Christmas through the Eyes of the Heart

A 14-session Christmas-time blog series using the ancient spiritual disciplines of Lectio Divina & Visio Divina.

(Each of us) are wired in different ways. Some of us respond better to the written word, some to the spoken word, some to music, some to art, some even to movement. Through this exploration of prayer, I’ve found we can connect to God in each of these ways. Though we may have a preferred sense through which to pray, the richest prayer life will come through experiencing God through all your senses. Kathryn Shirey

Experiencing God through all your senses.

That’s why those of us who train others in the ancient art of spiritual direction encourage a variety of spiritual practices in our on-going pursuit of Christ. Two ancient disciplines first developed by Jesus-followers in ages past are called by fancy Latin names: Lectio Divina (which simply means divine reading) and Visio Divina (which simply means divine seeing). These two spiritual practices, when brought into your devotional life with God, can bring a new vitality to your journey with Jesus.

We invite you to join us for a 14-session blog series which combines the reading of the Christmas story, as found in God’s Word, with seeing, using fourteen pieces of beautiful artwork that can bring your imagination to life. ENJOY!


Below, you will find a complete list of all the posts (14 blogs) of this series. We suggest that you bookmark this home page for ease of use. Enjoy!

Session 1: An Introduction. Scenes from The Life of Mary, Hans Memling (1480); Luke 1: 1-4.

Session 2: The Visitation. The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898); Luke 1: 26-33. 

Session 3: I See It All Now. The Annunciation, Deanna Burton (2014); Luke 1: 34-38

Session 4: Straight To Zachariah’s House. De Visitatie, Frans Francken II (1618); Luke 1: 39-41 

Session 5: Sheer Joy. Jump for Joy – Mary and Elizabeth, Corby Eisbacher (2008); Luke 1: 42-45.

Session 6: Bursting With God-News. The Annunciation – The Flower of God, Edward Burne-Jones (1862); Luke 1: 46-49

Session 7: Engaged To Be Married. An Extraordinary Night in Bethlehem, Hannah Carlon (2012); Matthew 1: 18-19

Session 8: Interrupted Plans. Joseph’s Dream in the Stable in Bethlehem, Rembrandt (1645); Matthew 1: 20-25

Session 9: On The Way. Mary and Joseph on the Way to Bethlehem, Hugo van der Goes (1475); Luke 2: 1-5 

Session 10: Suddenly. Annunciation to the Shepherds, Taddeo Gaddi (1330); Luke 2: 8-11

Session 11: Glory To God – Peace On Earth. The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Govaert Flinck (1639); Luke 2: 12-14 

Session 12: Seeing Is Believing. Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst (1622); Luke 2: 15-20 

Session 13: A Band Of Scholars. The Three Wise Men, Lily Pakula (2014); Luke 2: 6-7, Matthew 2: 1-2, 9-11 

Session 14: A Child Is Born – For Us! Large Nativity with Joseph, Joseph Wayne Forte (2010); Isaiah 9: 6, Revelation 22: 13 

Here’s how to best use Lectio Divina & Visio Divina during this Christmas season.

1) Prepare: Find a quiet place where you can be free of distractions. Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, asking God to enter into your time of prayer. Welcome Jesus into your midst, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you through your reading of God’s Word and your meditation on the Christmas image in today’s blog.

2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and slowly read today’s Christmas text. Notice what words are drawing your interest. Ponder slowly on those words. Ask the Holy Spirit to work with your imagination, drawing you deeper into these familiar words. Close and rest your eyes a minute.

3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and scan the entire image we’ve given you today. Let your eyes be led. Focus on the part of the image that catches your eye and name it. Sit with the picture for a moment. Close your eyes, once again, imagining that piece of the image in your mind.

4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your attention. Pray, asking God to bring forth a word, a thought, an image, or an emotion that might be associated with what you are seeing. Close and rest your eyes.

5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze, one final time, at the whole image. Slowly re-read the Christmas text for today as well. Pause. Breathe. Go slow. What is God speaking to you today through these words and this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend some time processing these things with Jesus. Pray a prayer of closure, asking the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower you as you go through your day. In closing, you might want to journal a few notes about your Lectio Divina & Visio Divina experience today.

Don’t take this journey into Christmas Through the Eyes of the Heart alone! One of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.