Fully Known

The thought of being fully known sends most of us into hiding, cowering behind something in fear and shame. And yet being fully known and still loved is one of our deepest and most universal longings. As you pray with this passage, notice where your desire to be fully known is emerging in your life. And where are you finding the compassion and grace to be your real self - your vulnerable, weak, helpless and simply delightful real you?

John 10:11-21 (NLT)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. 20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” 21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
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?
Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

When Compassion Clothes Shame

In the midst of the religious exposition and exploitation of a highly vulnerable woman, we witness Jesus' embodied compassion in action. He is literally and figuratively teaching us how he goes about clothing the naked vulnerability of shame. We hear and see how Jesus responds in word and action to accusers.

This passage may trigger a traumatic response in those who have been exploited in similar ways. If this is you, be most compassionate with yourself. Ground and care for yourself in this present moment by placing your feet on the ground, tapping your arms and taking some deep, calming breaths. If you can, seek to find a safe place in your prayer where you most connect with the loving compassion of Jesus. Always you have freedom to step away from the prayer if that is what you need.

John 8:1-11 (NLT)
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

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.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this story? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings. Ask for what you need. Ground yourself in the present moment.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God’s compassion for you.

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?