Introduction: Each of the three Advent midweek sermons will be structured aground Luther’s famous triad. Utilizing the Service of Prayer and Preaching in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB, pg. 260-267), the services will also incorporate the Introduction and first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer:
Midweek I Oratio – First Petition
Midweek II Meditatio – Second Petition
Midweek III Tentatio – Third Petition
If you plan on using this series, we suggest you read Luther’s "Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther's German Writings, 1539" (AE 34:279-288) and Praying Luther’s Small Catechism by John T. Pless, pp. 51-77 prior to the workshop. It will also benefit you to have a copy of the Lutheran Service Book so you can follow the order of the Service of Prayer and Preaching.
-Prof. John T. Pless
WEEK 2: MEDITATIO (MEDITATION ON SCRIPTURE)
“Intimate acquaintance with the word of Yahweh brings about superior prudence (cf. Deut. 4:6). It produces a careful walk (v.101) and grants delightful enjoyment (v.103)” (H.J. Kraus, Psalms II:418). The mediatio of Luther’s triad is not self-reflective introspection but a life lived in the Word of God. Meditation is verbal as it engages the words of the Lord. In the words of Cranmer’s old collect, we “ read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” God’s Word. Note here the connections with Psalm 119. The Psalmist prays “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day long” (v.97). Also “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (v.103).
Meditation is not an escape from the world into a monastic cell where one is left alone with his or her thoughts. Rather it is life in God’s Word within the world. The kingdom for which we pray in the second petition is not a Platonic sphere outside of temporal existence. God’s kingdom comes with His Son who entered this world as the child of Mary. He brings His everlasting reign into human history and history finds its ultimate fulfillment in Him who is the author and finisher of our salvation. This kingdom comes to us now in time. How does this happen? Listen to the Catechism: “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”
No wonder then that Luther ties meditation to listening to sermons, remembering your Baptism, and engaging in the works of one’s vocation like honoring parents according to the fourth commandments. We meditate on that which we love. To meditate rightly is to fear, love and trust in God above all things and give oneself in love to the service of the neighbor according to God’s commandments. Meditation is not spiritual introversion; it is extroverted, outside of oneself in Christ by faith and in the neighbor by love.
What do you think about when you hear the word, meditation? Buddha sitting cross-legged and gazing at his belly? Contemplative monks cloistered away with attention fixed on the rosaries in their hands? Spiritual techniques marketed with the promise of providing tranquility and stability to your life? The Bible gives us an altogether different picture of mediation. We meditate rightly by hearing and keeping God’s holy Word. We meditate on the things we love (here the preacher might give some examples). Loving the Word of the Lord, we meditate on it. Our hearts are occupied with God’s Word.
- To meditate on God’s Word is to hear it for faith comes by hearing the Word.
- To mediate on God’s Word is to take it to heart.
- To meditate on God’s Word is to live godly lives according to it.
As we have heard in the Catechism, “God’s kingdom comes by itself without our prayer.” We do not pull ourselves up into God’s kingdom through our mediation. His kingdom is the kingdom of the ear as Luther said in one of his sermons. We mediate when we like Mary (recall Luke 1) hear and believe God’s “Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”
SUGGESTED ORDER OF SERVICE:
The order of service for this series is the Service of Prayer and Preaching (LSB, p. 260).
Midweek II: “Creator of the Stars of Night”- 351 LSB
OPENING VERSICLES FOR ADVENT p. 260
OLD TESTAMENT CANTICLE
“Sing Praise to the God of Israel”- 936 LSB
READING FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE
Midweek II: Psalm 119: 97-104, 129-133
RESPONSORY FOR ADVENT p. 263
Ten Commandments/Apostles’ Creed/Lord’s Prayer
Midweek II: Second Petition p. 324 LSB
“For the Joy Thine Advent Gave Me” 548:3 LSB
Midweek II Meditatio
Midweek II: “Once He Came in Blessing”-333 LSB
PRAYER p. 263
COLLECT OF THE WEEK
Midweek II: Collect for Advent II
COLLECT FOR THE WORD p. 265
Midweek II: Catechism Prayer for Second Petition (Pless, p. 59)
EVENING PRAYER p. 267
“Arise, O Christian People”- 354:4 LSB
BLESSING p. 267