Tag Archives: meditation

Easter: The act of God that changes everything


Reading. Luke 24:1–6
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!”

Meditation
Why look for the living among the dead? Well, where else to look when all hope is gone? Where else, when cleaning up and dressing the body is all that is left to do?

And you and me? What has our faith become? Are we just dressing the body of Jesus? Is our worship simply a repetition of rituals (new or old), remembering a dead saviour?

The angels dressed like lightning have a message for us. “He is not here; he has risen!” It is the act of God that changes EVERYTHING. Nothing can ever be the same again. Our waking up, our family relationships, our attitude to neighbour, the work we do and, indeed, our worship—everything changes.

If Jesus is alive, he is sitting with you as you read this. If he is alive, he is with you as you greet your spouse, child, friend or neighbour.  He is there when you sit at your desk or pick up the tools of your trade. If Jesus is alive, he shares every meal with us, enters every conversation, and shares in every choice we make. And he asks, “How can love change this relationship, this conversation or this action? How can love change everything?”

“Christ is Risen—He is Risen indeed.”

Prayer
Lord, sometimes the implication of your resurrection makes us afraid. But you do not come to judge; you come to give us life—life infused and strengthened with love. Help us to acknowledge our brokenness today, our own weakness and vulnerability; and, in the power of the risen Christ, help us to choose love today, in every situation and every relationship. 

My Easter Sunday contribution to the Prestbury Methodist Church Lenten Prayer Diary. See note on Easter Saturday: Joseph, the secret follower.

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Easter Saturday: Joseph, the secret follower


Reading. Luke 23:50–54
50-51 There was a man named Joseph from Arimathea, a town in Judea. He was a good and honourable man, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Although he was a member of the Council, he had not agreed with their decision and action. 52 He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took the body down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock and which had never been used. 54 It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Meditation
There are many legends about Joseph of Arimathea, but far more important is what the Bible wants us to know. Whatever he may have done later in life, all four Gospels tell us how Joseph buried Jesus in his own tomb; and he is one of very few people whom all four mention by name—a suitable honour.

John tells us that Nicodemus helped Joseph with the body of Jesus. Both were secret followers of Jesus. Perhaps in their fear they encouraged each other in their faith.

But the hour that changed everything for Joseph was when Jesus was put to death. Perhaps the cock crowed for Joseph as well as for Peter that night, but at the most dangerous moment, he declared himself. Joseph had been afraid; now he knew that the Way of Jesus was not a private, secret thing. Jesus demonstrated God’s love in his life and in his death; it was time for Joseph to do the same. He left his Sanhedrin colleagues to do their worst, and declared his love for Jesus. The secret follower moved into the spotlight in the most public act of support for Jesus of that entire weekend.

Our Easter journey is nearly at an end. What needs to change in your life and in your relationships? How can you express God’s love in your relationship with Jesus, with your family, with your work, with the creation?

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the faithfulness of Joseph of Arimathea. You helped him overcome his fear and stand tall and strong. Though I may feel small and weak and vulnerable, give me boldness to demonstrate your love in all my relationships today.

It was my privilege this year to write the Easter Saturday and Sunday contributions to the Lenten Prayer Diary our church produces each year. It is an amazing collaborative effort with more than 40 members of our congregation contributing around a given theme. This year the theme was John van der Laar’s book, The hour that changes everything.

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Light in the darkness


Lord, how gloriously the moon reflects the light of the sun,
Dispelling the darkness of the night.
How dark the night is when the moon fails to pitch.

Lord you call us to reflect the glory of your Son.
How dark the world is when we move out of sight of you,
When we have no light to give but our own.

[This prayer was inspired by a recent full moon and a sermon on mission]

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Meditation and the Secret Life of Bees


Let me share with you a delightful extract from Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees

“If the heat goes over 1040 in South Carolina, you have to go to bed.  It’s practically the law.  Some people might see it as shiftless behaviour, but really, when we’re lying down from the heat, we’re giving our minds time to browse around for new ideas, wondering at the true aim of life, and generally letting things pop into our heads that need to.  In the sixth grade there was a boy in my class who had a steel plate in his skull and was always complaining how test answers could never get through to him.  Our teacher would say, ‘Give me a break.’

“In a way, though, the boy was right.  Every human being on the face of the earth has a steel plate in his head, but if you lie down now and then and get still as you can, it will slide open like elevator doors, letting in all the secret thoughts that have been standing around so patiently, pushing the button for a ride to the top.  The real troubles in life happen when those hidden doors stay closed for too long.  But that’s just my opinion.”

How sad that our lives have become so crowded and busy; we chase frantically after the “next thing”; we strive for efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, or whatever it is we think we are missing—or our boss thinks we are missing, or our spouse thinks we are missing.  We don’t have time to stop and listen, to let in “all the secret thoughts that have been standing around so patiently”. 

Don’t wait for 1040 (400 C) to strike.  Make space in the busy schedule; take a deep breath; open those “elevator doors”, and start listening today.

(Extract from The Secret Life of Bees, Headline Publishing Group (London) 2008, pp 211f)

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Too Busy to Listen


Listening is such hard work; waiting for the future to happen is so difficult. I struggle to get to retreats and quiet days. I’m too busy; there’s too much to get through; I want to read, to write, to learn, to do. But always, when I eventually do stop to listen, usually on a retreat or a quiet day, I am reminded (again) of how much I need to listen. The growth I strive for, the ability to serve, to preach, to be whatever God is calling me to be, will not come about by being pasted on to my life. It won’t come from reading more (although the seeds may be there); it won’t come from “wandering to and fro upon the earth”. It comes (for me at least) from within. It comes from listening.

I was privileged to spend a morning last weekend with Jim and Heather Johnston and about 30 or so friends at Beth Shalam, celebrating Jim and Heather’s ministry there over the past 20 years. The time has come for them to retire.  Many of those who were there had been to multiple retreats and quiet days over the years. Most had been through Jim’s Life Revision course (an eight-day retreat followed by two three-day retreats). All had been blessed beyond measure by the healing and nurturing that has been the mark of this home.

I have attended a couple of retreats at Beth Shalam. We are fortunate to be in the same city, just down the road, but I haven’t enjoyed the privilege as much as I could have. Then during last year (2010) I went through the Life Revision course. It was a transforming experience for me and, among other things, I began to write.

On this final, celebratory, retreat Heather pointed out that one can only harvest what has been sown; we bring out what is within us, what has grown there. I want my growth and my becoming to happen now, or at least by tomorrow morning. Perhaps one more book will do it….

Heather quoted from John O’Donohue’s meditation, “For One Who is Exhausted”. One line was particularly poignant for me: “The tide you never valued has gone out”.  Heather expanded on it saying that we often move too fast (in “the fast lane of nothingness”) and we get ahead of ourselves.

These thoughts distilled themselves into the following meditation during a quiet moment in the beauty of their wonderful garden.

O God of the mighty oak and the tiniest flower,
Of the soaring eagle and the wandering ant;
God of a future beyond my knowledge and beyond my reach,
Hold me to the present, its pain and delight.

I long to be an eagle, a significant oak,
But that longing consumes me and leaves me unfilled.
I am lost and ungrounded in a future that arrived too soon.
For the plant does not grow if the seed is not nurtured;
The harvest is barren and without any substance.

Lord, keep me from the fast lane of nothingness,
Hold me to the present, deep in the soil of your grace.
For it is here that the future takes root.

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