The Word of God as found in the Scriptures has been given to the Church by God so that all of its members may experience the supernatural revelation of God (Shekinah) both personally and in relationship to one another. However, a balance between personal reading and corporate hearing must be struck by every Christian to receive the fullness of God’s revelation through His Word.
Magrassi said, “If the soul is conscious of its identity with the mystery of the Church, it will spontaneously rediscover the close link between the liturgical hearing and the personal meditation. A kind of spiritual exchange will take place” (9-10). Each individual believer may experience the Shekinah glory of God, both personally and corporately, as they engage faithfully in encountering the Word of God both in their private devotions and in their worship of God with other believers.
A remarkable enlightenment (Shekinah) by God through the reading of Scripture may occur in the liturgical event of corporate worship. “There the Word is linked to the rite which is an action of Christ; there it rediscovers its original power as saving proclamation” (Magrassi, 3). Jesus in personifying Himself as the embodied Torah, proclaimed that He would enlighten the Word of God to those who gathered to worship in His Name (New American Standard Bible, Matt 18:20). Johnson states, “[T]he Shekinah was said to dwell among even two or three who studied Torah together” (181).
However, the Shekinah glory of God is not manifested through Scripture only in the assembly of the faithful, but also in the individual believer’s apprehension of God’s Word. St. Gregory the Great, said, “Often, through the grace of the almighty Lord, certain passages in the sacred text are better understood when the divine Word is read privately” (qtd. in Magrassi, 11). In this sense the Church can be present in each individual. As Magrassi states, “…the entire mystery of the Church is in some way contained in every soul” (9).
Several years ago I remember Pastor Bill Hybels, one of the most well-known Evangelical mega-church pastors, publicly admitting that, overwhelmingly, the members of his church were not growing spiritually through his church’s method of “seeker-sensitive” worship and discipleship. After several years of research into to the reasons why, Pastor Hybels released the results of that research in a study called Reveal. I attended a conference in 2010 where Greg Hawkins, one of Reveal researchers, stated that, “Personal Bible study/reflection is the most powerful catalyst of spiritual growth.” Thus, the enlightenment of God’s Word individually to His people is critical for a deepening relationship to God.
It seems to me that the St. Paul was also keenly aware of this dual nature of God’s self-revelation to His people through the Spirit. St. Paul speaks of the manifest activity of the Spirit, both in the Church and in each of its members. To the members of the Church collectively he asks, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16). When the Church is gathered for worship, the Shekinah glory of God in the Spirit is made manifest. And just a few chapters later, St. Paul asks another rhetorical question, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Cor. 6:19). Here St. Paul is addressing the reality that the Shekinah glory of God is available within each believer.
Where Jesus is the personification of the Torah, He is also the personification of the Temple, wherein the Shekinah glory dwells for the Church gathered and the Church personal.
Hawkins, Greg. “Reveal: What 1000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth.” Willow Creek Association. First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL. 01 February 2010. Seminar Address.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament. 3rd Ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010. Print.
Magrassi, Mariano. Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998. Print.
The New American Standard Bible. The Lockman Foundation. Anaheim, CA: 1995. Print.
(c) Paul Dordal, 2014