Visio Divina: A Spiritual Practice for Lent (and COVID-19)

Visio divina is a spiritual practice that may help focus our distracted minds and engage in prayer with God. Like its cousin lectio divina, visio divina is a way of praying and being attentive to God.  A simple definition from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Practices that Transform Us is this: “Visio divina, holy seeing, is a way to pray with the eyes.”  (If you search for visio divina, I guarantee you will be directed to many flaky websites including some not grounded in our Christian faith.)  Like lectio divina, visio divina is a practice that requires time and attention to Scripture.

This past Sunday, Beth preached from John 11, and David is using this painting The Raising of Lazarus for morning prayer this week. The painting, by artist Leon Bonnat, dates from 1857 and is in the Musée Bonnat Helleu:


Henry Ossawa Tanner’s 1896 rendition of the The Resurrection of Lazarus, is from the Musée d’Orsay:


Bonnat’s rendering is truer to the Biblical passage in John 11, but I commend both to us for the practice of visio divina. Here are some simple steps that may help us in our practice both lectio and visio.

  • Read through John 11 and perhaps choose a verse, then be still. Settle into a posture to listen to God’s voice.
  • Meditate. In lectio, ponder the words. For visio, gaze, look, observe, ask questions and ask God to help you see what he wants you to see, what he wants you to notice. What stirs within you?
  • Pray. Pray through the text or what you notice in the image. Pray to God and ask for his help.
  • Contemplate. We live the text. A contemplative spiritual exercise is meant to lead us to gospel action in the world.

After a time of meditation and prayer in lectio, you might also consider using one or both images for visio divina. Spend a few minutes in observation and consider:

  • What caught your eye? What do you notice?
  • Reflect on the structure: color, lines, shadows, values, intensity.
  • What is the mood of the painting?
  • How do you react to it?  Do you sense an invitation from God?
  • Does anything else strike you?

Biblical meditation provokes questions. Will you allow this passage to transform you?

Rev. Mary Amendolia Gardner

Mary is a Spiritual Director with Coracle, DOMA clergy, and attends Restoration. 

Be Still and Listen: A Lenten Retreat

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Does slowing down and stillness sound wonderful but you wouldn’t know where to begin?

Want to be intentional with Lent this year but unsure what that means for you?

Does the idea of a retreat sound great, but your schedule won’t let you “get away?”

Then join us Saturday, March 14, from 8:30a – 12p, in the sanctuary for a half-day Lenten retreat. It will be a morning of rest and refreshment, a morning spent intentionally with God. (RSVP now)

What will it be like?

We’ll start with a light breakfast in the upper narthex and then move into a period of singing and Scripture meditation. This allows us to really focus on the words we are hearing, to notice each of them. It’s an invitation into simplicity.

There will be a brief teaching on Mark 1:35-39, when Jesus drew away from the busyness of life to be with his Father to pray. Why did he do it? How did it help him? Can we do that too?

After the teaching, there will be a period of time designated for silent reflection. You can journal, walk around the neighborhood or to one of the nearby parks, pray in the sanctuary or elsewhere in the church or just be with God however feels best to you. It can be amazing what happens when we spend intentional time in quiet with him.

We will conclude our time of solitude with space for reflection together.

Scott and I are really looking forward to this morning retreat and sharing it with you. Bring a Bible and a journal, or just bring yourself. Hope to see you there.

Questions? Ask Beth:

8:30a           Coffee and light breakfast
9a                 Singing and Scripture Meditation
9:30a           Teaching
10a               Quiet
11a               Reflections
12p              Blessing and depart

Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday 2020


Shrove Tuesday:  February 25

Shrove:  past tense of shrive, Old English – to hear confession, assure of God’s forgiveness, and give appropriate spiritual guidance

Because Shrove Tuesday was the last day before the fasting Lenten Season, it was necessary to use up perishable food items which were not to be consumed during Lent, including milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and meat. This led to the tradition of Pancake Tuesday, a last feast before the Lenten fast.

We love this tradition at Restoration — so much so that we have our own little twist on it. Come eat some pancakes, and then stay for a parish meeting. We’ll talk all things Resto: where we’ve been, where we’re going, and what to expect during the season of Lent. Don’t miss it!

Pancakes drop at 6.  Our family meeting starts at 7.  Childcare is available for 5th grade and below, but we ask that you please let Louise know so she can plan accordingly.


An opportunity to give during Lent

We also wanted to let you know that when you get your pancakes, you can make an offering for our close partner, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.  We provide several special opportunities during Lent and Holy Week to give gifts, alms, and generous assistance to an organization outside of Restoration that is doing work which Restoration supports wholeheartedly.  This year, we have chosen ARDF’s “Cascading Ministries Initiative”.  All of our offerings on Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, and Easter (+the pancake supper!) will go to this Initiative.  We invite you to consider your Lenten disciplines of giving, prayer, and fasting (Matthew 6) as you keep in mind the opportunities presented by ARDF.



Ash Wednesday:  February 26

Dear People of God:  The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting…

Book of Common Prayer p. 543.

On Ash Wednesday, we’ll move reflectively into Lent as we are reminded with love and grace that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.  The liturgy with imposition of ash and Holy Eucharist will begin at 6:30am, 12pm, and 7:30pm on February 26.  Nursery is available at 12pm and 7:30pm.  We will provide shuttle service from the parking lot at Quincy and 15th during the 7:30pm liturgy.

Come, enter the season of Lent with us.


a prayerful lent — EASTER


Sunday, April 16, 2017

PRAY  Heavenly Father, we thank you!  You are generous and loving and so powerful!  We ask that you continue to help us see our sin and to remember that you are the one to save us.  Thank you for living and dying and rising all because you love us.  Amen.

READ  John 20:1-18


1. Happy Day     

The greatest day in history – death is beaten, You have rescued me!
Sing it out: Jesus is alive!
The empty cross, the empty grave, life eternal, You have won the day.
Shout it out: Jesus is alive. He’s a – live!

Oh happy day, happy day, You washed my sin away.
Oh happy day, happy day, I’ll never be the same.
Forever I am changed.

When I stand in that place, free at last, meeting face to face,
I am Yours, Jesus, You are mine.
Endless joy, perfect peace.
Celebrate: Jesus is alive.
Earthly pain finally will cease.
He’s a – live!

Oh, what a glorious day, what a glorious way
That You have saved me

DO  Read the story of the Resurrection three times.  During the first reading, choose a color of paint that shows what you are feeling.  Paint a page that color.  During the second reading, write on your paper a word or words that God is whispering to you.  During the third reading, add more doodles with paint or pens to show more about what you are experiencing with God.


a prayerful lent — PALM SUNDAY and HOLY WEEK


Beginning Sunday, April 9, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, you love us so much that you sent your Son Jesus to die for us – “to get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness”1 – to make all things new.  Help us to understand how you suffered for us all because you love us.  Thank you, Jesus!  We love you!  Amen.


John 12:12-15

John 13:1-20, 31-35

John 18:1-11

John 18:15-18, 25-27

John 18:28-19:16

John 19:16-42


1. You Alone Can Rescue     

Who, O Lord, could save themselves
their own soul could heal
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise.

You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide You healed
for when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still.

We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes, You’re the giver of life.

DO  This is it!  The BIG WEEK where we see God’s great rescue plan in action.  As you read a bit of the story each day, listen as God whispers to you words and ideas that make your heart flutter.  Write them down.


1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

Pausing to pray in lent

Week by week we have been hearing some wonderful reflections during our Lenten services. Here Eric reflects on the discipline of prayer.imgres

The older I get– the more I find myself a creature of habit. I wake up, I work, I spend time with my family, and I go to sleep. Each year passes more swiftly than the last. My body ages more quickly than my spirit matures. All too often it feels like I am on autopilot, going through my days with reaction not intention.

In the same way, the older I get– the more “past” and the more “future” I carry with me. The “past” has many names: memory, home, regret, missed, forgotten, I did, I didn’t, did I? Didn’t I?. The “future’s” names I know almost as well: wish, dream, danger, promise, anxiety, fear, should, I will, I won’t, I must, I must not, maybe. Unexpectedly, the past and the future have become my friends. I know them, I’ve nourished them, I’ve courted them. And these constant companions crowd out my present.

Each day, I am faced with choices about how to live, how to love, how to parent, how to work, how to succeed, how to fail, how to forgive, how to be forgiven. In those many moments, I am tempted to let my habits, or my perspectives of the past and the future speak for me. They whisper in my ear, “let us decide for you, we’ll take good care of you.” During those moments, I may think that I’m in my living room with my kids, or at a meeting with my boss, or unable to sleep in the dead of night…

I may think I am, but I’m not.

I’m actually standing in a garden with a man, and a woman, and a snake, and a tree. The sky is a cloudless blue, and the sun is radiant, the fruit is there before me, and it looks just about perfect and The Father’s voice moves the leaves of that Sacred Tree like a breeze, and He says to me, simply, “Will you trust me?”

One of the great joys of having kids is praying together. Before nap-time, we pray the At Noon Daily Devotional for Families and Individuals from the Book of Common Prayer. The Devotional’s reading from Isaiah articulates best the freedom God gives me in prayer:

O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength.

Prayer makes me pause. Prayer gives that moment for God to nudge me to come to myself.

When I am a man who prays, I have clarity. In prayer, God pulls me from yesterday and tomorrow into the present. In prayer, God frees me from the easy to choose the good. I can say no to the fruit, and trust that the food The Father provides thereafter will not only nourish and satisfy but will give the real life for which I hope.

~Eric Lessels

a prayerful lent — THE 5th WEEK IN LENT


Beginning Sunday, April 2, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, you are the only one who can set all things right.  Help us to love what you love.  Help us to do all that you tell us to do.  Help us to not be distracted by the things in this world that draw us from you.  Help us to trust you alone.  Amen.

READ  “When I listen to you, God, when I do what you ask me to, I am like a tree planted by a river, a tree full of fruit with leaves that are always green.”2 (Psalm 1)


1. Yes Lord Yes     

I’ll say, “Yes, Lord, yes”
To Your will and to Your way
I’ll say, “Yes, Lord, yes”
I will trust You and obey

When Your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree
And  my  answer will be, “Yes, Lord, yes”

DO  On a piece of paper, draw a tree trunk.  Draw leaves and fruit on your tree.  Inside each leaf, doodle or write a request to God.  Inside each fruit, write how God has answered a prayer.


1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

a prayerful lent — THE 4th WEEK IN LENT


Beginning Sunday, March 26, 2017

PRAY  Gracious Father, you sent your Son, Jesus, to be bread and life for the whole world.  We ask you to give us more and more love for Jesus every day.  Amen.

READ  “I praise you, God!  You are like a marvelous king who wears beautiful, bright robes!  You make the water run in rivers, and the animals come for a drink.  You make the plants grow, and we have food to eat.  You open your hands and give us everything we need.”2 (Psalm 104)


1. Communion Song     

God the Father, God the Spirit
God the gift  Incarnate Son,
Feed us now on grace and mercy
Feed us now and make us one

Feed us on the Bread of Heaven
Quench our thirst with Holy Wine
Cleanse us from all sin and darkness
Cleanse us now and make us Thine

Grant us peace and
Grant us wisdom
Grant us love and grace
Fill us with your
Holy Spirit
Come and fill this place

Feed our hearts and
Cleanse our minds and
Free our souls from sin
You have died and
You are risen
You will come again

These mysteries we believe
These gifts we now receive

DO  Doodle and draw a heart on your piece of paper.  As you work, tell God all that you love about him.


1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

a prayerful lent — THE 3rd WEEK IN LENT


Beginning Sunday, March 19, 2017

PRAY  Heavenly Father, you made us to love you.  Guard us from our enemies.  Help us to love and forgive them.  Help them to love you. Amen.

READ  “Help me, God, I am worried!  Please hurry up!  I know that you are strong.  You are the only one who can help me.”2 (Psalm 70)


1. God I Look to You     

God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do

I will love You Lord my strength
I will love You Lord my shield
I will love You Lord my rock forever
All my days I will love You God

Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
forever All my days Hallelujah

DO  Draw a shape in the middle of your paper.  Inside the shape, write the name of a person who is hard to love right now.  Doodle and color as you talk to God about why it is hard to love that person right now.


1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

APEX experiences the “ART” of giving up


APEX Youth Ministry Experiences the season of Lent through the "Art of Giving Up."

APEX Youth Ministry experiences the season of Lent through the “Art of Giving Up.”

Last weekend, APEX Middle and High School reviewed the concept of “incurvatus in se,” from the book “The Good of Giving Up,” by Aaron Damiani.  They were asked to embrace Lent as a time to cease focusing on our dependence on earthly desires and drives and instead to focus on the provisions and Grace made possible through dependence on God.

They were then asked to express (on a chalk board) through words and images what came to their hearts and minds as they meditated on the 40 day journey of Christ into the wilderness. With full knowledge that their work would be erased the following Sunday as a symbol of how our sins and bodies will be washed away and returned to dust (Genesis 3:19), this is what they came up with.  I encourage you to watch this video and view their expressions this Sunday, March 19th, in the upper narthex.  It will be washed following the 5pm services.

To volunteer for APEX or to have your child join middle or high school, please contact Isaiah Brooms at




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