A favorite childhood memory is the summer reading program at the public library. Some years ago, my community library added a summer reading program for the grown ups – complete with prizes that encouraged us to take up volumes from sections of the library where we were not frequent explorers. Thank God for opportunities to turn off our beaten paths and listen for the whispers of the Spirit stirring from unfamiliar pages and through voices that do not prompt our easy, impulsive “Amen!”s.
We associate summer vacations with the gift of time for extra reading, for picking up (or downloading!) some of what we’ve been meaning and hoping to read. I think it was from our brother Rev. Laird Keever that some of us learned to call our stacks and shelves of unread books our “library of intention”. May there be time these weeks for a summer reading program in our libraries of intention!
A traditional rhythm of daily prayer includes a time of prayer known as the “Office of Readings”. The traditional readings include psalms, a scripture passage and also a reading – fairly often something written by or about a historic saint – that offers encouragement or enlightenment. Today, many religious communities include in their Office of Readings chapters from contemporary writers speaking to disciples of Jesus in the 21st century.
We share a common vocation as disciples of Jesus to be learners. Included in our great commandments is the commandment to love God with all our minds. I cherish in the histories of the United Church of Christ the rich commitments to learning and teaching, to the faithful honoring of questions and challenge and exploration.
If this is not already a part of your rhythm of daily prayer, I invite you to take up the practice of an Office of Readings that includes time with books that stretch and strengthen your mind, heart, and soul.
A hope I have as our Iowa Conference website continues to develop is that it will include a “book corner”, a space where we can share with one another titles of and brief comments about books that have invited us to stretch and strengthen as disciples of Jesus. We might in this way share and gather offerings for our Office of Readings and libraries of intention.
Let’s start here! I’ll be watching the comment section below. What book is stretching your mind this summer? What book is moving your heart? Nourishing your soul?
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister for Eastern Iowa