Invited to Tell Ourselves the Truth

A bystander, an enemy and an animal are the various voices which chose to speak and coax Peter to live into his reality. Rather than enemies, they are gifts in disguise which invited Peter to tell himself the truth. Which voices in our own lives seem like enemies who are only trying to expose our secrets and sequestered shame? What if:
- we could befriend them?
- listen to them?
- and discern if they are inviting us to be known in order to integrate and live out the truth of our lives in freedom and integrity?

John 18:25-27 (NLT)
Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
26 But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What ‘shimmered’ as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer.

Reflect on a time when you have been startled into reality. What was that like for you? Where was the gift in it?

Rest in quiet trust in Jesus’ loving presence. Savor any consoling words or pictures given to you.

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Fully Known

The thought of being fully known sends most of us into hiding, cowering behind something in fear and shame. And yet being fully known and still loved is one of our deepest and most universal longings. As you pray with this passage, notice where your desire to be fully known is emerging in your life. And where are you finding the compassion and grace to be your real self - your vulnerable, weak, helpless and simply delightful real you?

John 10:11-21 (NLT)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. 20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” 21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.
Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Without judgement, gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. What does Jesus say to you?
Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

How Am I Known?

Our individual and communal stories always hold the possibility for a divine reset. How we see ourselves, one another and God opens us up to the wonder of possibility. Just what might God do?
Perhaps we all need the mud washed out of our eyes to receive and extend mercy and compassion - to see and be seen and become known for who we truly are.

John 9:1-12 NLT

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.

John 9:1-12 TMG
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”
6-7 He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.
8 Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”
9 Others said, “It’s him all right!”
But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”
He said, “It’s me, the very one.”
10 They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”
11 “A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said. When I washed, I saw.”
12 “So where is he?”
“I don’t know.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which “shimmered” for you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Using all of your senses, place yourself in the story. Who are you and what are you witnessing or experiencing? Write out the story in your own words, allowing the story and conversation to be your prayer.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Being Seen and Known

Scholars conjecture that this healing encounter with Jesus happened in conjunction with the Passover celebration. We can only imagine the smells permeating the areas surrounding the Sheep Gate. How many sheep might have trudged that path? And where was hope among those sick - the blind, lame and paralyzed - lying beside the "pool of mercy"? This encounter might turn our tidy theology of healing upside down. Does healing always depend on desire and faith?

Place yourself in the story - inhabit this passage of scripture. Allow Jesus, the God-man to see you. Become present to his gaze...

John 5:1-9 NLT
Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath,

For Reflection and Prayer:
What caught your attention as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the story? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Jesus to meet you in that feeling?

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

 

The Shift To Hope

We witness the shift to hope emerge within in this precious woman from Samaria. In her encounter with Jesus, she discovers that she is fully known and dearly loved. There are no more secrets which have kept her hiding in shame. She is experiencing love and grace transform her from the inside out. With her own words, she shares her story with her community and her story evokes a thirst in her fellow townspeople. What might Jesus be saying to us through his encounter with this woman?

John 4:27-38 (NIV)
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Without judgement, gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. What does Jesus say to you?

When have you noticed yourself making your way towards Jesus? What drew you towards Jesus? Reflect on those times and talk it over with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

 

Encountering Faithfulness

In the midst of truth telling - while being known and loved, we witness the Samaritan women encounter faithfulness, perhaps for the first time. She remains vulnerable in the presence of Jesus and boldly asks her big questions about God. Jesus meets her in her questions, her wondering and graciously invites her home to I AM.

The first appearance of I AM recorded in the Scriptures is at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. Moses is invited to take off his sandals and be at home with God. There God makes himself known as I AM. Moses comes to know God relationally. Now Jesus offers the same invitation to this woman from Samaria, in essence saying, 'you who have never experienced faithfulness...come home to me. You will find me faithful'.

As you enter your prayer, consider the true you God is inviting home. Be there with God, as simply and honestly as you can.

John 4:19-26 (NLT)
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I AM the Messiah!”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What resonated within you as you listened? What feelings seemed to accompany this? Journal your thoughts and impressions.

When do you notice yourself being simply and honestly yourself before God? How does God receive you at those times?

Rest in the presence of Jesus, just as you are in this moment.

Truth Speaking and Living Water

Last week we wondered about who it is we are actually speaking to when we pray. This week we notice how Jesus graciously evokes the truth in his conversation with the woman from Samaria. This vulnerable and respectful truth-telling between Jesus and the woman reveals a way we can all access the life giving well within. When the truth of our story is spoken and met with compassionate love and grace we discover our spiritual thirst being satisfied. God taught this first to Moses in Numbers 20 when he asked Moses to draw forth water from the rock by speaking. God comes around this time in the flesh of Jesus. Through Jesus' engagement with this woman he demonstrates how we can all draw forth living water from within.

John 4:11-18 (NLT)
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”


For Reflection and Prayer:
What spoke to you as you listened? What feelings seemed to accompany this? Journal your thoughts and impressions.

Where, if anywhere, have you noticed thirst lately? What does thirst taste and feel like when you notice it? Take this into your prayer.

Consider having a gentle conversation with Jesus about any experience or thought this Scripture has raised up. Rest in the awareness that He knows the truth.

Who Are You Talking To?

Today's text begins a soulful, honest conversation between Jesus and an unnamed woman from Samaria. Listen in on the conversation, noticing who Jesus is - his manners, customs, values and actions. What do they reveal of his heart? How does he look at her? What do his eyes convey? Does his body language reveal anything about his attitude towards her? What is it about Jesus that enables this woman to be so real, bold and honest with him?

Consider your own prayers and conversations with Jesus. Who are you talking to when you pray? How does Jesus listen and engage with your story? As you listen in on this particular conversation at the well, notice where it intersects with your own.

John 4:1-10 (NIV)
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Were you drawn to anyone in particular in this story-text? How might they have been feeling? How are you feeling? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Only The Father Knows

The season of Advent reminds us to wait with intention.

Jesus' life, recorded in the Scripture gives us many clues as to what he was waiting and watching for. He consistently went off to be alone with his Father. He longed to be in the company of his father, to be at home with him. This text reminds us that there are some things which only the Father knows. We can either fear the Father's knowledge and how he will use it or we can imitate Jesus and draw close to the Father and listen to his heart. We can wonder. What might the Father know that he too longs for us to hear?

Matthew 24:36, 42-44 NLT

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word, phrase or picture come to mind as you listened to the text?

Journal what you are wondering about. Bring these wonderings into conversation with Jesus.

Did a particular feeling or emotion arise as you listened to the text? Tell Jesus about it. He or the Father may have more to say to you about it.

Come and See

John 1:35-42 (NIV)
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which “shimmered” for you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Were you drawn to anyone in particular in this story-text? How might they have been feeling? How are you feeling? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.