Meeting Meditation, Easter 7, Ascension and COVID-19

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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.

It is comforting to know that when we say the word “goodbye” we are actually saying “God be with ye.” What a profound blessing! We are voicing a hope that as you continue on your journey, you may know the comfort, peace, guidance and power of divine intimacy.

Jesus is saying goodbye to his beloved friends in our Gospel reading today. In the form of a prayer, he is asking God to protect them and help them maintain unity. But more importantly, Jesus is asking God to stay close to them, as close as God was to himself. So close that their very thoughts, words, and actions would be indistinguishably “of God.” He called this kind of intimacy eternal life.

As we slowly emerge from our homes to the gradual light of this new day, there are things we know have changed. There are things we know we will have to say goodbye to. There are things we know may bring loss, confusion and failure to our future. But the new and unknown path is our calling, our Way.

Using whatever means available, gather, pray, wait upon the Spirit and then…

God will be with you!

Beginning of the meeting

Many churches will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension this Sunday. The readings for both the Ascension (which is Thursday) and for Easter 7 are about Jesus leaving his disciples. The faithful followers know they must face a new day with a different spiritual orientation. Quiet your thoughts, still your body, and be open to Jesus who meets us in the reading of scripture. 

John 17:1-11 NRSV

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Discussion Questions

Each person will need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. 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. 

  1. What goodbyes are you facing? Perhaps your goodbyes take the shape of hopes and dreams; financial, economic or job changes; loss of loved ones; an altered disposition toward social issues…. Write down a list of the things you anticipate will change for you over the next 12-18 months.
  2. How do you grieve? Everyone says goodbye differently. What is your pattern? What do you need to do to grieve?
  3. What do you need or want to do to begin the new way forward?

 Concluding Prayer

  1. Invite the people to review their list of anticipated losses from Question 1 above.
  2. Ask them to write down the items from the list again but, this time, in the form of a doodle prayer so that they are scattered over the page.
  3. In the middle of page ask the people to write “The Past.”
  4. Ask the people to decorate and doodle around each item as they reflect on the particular loss associated with each one.
  5. Then, ask the people to quiet their minds and bodies and become aware of God’s presence and love.
  6. Invite the people to place their hands on each item and offer a prayer of gratitude and blessing. Perhaps, “Thank you, and God go with you.” 

Prayer for Healing

God our healer, keep us aware of your presence, Support us with your power,
Comfort us with your protection, Give us strength and establish us in your peace. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Sometime over the next week take your piece of paper with the doodle prayer on it, say the prayer below and bury it in the earth. Perhaps you can use a spot in your backyard if you have one, a place deep in a planter in your home or somewhere in the woods. (Another alternative is to burn the paper in a tinfoil plate where it is safe to do so.)

I commit these prayers to you, O God; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God, I thank you for all that I have had and all that I must say goodbye to. Now give me strength and courage to leave this list in your care, confident in your promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us (and all we commend to God’s care) from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.38–39

Holy God, I place myself in your hands.

I believe in you. I trust you.
I love you.

Prayers adapted from the Canadian Book of Alternative Services, 1985 and the New Zealand Prayer Book, 1989.

We are here together and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.

 

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