Final Moments with Jesus

Praying through the traditional Easter texts in late summer and autumn, so “out of order” from the liturgical church calendar, has allowed us to enter the story differently, perhaps a little freer from the expectations we place upon ourselves as we listen to the story told again. Nonetheless, the sorrow and pain of Jesus’s crucifixion remains. As you are able, just simply be with Jesus in his final moments. What consolation would you like to offer him? What consolation or care does Jesus seem to offer you in his final moments of life?

John 19: 17-27 (NLT)
So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.

21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”

22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there as you are able with Jesus.

Which emotions rise up for you as you pray with this text? What do you notice? How can you offer compassion to whatever emerges? Do any invitations rise to the surface?

If a consoling thought or picture comes to you, rest with Jesus in it.

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Our Own Betrayals

Amidst the pain of betrayal in this passage emerges the knowing of a place of intimate trust which Jesus shared with his father and closest friends. This garden was his place of prayer, his safe place, his vulnerable place. Within this cocoon of intimacy, Jesus bravely faced his betrayer - his friend. This can be a painfully hard passage to enter in our prayer. Perhaps the invitation is to simply trust that such a place exists for us too in our prayer. 

John 18:1-11 (NLT)
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did a word or phrase stand out in particular? Meditate on this word, phrase or picture. Is there more God wants to say to you?

This passage might guide you to reflect on your own experience of betrayal including times when you have betrayed yourself. What do you notice inside of you as reflect? How do you most need Jesus to be with you in this moment? Take some deep breaths remembering that God’s Spirit breathes in you. Be very, very gentle with yourself and simply ask for what you need.  You might hold your own hand, or lay your hand upon your heart in your prayer as an extension of compassion towards your pain and need.

Savor any consoling words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

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Encouraged to Ask

Somewhere along the way, many of us became afraid to ask - afraid to ask for clarification and understanding, afraid to ask for what we need, afraid to ask for help, and afraid to ask because we might be shamed for asking. Jesus affirms our need to ask questions of one another, of him and especially of his Father. Let's bring our questions. Allow ourselves to be known in our questions. Feel our need and dependence on God. Listen for the Father's heart in the answer which comes and in the waiting for an answer which can seem like forever. Then let's watch to see what happens to our joy.

John 16: 17-24 (NLT)
Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? 18 And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there awhile with Jesus.
Consider your familiarity with grief and with joy and how the Lord feels present to you there. What do you notice? Do any invitations rise to the surface?

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Follow the Trail of Tears

Tears are one of our places of greatest vulnerability. In spiritual direction we are encouraged to follow the trail of tears because our tears are a sure sign of the Spirit's presence and activity. Yet many are unable to cry or have not cried in years. Others wonder that if they begin to cry, they will drown in a sea of sorrow and never be able to stop. Finding a place of hospitality for our tears, in ourselves or another, can open up a possibility for healing, comfort and renewal. It takes courage to begin to feel our pain. Sometimes we need the help of others to contain and safeguard our overwhelming grief.

John 11:28-37 (ESV)

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[a in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
1. If there was a word, a phrase, or an image that sought your attention as you listened, stay with it and listen deeper with Jesus.
2. Place yourself in the story and notice which character you most relate to/with and rest into Jesus’ posture toward you.
3. If any of the emotions expressed in this passage (e.g. consoled, troubled, moved) touch you, linger there and pay attention to what else this may stir in you.

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Holy Longing

Love
pour it on

Unfailing Love
wash over me
  cover me
  fill me
  cleanse me
  satisfy me

I want to say
I say
I have everything I need
I want for nothing
  but your
Unfailing, Unending Love

Psalm 42 (NLT)
As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
3 Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”
4 My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!
5 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar.
7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
8 But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life.
9 “O God my rock,” I cry,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
    They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”
11 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!


For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, a phrase, image, or feeling that caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Color your prayer.

How do you notice your own longing for God? Our longing may be revealed in our attachments, addictions and disappointments. Bring what you notice into your prayer with God. How does God meet you there?
 
Our feelings of despair and abandonment can be amplified when we are in the desert. What helps to distract you from feeling despair or abandonment? What helps you welcome and stay present to those feelings? Bring them into your prayer with God. Journal what you hear and see.

Where did you notice God pouring love upon you today?