Follow Me?

Hither ye behind me! Yep; that’s what Jesus said. Modern translations simply say, “Come follow me.” These words of Jesus were an imperative call to present and continuous action. One Greek Grammar says that Jesus was calling for long-term commitment; to habits suited to such a commitment; a commitment that would cultivate virtue leading to a certain lifestyle. Ignatius, working with this big kingdom idea, taught us to follow Jesus by finding God in all things. He and other spiritual masters knew that this meant we had to engage in practices of noticing, reflecting and discerning; learning to be steadily conscious of God, self and others.  Frank Laubach (Letters by a Modern Mystic), stands in this tradition. He writes that submission is the first and last duty of man; that we are learning to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the master.  He says this begins with listening, moves to surrender and finds it best fruit in a determined, resolved will to act with God. The question mark we’ve put at the end of Jesus’ imperative is both invitation and call to decisive action to take serious Jesus’ command to come follow me—and in so doing to find, in Laubach’s words, that every day is tingling with the joy of glorious discovery.

– Todd Hunter​

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, June 29

Reading:  Genesis 2:7-9, 15-18, 20b-25 and John 15:1-11

Reflection Questions:

  1. Roam the fertile ground of the Garden of Eden as you read and reflect on the creation narrative about humanity’s origin.  What do you notice; what do you sense; what do you understand from God’s good intention for humanity?
  1. God presented one limitation in the garden (out of all that was given to Adam to eat and enjoy, there was 1 prohibition put on 1 tree in the garden). Limitations are often seen as a “bad.” We want what we want when and how we want it. But in this narrative, the limitation of God was for humanity’s “good” in his created order of life. How have you experienced or understood limitations as a “good” in your life? When confronted with a limitation in life, how do you respond to it? How might a limitation become a friend in the spiritual formation of your soul? Maybe you are currently struggling with some limitation and can’t seem to see it as a good. What if you were to see it as a way to accept your finitude, and an invitation to trust (rely on, depend on) God for the care of you body, soul, and entire life? How would this change the way you live with limitations?
  1. Read Jesus’ words to us in John 15:1-11. How does the picture of a garden as a metaphor for relationship and life expand your understanding of God’s intentions for you? What do you hear Jesus inviting you to experience? How might you respond to his invitations today? Talk to God about the things in your life, in your body, in your spirit that seem challenging to accept or embrace. Give thanks for specific ways you’ve experience fertile ground under the Gardener’s loving care.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, June 22

Reading:  Genesis 2:1-3 and Matthew 11:27-30

Reflection Questions 

Our readings in Genesis and the Gospel give us a description of God’s rest after a long creative work week and Jesus’ invitation to find our true rest in him. As you make space to consider and take to heart God’s Word, offer a silent prayer now asking for the grace to experience rejuvenation of body, soul and spirit from these quiet moments in God’s presence and his Word.

  1. From Gen.2:1-3, what do you discover about God and his value for rest (or literally in the original Hebrew: “to cease, to bring to a stand-still, to stop”)? It may help you process this passage by simply looking at the verbs in this narrative description of God.
  1. God values a regular rhythm of rest so much so he asked his people to continue the practice from week to week throughout all their generations (Ex.20:8-10). The Sabbath was given for us as a gift from God (Mark 2:27). Jesus calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath and practiced a regular rhythm of rest that often took the form of reading God’s word, worship and teaching in the synagogue, and caring for people. Without judgment or condemnation (Rom.8:1) think about the regular rhythms of your everyday life and weekly activities. What does Sabbath rest look like for you? In what ways is keeping a weekly rhythm of rest difficult for you?  Consider the reasons why or what prevents you from taking a day to rest from work? When you do take a day to rest from your work week what benefits do you experience?  Talk to God about these things.
  1. Marva Dawn in her book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, asserts that the spiritual practice of ceasing from work one day a week helps us detach from thecompulsive need to be productive, to derive worth and identity from our productivity, to control our lives and the outcomes for our lives, and the tyranny of keeping a schedule. Keeping a Sabbath day of rest helps us attach to God. The very practice recalls that we are finite; we have needs in body, soul and spirit that cannot be met by anything or anyone other than God himself, the source and sustenance of our lives. Even as God built into the body the need to sleep for several hours of each day for rejuvenation; so he’s established a regular way we can experience healing and restoration for our souls, spirits when we enjoy the gift of the Sabbath as we commune with him.

Listen to Jesus’ invitation in Matt.11:27-30. How do you want to respond to him today? How might you creatively practice Sabbath this week? Ask him for help if you struggle with Sabbath keeping.

The mind that comes to rest is tended

In ways that it cannot intend:

Is borne, preserved and comprehended

By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by

Your will, not ours. And it is fit

Our only choice should be to die

Into that rest, or out of it.

(Concluding stanzas of Wendell Berry’s poem Another Morning Sunday Comes)