The Initiator of Our Belonging

Whether we find ourselves in exile, an outcast, or seeking refuge of any kind, these words of Isaiah cause us to exhale deeply and remember that our God is interceding and intervening on behalf of our identity. Savor a word or phrase from this passage and come back to it often this week. Notice what happens within your spirit, your breath and your shoulders as you dwell with these words. May God’s shalom wash over you.

Isaiah 62:1-5 NLT

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still.

Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent.

I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn,

and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.

The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory.

And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth.

The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.”

Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,”

for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,

just as a young man commits himself to his bride.

Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What phrase or word shimmered as you listened to or read the text? Bring it into prayer with Jesus.

Reflect on your experience of God yearning for you; delighting in you. Where have you noticed this in your life? Where do you most long for God to delight in you? Bring these reflections into your prayer.

Rest quietly for a few minutes in any consoling words or pictures given to you.

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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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The Way of Trust and Surrender

Repeatedly through the Gospels, Jesus has candid conversations with those in relationship with him. He allows them not only to hear his words but also to actually live in the experience of them.   Some of what Jesus seems to be saying in this passage is...
 
I have shown and will keep showing you how I trust my Father's life in me, surrender to his initiatives and take action. It may look senseless, crazy or too hard to you at times but this is where life is so big that it can hold truth, reality and pain together while my Father continually works to bring renewal. Evil will not prevail. Vulnerable love is powerful. Are you willing to join me in what I am doing?

John 14:5-14 (NLT)
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

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.

Meditate on one of the names of Jesus which has been particularly meaningful for you. What about that characteristic deepens your attachment to Jesus?

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

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How Do You Recognize God's Voice?

Now able to physically see, we can only imagine the sensory overload of all the many sights previously 'unseen' by the healed blind man. He likely had developed a highly attuned capacity to hear as a result of his physical blindness. It is interesting that Jesus continues to seek this man out. Jesus seems to be deliberately assuring the healed man of his presence and training him in learning how to recognize his voice. Even today he comes alongside us to help us learn to recognize his voice and see what was previously unseen.

John 9:35-41 (NLT)
 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
38 “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.
39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

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.

Is there a particular feeling you experience as you reflect on these words? Welcome this feeling into your prayer and have a conversation with Jesus about it.

Remember words which Jesus has spoken to you in the past. How did you hear them? How did you know that it was Jesus speaking to you? What was the tone of his voice? What was the fruit of those words spoken to you?

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

More Food For Your Soul

We eat and drink a variety of foods and beverages every day. In this story Jesus invites us to recognize from where our real life nourishment and wholeness comes.

If we really believe that Christ is the Bread that is most needed, how might that change our daily rhythms? Taking in food and drink are essential to fuel our physical bodies (including our mind) for our work and daily life. How is it we can feed on this Bread from heaven, the One who gives us life, now and forever? Might you see this food as essential to sustaining your life? What might this look like for you?

Prayer and the Word are "feeding tubes" for our soul.

John 6:35-51 (NLT)
 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.  However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.  And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.  For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said.  For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.  As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.  (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.  Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.  Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What spoke to you as you listened? What feelings seemed to accompany this? Sit with this and see what else the Spirit may reveal.

What do you hunger for? How do you experience Jesus as your bread of life? Take this into your prayer.

Notice any “murmurings” rising up in you and have a gentle conversation with Jesus about what you truly need.

Consider the inclusivity of God and His desire for all.

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.

Our Hiding Place

The place we go to hide can become the place where we become found by God and find God for ourselves. It is a place where we can be seen and known with love and compassion, including the parts of ourselves we most want to hide from. As you find a quiet moment to listen to the words of Psalm 32, give them room to soak in like a softly falling rain.

Psalm 32:1-7 NIV
1 Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the LORD does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did it stir up a feeling within you as you listened?
What do you hear about God in this passage?
What do you hear about yourself in these words?
What is your prayer that emerges from these words? What might you ask God to do in you?

Safe Shelter

How might your prayer open the door to experiencing the safe shelter of God, regardless of circumstance?

God meets us in our prayer as we quiet our hearts and allow God's abiding presence to create a sense of safety within us. This may not happen instantaneously and our sometimes unconscious images of God keep us from trusting that God could actually be safe enough to be real and honest with. Yet God promises us his perfect peace as we set our minds on him and it is God's supernatural, mysterious power which brings this peace to us. Be patient with yourself as you learn to approach God in quiet confidence. Sometimes beginning our prayer with an image in our heart of a safe meeting place with God helps us find courage to begin to trust that possibility of safe shelter.

Psalm 36: 5-10 NLT

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
7     How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling shimmered as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

Reflect on a time when the Lord showed unfailing love and faithfulness to you. Savor this experience in your prayer. Allow God to expand the vastness or depth of the experience by returning to it. You may want to journal or express your experience artistically with pencil, ink or color.

Is there a situation now which you would like to bring with you under the shelter of God’s wings? One of the pictures on the table may assist you in visualizing this request in your prayer and simply staying there with God.

A Shared Gaze

The mountains in our lives can seem like permanently immovable obstacles on our journey to live into the abundant life. Yet perhaps they are the very thing which prompts our gaze to shift. The mountains invite us to look up; to see them and to see beyond them.

Thankfully, there is One who is ever seeing us. whose loving gaze is always upon us. God sees us long before we see God. What might it be like meet God's gaze today and mutually share in it together? Even for a moment.

Slow down a task today, and consider God's gaze upon you as you are in it. Soak in God's pleasure.

Psalm 121 (NLT)
1 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
    The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

How do you experience the gaze of God? What does God see? Linger in the gaze of God.

What mountains stand before you this day? What helps you shift your gaze to God? And what shifts in you as you shift your gaze?

How have you experienced the protective shade of God?

Our Fight Song

Our fight song sounds much different from the popular methods of the world for we do not battle in the flesh. There is One who fights for us. As we learn to be still, pray, trust, speak truth, worship and dwell with God, we experience God doing battle on our behalf.

For many, this is a go-to Psalm for spiritual battle, oppression and contending prayer. Learn this song, and sing it often.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer.

Reflect on how or when have you experienced God fighting battle for you or sheltering you.

If you were to form this Psalm into a song, how would it sound? What elements, rhythm, tone, theme, melody, harmony, voice and/or form would you use? How would God’s voice to you sound within it?

 

Taste and See

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  Ps. 34:5

Could that which we taste and see actually bring this kind of joy and freedom? Surely, we are shaped and formed by what we give our senses to.

As you pray with this Psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to shift your gaze upon God and taste of God's presence in your circumstances right now. The good news is that God has the power to work this transformation of joy and freedom from shame in us.

Psalm 34

I will praise the LORD at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the LORD;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the LORD is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the LORD is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the LORD, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

For Prayer and Reflection:
•    What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?
•    When have you particularly felt God’s presence in times of joy or in times of desperation?
•    How do you “see and taste” the Lord?
•    Talk to Jesus about this text. What do you hear Him say?

Finding Home

Years ago, God used a friend to open my eyes to the story of Moses and the Burning Bush in an entirely new way. As Moses observed a strange sight and moved towards the bush which would not burn up, God invited Moses to take off his sandals for where he was standing was holy ground (Exodus 3). In the culture of the Hebrew people, known for their hospitality to strangers, taking off one's shoes was a sign of being welcomed home. God extends that same hospitality to Moses, calling him by name and essentially saying, "you are welcomed to be at home with me". Moses responds with reverence, fear and by hiding his face. What a picture of our own response to God's invitations!

Consider this story as you pray with Psalm 84. What is it like to find your home with God? God bids you, "come, you are welcome home with me".

Psalm 84 (NIV)

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
    LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
    the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.
12 LORD Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.


For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer.

Where or when do you feel most at home with God and with yourself? What do you notice? What draws you away from home with God?

Reflect on a season where God has led you into a desert like valley. How did God sustain you then? If you are in such a season now, how is God strengthening, refreshing and renewing you in it?

Do you ever feel like God withholds from you? Journal about it and bring it before God. How does God respond?

Come and Talk with Me

Have you heard this invitation from God before? For some this is a welcome invitation to relationship and intimacy with God. For others this offer evokes fear and they run away and hide from God's presence and voice. Yet if we are the house in which God's Spirit resides, can we ever really flee from God?

God, give us courage to trust your presence in us and with us. Give us courage to talk over our deepest fears and shame with you. Make us brave and set us free to come to you.

Psalm 27 (NLT)
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
    I will remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
    Do not reject your servant in anger.
    You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
    O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

For Prayer and Reflection:
What word(s), phrase or picture comes to mind as you listen to the passage? Bring this into your conversation with God.

Is there one thing you want to ask of the Lord at this time?

What is it like for you to "come and talk with" God? How does God listen and speak with you? How do you listen and speak with God? What has your conversation about in this last week?

How does God help you wait patiently for God? How does prayer help or hinder your waiting?

Fleeing the Presence of Jesus

In their struggle to stay present with Jesus, these beloved companions eventually surrender to sleep. Jesus roused them as his betrayer approached, and in this text we witness the progression of fleeing the presence of Jesus. First the loved ones cannot stay internally present in their prayer, now they can no longer bear the fear and shame before them. One by one, they act out compelled by fear and shame, and eventually physically flee from Jesus. In the drama, chaos and contradiction of it all, Jesus is the only one who stays present to the reality before him. That day he said to them,

"Every day I was with you"

Today, he says to us,

"I am always with you"

Would you like to bring your fear, pain and shame and be with Jesus again in this moment?

For every child of God defeats the evil world
by trusting Christ to give us the victory.

1 John 5:4

Mark 14:43-52 (NIV)
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word or phrase speak to you as you listened to or read the text? Dwell with it. Be quiet with it. Gently bring it into your conversation with Jesus.

How have you experience betrayal, even being betrayed by a "kiss'? Can you share the pain of the betrayal with Jesus? How is he with you in it?

We all move in and out of living in the awareness of Jesus' presence with us. What helps you stay present? What distracts your from his presence? When do you notice yourself compelled to flee the present moment? Be gentle and kind with yourself as you explore these themes with Jesus. Come back to a safe place with Jesus, when you become frightened by your thoughts or memories.

Attending to Jesus in Suffering

Now in the garden, Jesus beckons those he loves to share in his sorrow - to stay present and pray with him in it.  This is a hard thing to ask, to stay awake and keep watch with ourselves and another in anguish. It seems like we are hardwired to avoid suffering and we choose many means to avoid it. Falling asleep, checking out, numbing our sorrow with toxic substances or addictions all temporarily serve to keep us unaware of the pain in us and before us. Jesus longs to show us another way to be with sorrow and suffering with him. Jesus will give us the courage and strength to be present to reality and to be with him in it.

Mark 14:32-42 (NIV)
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

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

How have you experienced keeping watch with Jesus in sorrow or suffering? What helps you stay awake to keep watch?

Is there a place where Jesus is inviting you to keep watch with him now? Have a conversation with him about it. How is he praying with you and for you in the watch?

Speak to your Abba about the cup you would like removed from you? What does the Abba say to you or show you?