During this time of social distancing you may wish to use this scripture meditation for an e-conference small group or alone as a personal devotion. Give yourself the time to process the changes you are facing and the care you require.
Impersonating a police officer! Driving a car made to look like a police vehicle! We continue to process the news from the tragic shooting in Nova Scotia. In the midst of this international pandemic, the violation of trust, the crumbling assumptions and unimaginable behaviour just got magnified. Who can be believed? What can we count on? How do we be safe? The temptation is to trust no one and to live in a state of heightened vigilance and anxiety. But where is abundant life in that? Jesus offers another possibility. Know and follow the voice of love.
Beginning of the meeting
This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, an image depicted in many of our church windows. It tells us so much about the caring nature of God. Read the reflection above and now quiet your thoughts, still your body, and be open to Jesus who joins you in this journey.
John 10:1-10, NRSV
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
If you are in an e-conference, reflect on each question for a few moments in silence, then invite discussion. Help the group identify common themes and issues. If you are alone, you may wish to record your reflections in a journal. You may wish to share your thoughts, questions and insights in the “reply” space below.
- This passage uses a number of different metaphors for God. Can you name them? Do you connect with these images of God? Why, why not?
- Is the gateway for seclusion or security? Is there a difference?
- Know God’s voice: have you ever sensed God was speaking into your life? Can you describe that experience? How was God’s voice different than your own thoughts, or a parent’s voice, or a political leader’s voice?
- What could God’s abundant life look like in a post-Covid world?
Invite the people to participate in a prayer practice called the Visio-Divina—sacred viewing. Choose a depiction of the Good Shepherd or use one of the images provided below. Review the steps of the process and then ask people to enter into prayer.
- Establish a comfortable position for prayer, relax your body, and take three deep breaths.
- Visio: View the image for a moment and notice what stands out and attracts your attention. Close your eyes and be silent for a moment. Record your reflections.
- Meditatio: View the image again and reflect on it more deeply. Analyze the structure, the colour and contrast, the texture, composition and beauty, etc. Note your feelings and reflect on how the image makes you feel. What desires and meaning are being conveyed from the image? What message does the image hold for you? Close your eyes and be silent for a minute. Record your insights.
- Oratio: View the image again and this time pray directly to God and let the Holy Spirit speak through the image to you. Listen for God’s word to you. What does God want you to do or be in response to this image? Close your eyes and be silent for a minute. Write a prayer to God that has been forming in your heart.
- Contemplate: View the image and this time abandon speech, thought and feeling. Rest in the silent presence of God and just be still.
Engage in the Visio-Divina prayer process above using an image below or from the news that stands out for you this week. Where is God at work leading us to safety and an abundance of life?
We are here together, and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.