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.
Don’t be troubled?!
Easy to say while tucked up in a cozy home, receiving a steady income and with no sign of ill-health. But what if this is not the case? Financial anxieties, family discord and failing health are not a mere trifle. It is a spiritual truth that adversity is like the refiner’s fire, but no sensible person invites these hardships.
Jesus’ final words to his close friends was of comfort and assurance while knowing full well that great adversity was just around the corner. In the fullness of this awareness, he reminds his followers that they must never forget that God wants them to dwell in the divine assurance of intimacy, belonging and in safety. And if adversity tempts them to question the nature of God, then they must remember his teachings: “the first will be last,” “love one another,” “love your enemy,” and “love yourself.”
Do not let your heart be troubled. Remember.
Beginning of the meeting
The gospel reading for this Sunday is often heard at funerals. It tells of the intimate and 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 14:1-14 New Revised Standard Version
14 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ 8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
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.
- “If you know me, you know the father.” If you had to describe Jesus to someone unfamiliar to the faith, what would you say? Would you use those same words to describe God the Father? Why or why not?
- What is the difference between “believe in God” and “abide in God”?
- If you could ask God for anything right now, what would it be?
Invite the people into a time of prayer. Ask them to quiet their minds and bodies and become aware of God’s presence and love. Ask the people to imagine placing their prayer requests from Question 3 on an offering plate, imagine raising it up, then placing it on an altar and then leaving it there. End with a moment of silence followed by a concluding prayer. Here are a few possible prayers:
You Lord are in this place, Your presence fills it, Your presence is peace.
You Lord are in my life, Your presence fills it, Your presence is peace.
You Lord are in the storm, Your presence fills it, Your presence is peace. David Adam
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary; sustain the dying ones; calm the suffering and pity the distressed, all for your love’s sake. Saint Augustine 354-430AD
Each day write down at least five prayer requests to God. Offer them in prayer by imagining placing them and then leaving them on an altar. Practice abiding in God’s presence in silence, during prayer.
We are here together, and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.