Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, August 31

Reading: Genesis 16:1-16 and John 11:11-27

  1. Can you recall a time in your life when you couldn’t imagine or figure out how God was going to make good on a promise or a plan that was made known to you? Can you recall a time in your life when you took matters into your own hands to make the promise or plan come to fruition? What happened? What did you experience? What did you learn from the experience?
  2. Read and reflect on both passages: Gen.16:1-16 and John 11:11-27. Both narratives involve real human and Divine complexities. Both involve tensions between faith and sight; trust and timing. Put yourself in the shoes of Sarai, Abram, Hagar. What do you discover from the messy story? Sense the confusion, the pain, the disorientation between theology and human experience from the disciples, Mary and Martha. What do you discover about trusting God beyond your own understanding of things? About the unexpected and the unpredictable miracles of God’s ways?
  3. Sit with your own circumstances, dreams or yet unfilled promises from God. Discern where you are, how you are with the yet unfulfilled aspects of your life in God. What encourages you from these stories? What challenges you? What continues to riddle your soul as you wait for fulfillment? In what ways do these two stories help you get to a more resolute “yes I believe” ? You may want to pray…”but help my unbelief.” Talk honestly with the Lord Jesus about these things.

Spend additional moments with the words of this prayer by Ted Loder:

Lord, I have so few ways to pray
but you have so many ways to answer.
Keep me alert to your unpredictable answers
to your unexpected, unexplainable surprises
and to 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.