompting – Set certain prompts in your life and have a brief prayer that you pray each time the prompt triggers your memory. Some examples and ideas:
- Every time I drive by a Church – Lord, may your blessing be upon [Church name here]. May they grow in faith, hope, and love, but especially in love. Amen.
- Every time I see a cross – Thank you for the cross Lord. Amen.
- Every time I am frustrated about something – Lord thank you for [frustrating situation, person, or thing here]
- When I wait in line at the supermarket – Lord, teach my heart to wait well. Come lord Jesus. Amen.
- When I hear an ambulance – May your healing, wisdom, and protection be with the providers and those being cared for. Amen.
- Upon hearing bird song – All creation sings your praises God. May I do so too. Amen.
- Upon hearing wind chimes – Make beautiful music out of the different parts of my life. Amen.
- Right as you enter the shower – Thank you for warmth and welcome into the family of God. Continually cleanse me body and soul oh Christ. Amen.
The Examen – This is a practice to help you discern the voice and activity of God in your life. It asks two basic questions each day at whatever time one chooses. The questions can be asked in a variety of ways, but come down to asking about the “consolations” and “desolations” of the day (i.e. the good parts and bad parts of your day). Here are some ways to ask these questions. Use whichever phrasing speaks to you:
- For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?
- When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love today?
- What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting part of my day?
- When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others, and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?
- Where was I aware of living out of the fruit of the Spirit? Where was there an absence of the fruit of the Spirit?
- [This one is great for practicing with kids] What were today’s rainbows? What were today’s rainstorms?
Blessing/Dedication Prayers – In scripture there is a practice of offering up people, animals, or things up to the LORD as dedicated to him (Lev 27; Num 6:1-21) [I’ve got a lesson on that – see here]. While that can be done in the wrong spirit (Mark 7:9-13) making vows and dedications to the LORD is a good and beautiful practice if done with the right heart. Paul made vows to the LORD and kept them (Acts 18:18). Here are some ideas for blessing/dedication/votive prayer:
- See the prayer for blessing/dedicating a house from Common Prayer.
- Consider practicing Lent and giving something up as a vow to the LORD during that season. The United Methodist Church had a blog post a while back explaining ideas for how to practice Lent (see here) and there’s a Wiki-How page that is actually halfway decent at explaining the practice (see here).
- Make a promise/offering to God and keep it. Use your imagination. This could be promising something you will do for/at/with your church or for a neighbor. This could be offering to God something like a car or a room in your house. The main thing is to make sure you actually do it!
- Say a blessing before your meal. Make your dinner table an alter. I prefer to call it a blessing and not just a prayer because it invokes a specialness to it. In Catholic thought, the Eucharist becomes the literal body and blood of Christ once the priest pronounces a blessing over the elements. Maybe we can think of our dinner tables like that too. Before we pronounce the blessing it is just a table and just a meal, but afterwords…. it is something dedicated to God! Here’s one we like to use in our house: God is great! God is good! Let us thank Him for our food. By his hands we are all fed, give us LORD our daily bread. Amen. Another option is this: Lord bless the food before us, the family around us, and the faith that unites us. Amen. Or just write your own and recite it all together as a family!
Prayer ropes/bracelets – These hail from the Eastern Orthodox monastic tradition used by monks and nuns to count the number of times they prayed the Jesus prayer (or sometimes a different prayer). The Jesus Prayer is this: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The idea is to use it similar to the way many children use fidget toys today. You run your fingers over the beads or knots on the rope or bracelet and pray the Jesus prayer each time. Here is the one I recently ordered. Look them up on Etsy too!
The sign of the cross -This is often thought of as being a Roman Catholic thing, but really it dates all the way back to the first two centuries of the Church and has been practiced historically by Christians across denominations and traditions. It is a way of meditating on the Trinity and centering oneself in Triune reality. It is a way also of blessing one’s body in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How: It works by starting with your hand on your forehead as you say, “in the name of the Father…” It is a way of offering our thoughts over to God and honoring him with the mind as the origin of all our decisions and actions. Then you place your hand downward and across your heart, toward your stomach, and up to your left shoulder as you say, “and of the Son…” This is a way of reminding us that we are embodied creatures who have hearts and stomachs that feel deeply. We pray that our bodies may be used in God’s service just as Christ’s body was. And finally we move the hand from the left shoulder to the right shoulder and say, “and of the Holy Spirit.” The move from shoulder to shoulder is a sweeping movement that reminds us of the free and flowing nature of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus says is like the wind and goes wherever she wants.
Art, tattoos, smells & bells, jewelry – Make your body truly a temple by wearing jewelry or having meaningful body art. Make your car, desk, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc. a mini-sanctuary by thoughtfully and lovingly placing things in it, lighting candles, playing certain music in these spaces, etc. Here are some ideas:
- Get a Mezuzah (see some here – also look on Etsy!) and place it on the doorframe of your house. Each time you pass through that door touch the Mezuzah and recite in part or whole the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-8).
- Get a Bible verse tattooed on you.
- Place a crucifix or cross in your living room. Try to make it more prominent than the TV (or just get rid of your TV!) and see how it affects your family’s life.
- Find a piece of Iconography (or other beautiful, inspiring, and faith themed art if you’re not into Iconography like me!) and set it as your phone’s home screen. Pause briefly to contemplate it as you open your phone.
Devotional reading – Devotional reading is a prayerful reading of short snip bits for contemplation. There are some classics in the devotional literature genre. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
[Click on the images to see them on Amazon]
Lectio Divina – A hearing of scripture with an open, reflective, listening posture alert to the voice of God. This is more about developing a relationship than gaining information. It follows in 5 steps:
- Silence – Slow down, relax, and come into God’s presence with a clear and concentrated mind.
- Read – Read your chosen passage of scripture slowly and out loud. Linger over words that speak to you and stop and pay attention to what God might be saying to you through it. Be open and responsive. Don’t judge yourself. Listen and wait.
- Meditate – Read the passage again out loud. Savor the words. Listen for any invitation that God is extending to you in this word. Reflect on the importance of the words or phrases that catch your attention.
- Respond – Read the scripture a third time. Now truthfully and authentically respond. What do you find yourself wanting to say to God? What feelings arise from reading this passage? Talk about them with God.
- Contemplate – rest and wait in the presence of God. Allow some time for the word to sink deeply into your soul.
The Psalter in a month – The book of common prayer (link here – for the version I like to use) has a rhythm for praying the Psalter (the book of Psalms) through each month. Use this and read through the entire Psalter each month.
The Proverbs in a month – There are about 31 days in each month (give or take a few days depending on the month) and there are 31 chapters of Proverbs. Read 1-2 chapters of Proverbs each day every month.
Sacred Inhabiting Amazon List – An Amazon list I am curating with devotionals, prayer books, jewelry, and more that I recommend to help you on your journey.
YouTube Playlist – A playlist of videos on YouTube that I am working on to help one dive into Leviticus and inhabit the sacred world.
Grateful Living – A website for great ideas for how to live a grateful life.
Explorefaith.0rg – A website to explore a wide variety of spiritual practices.