Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Living Life

live free blogYearly Rhythm

Fifth Sunday in Lent
Year A, Colour: Purple

6 April 2014

Lent offers us all a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism.  In our busy world, Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we’ve done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need.

 

 

Daily Rhythm

31 March – 6 April
A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship using the Revised Common Lectionary readings.

See “Weekly Rhythm” for comment and question to engage with the readings.
Also “Praying the lectionary Readings” for prayers based on the readings.

Download the PDF here

Devotional Diary

31 March – 6 April 2014
Readings for the week (Sunday 6 April 2014, the Fifth Sunday of Lent) (Thanks to gbod.org)

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The valley of the dry bones — and what God can do with even this!

Psalm 130

Romans 8:6-11.Paul contrasts the life of the flesh, which draws from sin and leads to death, with the life of the Spirit, which draws from the Spirit of Christ and leads to righteousness. This is not a dualist rejection of the body, but rather a refusal to be controlled by its impulses. “God who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit.”

John 11:1-45 Lazarus is dead, long dead, stinking dead. Jesus is resurrection and life, and raises him from the dead.

This week’s theme:  We all need frameworks (boundaries) out of which to live well.  It has been said that freedom is finding the right framework, one that leads to abundant life.  God offers us this framework:  Christ says he has come so that we might live abundantly (John 10:10).  What boundaries will help you live fully and freely?                                               

 

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Galatians 5 1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Confession:  Are you aware of any boundaries that you cross that get your life out of sync with God?   Think of the whole context of your life: Use of time, energy, your sexuality, abuse of power, financial resources, relationships, emotions, etc.  Over the next few days identify some of these breaches.   Ask: If I submit to Christ’s life expressed within me through the Holy Spirit what boundaries do I need to put in place?   These boundaries will keep you living Christ’s life and not our own.  This is real freedom.  This week do some hard work in identifying some boundaries that will help you live a better life.  These are like the banks of a river:  they stop flooding and destruction and keep your life flowing and positive.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus:  Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Crime.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

                Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

Confession:  See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Violence.

Personal Prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus:   Galatians 39 …those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Confession: See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:   Care of (abuse of) creation.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Galatians 3  13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law…so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Confession: See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Warfare  (pray for specific situations that you are aware of.)

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Galatians 3 26You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus,

Confession: See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Abuse of people especially children.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Galatians 3 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Confession: See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Pressures of living, stress and overload.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Galatians 4:6 God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[a] Father.”

Confession: See Monday.

The Word: See readings above or use own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Think of boundaries that have been crossed in our society that cause destruction and fear.  Pray that God may limit this destruction.  Today’s suggestion:  Ignoring God’s rhythms of life.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Galatians 2:20 “… I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Weekly Rhythm

Sunday 30 March 2014

    Commentary and Questions on the Lectionary Readings.

Download the PDF here

Ezekiel 37:1-14  The valley of the dry bones — and what God can do with even this!
This passage finds its context in the Exile of the Southern Kingdom of Israel in Babylonia.  Can the fallen past be restored in some way?  Can they “live” again in the death that they have died?  These are questions you may have asked about your own life and world.   What life-giving “connections” had the Israelites lost?   What life-giving “connections” have you lost? What connections need to be restored and how will this bring you new life?
As you read this passage note that 37:11-14 offers an explanation of its meaning.

Psalm 130  The psalmist waits (vs 5,6) :  What does this waiting reflect about God’s nature and our attitude (see vs 7,8)?

Romans 8:6-11
Paul contrasts the life of the flesh, which draws from sin and leads to death, with the life of the Spirit, which draws from the Spirit of Christ and leads to righteousness. This is not a dualist rejection of the body, but rather a refusal to be controlled by its impulses. “God who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit.”

John 11:1-45
Lazarus is dead, long dead, stinking dead. Jesus is resurrection and life, and raises him from the dead.

Verses 1-3: How does the introduction to this story express friendship and intimacy?

Verse 4: Could this verse be applied to other situations of suffering and illness?   Even to our world?  Is the end glory?

Verse 6: How does this verse relate to Psalm 130 (above)?  Waiting for God’s moment.

How does the story bring glory to God and the Son?

How does the story encourage you in your life?

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Sunday 6 April 2014

 May our hearts be a Christ-like fragrance
rising up to God.
May we spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere
like a sweet perfume.

Let it lavish the hungry with abundance,
And touch the grieving with compassion.
Let it bless the oppressed with justice,
And release the bondage of the prisoners.
Let it anoint the sick with healing,
And bring joy to those who doubt.
So that the fragrance of Christ wafts throughout the world,
Bringing refreshment, renewal and new life.

Christine Sine

 

 

 

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.”

7086247599_b83b5e40b2_zYearly Rhythm

Fourth Sunday of Lent Sunday
30 March 2014, Year A, Colour Purple

Lent offers us all a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism.  In our busy world, Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we’ve done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need.  [Source]  

 Image Source

Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary 24 – 30 March 2014

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship using the Lectionary Readings (www.gbod.org)

Download the PDF here

 See “Weekly Rhythm” below for comment and question to engage with the readings.
Also “Praying the lectionary Readings” below for prayers based on the readings.

Readings for the week ending Sunday 30 March, the 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A :

1 Samuel 16:1-13. God sends Samuel to find and anoint as king one of the sons of Jesse; “. . . the LORD does not see as mortals see.”

Psalm 23

Ephesians 5:8-14“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.”

John 9:1-41Jesus puts mud on the eyes of a man born blind and sends him to wash in the pool at Siloam. The blind man gains his sight and immediately becomes an evangelist!

This week’s focus: Seeing the Kingdom of God

Monday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Fairness)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive His gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus:  “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives.  Today, pray for the broken hearted.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

                Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Healing)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today, pray for freedom for the oppressed.

Personal Prayers:

               Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Food for the hungry)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today, pray for justice for the ignored.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Good news?)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today, pray for love for the unloved.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

Friday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Unity, connection)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today pray for care for the excluded.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Seeing God face to face)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today pray for fellowship for the lonely.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: “The Kingdom of God is near!”  Each day praise God for another facet of God’s reign. (Worship)

Confession: Righteousness, justice, peace, sharing, forgiveness… Reflect on your life in relation to God’s perfect Kingdom.  What aspects of your life clash with God’s Kingdom reign?  Each day confess to God and receive his gift of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”  This week let your prayers reflect this seeking of God’s reign in our world and in our lives. Today pray for the sounds of worship to fill our world,

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Lord, help me to live by your Kingdom values in the day ahead.  Each day find one new way of doing this.

 Weekly Rhythm

Sunday 30 March 2014

Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings – Comments and Questions.

Download the PDF here.

 1 Samuel 16:1-13 “The Lord instructed Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, David’s father, to anoint the one whom he had chosen to replace Saul as king.  Again we can see the importance of the writer of Samuel, the prophet, as the one through whom the kingship was established.  God’s authority came through the prophet.  Jesse had eight sons, seven of whom he brought to Samuel for the selection. David remained with his father’s sheep, not even considered as a possible choice.  It was, of course, this David whom the Lord had chosen all along.  Thus the narrative highlights the central theme – the Lord does not look on the outside, as a human being does, but at the heart.  As with Gideon, the choice of David is part of a continuing lesson that God works with human weakness to demonstrate his strength. David himself expresses this in Psalm 8:2, “From the lips of children and infants you have established strength…”  (NIV Compact Bible Commentary; John H Sailhammer, Zondervan, 1994)

For Reflection:
The Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom.  How does this reading demonstrate this?  Think of some other ways in which Jesus demonstrate this upside down nature of the kingdom.

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd…  The opening words of this psalm speak of a choice that faces us all.  Who will be our shepherd?  Every moment of our lives we are faced with this decision: a new job, a new relationship, etc.  Who or what is going to guide you?

If you don’t choose the choice will be made for you!  In our ‘un-reflected’ lives we will find that destructive forces often take hold of us:  fears, ambitions, gut feeling, prejudice, materialism, popular values, these are the things that can step in and steer our decisions.

Discussion Questions
1) What negative forces will take hold of us to guide if we do not choose the Lord’s guidance?

We need to reflect on who or what our guiding principles are going to be.  As you reflect today what will you decide?  Will you join the psalmist?  He says, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  How does he describe this Lord that guides him?

Let us have a look at how the Psalmist commends the Lord to us:

I offer you the reflections of a real Basque shepherd, Fernando D’Alphonso.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. “Sheep instinctively know”, said D’Alphonso, “that they have been folded for the night, the shepherd has mapped out their grazing for the morrow. It may be that he will take them back over the same range; it may be that he will go to a new grazing ground. They do not worry. His guidance has been good in the past and they have faith in the future because they know he has their well-being in view.”   Their trust is in the shepherd!

For discussion:
1)      Do you agree with the psalmist?  If so, how does the Lord meet our needs?

He makes me to lie down in green pastures. “Sheep graze from around sunrise until late morning. They then lie down for three or four hours and rest,” said D’Alphonso. The good shepherd starts his flocks out in the early hours on the rougher herbage, moving on through the morning to the richer, sweeter grasses, finally coming with the band to a shady place for its forenoon rest in fine green pastures, for the best grazing of the day. Sheep, while resting in such happy surroundings, feel contentment.”

For discussion:
1)      Can you recall a time when you rested in green pastures (a time when you were secure in God’s provision)?

He leads me beside the still waters. “Every shepherd knows,” said the Basque, “that sheep do not like to drink gurgling water. There are many small springs high in the Holy Land, whose waters run down the valleys only to evaporate in the desert sun. Although the sheep need the water, they prefer not to drink from these fast-flowing streams. The shepherd must find a place where rocks or erosion have made a little pool, or else he fashions with his hands a pocket sufficient to hold at least a bucketful.”

For discussion:
1) Share an occasion when God provided for you in a special way (when he dug a little pool just for you!)?

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths or righteousness for His name’s sake. Now we turn to a question some have asked: Who is going to choose someone like Jesus as a guide, as a shepherd?  He ended on a cross!  This could be the very reason we should choose him as our guide.  In the moment of death all our false securities unravel. 

A rich man arrived at the gates of heaven. The rich man was carrying a suitcase.  St. Peter had never seen this before. “What this?”  St Peter asked.  “Oh,” the man replied, “I got special permission to bring some of my wealth with me.”  With that the rich man opened his suitcase and showed St Peter the three gold bars inside.  “Looks like pavement to me,” St. Peter responded.

Our materialism, our prejudices, our fears, our pride, all these are shown for what they are in death.  As guides they fall short.  It is only the Shepherd who has faced and conquered the cross and death, who can lead us through every situation of life.   In Christ is our only real security, even in the face of death.  It is when we realise this that we are set free to hear his guiding voice.  Our fears imprison us and hold us in their paralyzing grasp.  Do you remember the disciples who, in the face of Christ’s death, allowed their fears to lock them up in the upper room?  Well the risen Christ found them and set them free to go out in mission.   It is when we realise that our security is in Christ that we are set free to be led in the paths of righteousness to the glory of His name.

Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil … Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Have you been through the valley of the shadow of death? Are you going through the valley? I’m interpreting this valley in broad terms. Through grief, struggle, through crisis, unemployment, economic hardship, depression, pain, injustice, robbery, crime, violence…  Do not despair, do not draw back. It is sometimes those who have been through the darkest night that shine the most brightly for the Lord.  Think of Callie and Monique Strydom who were held hostage for days on end.  They have turned that nightmare around and have adopted a mission statement: “To create wholeness, we must serve, grant and care.”  Their hope is to spread the message of reconciliation and forgiveness and improve the quality of life of those in need (human and animal).

For discussion:
1)  Think of the crises (valleys) that you have struggled through.  How did they change your life?

A list of 300 highly successful people like, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein reveals that one fourth had handicaps such as blindness, deafness or crippled limbs.  But more than that, three-fourths came from some kind of disadvantaged background, they are people that overcame hardship to shine brightly for humanity in some significant way.

For discussion:
1) How can the “valley of the shadow of death” grow us as people?

What is it that makes the difference?  What helps these people and others to shine even when they have journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death?  Today I’m going to suggest some possible reasons. You may want to add to this list.

 

1)     They know how to grieve:
We are told that big boys don’t cry.  I think it takes real courage to grieve, to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.   Grieving is a God given process to help us cope with the really big knocks of life, grieving does not only apply to death.   If we don’t allow ourselves to go through the valley of grief we often get stuck in it, our bitterness, anger and pain is never dealt with.
What enables us to go on this journey?  Let’s hear the words of our Basque shepherd, Fernando d’Alphonso: “There is a valley of the shadow of death in the Holy Land. It is south of the Jericho Road leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and is a narrow way through the mountain range. Climatic and grazing conditions make it necessary for the sheep to be moved through this valley for seasonal feeding.  The valley is four and a half miles long. Its side walls are over 1500 feet high in places and it is only 10 or 12 feet wide at the bottom. Travel through the valley is dangerous, because its floor, badly eroded by cloudbursts, has deep gullies. Actual footing on solid rock is so narrow in places that a sheep cannot turn around, and it is an unwritten law of shepherds that flocks must go up the valley in the morning hours and down towards the eventide, lest flocks meet in the defile. About halfway through the valley the walk crosses from one side to the other at a place where the path is cut in two by an eight-foot gully. One section of the path is about 18 inches higher than the other; the sheep must jump across it. The shepherd stands at this break and coaxes or forces the sheep to make the leap. If the sheep slips and lands in the gully, the shepherd’s staff is brought into play. The old-style crook is encircled around a large sheep’s neck or a small sheep’s chest, and it is lifted to safety. If a more modern narrow crook is used, the sheep is caught about the hoofs and lifted up to the walk. Many wild dogs lurk in the shadows of the valley looking for prey. After a band of sheep has entered the valley, the leader may come upon such a dog. Unable to retreat, the leader baas a warning. The shepherd, skilled in throwing his rod, hurls it at the dog and knocks it into the washed-out gully. Thus the sheep have learned to fear no evil, even in the valley of the shadow of death for their master is there to aid them and protect them from harm.”

Grieving is a lonely journey but there is one who journeys with you!  We can only face our grief because the shepherd is with us in the valley of death.  His rod and staff they comfort us.

Discussion Questions:
1)    How can we get stuck in the valley of the shadow of death?  What happens when we do?
2)      How does knowing that God is with us in the valley help us journey through the valley?
3)      How do we journey through the valley of the shadow of death?
4)      If we are grieving how can we express the feelings that are within us in ways that lead to healing?

2) They move from victim to victor.  Crisis is opportunity.  In every crisis we either go forward or backward.  One key to going forward in certain types of crisis is to take responsibility. “Flight 401 was bound from New York to Miami with a heavy load of holiday passengers.  As the plane approached the Miami airport the light indicating the proper deployment of the landing gear failed to light.  The plane flew in a large, looping circle over the swamps of the everglades while the cockpit crew checked to see if the gear actually had not deployed, or if the bulb in the signal light was defective.  When the flight engineer tried to remove the bulb it would not budge, and the other members of the crew tried to help him.  As they struggled with the bulb no one noticed that the aircraft was losing altitude and the plane simply flew into the swamp.  Dozens of people were killed in the crash.”  Now the question I want to ask is why did God not simply place his hand under the plane and carry it to safety on the runway?   You may have asked this same question in many other contexts.  Why did God not simply intervene?  Because we would lose all sense of responsibility and humanity would simply vegetate.  What do I mean?  Pilots would no longer have to worry about flying their plane, God will land them safely.  The technicians could stop checking the engines because God will intervene and bring the plane to its destination.  Farmers could stop growing crops because God will always miraculously feed the hungry.  All of humanity will vegetate in a tasteless soup. For us to have a sense of responsibility there has to be a sense of risk.   For us to move from victim to victor we need to take on responsibility.  What can we learn from the crisis, what can we do to prevent further suffering and pain, how can we serve humanity as we reflect on this crisis?  These are the question that victors ask.  Often our deepest pain is also our most powerful calling to service.

Discussion Questions
1)      Why does God not just simply wave a wand and “fix” all our country’s problems?
2)      How can you take on responsibility in South Africa?

3) They have learnt to use resistance to soar. Surely eagles would fly faster without air resistance to hold them up?  This of course is nonsense: if the air was removed the eagle would fall to the ground, unable to fly.  The very element that offers resistance to flying is at the same time the condition for flying.
Eliminate problems, pain and suffering and life loses its creative tension.  We will no longer be able to soar in life.

Reflect on these words inspired by Henri Nouwen:
“The faces of separation and joy of meeting kiss,
Waiting and fulfillment embrace and hold,
Stillness overcomes noise in the stillness of the woods,
Laughter crashes into the pool of tears,
Love brings warmth to the ice of hate
Isolation bursts into the chatter of sharing.”

 If I may dare to quote Dolly Parton, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you have got to put up with the rain.”

If we lost this creative tension we would lose our sense of adventure.  We would lose the need for courage.  Indeed we would lose much of what we know as love.  We must use this creative tension to soar with the eagle. A youth was questioning a lonely old man. “What is life’s heaviest burden?” he asked.  “Having nothing to carry,” was the answer.

Discussion Questions:
1)      Would you choose a world in which there is no tension?
2)      How can we soar through resistance?

4)  They know that the last word is resurrection.  Jesus walks through the valley of death to resurrection.   On Good Friday it seemed that death, destruction and evil had had the last word, but no, the last word was still to come.  Do you think that the last word spoken in your valley of death is death?  No!  Jesus rose from Death Valley.  The shepherd leads us right through:  In our lives, in our loved ones’ lives, in our church, in our work, in our province, in our land, in our world, in the midst of grief, in the midst of depression, in the midst of evil, in the midst of destruction: the last word is resurrection.

A man hurrying along a busy city street stopped before a church-goods window to stare at an interesting picture of the Crucifixion. So absorbed was he that it was several minutes before he was aware of a small boy standing beside him. The little boy was looking at the picture with an attention that matched his own.
“Can you tell me, sonny, what that is all about?” he asked, seeking to get the boy to talk.
“Don’tcha know?” The boy appeared to marvel at the man’s ignorance. “Why, that’s Jesus and those others are Roman soldiers, and that’s his mother Mary standing over there crying, and …” he hesitated, “they killed him.”
With something in him satisfied, the man hurried down the street. Soon he heard pattering footsteps, and the little boy rushed up beside him. “But I haven’t told you the most important part of all yet,” he said breathlessly, “He rose again”.

For discussion:
1) How can this truth of resurrection transform our lives?

THE FINAL WORD IS RESURRECTION!
He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death.

People who journey through the valley:
1)       Know how to grieve
2)       Move from victim to victor
3)       Use resistance to grow
4)       Know that the final word is RESURRECTION!
 All this we see in the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Let him lead you in his ways!

Discussion Questions:
1) How are the above four points true in Christ’s life?
2) How are we healed by Christ’s stripes?

He restores our souls! “A friend showed off her new purchase.  As I carefully surveyed the picture before me I was disappointed.   It was hard to make out any detail, parts of the picture had peeled off altogether and even the frame was damaged and threatening to fall apart.  “Why on earth did you buy that?” I asked.  “Wait until it is restored,” came the response.”   Do you sometimes feel like an old picture in need of restoration?  Are you feeling tired before you even start?  Listen, the Lord is into restoring souls!  And he doesn’t just do it once!  He is always about the business of restoring souls!  The verb used for “restores” is in the imperfect tense that indicates continuing action.  Do you need to be part of this continuing action of restoration?   Let’s again consider the words of the shepherds’ psalm.

Discussion Questions:
1)      What are some of the signs that we are approaching burnout?
2)      What are some factors that rob you of joy and sparkle in life?

You prepare a table before me The arrival of a guest at a home was of great interest for all members of an Israeli household.  Preparations were made for days in advance.  Servants would be sent out to meet the guest.  The servants would escort the guest to the door of the host’s tent or house.   A special canopy would be stretched to shield the guest from the sun; rugs would be spread over the hot sand to protect his feet.  The host himself would be waiting at the door.  He would anoint the guest with olive oil.  A servant would bring a basin of water and wash the guest’s hands and feet.  Another servant would provide him with a change of clothes while another servant would conduct him to the host’s table where he would be given a place of honour at the feast.  This is an open-hearted welcome.  This is the welcome that the psalmist says God gives to us as we turn to him.  Here we find rest, refreshment, refueling and restoration.

Discussion Questions:
1)      Where or what is the place of refreshment that God has prepared for us?
2)      What are some characteristics of God’s refreshment?

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemiesWe hear again from the shepherd, D’Alphonso, “Poisonous plants abound that are fatal to grazing animals. Each spring the shepherd must be constantly alert. When he finds the plants, he takes his mattock and goes on ahead of the flock, grubbing out every stock and root he can see. As he digs out the stocks, he lays them upon little stone pyres, some of which were built by shepherds in Old Testament days, and by the morrow they are dry enough to burn. In the meantime, the sheep are led into the newly prepared pasture, which is now free from poisonous plants, and, in the presence of their deadly plant enemies, they eat in peace.”  The shepherd offers the sheep protection against their enemies. Whether they be poisonous plants, snakes, jackals, wolves, hyenas or lions.

What are our enemies?  “If you could kick the person responsible for most of your troubles, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for weeks.”   Let’s be honest, a lot of our enemies come from within.  We have all got a long way to go!  Our enemies are also external – the world is a cauldron of destructive and evil forces.  Many of you are struggling deeply with some of these destructive forces in the context of your families. Do we have to sort this all out before we can sit down at the table of the Lord?  No, we are invited to sit down even in the presence of our enemies. This place of rest, refreshment, refuelling and restoration comes to us in the midst of life’s tensions, in the presence of my enemies. In the midst of struggle and pain there is a place of provision and abundance.

Discussion Questions:
1)      Does God only refresh those who have got it all together?
2)      What are God’s conditions for refreshing our souls?

You anoint my head with oil; D’Alphonso continues, “At every sheepfold there is a big earthen bowl of olive oil and a large stone jar of water. As the sheep come in for the night they are led to a gate. The shepherd lays his rod across the top of the gateway just higher than the back of his sheep. As each sheep passes in single file, he quickly examines it…”   Of the shepherds of Israel we read, “He has the horn filled with olive oil, and he has cedar-tar and he anoints a knee bruised on the rocks, or a side scratched by the thorns.  And here comes one that is not bruised, but is simply worn and exhausted; he bathes its face and head with the refreshing olive oil, and he takes the large two-handled cup and dips it brimming full from the vessels of water provided for that purpose, and he lets the weary sheep drink.”

Consider these words:
“Thou anointest my head with oil,
When faint from the heat of the day,
The burden, the care and the toil,
I falter beside the way.
My heart leaps again with delight
As I take to my journey once more,
I press on till coming of night,
When journeying days shall be o’er
Thou anointest my head with oil,
When wounded and weary and sore,
When foemen my life would despoil,
When troubles and care I deplore.
Thou anointest me then, oh, my Lord,
And strengthened, I press on again,
Inspired and refreshed by Thy word,
No thought of my suffering and pain.
Thou anointest my head with oil,
When fearful I pause in dismay.
When dangers my spirits would roil
And I sink near defeat by the way.
Thou anointest me then, yes, my heart
Leaps with joy at the touch of Thy hand,
A joy that will never depart,
Till at last in They presence I stand.”

For discussion:
1) Spend a few moments in silence examining your own need for restoration at the hand of God.  Picture God coming to you.  What part of your life needs God’s touch?  What would God’s words be to you?

My cup overflows. The overflowing cup was a symbol of abundance and welcome.  It also served as the equivalent of a modern day tip.  The cups sat in basins that were the ancestors of our modern day saucers.  The servant serving the wine filled the cups to overflowing.  At the end of the feast, the wine left in the basins was his.  Thus even the servants drank from the best of the master’s store and shared in this overflowing blessing.  God’s blessings overflow to us.  Ephesians 1:3:”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

For discussion:
1) Try to list some of God’s blessings that overflow to us?

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, God’s goodness and mercy are always there for us.  When I spend some time working in the garage or garden, my dog is always close behind.  When our resources are exhausted God’s are close behind.

Discussion Questions:
1)      How do we receive these resources that follow us in every moment?
2)      Is there any way in which we need to change the way we live in order to draw on these resources that follow us every day?

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The word house is used in the generic sense here, it does not mean a building; it means a household or if you like a family.  I will be part of God’s family forever!  The host will always invite me in and allow me to share in his provision!  I will always be in the process of restoration.

Ephesians 5:8-14“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.”

The best commentary for this passage is to read its context:  Ephesians 4:25 – 6:9.   Here you will find what it means to walk in the light.

For Reflection:
How would you describe walking in the light?

John 9:1-41Jesus puts mud on the eyes of a man born blind and sends him to wash in the pool at Siloam. The blind man gains his sight and immediately becomes an evangelist!

As you read this passage put yourself in the blind man’s shoes.  Imagine the darkness, hear the voices, the voice of Christ, now you see and are immediately caught up in the controversy…. What would you feel, think, feel…  What would confuse you?  When it was all over, in what ways would your life change?

For Reflection:
“There are none so blind as they who will not see”.   How is this statement reflected in this passage?

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Sunday 30 March 2014

Prayer for Light in our Hearts

God, our Father, hear our prayer
and let the radiance of your love
scatter the gloom of our hearts.
The light of heaven’s love has restored us to life –
free us from the desires that belong to darkness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN

Prayer for Your Light to Shine

All-powerful and ever-living God,
shine with the light of your radiance
on a people who live in the shadow of death.
Let the dawn from on high break upon us;
your son our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Prayer to be Filled With Holy Light

Lord,
as daylight fills the sky,
fill us with your holy light.
May our lives mirror our love for you
whose wisdom has brought us into being,
and whose care guides us on our way.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Prayer To Follow The Light

God our Savior,
help us to follow the light
and live the truth.
In you, we have been born again
as sons and daughters of light.
May we be your witnesses before all the world.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN

[Source]

 

 

Anyone thirsty for living water?

living waterYearly Rhythm

Sunday 23 March 2014
Third Sunday in Lent, Year A, Colour: Purple

Pope Benedict once said at this time of year that “Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life..”

In a way Lent can be a place of decision, reflection and of taking on new things as well as the traditional view of giving up.  It can be a significant time of transformation in our lives.

 

Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary  17 -23 March 2014

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship using the Lectionary Readings.

Download the PDF here.

See “Weekly Rhythm” below for comment and question to engage with the readings.
Also “Praying the lectionary Readings” below for prayers based on the readings.

Readings for Sunday 23 March with thanks to www.gbod.org

Exodus 17:1-7The Israelites grumble about their thirst in the desert. God leads Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his staff to supply all they need and more.

Psalm response: Psalm 95

Romans 5:1-11Justified by faith, through God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God and assurance of moving on to entire salvation.

John 4:5-42Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for water invites her to drink living water that could slake her thirst forever.

This week we continue with the repeat our 21-day cycle of confession.  You will find the daily focus for this cycle in the confession slot for each day.  Each time we repeat this cycle, allow God to speak to you in new ways and lead you into a deeper sense of healing and freedom.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 24:7 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Confession: Lord, I have used my tongue as a weapon of destruction.  I have spoken words that break down and do not build up.  I have despised my heart that has not been able to silence my tongue.  Forgive me and fill me with your words and your heart that seeks for the best for all.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus:  In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for love.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

              Dedication:  May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 25:1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.

Confession: Lord, I am part of a people. I am part of a community that falls far short of your Kingdom ideals.  Forgive us I pray and enable us to realise that your Kingdom is among us.  Fill us with your justice, righteousness and peace.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for joy.

               Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Psalm 25 Good and upright is the Lord; for he instructs sinners in his ways.

Confession: Lord, forgive me when I desire peace but am not prepared to sacrifice and serve in building peace.  Lord, help me to follow where you have led and to give myself that others may live in fullness.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for peace.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 26:3 …your love is ever before me…

Confession: Lord, forgive me when I make your grace a “cheap” commercial product.  Help me to journey below the surface froth and bubble.  Help me to go deeper.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)   to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for patience.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?

Confession: Lord, I have neglected the gifts you have given me.  Some have atrophied.  Sometimes and lack of confidence has paralysed me, sometimes I have been caught up in struggle, sometimes I have been lazy.  Lord I pray that I may thank you for the gifts that you have given and that I may use them for your glory.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)   to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for kindness.

Personal prayers:

 Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Confession: Lord, forgive me for my sins of neglect.   Those things which I have not done where You have prompted me into action.  When you speak help me to act.  Help me to develop a habit of listening and responding.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for goodness.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 28:6,7 Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and my shield…

Confession: Forgive me Lord, when I have been difficult to live with.  Forgive me when I have not carried my share of the load.  Forgive me when I have accepted unjust roles just because they have prospered my own comfort and interests.  Help me to make space for and to care for others.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus:  In our shared focus we pray for our land.  This time we pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to grow in the midst of all our peoples.  Today we pray for temperance and self-control.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls.  (William Temple, 1881-1944)

 Weekly Rhythm

Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings (Comment and Questions)

Download the PDF here for personal or small group use.

 For Reflection

Before you read the readings make a list of what water means in your life.  Think also of special moments spent by water. Also list what water means to our world.  When you read the reading below try to create connections between the texts and this list that you have made. (Readings are from www.gbod.org)

Exodus 17:1-7

The Israelites grumble about their thirst in the desert. God leads Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his staff to supply all they need and more.

Psalm response: Psalm 95.

Romans 5:1-11
Justified by faith, through God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God and assurance of moving on to entire salvation.

John 4:5-42
Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for water invites her to drink living water that could slake her thirst forever.

See sermon with discussion questions which follows:

Have you ever been left out?  Off the team?  Made to feel like you just don’t have any contribution to make?

Discussion Question

1)      Briefly share an experience of exclusion with your small group.  Try to share how it made you feel.

 Today’s Gospel story is about someone who knew what it was like to be excluded.  We are looking at the woman at the well.  What was her experience of exclusion?

Firstly, she was a woman.  Women of her context were often regarded as little more than property.  Certainly not equals of men. Rabbis were not even allowed to greet a woman in public. There was even a group of rabbis know as the bleeding rabbis because they were not even allowed to look at women and would injure themselves by walking past women while keeping their eyes shut, bumping into or tripping over objects in their path.

Secondly, she was a Samaritan. Samaritans were considered the ‘black sheep’ of the Jewish family.   Devout Jews would not even enter Samaria, preferring to travel around that area.  They were the ‘distant cousins’ who were considered racially and religiously unclean. What was it that made them so despised?    When the Northern tribes of Israel were conquered by the Assyrians, the ten tribes where uprooted by their conquerors and dispersed and their whereabouts lost forever.   Some of the Jews were left in Samaria.  They intermarried with Gentiles and lost their racial purity.   The southern Jewish tribes where conquered by the Babylonians.  Many were taken into exile in Babylonia.  These Jews remained Jewish and frowned at intermarriage.   In fact if someone married a Gentile the family would hold a premature funeral service!  When the Jews returned from exile in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah they restored the temple and Jerusalem.  The “Samaritans” (those Jews who had been left in Samaria and had intermarried) offered their help but were rejected because they had not kept themselves pure.  The Samaritans responded by scorning the new temple and starting their own rival temple at Mount Gerizim.  The Jerusalem Jews were not impressed and at one point even sacked and destroyed the temple at Gerizim.

Thirdly, she was a divorcee.  When we read about this woman’s married history we presume that she was an immoral woman.  But this may not necessarily be so.  Remember that it was only the husband who could initiate a divorce.  She had not run from husband to husband but had rather been rejected for some reason unknown to us by a string of husbands.  In the East marriages were arranged, except in Samaria. The Samaritans were the only people who at that time observed courtship customs. The idiom, “…the man you now have is not your husband” refers to the one who is now courting her. It is likely that she had five husbands before and was now a widow who was being courted. She is a hurting, rejected woman.

Discussion Questions

1)      Why are some people rejected in our world today?
2)      What effect does rejection have in people’s lives?

Was it any wonder that these experiences had turned her into a recluse?  She comes to the well at the time of day when she would be unlikely to find any other people there, but more than that she chooses a well more than half a mile from her home at Sychar.  Her motivation to brave this journey is her need for the life-giving commodity of water.

Discussion Question

1)      When you have faced rejection have you ever chosen the option that the Samaritan woman chooses?  Do you think it is a good or bad option?

Water is precious, especially to those who thirst. Ask the marathon runner who, by choice, batters his or her body on a twenty-six mile run and can’t wait for a delicious drink of water to begin replenishing precious body fluids. Or ask the patient facing surgery the next day who is told “don’t drink anything after 8:00 p.m.”  Ask poverty-stricken lands facing drought. Thirst can be agonising.   As she comes to the well she is thirsty for this water, but as we look at her situation we see that she is also thirsty for love and healing.

Discussion Question

1)      What kinds of thirst do we have within us?

As she encounters Jesus she comes to realize that she has no privacy from Jesus.   “He told me everything I ever did,” she says of him.  He sees her dual need.  Water and living water. Scary stuff.  “Encountering Jesus is coming into the presence of one we cannot hide from.  He knows who we are, not who we pretend to be. Secrets can be a heavy burden to carry.  They cling tightly to ourselves, causing us to grow in peculiar, misshapen ways.  Like a gold fish that cannot grow to full size because of the small fish bowl in which it lives out its days, our secrets keep us from becoming all that God created us to be.  Like a harnessed carnival pony, our secrets force us to go in dusty, dry circles, never to explore the wide world which we can see just beyond our blinders.  When we live with secrets, we live with death.” (Source unknown)”

Discussion Question

1)      How do secrets paralyse us?
2)      How does the fact that Jesus knows all about you make you feel?

Somehow, wondrously, during the conversation there is a moment or revelation and she realizes who Jesus is: he is the living water.  She realises this in a life changing way.  From hiding away in her rejection she goes back to her town and shares the good news.  “She left her water jar and went away into the city…” (vs.28). Here is a statement of tremendous significance.  The water jar or water pot of the household is a sacred object in the East. It has little monetary value, but is guarded carefully because of its sentimental value. Easterners feel that the clay of the pot is analogous to the clay which is our body; the water within the pot corresponds to God’s spirit within us. To leave the water pot behind would be like leaving one’s soul behind.  Even if the pot was broken at the well, every piece was carefully saved and brought home to be used for some purpose or other. A fairly large piece may serve as a dipper; smaller pieces were used to carry hot coals from one household to another; even a very small piece was used to scrape sores because it was thought that there were healing properties in the clay of the jar (remember Job did this). Pieces for which no use could be found were buried in the garden.  This woman risked bringing shame upon herself by returning to the village without her water pot. It was not socially acceptable.

So dramatic is her encounter with Jesus that her old life (her water jar) is left behind and she takes hold of her new life as she witnesses to the living waters of Christ. Why was she so enthused? Because the old had gone and the new had come!    Her old life of rejection, worthlessness and isolation was gone.  Now she was cared for and included – she belonged!  God’s living water had flowed into her parched soul. There is a song written by Don Stewart. The chorus of the song says:  “Like the woman of old, each day we come to the wellsprings of life and find Jesus there.”

Discussion Question

1)      What revelation do you need to receive from God that would minister to and bring healing to your thirst?

There was a special moment at Christmas a few years back.  I was about to go into the church to begin the Christmas service when I was approached by what was obviously a person whose home was the street.  Well, he asked for food.  “Couldn’t he see that I was preoccupied with something important?”   “Sorry,” I said, “I’ve got no food.”  “But,” he said, “the other minister here said she would leave me a food parcel for Christmas.” 

“He’s taking a chance,” I thought.  Rather annoyed, I found out his name and went up to the office to check.  I couldn’t believe it when I found a parcel with the name “Moses Nthembu (name changed).”  I went across to Moses.  “Yes,” I said, here it is. This is your name.”  Well the lights came on.  It was a ‘living waters’ moment.  His face glowed.  “Is that my name?” he asked, pointing at the label on the parcel. “Yes,” that is your name.  “Is that really my name?”  “Yes,” I answered again.  He repeated the question a few more times while I nodded.  Up till that moment he had felt isolated, rejected, worthless.  But now someone knew about him.  His name had been recorded that Christmas day.

God knows all about you.  He knows your name.  Say your name out aloud. Hear him speak it out.    Hear its sound.  Your name is recorded on the very palm of God!  Here is a place of belonging: you have found a home!

Discussion Question

1) As a group, learn the name of the person sitting on your right.    Then join in prayer.  Spend a few moments in silence.  And then slowly go round the group and let each person speak out aloud the name of the person on their right.  Pause for a few moments between each name.  During each pause let the leader read the following verse in a personalized way for the person named:  Isaiah 49:16:   “..………. (name of person), I can never forget you!  I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Sunday 23 March 2014

 O Jesus,
Image of the invisible God,
Word made flesh,
tired stranger,
waiting in the noonday lull
at Jacob’s well.

Are we all
the woman with her water-jar,
bent on the chore of the moment,
angry memories in our bones,
our thirst for God
hidden in the business of the day?

Do you meet us gently too,
hardly recognized,
quietly leading our thoughts
towards the deeper waters,
where our souls find rest?

Probing too,
uncovering secrets
we would rather forget.
“Lord, you have probed me,
You know when I sit and when I stand,
You know my thoughts from afar.”

Is the woman,
sure and strong,
our reflection:
sure but unsure,
strong but so weak,
seeking but afraid to find
our Savior so close by?

Source: Victor Hoagland

 O Jesus,
only faith can help us see.
Earthy, cautious eyes
miss treasure in the field
in water and the bread
in faces known too well.
Only faith can help us see.

“If you knew what God gives”
you tell the woman.
No cleverness knows
or merit buys that gift.
Living water is your gift.
You alone show us what God gives.

Say to our hearts:
“Come to the waters.”
Make us thirst again,
and ask, and seek, till we find.
How can we know
whose flesh and blood we are?
Or what it means to be born again?
Unless you help our unbelief

O Jesus,
who led the woman to believe,
lead us.

Source: Victor Hoagland