For the last six months, I have met with a group of six Southwestern students every Wednesday evening by the fire at College Hill Coffee to discuss the book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” 

Inspired by the podcast “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” each week we read one chapter of the book through a particular theme, and discuss, not only instances of this theme within the text, but instances in our own lives and faith journeys. 

We ask questions of each other, build off one another, and share bits of our own stories with each other. Then, we highlight a particular character that we resonate with each chapter, causing us to put ourselves in the characters’ shoes … even the unlikely ones. 

We look through the pages of the book and ask each other where we saw God, causing us to learn from each other in our own understandings and perspectives of who God is. 

We end our time with a prayer practice called lectio divina, where we read a sentence in the chapter four times, and each time, we dive deeper and deeper into the sentence until we end at the question, “What is God and the text calling you to?”

Some may find this ministry blasphemous, while others may find it intriguing. As I have reflected on these past few months, one of the most compelling things about this form of sacred reading is that it causes us to be more attentive and attuned to God in our midst. 

Each week, our group gathers and asks where in this chapter does God show up? Each week, our group gathers and asks where in this book might God still be speaking? Each week, our group gathers and asks where our Christian story meets this secular text? 

The assumption for our group is that God is always there because God is everywhere. And more than that, our group assumes that God has a tendency to show up in unlikely ways, in unlikely people, and in unlikely moments. Even in the unlikeliness of flying broomsticks, three-headed dogs, and friends fighting off trolls, if we only take the time to pay attention.

 

The Rev. Maddie Johnson is pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield.

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