How to dwell in the Word

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.

In our current season (September 2021 onwards) we are encouraging everyone to dwell on 1 Peter 1.13-2.11 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. Fashion 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. Amen

• 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.

You can dwell in the word with younger members of the family too!
We really like this ICB translation of Colossians (our passage for 2018/19). Chat or pray about these verses with children on the way to school, over dinner or at bedtime – make it work for you and your family.

15 No one has seen God, but Jesus is exactly like him. Christ ranks higher than all the things that have been made. 16 Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ. 17 Christ was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of him. 18 He is the head of the body. (The body is the church.) Everything comes from him. And he is the first one who was raised from death. So in all things Jesus is most important. 19 God was pleased for all of himself to live in Christ. 20 And through Christ, God decided to bring all things back to himself again—things on earth and things in heaven. God made peace by using the blood of Christ’s death
on the cross.

12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others; be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. 13 Do not be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, then forgive him. Forgive each other because the Lord forgave you. 14 Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. You were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. 16 Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and strengthen each other. Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Everything you say and everything you do should all be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.

These verses are from the International Children’s Bible®
Copyright© 2015 by Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.