Dwelling in the Word is a process that many people in the Diocese of Oxford are using to listen to scripture, to each other and to God. It’s not about sharing information or seeking scholarly answers or even the right answers to the issues raised in the text. It's about listening each other into free speech and discerning what God is up to.
It is far from magical or formulaic; it won’t solve all the problems or answer all the questions, difficulties and issues you have to address.
Over time, this discipline forms a community of the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit is as welcome and expected as anyone else there. It can be hugely beneficial for small groups. Did you know that every Bishops' staff meeting begins with Dwelling in the Word?
In our current season (September 2021 onwards) we are encouraging everyone to dwell on 1 Peter 1.13-2.12. We find a longer passage is better when used across a whole year but if a shorter passage is helpful then the text breaks down into two very easily (1.13-25 and 2.1-12).
1 Peter is the agreed text for the Lambeth Conference and bishops all across the Anglican Communion are currently meeting in small groups online to reflect on different passages. Bishop Steven is currently planning a new series of podcasts on 1 Peter for this term drawing down some of the rich themes which will help strengthen the Church in the present time.
How to Dwell in the Word
To dwell in the Word set aside at least 20 minutes and start with the prayer:
God of gentleness and love draw near to us as we draw near to you.
Dwell in every heart and conversation.
ashion in us the likeness of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Help us to discern together all that you are calling us to be and all that you are calling us to do.
Assist us, by your Spirit, to become a more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous Church
for the building of your kingdom and the glory of your Son.
- When everyone is ready, begin with one person reading the passage out loud to the group. You might like to download and print out this worksheet for the group.
- Now let some silence unfold as people let the words have their impact. Notice where your attention lingers. This might be a word or a phrase.
- Ask a second person to read the passage out loud once more.
- Each person in the group finds someone they know less well and listens to that person as they say what they heard in the passage. What captured their imagination in the passage and what would they like to find out more about? Each person should listen well as they will be asked to report back to the rest of the group (or another pairing if you’re a large group) what their partner said.
- What have you heard that might be significant? Discuss as a group what God might be up to in the passage for your group on that day. It can be helpful for the facilitator to make a brief note of what she or he hears from the group and to capture that in a short prayer at the end.
- Finally, let people know that as your conversation on other matters continues, anyone at any time may call for the Gospel and the group will return to the passage
Keen to find out more? Pathways magazine includes a regular section about Dwelling in the Word.
Chat or pray about the verses with children on the way to school, over dinner or at bedtime – make it work for you and your family.
Dwelling in the Word is not the only way to study scripture. Find out more...