Lent Reading: Sunday, April 6

Reading: John 11:1-45

Reflection Questions:

  1. The story of Lazarus is carried along by a dialogue of questions and assumptions. As you read, listen to the varying questions of the disciples, the sisters, the mourners, and Jesus. Notice how some questions are answered, some are not. With one Jesus gives a profound truth, with another he weeps. In deep distress, grief, and loss there are always questions we ask. What stirs in you as you observe and listen in on this dramatic event? What questions would you want to ask Jesus about areas of loss or darkness in your life? How do you respond when it seems as if God delays or answers you differently than expected?
  2. The author explicitly punctuates Jesus’ love for his friends in the narrative: Lord, he whom you love is ill (v.3); Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus (v.5); Our friend Lazarus (v.11); See how he loved him (v.36). In grief stricken moments of loss, illness or death of loved ones, it is often difficult to believe that God loves us. In your own life’s story, how have you experienced God’s love supporting you in dark moments of suffering or grief? Are there places in your life now that due to the circumstances you don’t feel God loves you? Talk to God about these things.
  3. In this intimate narrative we see Jesus’ own deep emotionally experience with regard to his friends, his loss, his distress. Out of a compassionate heart our Lord draws close, weeps with, and ministers to his friends in amazing ways. The miracle arises out of God’s compassion. Where in your life might you need God to do the impossible, unimaginable, unpredictable? Open to God in prayer, ask, believe.

Here’s a segment of a prayer poem by Ted Loder. It offers words of prayer for dark moments:

Lord I have so few ways to pray
but you have so many ways to answer.
Keep me alert to your unpredictable answers
to unexpected, unexplainable surprises
and by your grace, make me one of those surprises,
for the sake of the One who taught us the surprises of
moving mountains, healing touches, wondrous stories, great banquets,
first suppers, broken bread, crosses and resurrections.

 

– Elizabeth Khorey

Lent Reading: Sunday, March 30

Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-9; Psalm 139:13-18; John 13:1-5

Reflection Questions:

Dallas Willard asserts that human beings are: Never ceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.

C.S. Lewis described us like this: There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

  1. Consider these thoughtful statements about humanity, who is created by God in the Divine Image, as you read our Scripture passages this week. What do you discover about human existence? What do you discover about your life in relation to God?
  2. How do these passages of Scripture expand the value of your life?
  3. How do these passages of Scripture enhance your sense of security in life as a child of God?

– Elizabeth Khorey

Lent Reading: Sunday, March 23

Reading:  John 4:1-30; 39-42

Reflection Questions:

As you sit with the Scripture, imagine the vivid afternoon desert scene. A lone male figure wearied, shoulders slightly slumped sitting by a well and resting quietly. Another lone female figure moves slowly toward the well.  She too posturing weariness as she carries a large clay water pot, probably on her head, in the afternoon heat.  The man begs a drink of water which begins a conversation that would draw the woman into a living reality of life with God.

  1. Listen to the exchange between Jesus and the woman. How does the everyday ordinary task of drawing water and the physical reality of human thirst provide the space for a deeper conversation about the condition of the women’s heart and the spiritual reality of the kingdom of God in her midst? How might the ordinary tasks, activities and daily human conditions of your life become the staging for a deeper conversation with God? Where do you notice God in your ordinary everyday life and activities?
  1. The woman states the well is deep (v.11). She speaks of physical matters. The well of water becomes a metaphor for the deeper issues of her heart that Jesus intends to draw out. If you were sitting with Jesus, what might he want to draw out of your heart with regard your own spiritual thirst or need? Open to the Holy Spirit. Ask for the Spirit to search your heart (Ps. 139:1, 23-24; Rom.8:26-27;). What comes up?
  1. Jesus says to the women…If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water’(v.10).  God waits and longs to be gracious to you, to show mercy to you (Isaiah 30:18). To what degree do you know who it is that is with you and what he longs to give you? What would you like to ask for knowing these things?
  1. Notice the woman’s response to Jesus as she tells others about him. Can you detect a hint of excitement in her voice as she tells about a man who knows her through and through yet without judgment or shame (v.29)? What would it be like for you to be known, seen, accepted, and given the gift of living water? How would your life be different? How would your day-to-day change? Continue to sit with Jesus as he draws out your deepest longings. Talk to him about the things you see, feel, or the things that need a refreshing touch of the water he offers.

Close your reflective time with God with these words of prayer:

God:

I wait. I pray. Give me strength to endure this Lenten fast and help me with the sneaky temptations I don’t expect. Underneath my hunger (or thirst) the taste of eternity lingers deeper than any satisfaction food (or water) might provide.*

*Adapted from Peter Traben Hass, Centering Prayers.

Lent Reading: Sunday, March 16

Reading:  Matthew 17:1-9

Reflection Questions:

  1. Matthew alerts us to a time sequence in the first verse of our Gospel passage: Six days later… This detail signals that the event to be described is connected in some way to what happened prior. Sit with Matt.16:21-28 as you begin your reflections for this week. Matt.16:21 through Matt. 17:13 marks a pivot in Jesus’ ministry and life as he moves toward the cross and the things he would suffer. What do you notice, hear, sense or learn about suffering and Jesus’ mission as you read this broader Scriptural passage?
  1. At the transfiguration, a reality which for Jesus was a moment-by-moment experience was made manifest to a few of his friends. His true inner identity and his relationship with his Father is that which accompanied him into the suffering to come.  In your dark moments, how have you noticed the transforming brilliance of God with you?
  1. When Peter was quick to nervously interpret his experience with Jesus on the mountain, God interrupted and asked him to listen to his Son. How might space for silence create space for God to speak and reveal himself in your present circumstances?

– Elizabeth Khorey