Living Fully Alive in Community

Finally we are at the point of Lazurus' resurrection! Here Jesus pulls back the veil of this world to give us a glimpse of what is coming. There is so much more. The possibility to live fully alive is available to each of us. What keeps us from living fully alive in Christ today? What needs to be loosed? Unbound in us? How are those around us already participating in helping to remove our own grave clothes? You are encouraged to share a part of your story with a safe, compassionate listener. The process of telling and retelling our stories is part of how we become unbound, real and more fully alive.

John 11:38-44 (NLT)
 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

Ask God to provide a safe place for you to share your story.

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What Do You Know For Sure?

Sometimes we are gifted with an encounter with God which changes everything, including the trajectory of our lives. We know that we know that we have met with God - the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Sometimes these encounters happen when we least expect them, such as with this man born blind since birth. Sometimes we encounter God because we seek, ask or wait for one. Regardless of why we encounter the living God, God says, "you can know me" (Ps. 46:10) and "you can find me" (Jer. 29:14). As you pray with this passage concerning the testimony of the blind man, the Spirit may remind you of your own personal knowing of Jesus. No one can take that knowing away from you.

John 9:24-34 (NLT)
 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.

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.

Is there anything regarding God which you know that you know? Some truth anchored deeply within you? Take some time to remember and cherish it.

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

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.

 

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.

When Jesus Comes Towards Us

Unexpectedly, Jesus comes towards us often disguised in ways in which we cannot see him. Jesus comes to us in our place of need, yet sometimes we are desperately afraid of our true need. It is hard to imagine Jesus wanting to meet us somewhere we do not want to be. Still, he comes and descends gently upon us through his Spirit. Be still and rest in Christ's presence as you pray with John's testimony of Jesus coming towards him.

John 1:29-34 (NLT)
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

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? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

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