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

Lent 2018 Week 4 

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

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 Jésus le Christ

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

Psalm 89:19-52
19 Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
“I have set the crown on one who is mighty,
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found my servant David;
with my holy oil I have anointed him;
21 my hand shall always remain with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’
27 I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him,
and my covenant with him will stand firm.
29 I will establish his line forever,
and his throne as long as the heavens endure.
30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my ordinances,
31 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with scourges;
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love,
or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant,
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His line shall continue forever,
and his throne endure before me like the sun.
37 It shall be established forever like the moon,
an enduring witness in the skies.”Selah
38 But now you have spurned and rejected him;
you are full of wrath against your anointed.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant;
you have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have broken through all his walls;
you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by plunder him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 Moreover, you have turned back the edge of his sword,
and you have not supported him in battle.
44 You have removed the scepter from his hand,
and hurled his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with shame.Selah
46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my time is—
for what vanity you have created all mortals!
48 Who can live and never see death?
Who can escape the power of Sheol?Selah
49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
which by your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, O Lord, how your servant is taunted;
how I bear in my bosom the insults of the peoples,
51 with which your enemies taunt, O Lord,
with which they taunted the footsteps of your anointed.
52 Blessed be the Lord forever.

Amen and Amen.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

Genesis 49:1-28

1 Then Jacob called his sons, and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2 Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob;
listen to Israel your father.
3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might and the first fruits of my vigor,
excelling in rank and excelling in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel
because you went up onto your father’s bed;
then you defiled it—you went up onto my couch!
5 Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
6 May I never come into their council;
may I not be joined to their company—
for in their anger they killed men,
and at their whim they hamstrung oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob,
and scatter them in Israel.
8 Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion,
like a lioness—who dares rouse him up?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and the obedience of the peoples is his.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he washes his garments in wine
and his robe in the blood of grapes;
12 his eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.
13 Zebulun shall settle at the shore of the sea;
he shall be a haven for ships,
and his border shall be at Sidon.
14 Issachar is a strong donkey,
lying down between the sheepfolds;
15 he saw that a resting place was good,
and that the land was pleasant;
so he bowed his shoulder to the burden,
and became a slave at forced labor.
16 Dan shall judge his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider falls backward.
18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.
19 Gad shall be raided by raiders,
but he shall raid at their heels.
20 Asher’s food shall be rich,
and he shall provide royal delicacies.
21 Naphtali is a doe let loose
that bears lovely fawns.
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough by a spring;
his branches run over the wall.
23 The archers fiercely attacked him;
they shot at him and pressed him hard.
24 Yet his bow remained taut,
and his arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 by the God of your father, who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains,
the bounties of the everlasting hills;
may they be on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.
27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
in the morning devouring the prey,
and at evening dividing the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26 for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

Mark 7:24-34

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

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 Lead Me Lord

Lent 2018 Week 3

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

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 Jésus le Christ

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

Psalm 77
1 I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, that he may hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.Selah
4 You keep my eyelids from closing;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old,
and remember the years of long ago.
6 I commune with my heart in the night;
I meditate and search my spirit:
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love ceased forever?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”Seal
10 And I say, “It is my grief
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have displayed your might among the peoples.
15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
the very deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies thundered;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

Genesis 44:18-34

18 Then Judah stepped up to him and said, “O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, so that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord. 25 And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ 26 we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother goes with us, will we go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since. 29 If you take this one also from me, and harm comes to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol.’ 30 Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31 when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.”

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. 29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

Mark 5:21-43

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Refrain Jésus le Christ

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 Lead Me Lord

Lent 2018 Week 2

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

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, help us to listen.

Silence

Song  Nada te turbe

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
Psalm 65
1 Praise is due to you,
O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed,
2     O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
you forgive our transgressions.
4 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
6 By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
Genesis 41:46-57
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48 He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.
50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”
53 The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” 56 And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

1 Corinthians 4:8-21
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. 10 We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, 12 and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.
14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. 21 What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Mark 3:7-19
7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8 hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10 for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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
Song: Let all who are thirsty come

Lent 2018 Week 1

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

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, help us to listen.

Silence

Song Be Still and Know

  1. v1 Be still and know that I am God
  2. v2 My boundless mercy shall endure
  3. v3 In Thee O Lord I put my trust

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

Psalm 77
1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
13 O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God,
its waters looked and trembled!
The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
the thunder rumbled in the sky.
Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
the lightning lit up the world!
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your road led through the sea,
your pathway through the mighty waters—
a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

Ephesians 2: 1-10
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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
Song Living Water

Meditation for Monday February 5, 2018

“Make the most of every opportunity.”  Col. 4:5

If I were to title this meditation I would call it, “Contemplation for Busy Moms.” For they, more than most, live in the often despairing tension between their deep need for time with God, and the impossibility of finding such repose in the midst of daily demands.

Many people have no choice but to live for long seasons knowing that the deep desires they feel for God are not likely going to find expression anytime soon.  In the hope that there are things we can do in the meantime to keep our flame kindled I would like to offer some simple suggestions to help focus our spirituality during the busy seasons of our lives.  If you’ve managed to find time to read this far, perhaps you can add one or two of the following recommendations to your day as well.

As often as you can, practice gentleness in your day as a point of fellowship with the gentle Christ.  Soften the edges of your day by doing whatever you do with a lighter touch.

As often as you can in your day, practice humility.  Become small within yourself, a little mustard seed, in order to redefine your relationship to all your tasks and interactions.

As often as you can in your day, assert poise and grace in your body.  Find dignity even in how you walk and move, in how you talk and think.   Establish a sovereign pace to all you do in order to counter our less noble tendencies towards franticness.

As often as you can in your day, practice letting go—the simple discipline of detachment.  Even for a few seconds, let go of imperatives, of demands, of your anxious relationship to whatever is still undone.  Though only a temporary respite, you will find it provides you with a most welcome return to “who you are apart from what you do.”

As often as you can in your day, take time to enjoy the simple fact of being alive.   Enjoy breathing, the delight of being refreshed by air.  Note the God-given physical pleasure it is to simply inhale and exhale.

Don’t leave it too late before resting whenever your soul needs restoration.  You risk bruising it otherwise.  Try to be attentive to the changing state of your heart and make restorative choices sooner rather than later.  In other words, practice the ounce of prevention, rather than the pound of cure.

Whatever your day calls for, make a point of actually choosing beforehand to accept it.  Remember Jesus’ words, “No one takes my life from me but I lay it down of my own accord.”  It is more empowering to accept the things you can’t change, than to feel helplessly trapped by them.

Nurture the groaning in your spirit as your present prayer.  Don’t let your longing turn to despair but let it be a statement of love.  Sometimes the most endearing thing we can say to God in the midst of a busy season is, “I miss you.”

And, above all, as often as you can in your day, remember that you are not alone.  Claim Paul’s words for yourself, that “the life I live is not my own, it is Christ living in me” (Gal. 2:20).  Jesus feels your weariness, your hopes, your discouragement and your longings,.  You are not alone, for He lives all aspects of your life with you.

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
(written for May 24, 2012)

For Group Discussion:

1.Reflect on seasons in your life, (perhaps the current season) when it was impossible to establish any regularity of quietness and stillness. What forces were at play, how did it feel?

2.The meditation suggests the practice of gentleness, approaching tasks with a lighter touch, embracing humility and letting go of imperatives in the midst of the onslaught of the demands of the day. Reflect on what these practices would look like in your actual experience. How may these “on the go” practices nourish and sustain us?

3.What kinds of simple practices serve as a reminder that Jesus is with us? How may we also find comfort and strength in being reminded that we are part of a community of faith?

For Prayer:

I thank you, Lord, for your presence and grace, in the “holy chaos” that sometime is my life. Thank you for your gentleness. Teach me to be gentle with myself and with others.
Amen.

Meditation for Monday, January 22, 2017

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Mat. 6:34

What is your relationship to the present? Remember when you were a child, how the summer seemed to last such a long time? Each day brought endless hours of freedom and exploration, of living in what the moment offered. From an adult’s perspective, those summer months race by! Perhaps it is because we are always looking ahead to the next event, a new project, something more exciting or fulfilling.

I used to be far more future-oriented than I am these days. My mind would be active scanning the future horizon for all sorts of possibilities for my life. I’m pretty sure I was looking for God’s will for my life but, instead of looking for it today, I was looking for it tomorrow, and trying to adjust my day according to whatever my imagination sensed was from God. I’ve come to appreciate Paul’s reminder that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor. 2:9). These days I tell myself that, if I’ve imagined something to be possible, it’s probably not what God has in mind! Our expectations of what is down the road in our lives create disappointments and even make us miss the opportunities God is presenting to us right now. If we are running ahead of God by ourselves, we often stumble blindly because we are not content to look to Him for where we are at this point in life.

Instead, we are reminded that God’s pace and intentions are often different from our own.
Be anxious about nothing (Phil. 4:6) but ‘watch and pray’ as today’s events continue to unfold God’s mysterious will for your life.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
written in 2008

For Group Discussion:

1. Where you recognize the tendency in yourself to have your eyes fixed on future possibilities?

2. If we are always looking into the future, what disposition might it create in us towards God?

3. Are you able to trust God’s mysterious will for your life?

For Prayer: We ask for faith to live in today however You lead us. Help us to watch and pray, attentive to what You are preparing each day.

Advent Prayer Prompts – 2017 Week 4

Sunday. December 24, 2 Samuel 7: 1-11; 16 David was about to run ahead with his plans for God. He was well intentioned but thought he knew the mind of God. Advent waiting is an invitation to slow down, to examine my assumptions in the light of God’s will. To surrender to God’s Sovereignty.