Author: Gary Reimer

Meditation for Monday, February 4, 2019

Jesus welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.                             Luke 9:1
People live for many years with what might be called “open wounds.”  Open wounds are places where we feel stuck by the memory of a particular pain.  These memories, still active in our hearts, trigger fears in us that such injuries will reoccur.  Even minor wounds in life can result in unresolved stresses that end up determining, much more than we realize, the way we respond to the world and to others.

Open wounds prevent us from fully embracing freedom.  They act like a tether that keep us from moving forward.  We feel apprehensive about life and less hopeful about the future because our unresolved pains are always suggesting to our imagination the threat of imminent danger.

If this description of an “open wound” resonates in your life, there is a prayer for healing based on the Ignatian prayer of Examen that might be helpful for deepening your dialogue with Jesus in these areas.  Here are some steps to lead you in this prayer of Examen.
·      Begin your prayer by first placing yourself in the loving presence of God.  Here you are reminded that you have always been loved and that, even in the realization that an “open wound” exists in you, there is a potential gift from God that will help you grow in your faith if you are willing to accept it.  You may need the Lord’s help before you are able to fully accept these difficult experiences as gifts from God.  Allow whatever time is necessary to “negotiate” this first crossroads of grace.

·      Ask next for the courage to “take up your cross” in order to accept this experience of life as the very place where you might seek and find the Lord.  Ask Jesus to meet with you there for it is likely that you have long excluded Him from this area of your life, or assumed He is more distant from your wound than He actually is.  In prayer ask instead for a new relationship to this narrative—to see your wound as something that Jesus is fully aware of and that He cares deeply about.

·      Ask next for a deeper understanding of what the Lord might wish to show you—not only for insight but also for the ability to embrace whatever God reveals to you.  Are you prepared to accept your “open wound” as part of the truth of who you presently are?  Speak honestly with Jesus about what you are feeling as you revisit this wound.

·      Because you are no longer trying to manage your wound—to heal or protect yourself—you are now more prepared to let Jesus minister to you.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this process, following wherever He might lead you and stopping wherever He would have you note something particular regarding this wound.  Let God gently untangle the tight knots of your painful history.  Spiritual healing is a slow and subtle process.  It takes time for this type of prayer to evolve naturally.

·      Whenever the Lord shines His light on a particular event related to your “open wound” do not overly analyze it, nor jump too quickly to a solution.  You should simply pay attention to your feelings, acknowledging and bringing these insights into your dialogue with Jesus. Ask the Lord to show how faith can be applied to this otherwise fearful memory.

·      When you have finished your prayer ask Jesus to sustain the hope you have regarding this process, and to protect you from the despair you might otherwise feel around this topic.  Be willing and resolved to return again to this dialogue as often as the Lord requires.

The healing of our “open wounds” is a slow and deliberate work.   A sustained faith will help us remain in the hands of the Physician long enough for a relationship of healing to take place.  We must learn to approach our open wound less as a problem to be solved and more as a place of dialogue with Jesus about the truth of who we are and who we are becoming. As we enter these places with an open posture we will be led to a more genuine encounter with grace.  Gratitude for the God who works out His salvation in our lives will eventually replace the hopelessness of our wounds.

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
(written for March 19, 2015)

FOR GROUP DISCUSSION:
1.    In what ways are you afraid of life, or with regards to the future?  Can you trace this fear to some past injury?

2.    What relationship do you presently have to these wounds?  In what ways do they overly determine your responses to life?  How do they curtail your freedom?

3.    How does the slow and deliberate process of this prayer inspire hope in you?  In what ways does the memory of past failures to heal yourself quench this hope?

FOR PRAYER:  Take a full week (or longer) to explore this prayer with regards to a particular open wound in your life.  Observe closely the process by which God untangles the knots that such injuries have caused in you.  Once you have established a deep and lasting relationship with Jesus at the place of your wound ask the Lord if there are other areas of your life where He would like you to also apply this prayer.

Meditation for Monday, January 21, 2019

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. Isa. 6:3

 Adrienne Von Speyr was a disciple of Hans Urs von Balthasar.  So impressed was Balthasar by the depth of Von Speyr’s spiritual vision that, soon after her death in 1967, he started compiling her writings into what has become an important library of over sixty books on Catholic mystical theology.

In one such book called The World of Prayer Von Speyr explores how prayer opens our eyes to the presence of God in all things.  This awakening establishes us in a “world of prayer” in which God’s purposes in and through us become increasingly evident.  She writes,

  • In prayer the Christian receives assurance about everything that God requires and expects of them.  They understand that they are called to remain always in the presence of God, ready to do his will and to receive his word as fully as they can. This assurance gives them certainty that not only is God concerned for them and that nothing in their daily life is an accident, but also that everything has meaning in God and that, as a believer, they are called to seek this meaning.

Our awakening to this fact—that God is found in everything—invites us to re-examine all the circumstances of our lives through the eyes of Christ.  It is the conversion that Paul refers to when he tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). As Von Speyr writes,

  • When someone realizes that a relation to God can be discovered in everything, they then understand that the only way to attain the correct view of life is to behold and evaluate everything through the eyes and disposition of the Son who reveals. 

As prayer becomes the key to our interpretation of life we come to understand all our relationships and all the events of our day more and more from God’s point of view.  This opens our eyes to the real world—the world in which “we live, move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28).  In Von Speyr’s words, ”All things become signposts mysteriously leading to God, revealing proofs of His existence and presenting ever new ways of drawing closer to Him.” 

The old hymn says that, “To those who live a life of prayer, God is present everywhere.”   This is the experience that Von Speyr is trying to identify—of a growing awareness of God’s presence that is the natural fruit of prayer.   Jesus promised that the pure in heart would be blessed, “for they will see God.”  (Mat. 5:8).  May such an awakening to His presence in our lives be the fruitful outcome of our own spiritual practices as well.

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
 (written for Oct 16, 2014)

 

FOR GROUP DISCUSSION: 

 1.      Would you say you are more aware of God’s presence in your life today than in the past?  If so, how has God brought about this awakening in you?

 2.      What effect does it have on you to know that God is present and active in all of life?  What posture does such knowledge invite you to assume in your relationship to all things?

 3.      How does your growing perception of “God in all things” also create, in Von Speyr’s words, “ever new ways of drawing closer to Him?”

 FOR PRAYER:  Spend time in prayer observing whatever takes place in you through Christ’s eyes.  Note how this different perspective offers new insights as well as new possibilities for relationship with yourself and with the circumstances of your life.  Thank God for the hope that this gives you.

Meditation for Monday, December 17, 2018

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  Luke 2:25

 

One of the noblest examples of Advent faith is found in this passage from the gospel of Luke.  Simeon is described as a righteous man who patiently “waits for the consolation of Israel.”  In spite of the discouraging political and social realities all around him, he has kept this unfulfilled hope alive in his heart for many years.  We know very little about Simeon, but it is difficult to imagine that his prayers are overly tinged with anxiety or impatience over the delayed fulfillment of God’s promise.  We picture rather a man who is peacefully resigned to the fact that God will reveal to him, according to the Lord’s good timing, all he needs to know.

 

Unlike Simeon, most of us are not as patient with God, especially when it comes to waiting for our destiny to unfold.  We often feel stuck in the mud with the slow “progress” of our lives, and have trouble understanding why God seems to delay the promises we feel He has made.  Why is there such a lapse between the Word and its fulfillment?  What is God’s purpose in allowing so much in-between time?  Perhaps it has everything to do with how the God-given necessity of waiting—the very posture that we highlight at Advent—helps purify our faith.

 

There are many dispositions from which to wait on the Lord.  Some postures honour God while others simply highlight our anxieties or lack of trust.  We often despair when we are made to wait too long for something we feel our hearts so desperately need.  And yet those who are peaceful in their waiting exhibit a unique grace that must surely be the fruit of God’s purposes in the protracted delays we often endure.

 

Scripture is full of examples of people who deal poorly with their unfulfilled needs.  Most obvious are the many episodes of the Israelites in the desert, acting out their impatience when things don’t unfold as expected.  The prodigal son is another example of someone being impatient with the slow progress of their lives.  We know what we need.  God is taking too long.  We can’t wait.  And so we act on our own.

 

But Scripture also offers examples of how to wait well for God.  We see quite a different disposition, for instance, in Abraham—a much more gracious expression of godliness in waiting.  The Lord tells the patriarch to leave his homeland and “go to the land I will show you.”  Without questioning the vagueness of this command, Abraham seems to exhibit no anxiety over the where, when or why of its fulfillment.   He just keeps walking, trusting that God will reveal to Him what he needs to know, when he needs to know it.

 

And then there is Simeon—a man Luke characterizes as righteous and devout—who waits in the temple each day for the “consolation of Israel.”  Because of his devout prayer life Simeon is able to maintain a posture of hope with regards to the mystery of God’s ways.  He waits in the certainty of faith, and his faith is rewarded.  Like the wise virgins, he has kept his lamp full of oil in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise.  And, like Abraham, such devout and patient faith is credited to Simeon as righteousness in God’s sight.

 

Rob Des Cotes

Imago Dei Christian Communities

written for Advent 2014

 

FOR GROUP DISCUSSION:

  1. Why do you think faith, expressed in waiting, is credited to us as righteousness? How does our waiting in faith honour God?
  2. What characteristics of waiting do you see in the prodigal son story? Can you think of examples in Scripture where people did not wait well?
  3. In what areas of your life have you been tempted with impatience or a challenge to faith over unfulfilled hopes? Have you found a way to wait?

FOR PRAYER:  Take time in prayer to express your trust in the Lord’s timing for every God-given hope you have.

Meditation for Monday, December 03, 2018

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills.
Isaiah 2:2

How good are you at waiting? Remember when you were a child how you waited for the arrival of Christmas? You counted the days, made lists, listened carefully to your parents’ conversations for clues as to what you might be getting, or even started snooping in closets and shopping bags because it was just too hard to resist? The excitement and restlessness built, and on Christmas Eve, it was so hard to even sleep!

In that context, you expect that the results will be wonderful—what you dream, anticipate and hope for. In adult life, how do you wait? Waiting for fulfillment, for vocation, for signs of God’s activity and leading, for transformation, for resolution—what is the posture with which you wait? How we wait shows something of our faith and trust in God. We might, like the people of Israel in the wilderness, feel that God is either not acting, or not acting fast enough. We decide to take matters in our own hands. There is a spirit of anxiety and fear underlying our urge to manage life instead of waiting. We don’t always trust God to do something, let alone what we dream of.

But waiting with complacency or resignation, even a sense of fatalism diminishes the value of that which we wait for. Some of the women waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom were waiting with anticipation, fully prepared. The others let things slide, and didn’t have enough oil for their lamps when the time came.

What is your posture as you wait for God? As you prepare your heart in anticipation of what is coming? Paul speaks in many places (Romans 8:23, Galatians 5:5, Philippians 3:26, 1 Corinthians 1:7) of waiting eagerly. The word is defined as assiduously and patiently waiting—in a way that is constant, unremitting, diligent, attentive or persevering. Advent is a time of waiting, preparing to receive our king. But it requires sustained faith that continues with stamina. God seems to have intentionally created life which requires this leaning forward and learning to wait well in faith. He has given us reason to hope, even in this life of ‘already/not yet’.  Even as we, like the people of Israel, look forward to the fulfillment of God’s reign among us, we can and do experience the present reality of his presence and work.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”                                               Psalm 122:6-8

Imago Dei Christian Communities
Rob and Ruth Des Cotes
(written for Advent 2014)

For Group Discussion:

1.      Think of a situation of waiting. How well did you wait? What was your posture? Note the sources of restlessness, anxiety, fear, despair or resignation.

2.      How do you hold the ‘already/not yet’; the darkness is passing, the true light is already shining; the hour has already come and our salvation is nearer than we first believed (Romans 13:11-12)?

3.      What helps you wait well? Where is your focus?

For Prayer: Teach us, God, to wait in faith and trust. Help us to protect and preserve the hope we carry with one another for the coming of the true light into our world.

Meditation for Monday October 15, 2018

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him.  
2Tim. 2:11
 
Consider this alternative version of the Lord’s Supper:
The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, sat at table with His disciples and there suddenly appeared on the table a golden crown.  Jesus lifted up the crown, and when He had given thanks, He passed it among his disciples saying, “This is my crown, which is for you.  Take it and put it on, each one of you.  Do this in remembrance of me.  For whenever you place this crown on your head, you proclaim the Lord’s victory until He comes.”
 
Why didn’t Jesus choose this as a sign of remembrance?  Why not call us to remember Him with a symbol of His ultimate victory instead of the graphic reminders of His suffering and death on a cross?  Wouldn’t a celebration of His resurrection be enough to inspire hope for us in the worst of our circumstances?
 
At a recent Imago Dei fellowship we explored, at a very personal level, the nature of lost things in life—lost health, lost relationships, lost hope, lost opportunities.  We all expect more from life and it is so disappointing when our experience falls short of the hopes we had for ourselves.  We feel robbed, short-changed, somehow singled-out by this diminishment of our expectations.  And it seems especially unfair when we can readily think of scores of people who do not suffer similar losses. 
 
Where is God when our circumstances end up being so much less than we conceived possible?  Where is Jesus when we are down about our lives?  Where is the hope that comes from His victory when it doesn’t seem to apply to us?  Our ritual of remembrance, the bread and wine of Eucharist, answers us in those times in the same way as when we are feeling on top of the world—He is right there with us.
 
We celebrate Communion.  We contemplate how Jesus curiously invites us to form an intimate relationship with Him around this symbol that commemorates His place of greatest loss.  The broken Body and poured Blood that these elements represent invite us to come and fellowship with Jesus at the point of His greatest sense of bankruptcy, His ultimate aloneness, and the apparent sacrifice of all His life opportunities.  And it is from such a place that we are called to draw realistic hope.  Take and eat, every one of you.  In such places of loss, He stands with us.
 
No other religion celebrates, in the way we do, the signs of their leader’s vulnerability.  Jesus invites us to do just that.  No other God personally demonstrates grace, even in the diminishment of life.  Jesus does just that.  That the Lord Himself would invite us to the very depths of lostness, and assure us that He stands there with us, victorious, is what makes Christianity the precious pearl that it is.
 
Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
(written for May 4, 2006)
 
For Group Discussion:
 
1.      Consider a time when you have felt a ‘lostness’ in your life, or a place of great desolation. What was your response to God in that?
 
2.      How does Jesus’ vulnerability and humility strike you, as you consider your hopes and expectations of God and life?
 
3.      Do you have a sense that Jesus is standing with you in the changing or difficult situations in your life? How do you experience that?
 
For Prayer:
Help us, O God, to recognize that you are standing with us in the hard places of our lives. Thank you for the gift of grace you offer us in Jesus.

Meditation for Monday October 01, 2018

“Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”   Gen. 2:19

This passage is very revealing in what it teaches about the relationship God chooses to form with us.  It shows us how our Father delights and is keenly interested in how we participate in the act of finalizing creation.  When we read how the Lord brought the animals to man “to see what he would name them,” it implies a certain amount of uncertainty that we don’t usually ascribe to God.  He is curious about our response, waiting for us to put the final label on what He has created, to define it according to our relationship to it.   Perhaps this delight is the same as that of a father giving a kitten to his child and waiting to see what she will call it.

A name, of course, is more than a label.  It is a word of relationship that expresses the impression we have of something, of how we respond to the thing before us.  In this way, God leaves the interpretation of His creation up to us.  I wonder if the relationship that is implied in this passage is also the template through which God invites us to name the various circumstances of our lives.  Does He still bring things before us in order to see what we will name them?

What are the ‘names’ we put to the life we find brought before us?   Fearful?  Opportunity?  Good?  Bad?  Punishment?  Reward?  Success? Failure?  A test?  A blessing?  How do we interpret circumstances as they appear before our eyes?  And how does the ‘name’ we give to various life experiences contribute to our experience of that very life?  “And whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”

The naming of things is one of the more noble privileges of being co-workers with God, but it can also be a two-edged sword if we’re not careful with the names we choose.  Adam would’ve been in big trouble if he had inadvertently chosen to call a sabre-tooth tiger, “Cuddles.” God is very attentive to how we name the various experiences in our lives because these names create lasting impressions in us, and in His work with us.

Jesus once told His disciples “what is bound on earth is bound in heaven.”  We should be not be too hasty in choosing names or labels for experiences or other people.  But we can also be grateful that, in Christ, old names that no longer apply can also be exchanged for new ones.

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
(written for July 21, 2005)

For Group Discussion:

  1.       Think of a particular situation(s) in your life and how you have responded to it. What does that tell you about your relationship to it?
  2.       Is there a circumstance or person you have ‘named’ which God might encourage you to re-think?
  3.       Could this question also apply to parts of yourself which you have labelled? How might these be offered to God?


For Prayer: O God, we look to you for who we truly are. Save us from mis-naming our experiences in life, people around us, or even ourselves. We thank you for your great mercy in changing our names to new ones.

Meditation for Monday September 17, 2018

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”   Isaiah 30:21

What an encouraging word ! Listen and you will hear.  Could it really be that simple?  God, directly influencing our way whether we turn to the right or to the left.  It reminds me of the words to an old hymn, ‘for those who live a life of prayer God is present everywhere.’  Could it be?  There are no wrong turns?  No forks in the road?  God already knows the decisions we will make and has anticipated being there with us, every step of the way.  If we pray, we will always hear His assurances ‘This is the way, walk in it.’

How often do we carry in our minds the image of a fork in the road?  We assume that one way is necessarily God’s will and that the other is not.  Though it is a worthwhile excercise to be asking for clarity in making choices it is not appropriate for us to fear being out of God’s will if we are people of prayer.  If we are constantly open to being redirected, His voice will always be behind us.  Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways and He will direct your paths.  

In the story of the prodigal son we hear the words of the father to the elder brother, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”  Regardless of his succumbing to the temptation of jealousy over his celebrated younger brother, this is the brother who always stayed closed to the Father, who ‘never disobeyed his orders.’  The Father assures us, even when we are in the midst of temptation, ‘my son, my daughter, you are always with me.’

Jesus knew the assurance of the Father’s constant presence when He said in John 8, “the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”   For those who live a life of prayer God is present everywhere.

Simon Tugwell, in his book, Prayer: Living with God, speaks of this same union of intention and relationship.

  • “As charity [love] becomes more operative in our heart, our spontaneity is transformed at the root so that all our thinking and feeling and wanting is anchored in God’s will.”   

And in His own paraphrasing of this Isaiah passage Jesus offers the same assurance to his disciples and to us, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, I am with you always, whether you are in temptation or not, I am always with you, whether you believe it or not, I am always with you.

There is a voice that it always with us, behind us, beside us, assuring us, guiding us, anticipating us, never leaving us.  Whatever road we find ourselves on we can be assured that God is leading us.  Any day, any minute of the day, and many times in the coming year, you can expect to hear the Lord remind you that all is well.  You are not lost.  This is the way, walk in it.   May we be people who listen closely for that continual assurance.

Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways and He will direct your paths.                                                                                                                   Proverbs 3 :6

 

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
date unknown

For Group Discussion :

1.      How have you experienced the assurance of God’s continual presence with you? When have you felt the fear of being on the wrong path?

2.      What is your reaction to Tugwell’s statement about the effect of God’s love on our hearts and desires?

3.      Are you in a place of being willing to be redirected by God?

Meditation for May 7, 2018

“David was now in serious trouble because his men were very bitter about losing their wives and children, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6.

I love this concise statement about David finding strength in God. It comes in the harrowing account (I Samuel 30) in which he and his fugitive companions return from battle to find their camp looted and their wives and children gone.  The story is a wonderful encouragement for those who seek to walk with God in the midst of life’s most difficult times. It also resonates authentically with the realities and challenges that we encounter in prayer.

Jesus taught that we are to take one day at a time, “each day has enough trouble of its’ own” (Matt 6:34). There is a version of trouble that we could perhaps describe as “wear and tear” trouble, chronic challenges, reversals of all kinds, new irritants, vexing decisions. There are times, however, when circumstances converge to form a perfect storm of trouble and crisis.

David was now in serious trouble. Serious trouble is complicated and multilayered. It defies management. It’s not a storm that happens in the confines of one’s own heart but involves other players, and often menacing, real time circumstances that require a response. In David’s case, he had been on the run for his life from Saul in the wilderness for years. It was in this place of weariness that those closest to him considered turning violently against him. At the same time he and his companions were in deep anguish at the loss of their wives and children.

But David found strength in the Lord his God. In the extremity of his situation, a precious transaction occurs between David and his God. The oppressive and torturous circumstances are invisibly eclipsed by the faith realities of God’s presence and strength.

How may we participate in this peace and faith in times of extreme trial? How may we subdue our panicked inner first responders when facing crisis? Times of serious trouble are both inevitable and unpredictable. We may say, “nothing could have prepared me for this!” Our theology affirms God’s presence and sovereignty but we covet the capacity to rest in Him and His strength.

Prayer nourishes this capacity. Prayer is the practice of being “out on a limb” with God. It is the practice of having “no visible means of support.” It’s the practice of setting aside every prop and scheme in favor of receiving God’s provision and being completely dependent on him. Often, serious trouble seems to suspend time. Again, prayer acclimatizes us to this strange environment.

Most of us occasionally find the silence and unproductivity of prayer to be uncomfortable and challenging, “I’m not doing anything!”; “Nothing is happening!” But perseverance in prayer is perhaps the best preparation for the inevitable “day of evil” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:13. In the same chapter Paul punctuates a wonderful list of God’s attributes and graces (armor) for spiritual battle with the call to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions”(vs.18). By God’s grace, time spent with Him in prayer takes the truths of God in scripture and metabolizes them in our hearts.

The outcome of David’s trouble on this occasion was total restoration. We know from the biblical record and from life that it is not always so! Whatever the outcome of our trials, through humility and prayer we may cultivate a heart that by God’s grace may know the encouragement of his presence and strength.

 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Paul Woodyard
Imago Dei ChristianCommunities

For group discussion:

1.Reflect from your own life on occasions of “serious trouble.” Why are these times such an assault on our faith?

2. In our humanity we will never react perfectly to trouble! How may we nevertheless learn and grow in faith through difficult experiences?

3. How does the obscurity and simplicity of prayer cultivate a heart of faith?

For prayer:

We thank you, Father, that whatever we may feel and experience in times of trial, we are never alone. We thank you for your constant presence and for your invitation to us to remain in your love. We ask that you would help us to do this no matter what the circumstances, Amen.

Meditation for April 16, 2018

IMAGO DEI: APRIL 12, 2018
www.imagodeicommunity.ca

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.         Hebrews 10:22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Jesus used lots of familiar, tangible examples as He spoke to people about their spiritual lives and relationship to God.  Jesus understood that we can relate to and access truth more easily with these kinds of images.

Every summer for some years now, I have helped to facilitate a course run by Regent College which involves seven days of rowing (or sailing) wooden boats around the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. These are replicas of the sturdy ship’s boats which would have been lowered from the decks of larger vessels to go ashore. They are moored in the ocean all year long. One of the results of that time sitting in the salt water is that marine life, given the least opportunity, starts to build a home on the hull.  Barnacles, toredo (ship’s worms), seaweed and various other life forms take hold. For the last number of years in April, a gang of A Rocha folks (where I live and work) go and work on getting those boats ready for the summer.  We heave the boats up the beach on logs to dry a bit.  Then we get busy brushing, sanding, scraping, cleaning, varnishing, painting and pine tarring.  If we left all that life attached to the bottom of the boat, it would do damage to the hull: making holes, degrading the wood, or creating drag as the boat moves through the water.  This is an important process to keep on top of, otherwise the load and work required to keep the boat seaworthy becomes impossible to manage!  Believe me, a wooden boat is already heavy enough without adding an extra handicap for the rowers.

Can you relate to the idea of damage and drag in your spiritual walk? Thoughts or exchanges with others during the day which take hold in your spirit and begin to worm their way in and settle, leaving a heavy feeling in your heart or gut.  Attitudes, doubts, criticisms or negative identities we pick up along the way which start to pull us down into dark places. Our momentum slows, we turn in circles, we lose energy and vision and question God’s direction for our lives. How can we be free of these entanglements which weigh us down? Do we not notice, like the frog in the pot of heating water? Do we compensate?

Regular or daily time keeping company with God gives Him an opportunity to point out to us where our vulnerabilities are, or where we’ve picked up useless, unhelpful ideas or patterns of living. If we spend time noticing our inner lives, we become aware more quickly when something has taken hold in us that needs to be scraped away or pulled off. The practice of the examen—taking a few minutes at the end of your day to reflect on events, experiences, feelings and thoughts with God—is similar to regular maintenance of those boats. How much better to regularly pay attention to what’s needed than to let it accumulate until you are virtually unable to move. God helps us peel off the hitchhikers or pull out the parasites which weigh us down. Therein lies hope!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Ruth Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities

For Group Discussion:

1.       How do you recognize the buildup of useless or unhelpful ways of thinking and being in your life?
2.       How have you experienced the incapacitating effect of the thoughts and attitudes you’ve picked up and assimilated along the way?
3.       What gives you hope in the process of maintenance of your spiritual health and direction towards God?

For Prayer:  O God, show me where I am hindered, pulled down or being eaten away. Cleanse me from unhelpful attachments and make me ‘swift and beautiful for thee’.

Lent 2018 Week 6

Greeting:  Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present age, according to the will of our gracious God, to whom be glory forever and ever.

All: Amen

Leader: This is what the Sovereign Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, says:
Only in returning to me and resting in me
will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Prayer for entering silence

Leader: Spirit of stillness,

All: be with us as we enter the silence
where you wait for us.

Leader: Spirit of holiness,

All: be in us as we enter the silence
which is your gift to us.

Leader: Spirit of quiet,
All: help us to listen.

Silence

Song Find Rest

Leader: The Lord be with you.

All: And also with you.

Leader: You are here, Lord.
You are here in the quiet evening of
this Lent journey.
In the lengthening shadows
In the wakening stars
In the people gathered here.
You are here, Lord.

All: We are here, Lord
To remember your presence
To bring you our day
To give you ourselves
To share in your stillness
To make room in our hearts and lives
For your grace.
We are here, Lord.

(Light the candle)

Leader: The light shines in the darkness

All: and the darkness can never put it out.

Readings

Isaiah 42:1-9 (NRSV)

1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,[a]
a light to the nations,
7     to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain … Find Rest

Psalm 36:5-11 (NRSV)

5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your salvation to the upright of heart!
11 Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me,
or the hand of the wicked drive me away.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain … Find Rest

Hebrews 9:11-15 (NRSV)

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of

Christ, who through the eternal Spirit[d] offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain … Find Rest

John 12:1-11 (NRSV)

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain … Find Rest

The Examen

In the quietness of this place let us remember before God all that has been part of this day. Where did you see God? Where might you have missed God?

(Share a word or image)

Prayer of response

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for all the natural wonders of this earth – the Light of the moon, sun and stars and for the gift of life this day.

All: With grateful hearts we give you thanks, Lord.

Leader: We pray for family, friends and for
all those in need. (Pause)
Send the light of your love to all those
we carry in our hearts.

Communion …. Stay with me