Longing to be One

Jesus is emphatic and clear in his prayer with the Father. He longs for us to experience the same perfect unity and love which he shares with the Father. This text is one of the profoundly deep mysteries of God. Yet we can be confident of this - Jesus is praying for us and actively working to bring about this oneness in our lives.

John 17:20-26 (NLT)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you. Journal what you hear and your response.

Where have you experienced this oneness with God and also with others? What has that been like for you? Where do you long to experience oneness? Write about these experiences and longings and talk it over in prayer with God.

Quietly rest with God and any consoling words or images given to you in this time of prayer.

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Remembering Dwelling with God Together

The Jewish Feast of Booths is the context within which the following conversation takes place between Jesus and his brothers. This annual feast is celebrated communally as a remembrance of God's dwelling with the Israelite's as they journeyed through the wilderness (that place where we go to hear God). God's sheltering presence was with them before and with them now in the person of Jesus - the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Stay curious. What might Jesus want them and us to eventually discover about his presence?

John 7:1-13ESV

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not[c] going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something grabbed your attention - a word, phrase, an image, a sound - stay with that and receive the explanation the Holy Spirit may give you.

Observe the family and community dynamics surrounding this "holiday". What do you notice? If anything intersects with your own story, bring this into your prayer with Jesus.

Receive any consolation that comes to you and quietly rest in God as you conclude your time of 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.

 

Owners, Renters and Squatters

More than a metaphor, a parable invites us to make our home in the story. Jesus uses this means to invite us to dwell with him in the heart of his family - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we enter the home, we can look around and notice, how does the family treat one another? What tone, or culture does the parent establish for the family? What is valued and esteemed? Is it safe to be vulnerable and make mistakes in this family? How is injustice treated? Where do we notice love and grace lived out in the family?
This particular parable has been labelled The Parable of the Wicked Tenants or The Story of the Vineyard. Another perspective might name it The Story of a Vulnerable Landowner. Regardless of the name, Jesus invites you to enter the story to see and listen.

Mark 12: 1-12 NLT
12 Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
9 “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
11 This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.’”
12 The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with them for a while. Ask Jesus about them. Is there more that Jesus says to you?

Dwell in the parable. What do you come to know about this landowner? What do you notice about his vulnerable response to injustice?

Reflect on the things and people you consider "mine". How does this story intersect with what you own or attempt to manage, control and be responsible for?

Where do you recognize God's messenger's coming to you?