A Witness to Every Tear

A Witness to Every Tear

Tears of grief,
of suffering, of pain, of irritation, of cleansing, of release, of joy.
Each one witnessed, acknowledged, known,
allowed to be, to flow, to gush, to trickle.
Each one a story - leaving a trail back to God.
What will it be like to no longer fear our tears
or stop them up because of shame?
What if our tears are the bridge which beckons:
”God, come near.
God, come see my hurt, my pain, my suffering, my tribulations.
I allow your compassion to see me as I am
and I open myself to your kindness,
your consoling love.
I let you console me.”

Revelation 7:9-17 (NLT)
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throneand from the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”

Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. 16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. 17 For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What words or image shimmered as you listened? Stay near to this gift and listen deeply with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Consider God’s sheltering presence over you and within you. Rest where he leads you.

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Surprised by Christ's Presence

Has Jesus ever startled you? Suddenly showed up in a place or situation you weren’t expecting? Join the disciples behind the locked doors in this passage and experience with them as they behold a living, breathing, healed Jesus. Receive His peace. Feel His breath. Ponder the power of healed wounds.

John 20:19-23 NLT

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

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.

Notice any place of consolation or desolation that you experienced as you listened and allow the Trinity to minister to you there.

This text is full of tactile and sensory observations. How is it for you to place yourself in this story? Which of your senses are affected? Bring this affect into conversation with Jesus.

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The Ministry of Absence

In John 17, Jesus puts words around the necessity and purpose of his leaving. He has more he wants to teach us by his absence. This can be painfully difficult for us to understand or appreciate.

Henri Nouwen has said a few wise words about the ministry of absence:
"there is a ministry in which our leaving creates space for God's Spirit and in which, by our absence, God can become present in a new way." (The Living Reminder)

Wil Hernandez says in his book, Mere Spirituality:
"Knowing when to be present or absent can understandably be a challenge. Still, we need to learn how to creatively navigate our way through this tension so we can best cooperate with God. To be a hospitable soul host with, to, and for others calls for a spacious heart - a heart able to create and offer both interior space for one's self and exterior space for others, as well as a discerning heart that wisely knows who to exercise "creative absence.""

This is a matter for our prayer.

John 16:5-15 (NLT)
“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’

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.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?
Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need?

Reflect on your longing for an Advocate. Where are you needing someone to defend you or fight for you? Bring these longings into your prayer.

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

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Never Alone. Never Abandoned.

Our need and longing for safety and security is real and fully understood by God. The One who faithfully fashioned us knows our craving for belonging and intimate friendship. What a promise Jesus gives in these words. No one else can truly deliver on the promise to never leave us or forsake us. Not for a moment. Be still with these words of Jesus today and allow them to enfold your heart. You are not alone. Ever.

John 14:15-24  (NLT)

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

For Reflection and Prayer:
1. Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there awhile with Jesus.
2. If any experiences of being “led into all truth” come to mind as you listened, consider listening deeper with our Advocate. Rest in any word you receive.

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A Place For You

As we enter Eastertide - the other side of the Resurrection - let us reflect on the places where Jesus has already prepared for us to dwell with him. Here. Now. Today.  Can we imagine a place even now, where we can always be with the risen Christ? Keep listening to the longings deep within your soul. The Holy Spirit will guide you towards a place called home.

John 14:1-4 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

John 14:1-4 (MSG)

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”


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.

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

Do you ever long for home? Draw or write about that longing. Be as descriptive as possible.

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

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When Jesus Gathers Us Together

Today's text touches a longing often buried deep within us. It's a longing to be gathered into one with Jesus and others, especially those who are scattered and removed far from us either physically, emotionally or spiritually. Jesus keeps showing us through real presence and relationship how to become one. He gathers together with us on the edges of our own wilderness and desolate places to stay with us and simply be with us, his disciples.

John 11:45-57 (ESV)

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

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. If you noticed any place of tension, or some other sensation, in your body as you listened, gently follow it with Jesus.
3. Does an “Ephraim”, a place you can walk openly, come to mind? How does Jesus seem present to you there?

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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.

Where is Here?

After the abundant provision of food, enough to feed a large town or small city, the disciples give up on waiting for Jesus to return to the shore. Encased in darkness, they set out upon the lake to get to where they need to go. Eventually they battle a raging storm. It is here that Jesus announces his presence. His poignant words prompt us to consider, "where is here"?
Where is here:
   - this storm?
   - this fear?
   - this darkness?
   - this trying hard?
   - this reality?
Questions like these can give us clues, yet ultimately, we each need to ask for ourselves, "Jesus, where are you here, in this?" This dialogue becomes our prayer.

John 6:16-24 (NLT)
That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. 18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him.

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.

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.

Where Are You Seeing God At Work?

The beloved John continues to bear witness to the complex, crazy-making, critical culture created by scrupulous rule following. He contrasts these Jewish leaders with Jesus who is focused on watching for his Father's initiative and action. His words invite us to consider where we see life and renewal happening in and around us. His ways invite us to participate in God's life giving work through observation, contemplation, prayer, discernment and action. Begin with stopping to see. Where are you seeing God at work around you?

John 5:16-23 (NLT)
So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear or see as you listened to 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?

What are you seeing the Father doing? Where are you seeing God working?

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.