a quiet space to listen and experience hope, healing and wholeness with God

A Word

Listening Prayer Scripture Passages-Lectio Divina

We gather each Wednesday evening to attend to the Lord through listening, worship and prayer. All are welcomed to come. A passage of Scripture is selected each week, and we listen to the text read aloud slowly, three times. Participants are invited to notice a word, phrase or image which arises out of their meditation on the text. We enter a time of silence and solitude to reflect, journal and converse with the Lord about what was heard. It is a time where God's story and our own story intersect. Later, we re-gather and listen to one another share out of one's own experience. The text (A Word) becomes quite alive within and transforms us through the work of the Holy Spirit and this gentle process. If you are unable to join us in person, we invite you to pray along with us each week through these pages. Others print out these pages to gather around the Word in small groups to experience Christ's presence together and deepen in a shared spiritual life together. You are welcome to comment on your own experience with A Word.

Remembering Times of Not Enough

May 31, 2017

Many of us remember this miraculous story of bread and fish multiplied for the multitudes. We can join the crowd on the mountainside with Jesus and feel the intensity of the collective physical and spiritual hunger. What is Jesus wanting to embody to his disciples and followers on this day? With the season of Passover hovering about them, it seems Jesus is helping each one remember those days in Egypt when "not enough" reigned:
- not enough bricks
- not enough rest
- not enough food
- not enough time
- not enough worship
- not enough peace
- not enough grace
- not enough hope
- not enough love

Perhaps they could feel "not enough" in their bellies again. The spaciousness of the mountainside, the expansiveness of the sea, the tenderness of the grass and the responsiveness to the hunger vividly contrasts with the narrowness of Pharaoh's Egypt.
Eat the "broken bread" afresh this day. Taste God's goodness. Notice what satisfies your hunger.

John 6:1-15 (NIV)
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

For your reflection and prayer:
1. As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.
2. Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.
3. Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

The Life You Say You Want

May 17, 2017

   At times we may approach the bible as a self-help manual."What do I need to do to be saved?" We might pick apart the text deciding what fits, what's impossible, and what we can and must do. Often this approach leads to despair, continual shame and self-loathing. What if we approached this sacred text honestly and humbly as we are? What if we simply gave ourselves to wonder, allowing the stories to soak in like morning dew watering the seeds of life God has already planted in our heart? Such a gentle, beneficent pace can give us the space we need to grow in the discernment and wisdom needed to discover the desires of our heart, those desires planted deep within by God.
   Do we know what our heart truly wants? Do we need the Spirit's help in sifting through our wants and desires? Do we need to hear ourselves say aloud, what we truly want? And what do we need from God to help us choose life? We can courageously take these questions into our prayer with God. Always, we can listen and live into the answers.

John 5:31-40 TMG
If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?
34-38 “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

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

Where are you currently finding life? Where is life being drained from you? Bring this refection into conversation with God.

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

Where Are You Seeing God At Work?

May 3, 2017

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

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

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear or see as you listened to the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Without judgement, gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. What does Jesus say to you?

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

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

Being Seen and Known

April 19, 2017

Scholars conjecture that this healing encounter with Jesus happened in conjunction with the Passover celebration. We can only imagine the smells permeating the areas surrounding the Sheep Gate. How many sheep might have trudged that path? And where was hope among those sick - the blind, lame and paralyzed - lying beside the "pool of mercy"? This encounter might turn our tidy theology of healing upside down. Does healing always depend on desire and faith?
Place yourself in the story - inhabit this passage of scripture. Allow Jesus, the God-man to see you. Become present to his gaze...

Encountering Faithfulness

February 1, 2017

In the midst of truth telling - while being known and loved, we witness the Samaritan women encounter faithfulness, perhaps for the first time. She remains vulnerable in the presence of Jesus and boldly asks her big questions about God. Jesus meets her in her questions, her wondering and graciously invites her home to I AM.

The first appearance of I AM recorded in the Scriptures is at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. Moses is invited to take off his sandals and be at home with God. There God makes himself known as I AM. Moses comes to know God relationally. Now Jesus offers the same invitation to this woman from Samaria, in essence saying, 'you who have never experienced faithfulness...come home to me. You will find me faithful'.

As you enter your prayer, consider the true you God is inviting home. Be there with God, as simply and honestly as you can.

Who Are You Talking To?

January 18, 2017

Today's text begins a soulful, honest conversation between Jesus and an unnamed woman from Samaria. Listen in on the conversation, noticing who Jesus is - his manners, customs, values and actions. What do they reveal of his heart? How does he look at her? What do his eyes convey? Does his body language reveal anything about his attitude towards her? What is it about Jesus that enables this woman to be so real, bold and honest with him?

Consider your own prayers and conversations with Jesus. Who are you talking to when you pray? How does Jesus listen and engage with your story? As you listen in on this particular conversation at the well, notice where it intersects with your own.

Hope for Restoration

December 14, 2016

These words from Isaiah evoke a longing in us for restoration - to be back again in the garden with God as all was created and intended to be. This is the place where our soul longs to dwell and make its home with God. God has placed this hope in our hearts for what is to come and enables us to live in this hope right now, regardless of our circumstance.

As a new year is upon us, what are you hoping for? Who and what are you placing your hope in? And what hope for restoration has the Holy Spirit placed within you? May the Lord strengthen your hands and encourage you to stand so that you may walk upright in this hope placed within you.

 

Belonging to the Bridegroom

November 16, 2016

Have you had an experience where you knew deep within that you belonged to God? If you become real quiet, can you remember where you have most felt a sense of belonging? That your life mattered and you were wanted? Sometimes we do not have a storehouse of nurturing memories to draw from. It is helpful then to vulnerably trust the longing to belong which God has placed within us. Bring these consoling memories and longings into your prayer as you listen to the following passage. John's inner knowing of who he belonged to gave him great confidence to walk in humility and trust the Bridegroom's voice.

Our Need For Approval

May 24, 2017

Our need for approval is a core, essential aspect of our humanity and it helps form the attachment bonds which shape the trajectory of our lives. Jesus, who comes in the name of the Father lives rooted in the essence of who the Father is. He is a living demonstration of a life immersed in his own belovedness. Until we know the deep, deep love of God we will compare, compete and rank ourselves and others. How can we understands these abrupt words of Jesus apart from knowing the unconditional love of his Father? Today's text is given in two different versions. Immerse yourself in the crowd of hearers and notice where the Word comes alive for you.

John 5:41-47 (NLT)
“Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

John 5:41-47 (MSG)
“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Is there a particular feeling you experience as you reflect on these words? Ask Jesus about it in your prayer.

Consider who has crossed your path in this last while. Reflect on the type of welcome you gave another and/or the type of welcome you received. What do you notice? Where have you observed Christ in that interaction? Talk with him about what you noticed.

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

Listen to Live

May 10, 2017

Steeped in the love of the Father, we are strengthened to listen and enabled to become truth tellers and truth hearers. Each time we pause to listen, we hear words which are filtered through our interpretation of the tone of voice, the context in which they are spoken and our trust of the intent behind the voice. How do we check out if what we are hearing is true? This text gives us clues to how we can bring prayerful discernment to our filter of what we are hearing. Which words (tone, content, intent) lead to abundant life? and which words bring destruction and death?
Before you listen to these words of Jesus, become quiet and still before the Father and allow his love to meet you as you are. When you have found a re-connection to his love, begin listening to these words of his Son.

John 5:24-30  NLT
 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

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

The One Who Keeps Seeking Us Out

April 26, 2017

Lingering a little longer in the healing by the pool story, we witness Jesus seeking out the healed man a second time. This time it is in the temple. Imagine that, God seeking us out in our places of worship, in our moments of inhabiting the Sabbath stop. 
Jesus speaks some curious words to the man found in the temple. At first hearing, the words might sound jarring or abrupt. Notice how you hear these words each time. What do you notice? What are you feeling? You are invited to make room to stop and listen. The One who seeks us out, might have something more to say.

The Shift To Hope

February 8, 2017

We witness the shift to hope emerge within in this precious woman from Samaria. In her encounter with Jesus, she discovers that she is fully known and dearly loved. There are no more secrets which have kept her hiding in shame. She is experiencing love and grace transform her from the inside out. With her own words, she shares her story with her community and her story evokes a thirst in her fellow townspeople. What might Jesus be saying to us through his encounter with this woman?

Truth Speaking and Living Water

January 25, 2017

Last week we wondered about who it is we are actually speaking to when we pray. This week we notice how Jesus graciously evokes the truth in his conversation with the woman from Samaria. This vulnerable and respectful truth-telling between Jesus and the woman reveals a way we can all access the life giving well within. When the truth of our story is spoken and met with compassionate love and grace we discover our spiritual thirst being satisfied. God taught this first to Moses in Numbers 20 when he asked Moses to draw forth water from the rock by speaking. God comes around this time in the flesh of Jesus. Through Jesus' engagement with this woman he demonstrates how we can all draw forth living water from within. 

On Pilgrimage to Worship

January 4, 2017

The text recounting the pilgrimage of the Magi is still relevant for us today. This group of wise ones paid attention to the light they did not fully understand and they courageously set out on pilgrimage to worship a King guided by a starlight. This starlight seems to appear and reappear, eventually hovering over the presence of Christ, where they were overcome with joy and responded by bending their knee in worship.

We too are on pilgrimage to recognize the presence of Christ before us. Right here. Right now. In this present moment. In what is in us and before us. It is a long journey often fraught with distractions, fear, shame, worry and harassment along the way. Yet the star still guides and the Christ is eager to be found by us.

God has chosen to make known...the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

 

Only The Father Knows

November 30, 2016

The season of Advent reminds us to wait with intention.

Jesus' life, recorded in the Scripture gives us many clues as to what he was waiting and watching for. He consistently went off to be alone with his Father. He longed to be in the company of his father, to be at home with him. This text reminds us that there are some things which only the Father knows. We can either fear the Father's knowledge and how he will use it or we can imitate Jesus and draw close to the Father and listen to his heart. We can wonder. What might the Father know that he too longs for us to hear?

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