A TIME FOR HEALING

Scripture strongly affirms ministries of spiritual healing, which in recent years have received renewed emphasis throughout Christ's holy Church. The root of the word healing in New Testament Greek, sozo, is the same as that of salvation and wholeness. Spiritual healing is God's work of offering persons balance, harmony, and wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships through confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Through such healing, God works to bring about reconciliation between God and humanity, among individuals and communities, within each person, and between humanity and the rest of creation. The New Testament records that Jesus himself healed the estranged and sick and sent out his disciples on ministries of healing. James (5:14–16a) calls us also to pray for and anoint the sick, that they may be healed.

All healing is of God. The Church's healing ministry in no way detracts from the gifts God gives through medicine and psychotherapy. It is no substitute for either medicine or the proper care of one's health. Rather, it adds to our total resources for wholeness.

Healing is not magic, but underlying it is the great mystery of God's love. Those who minister spiritual healing are channels of God's love. Although no one can predict what will happen in a given instance, many marvelous healings have taken place.

God does not promise that we shall be spared suffering but does promise to be with us in our suffering. Trusting that promise, we are enabled to recognize God's sustaining presence in pain, sickness, injury, and estrangement.

Likewise, God does not promise that we will be cured of all illnesses; and we all must face the inevitability of death. A Service of Healing is not necessarily a service of curing, but it provides an atmosphere in which healing can happen. The greatest healing of all is the reunion or reconciliation of a human being with God. When this happens, physical healing sometimes occurs, mental and emotional balance is often restored, spiritual health is enhanced, and relationships are healed. For the Christian the basic purpose of spiritual healing is to renew and strengthen one's relationship with the living Christ.                                     UMC Book of Worship p613

As I write this I am experiencing extreme fatigue that comes on suddenly and leaves me on the couch frustrated.  Along with the fatigue I have nausea, dizziness, headache and ear pressure.  Its as if I went back to this past summer to re-live my Rock Mountain Spotted Fever.  Its frustrating, because I am desperately trying to get those last points with my employment sponsored fitness app.   I am so close, but while on this couch those 2000 points in 14 days seem insurmountable.  My body has been wracked with H Pylori and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever this past year which I conquered and walked Hadrians Wall across England (albeit slowly).  I have endured the anxiety of a Father with advanced stage Parkinsons now in hospice (being his Durable Power of Attorney), emotional problems with family, the division of the church I have served and loved for years, a very painful shoulder/Rotator cuff, and now a world faced with Covid19.  My problems started last Fall with pain, but in the past month intensified to fatigue.  Yes, I have had the appropriate tests.  I have read all the information, I take the supplements, I rest, but nothing seems to be an immediate cure.  And now I am coming face to face with my need for healing that is beyond my capabilities.

 

But this dis-ease is not mine alone.  I know family members, co-workers, friends, and parishioners who are encountering life and finding themselves sick.  Some have definite illnesses and diagnosis, others have to muddle along trying to heal themselves, many of us failing miserably.  While researching, I began to realize that the quick diagnosis and cure was not going to be available to me this time.  This realization brought about anxiety and frustration that I was no longer able to make my body do what ever I wanted.  I had to give up the quick cure and admit that I needed to slow down and start listening.    Of the stories that I read of cures, non were immediate, and most involved meditation, rest and time.  Which brings me to my current situation of sheltering in place/hunkering down.  What better time than now to start learning the healing ways of God.  I understand that healing is not necessarily mine alone, but one that I must participate in with God.  I’m very aware that my anxiety, bacterial infections and stress over the past year has led to this moment, and I’m now ever more sure that its going to take some long dedicated work to heal. 

 

Healing can take many forms; sometimes physical healing can occur, sometimes spiritual and emotional, sometimes it is the ultimate healing of death that provides resurrection of our bodies and souls.  So, I have some goals, but if God is in charge and I’m listening, I may have to adapt as I go along.

 

These spiritual practices might be helpful if you are hurting, experiencing dis-ease, anxiety, stress, grief, disconnection or abandonment, and you might like to join me in the journey. A scripture passage/story will be shared each week, with spiritual practice for each day.  The days don’t have to be followed in order.  Some of us may find sabbath is not on a weekend, but instead a day off in the week.  I confesss, that I too have failed to practice the ancient ways that might have kept me from this point in my journey.  But I am listening now, and I hope you might find some healing and hope as you journey with me toward health and wholeness.  I have added one or two days of Sabbath each week.  Sabbath rest is a commandment from God, and integral to the healing process.

 

Each spiritual practice has a short description.  How you practice is not as important as that you find yourself quiet in the healing presence of God. 

 

If you would like to share with me, feel free to contact me at Teresa.holt@arumc.org



 


Weekly Prayer Practices

WEEK ONE

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.  Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  Ezekiel 37:1-12  NRSV

 

Day 1

You may find yourself, like me; depleted, tired, dry and empty of life.  It’s not that we want to be this way, but the situations of our lives and possibly our own contributions have led to this depletion of life.  Grief, depression, family commitments, loneliness, job (or lack of), stress… you can add to the list.  It leaves us in a pile of dry bones on the floor of the valley.  And we can’t resurrect ourselves, for we have nothing more to give.  If you feel this way, you can imagine Ezekiel’s feelings in this scripture when God grabs him (the Message version), and puts him in a valley of barren dry bones and says “Can these bones live”?  I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a trick question. And apparently that’s the way Ezekiel sees, it for he puts it back in God’s court.  “God, you alone know”!  In the midst of my dry periods, I probably don’t have the energy to debate whether I can get better; I just know I barely exist!  So, I don’t blame Ezekiel for giving it back to God.  But God here, sends it right back to Ezekiel.  “Prophesy and tell those dry bones to listen to God’s word”. So that’s what Ezekiel does.  And before he can get just a few words out of his mouth, the bones start to rattle and tendons and flesh come upon the bones. All it took was the start of God’s Word to be proclaimed and the dry bones started to come to life.  So, I believe that we must take this proclamation of the Good News seriously in this dry time in which healing is needed. 

Lectio Divina (Praying the Scriptures with God):  Slowly read the scripture below that proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ as the Word of God, who was present to the world.  Read it again a second time looking for a particular passage that you feel God is wanting you to hear.  Spend time reading that passage again, slowly focusing on each word.   Pray, asking God to help you discern what God is saying to you in the passage.  Throughout the day, listen to the whisperings of God that was put on your heart through this passage

The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.  Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing! —came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.  The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out…The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light… The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.  John 1:1-5, 9, 14  The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

Day 2

It is said that Frideric Handel wrote “The Messiah” in only 24 days.  He was brought food, but many times never ate because he was too focused on his work.  One friend who visited him said he found him overcome with emotion and sobbing as he wrote.  But this period of extreme creativity was after a time of dryness, wondering if he had anything else to give in his craft.  He was inspired, when Charles Jenner handed him the words to the Messiah. Jenner, a scholar, wanted to counter the thoughts of deists at the time who did not believe in the divinity of Christ.  At the end of the Messiah, Handel wrote the letters “SDG” for Soli Deo Gloria, which means, “To God Alone the Glory”. 

Meditation With Music:  Spend time today listening to the Messiah (particularly the Hallelujah Chorus).  Picture God restoring your dry bones with passion and excitement.  You are called to a ministry that utilizes your unique gifts and graces that allow you to share the love of God with others.  What healing is God doing in your life that might be a possible renewing of your ministry to this world?

 

Day 3

The people of Israel had lost hope.  God breathed in them and they once again lived and were promised that they would return to the land that they had been taken from.  They were to expect a resurrection as a people.  God promises us a resurrection life through Jesus Christ.   Not only do we experience an ultimate resurrection, we experience “little” resurrections in which our lives are restored to wholeness with God.  The breath of the Holy Spirit is what gives us this life.

Examen (Praying the day/week with God):  Spend time today with God remembering the times in the past that God breathed the Holy Spirit into your life and gave you new life.  Seek to discern the little moments of healing and wholeness in the last week where the Holy Spirit was moving in your life.  Give thanks and praise to God for these times.

 

Day 4

Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy to the dry bones, but it was God that filled them with life.  Spend time being still today and allowing God to fill you with God’s healing power.

Centering Prayer:  Instead of speaking your prayer, allow God to come and fill you with God’s life-giving Spirit.  Clear your mind of thoughts and speak a single word when thoughts return (and they will).  Your word can be one that is special to you.  By emptying your mind, you are allowing God to “speak and work in you”.  Spend five to ten minutes in silence.  It might be helpful to have a timer that will keep you from focusing on time.  Even if you clear your mind for only seconds, this is time where you are allowing God to be in charge of your healing.

Centering Prayer is a form of contemplative prayer developed by Fr William Meniger, Fr M. Basil Pennington and Fr Thomas Keating.

 

Day 5

Visio Divina (Listening to God through the visual arts)Search the internet for  “The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones” by Gustave Dore.  Spend time in meditation with God with the painting.  Who are you in the painting?  What is Ezekiel saying to you?  What is God saying to you?  What emotions are you experiencing? 

 

Day 6 and 7

Sabbath:  During this period of Sabbath, seek to find rest for your dry bones.  How is God restoring life to you during these two days?  How can you be “present” to God’s restorative work?

 

 

WEEK TWO

1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.  I wonder, “Will I ever make it— arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears— tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, “Where is this God of yours?”

4 These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front,
Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving— celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?  Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.  He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!  My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.  He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.                                                                                                                             Psalm 42   The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson



Day 1

This thirst in desert places is a reoccurring theme of mankind.  It takes many forms but usually involves loneliness.  Many of us remember the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  In this poem from the early 1800’s, you have a sailor (the Mariner) who meets a man on his way to a wedding.  The Sailor is insistent that the man hear his story.  It seems that on his past ocean voyage, they ended south in the Antarctica. An albatross appears and leads them out. Through it is praised by the ship’s crew, the Mariner (why, I don’t know) shoots the bird.  Eventually the ship is cursed, for the crime of killing one of God’s creatures, and is taken into uncharted waters where it is totally calm, and the ship can go nowhere.  And so, you have the famous lines (that I memorized in Sr. High) “Water, water, everywhere and all the boards did shrink.  Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”  To punish and remind him of his evil deed, the crew makes the Mariner wear the albatross around his neck.  Eventually the crew all dies except for the Mariner and he is doomed to float by himself on a ship with a dead crew until they are brought back to life and his curse is reversed when he finally looks outside himself and the boat and sees the creatures of the sea around him. He says his lesson is “He prayeth best, who loveth best all things both great and small.  For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all”.   He remembers God’s creation and beauty, and God’s love for him and thus can be thankful. 

This famous poem is a great way to remind us that one way to endure a dark time is as the Mariner does - remember God’s mercy, grace, and love.  Just as the Mariner looked outside himself and remembers God and creation and thus reversed the curse, the Psalmist also recognizes his need to remember God.  Verse 6 “When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you”.  The Psalmist remembers a time when he was able to Praise God and worship.  Remembering the good during painful times is much easier said than done.  But somehow, we must look outside ourselves to see the continual beauty of God’s creation. 

Meditation in the Midst of God’s Creation:  Spend time today walking or just sitting outside.  Listen to the noises all around you.  What do you hear?  Seek to discover the good and wonder of God’s creation.  Let this time be an act of healing.

 

Day 2

Examen  (Praying the day/week with God):  Spend time with God in prayer seeking to remember the times throughout the past week where God has been faithful.  Gratitude Journal:  Write down the faithful characteristics of God in your life.  How has God ministered to you throughout your life?  Who has God brought into your life who has helped and taught you?

 

Day 3

Even in the desert there are signs of life.   In the wilderness of Israel, there is an oasis at En Gedi which has sustained and blessed people of that area for centuries.  This oasis has a continual fresh water spring – right next to the salty Dead Sea where there is no drinking water.  God is also right beside us to give us nourishment, if we can just see it.   In desert times, often our limited abilities prevent us from seeing that God is near.  Depression, anger, and fear many times limit our abilities to experience God’s presence.  When I had a brief bought with melanoma, the fear brought a paralysis to my prayer life.  I could not pray and had to rely on others to pray for me.  What I learned is that to endure is to know that even though you can’t feel God’s presence, God is at work in your life.  The Psalmist puts it this way.  Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again.  He doesn’t say everything is going to be ok. He just says fix my eyes on God and soon I’ll be praising again.  St John of the Cross talks about a “dark night of the soul” – a time in a mature Christian’s life when God seems very far away.  Many of us can find it hard to find God in our desert places and we think that God has abandoned us.  But the mystics tell us that it is during these times that God is most present, but in a different way.  Our understandings of God are limited, and it may be in the desert places where God may do a new thing in our life.

Jesus Prayer:  When we find ourselves in a desert, you may, like me, find yourself paralyzed, unable to think or pray.  The Jesus Prayer is an Orthodox prayer that is designed to provide words when we have no words.  Spend time today praying the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  If you have prayer beads or a prayer rope, you can pray the prayer for each bead/knot, but any bracelet or necklace with beads/knots can be used.   If you find yourself stressed in the middle of the night, or in the midst of an overwhelming experience, try using this prayer to reassure you that God is near.

 

Day 4

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?   Why are you crying the blues?  It might be beneficial as the Psalmist does and admit that you are blue, down in the dumps or depressed – and to say it out loud.  Too many times in the church we go through our routines pretending we are just fine, while screaming on the inside.  Sometimes, the first step to healing is to admit that we are hurting.  Naming the pain with a caring friend is a good first step.  Often by naming our pain, others have permission to name theirs and are more likely to accept the healing grace, forgiveness, and love of God.  Henri Nowen calls ministry to others out of our pain, “the wounded healer.” God utilizes our hurtful, painful experiences to make us better ministers.  

Practicing the Presence of God:  Spend time today as you go through your routines asking God to put on your heart someone else who is experiencing a desert place.  Reach out to that individual to let them know they are not alone and that they are on your heart and in your prayers.  Resolve to lift them in prayer every time God puts them on your heart this week.

 

Day 5

In the normalcy of life, you can easily lose your perspective.  Like the Mariner who couldn’t appreciate God’s creation, beauty and love until he was left lonely and thirsty, I believe the Psalmist of 42 is seeking to find his way again.  While we are in desert places, we often begin to seek something more.  It is in the dry places that we begin to thirst.  It is when we realize that we don’t have control that we begin to desire God.  So, I don’t completely lament deserts.  If it were not for deserts, we would think that our life was under our control; that our happiness is dependent on other people; that if you work hard enough everyone can achieve success; that bad things only happen to those who aren’t strong enough, good enough, etc.  These statements sound kind of silly when we speak them, but deep down we embrace most of them.  It’s only when life socks it to us and we can’t “fix it”, that we begin to see the futileness in our current “mode of operation”.    For it is then that we see that we are not in control; we cannot fix all of life’s problems; and we can’t always pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  So, we thirst for God who can satisfy.  God, most of the time, will not fix our situations, but God will quench the thirst of our soul that helps us face these obstacles.  God will bring a depth to our spirit that will help us see life in perspective.  God will give us the strength to endure what is put in our path.  The depth and the growth that can occur in a desert makes for a more satisfying and joyful life.    

This truth is why the people of Israel had to walk the wilderness for forty years.  It was in the desert where they learned to depend upon God for food and water.  It was in the desert that they began to be shaped into a community that worshiped God alone.   It was in the desert that growth happened that allowed them to embrace a life in the Promise Land, knowing that it was not by their hands that they lived and thrived.  It was in the desert that they learned to worship and to praise in both the good and bad times.

Visio Divina (Listening to God through the visual arts):  Search the Internet for “Eternity’s Gate” by Vincent van Gogh.  This painting was completed at a time when Van Gogh was suffering from ill health.   Spend time with God studying the painting.  What are the emotions that you feel while viewing it?  Where are you in the painting?  What are the things that you want to say to God as you meditate on it?  What is God saying back to you?

 

Day 6

Vincent van Gogh had these words to say about  “At Eternity’s Gate”: “It seems to me that a painter has a duty to try to put an idea into his work.  I was trying to say this in this print – but I can’t say it as beautifully, as strikingly as reality, of which this is only a dim reflection seen in a dark mirror – that it seems to me that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of a God and an eternity, is the unutterable moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man like that, without his being aware of it perhaps, as he sits so quietly in the corner of his hearth…simply the fact that the poorest wood cutter, heath farmer or miner can have moments of emotion and mood that give him a sense of an eternal home that he is close to.”  From a letter to Theo van Gogh (his brother)

Journal:  We often resist writing our words because of the permanence of them.  But emotions and grieving are often ignored if we don’t.  Write a letter to God today sharing all the emotions and feelings that you are experiencing this week.  Ask for healing so that you can once again “be singing God’s praises”.  Remember that it is God’s healing, not ours, so let go of the control to tell God how you want to be healed.


Day 7

Sabbath:  Rest from tears today.  Seek to find opportunities to laugh and praise God.  Share with someone how God has helped you in the past.


 WEEK THREE

Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that God had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”

Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said.

“Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”  So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes.

Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”

Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”

Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.

But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”

So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.

He then went back to the Holy Man, he and his entourage, stood before him, and said, “I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel. In gratitude let me give you a gift.”

“As God lives,” Elisha replied, “the God whom I serve, I’ll take nothing from you.” Naaman tried his best to get him to take something, but he wouldn’t do it.

“If you won’t take anything,” said Naaman, “let me ask you for something: Give me a load of dirt, as much as a team of donkeys can carry, because I’m never again going to worship any god other than God. But there’s one thing for which I need God’s pardon: When my master, leaning on my arm, enters the shrine of Rimmon and worships there, and I’m with him there, worshiping Rimmon, may you see to it that God forgive me for this.”Elisha said, “Everything will be all right. Go in peace.”

But he hadn’t gone far when Gehazi, servant to Elisha the Holy Man, said to himself, “My master has let this Aramean Naaman slip through his fingers without so much as a thank-you. By the living God, I’m going after him to get something or other from him!” And Gehazi took off after Naaman.

Naaman saw him running after him and jumped down from his chariot to greet him, “Is something wrong?”  “Nothing’s wrong, but something’s come up. My master sent me to tell you: ‘Two young men just showed up from the hill country of Ephraim, brothers from the guild of the prophets. Supply their needs with a gift of 75 pounds of silver and a couple of sets of clothes.’”

Naaman said, “Of course, how about a 150 pounds?” Naaman insisted. He tied up the money in two sacks and gave him the two sets of clothes; he even gave him two servants to carry the gifts back with him.

When they got to the fort on the hill, Gehazi took the gifts from the servants, stored them inside, then sent the servants back.

He returned and stood before his master. Elisha said, “So what have you been up to, Gehazi?” “Nothing much,” he said. Elisha said, “Didn’t you know I was with you in spirit when that man stepped down from his chariot to greet you? Tell me, is this a time to look after yourself, lining your pockets with gifts? Naaman’s skin disease will now infect you and your family, with no relief in sight.”  Gehazi walked away, his skin flaky and white like snow.  2 Kings 5     The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

 

Day 1

For many the hardest part of healing is accepting it.  We want to determine how and when we will be healed.  For Naaman it required a simple act.  He wanted a show and got a command to dip himself in the dirty Jordon River seven times. Elisha was adamant that this must be the way of healing.  Elisha didn’t even come out to greet Naaman!  And as a result, there was no confusion that God was the healer.

Examen (Praying the day/week with God):  Spend time in prayer with God going over your day (or former day).  Look for those times when you trusted that God wanted the best for you.  Be honest about the times you tried to take over your life feeling that you needed more control.  Ask God to help you live today in trust that God wants the best for you.  Ask God to show you how you can be more accepting of your limitations.

 

Day 2

Gehazi became greedy in the midst of Naaman’s healing.  He desired to make a profit off God’s act and then lied to Elisha about it.  We often fall short and find ourselves experiencing the results of our own actions.  Spend time today with the Jesus Prayer, asking for forgiveness and healing. 

Jesus Prayer – If you have prayer beads or prayer rope,  you can use the different beads/knots for each reciting of the prayer.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”.  If life is too much at this point you can always recite “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”.  Either way the reciting is a form of meditation and confession.

 

Day 3

Naaman was quick to discount Elisha’s directions until his servants encouraged him, with wisdom. to listen and obey. As a result of their insistence, Naaman responded positively and was healed.  Often, we have a perceived idea of want we need for healing, and fail to listen to God or others.  Spend five to ten minutes in quiet prayer.

Centering Prayer:  This prayer is a simple prayer that involves being quiet in the presence of God.  It’s rare we can silence the voices in our mind, so utilize a word that represents your desire for healing and when thoughts enter your mind, say the word.  It may take practice of saying the word over and over, but that is ok.  Attempting to silence your voice is being receptive to God’s presence during this time.

 

Day 4

After his healing, Naaman was quick to acknowledge and give thanks to God who healed him.

Gratitude Journal:  Note all the many ways you are blessed.  With each blessing give thanks for God’s grace and presenceOr use Prayer Beads, using each bead as an opportunity to name your blessings and give thanks to God.

 

Day 5

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, thought that Naaman must pay for his healing.  Yet Elisha was adamant that Naaman’s healing was an act of grace.  We often think that if we receive something, we must pay it back.  But accepting something that we can’t possibly pay back can be an act of healing and acknowledgement that all we have is a gift from God. 

Anointing/Baptismal Remembrance:  With water or oil, use your fingers to make the sign of the cross on your forehead and then spend time in the presence of God giving thanks that God’s grace has been present in your life (through baptism, the presence of others, or other events and experiences that you claim).

 

Day 6 and 7

Naaman’s healing was a very simple act with no desire of anything but obedience from him.  Sometimes the simple acts of healing are the hardest to embrace. 

Sabbath:  In your sabbath time, find a way to spend time resting from stress and anxiety.  This act of Sabbath may seem to deny the demands of your current life’s situations.   But sabbath might be a very simple act of limiting your interaction with the news, facebook, etc.  Seek to discover what might keep you from God’s love and grace and give yourself permission to rest.


WEEK FOUR

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.  The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.  “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46, NRSV

Day 1

The Psalmist conveys a world not too far removed from ours:  though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult… The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter.  This is what many may feel about our world right now, but it may also be a representation of what is going on inside us.  In our pain we see our surroundings changing, our bodies shaking, we roar out in anger to God and tremble at our helplessness.  And to this, you hear God respond “Be Still and know that I am God!” 

Meditation with Coloring Pages:  Find an Adult Coloring Book or pages on the Internet (many are copy write free and some include the scriptural phrase “Be Still”). Utilizing pencils or crayons, use the coloring of the page as a form of meditation, prayer and healing.


Day 2

It takes being still to begin to see that the clutter of our minds, the questions, the anger, the despair - are not providing the refuge we need.  For in the end, we are still miserable, in pain and at a loss for what to do.  And to this God responds:  Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  The Psalmist says this twice.  And also tells us that God is in the midst of the city (where there is chaos) and that God will not be moved.  So apparently God is not a refuge from the city – from the chaos – from the world – from our grief – from our pain… but a refuge in the midst of it. We are not protected from life and loss, but God promises us to be there and be our refuge in the midst of it.  But to experience God, we might have to silence the clutter we have built as a defense around ourselves.  Be still, and know that I am God.  God is still God and in control.  God is still the ultimate I AM. 

Contemplative Prayer:  Speaking verbally or from within, recite the passage “be still and know that I am God”.   Say this slowly and mindfully for approximately three minutes.  After that time reduce the scripture to “be still and know” continuing to say it slowly for additional three minutes.  Then for the next three minutes reduce the scripture phrase to “be still”, followed by three minutes of “be” and then the final minutes in silence.  (An adaptation from Fr. Richard Rohr)

 

Day 3

I had a chihuahua (Callie) who used to run around in circles as fast as she could.  When she got tired of going one way, she would turn and go the other trying to catch her tail.  If that energy wasn’t enough, she would jump as high as she could over and over again.  We also had an older larger mixed breed dog (Alex) who would watch and when she couldn’t take it any longer, she would put her paw on Callie and hold it there.  She wouldn’t do it to hurt Callie, but so she would stop.  And it worked every time.  Callie would look up as if she was pulled out of a trance and stop, and then go lick Alex’s face as if to say “thank you.”  I often think of these two pets when my life is careening out of control.  When God says “Be Still”, I hear it as Alex with her paw telling Callie “STOP!”

Centering Prayer:  Clearing you mind, sit in silence and stillness for ten – fifteen minutes.  If thoughts or fears enter your mind, take a deep breath or say “still”.  This is your time for God to have you be still long enough for God’s healing presence to work in your body and soul.

 

Day 4

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”  Matthew 5:3 .  The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Prayer Beads or Gratitude Journal:  Journal or list with each bead the blessings that you are currently experiencing this week.  How does being at the “end of your rope” provide more of God in your life?

 

Day 5

Meditation in the Midst of God’s Creation:  Spend time walking or sitting in God’s creation.  Notice how nature seems to still celebrate God even though our lives may be in stress and anxiety.  Be mindful of letting go of your anxiety and letting God be your refuge as you walk.

 

Day 6 and 7

Sabbath:  In these two days of Sabbath, take a rest from fears and anxiety.  When you start worrying, ask God to provide more of God’s presence and rule in your life. 

 

WEEK FIVE

It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3 And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep[a] me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.[b] 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[c] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10 (NRSV) 


Day 1

So what exactly was this thorn in Paul’s flesh?  There has been a lot of speculation. Some think it might have been physical:  epilepsy, malaria, tuberculosis, eye problems, or headaches.  Others think it was mental or spiritual:  temptation, depression, doubt, or even the constant persecution from others.   I don’t know, but the good thing for us  is that it is not listed.  So maybe he suffered from the same thing we suffer from:  cancer, diabetes, arthritis, constant fatigue, mental illness, depression, overwhelming grief, phobias, or addiction.  I could continue the list and am pretty sure there would be something that you could identify with.  If you are human, you are currently suffering, or have suffered in the past.  It’s the human condition.  We suffer.  So when Paul talks about suffering, we listen. 

Prayer Beads/Practicing the Presence:  Utilize your prayer beads to pray for others today, using each bead to lift a different individual in prayer.  Throughout the day, pray that God puts individuals who are suffering on your heart.  Throughout the day, when God puts a person on your heart, take the time to say a short prayer for them.  We many times feel that Intercessory prayer must be a listing of prayers at one time.  But by being aware of God’s presence and promptings, your prayers may just be a short thought of someone in need and lifting them to God.


Day 2

Suffering can consume your life.  Paul does not give advice on how to get over suffering in the passage.  He, like us, doesn’t want to suffer, and begged Jesus to take away the suffering.  Jesus also asked God the night before he was crucified to remove the situation if it was possible and of God’s will.  Though he doesn’t want to suffer, Paul is encouraged by Jesus through his prayer, to not run from the weakness of suffering.  When Jesus responded to Paul’s request, he said this “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[c] is made perfect in weakness.” He did not tell him “you can pull yourself out of this”.  Instead he said in your weakness and suffering, my grace and power will be with you.  God’s grace and power are evident when we are weak and when we are suffering.  They are inseparably bound to each other.  Paul does not “just bear this thorn in his flesh”, but instead embraces and accepts his weakness.  Weakness, as well as suffering, is a human condition and when accepted permits God’s grace to operate.

Examen (Praying with God through your day/week):  Pray with God through your past week.  Where were the times that you were weak, that allowed God’s grace and power to be evident?  Where did you accept your weakness or suffering and felt God’s presence?


Day 3

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  Romans 8:28    The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Paul does not say that everything in our life is good.  But, instead that God is able to work those details in our life together for good.  This is an affirmation that is rarely made in the midst of suffering but can be often seen looking back.  It is often in the midst of the darkness that God’s love meets us and God’s light and grace helps us bit by bit find our way through the darkness. 

Centering Prayer:  Pray the Centering Prayer multiple times today acknowledging that you are not in control but that God is working healing in your life.   A friend told me that he learned, from his time with the Jesuits, that your thoughts and feelings are closely connected, and sometimes the chatter in our minds will lesson once we address the emotion that is triggering it.  Acknowledge your suffering and pain today, then let it go while you pray.  Expect God to work healing.  One of my professors told me that whatever God does in your Centering Prayer time is none of your business.  In other words, during our time of being silent, we allow God to do what God wants to do.  Centering Prayer can sometimes bring a flow of tears that springs from God’s healing and we don’t even know why we are crying.  But we can rest assured that God is working in our life.


Day 4

The Christian Community allows a safe place to suffer.  We can recognize each other’s suffering and pain and provide a place for it to be shared.  When we offer the hospitality of listening, we give those who are in pain a place to begin to experience God’s grace and love through that suffering, and healing can begin.  Compassion comes from the root words that mean “to suffer with”.  We do not need to suffer alone!  God’s grace and love is evident in those who walk alongside you.  There are also opportunities for you to walk alongside someone who is suffering.  Jesus, when he was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked some of his disciples to join him and pray with him.  Job’s friends, though they were misguided in their advice, came to sit with him while he suffered.  James tells the early church that if you are sick to call the church to pray over you. Christian Community and the grace and love of God is what makes suffering bearable and allows for a deeper blessing that is beyond happiness.  Jesus talked about the blessing in his Sermon on the Mount.  He knew pain but shared a different understanding of what it means to experience suffering with the awareness of God’s presence.

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you”.  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.  “You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-ful’ you find yourselves cared for.  “You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right.  Then you can see God in the outside word. Matthew 5:3-8  The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson (Message)

Practicing the Presence:  Ask God to help you discern those whom you can confide in and are willing to be a listening ear for you.   Or ask God to help you discern another who might need you as a listening ear or encourager.  During the current quarantine, contact with others might be through a phone call or short prayer texted to someone God has put on your heart.  In the future, look for ways you might volunteer or help others in their suffering.


Day 5

Meditation in God’s Creation:  Seek to be outside enjoying God’s creation through sitting or walking.  Listen for God’s voice through creation.  What is God saying to you about your weakness and Christ’s power through it?


Day 6

Visio Divina (Listening to God through the visual arts): Search the internet for the fresco “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo that is painted on the Sistine Chapel.  Meditate on the painting.  Spend time looking at God’s posture as well as Adam's.  Picture yourself as Adam.  How is God reaching out to you?  How are you responding?  What is God saying to you?   Spend time in prayer in acknowledgement of God’s grace and power in your life.


Day 7

Sabbath:  On this day of Sabbath rest, spend time being positive about your weakness.  Take a rest from trying to “fix” yourself or others. 



WEEK SIX

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.   1 Kings 19:1-16  NRSV

 

Day 1

Have you ever had one of those days when the world seemed to be against you?   No matter what you did, your actions were perceived as wrong.  Elijah was not just having one of those days, he was having one of those years!  He had prevailed against Jezebel and the Priests of Baal, only to have to run for his life.  Jezebel was not happy that he had made a fool of her and Baal.  Elijah had spent most of his energy proving that the God of Israel was the only God and found himself exhausted and unable to go on running.  He stopped in the midst of his running, and asked God to take his life because he couldn’t do it anymore.  It was there that he was fed by an angel who had to prod him two different times to eat and receive nourishment.

Lectio Divina (Praying the Scriptures with God):   Read the passage slowly stopping where Elijah gets to the cave.  Read the passage a second time looking for parts of the story that stand out to you.   What in your past history has caused exhaustion in your life?  Exhaustion might be a present reality or past event.  Were you fed during that time (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or physically)?  How is God feeding you today?  Are angels having to prod you to eat?  Spend time in prayer with God about your need for nourishment.  Rest in God’s loving presence.  Throughout the day, look for ways that God may be seeking to nourish you.


Day 2

God asks Elijah what he is doing there.   Elijah then goes through his whole list of troubles.   God’s initial response is to tell him to go outside the cave, and wait for him for his presence was about to be experienced.  Multiple earthshaking events happen, but God was found in the sound of sheer silence.

Centering Prayer:  A lot of our prayer life is spent talking to God and airing our grievances.  But if we want to experience the presence of God, we might want to take the time to be still and allow God to speak into the silence.  Spend time in quiet Centering Prayer, allowing God to heal you in the silence.  Set a timer for twenty minutes and seek to quiet the clutter of thoughts and grievances.


Day 3

Meditation with Adult Coloring Pages:  It can be very hard to be still without the focus of our thoughts on something.  Find a color page on line (or in a book) that speaks to you about this passage.  Spend time using the rhythm of coloring with pencils or crayons and listen to the whispering of God.


Day 4

After God is revealed in the sign of sheer silence, God asks Elijah again what he is doing there.  He responds with the same list of grievances that he had before.  God knew why Elijah was there, but still asked him the question.   Apparently, there was a need for Elijah to share these grievances with God.

Examen (Praying through the day/week with God):  Use this time to share with God your grievances, fears and frustrations with events from the past day, week or year.


Day 5

God doesn’t dwell on Elijah’s grievances, but instead instructs him on ministry that he still must complete.  When we are tired and exhausted, we can easily become self-absorbed.  I don’t blame Elijah for wanting a pity party;  he deserved it!  But nothing is accomplished by continuing to gripe, and there is work to be done.

Practicing the Presence:  Throughout the day, seek God’s guidance on where you might be in ministry to others.  Practice looking and listening to others and then act when you hear the whispering of how God might want you to be Jesus’ hands and feet in ministry.


Day 6

Meditation in God’s creation:  It took getting away for Elijah to be fed, rested, and listen to God.  Seek to find time today for a mini retreat.  Take a hike or walk or find a place apart from others to be fed spiritually so you can be more fully present to God.


Day 7

Sabbath:  In this day of rest, seek to feed yourself in the ways that you need nourishment (physically, emotionally, spiritually etc.).  Enjoy the presence of God in your midst.  



WEEK SEVEN

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”  Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.  Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”  Others said, “It’s him all right!”  But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”  He said, “It’s me, the very one.”  They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”  “A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said. When I washed, I saw.”  “So where is he?”  “I don’t know.”

They marched the man to the Pharisees. This day when Jesus made the paste and healed his blindness was the Sabbath. The Pharisees grilled him again on how he had come to see. He said, “He put a clay paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”  Some of the Pharisees said, “Obviously, this man can’t be from God. He doesn’t keep the Sabbath.”  Others countered, “How can a bad man do miraculous, God-revealing things like this?” There was a split in their ranks. They came back at the blind man, “You’re the expert. He opened your eyes. What do you say about him?”  He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews didn’t believe it, didn’t believe the man was blind to begin with. So they called the parents of the man now bright-eyed with sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, the one you say was born blind? So how is it that he now sees?”  His parents said, “We know he is our son, and we know he was born blind. But we don’t know how he came to see—haven’t a clue about who opened his eyes. Why don’t you ask him? He’s a grown man and can speak for himself.” (His parents were talking like this because they were intimidated by the Jewish leaders, who had already decided that anyone who took a stand that this was the Messiah would be kicked out of the meeting place. That’s why his parents said, “Ask him. He’s a grown man.”)

They called the man back a second time—the man who had been blind—and told him, “Give credit to God. We know this man is an impostor.”  He replied, “I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind . . . I now see.”  They said, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  “I’ve told you over and over and you haven’t listened. Why do you want to hear it again? Are you so eager to become his disciples?”

With that they jumped all over him. “You might be a disciple of that man, but we’re disciples of Moses. We know for sure that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this man even comes from.”  The man replied, “This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will. That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of—ever. If this man didn’t come from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.” They said, “You’re nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!” Then they threw him out in the street.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The man said, “Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.”  Jesus said, “You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?”  “Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshiped him.

Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”  Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?” Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”  John 9  The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson (Message)


Day 1

We are introduced to a man born blind.  The initial conversation it seems, revolves around “Why is this man blind?”  A big debate is going on.  Yet right away theirs and our own limited sight is called into question.  Why is this even questioned?  Too often in life, we are asking the same wrong questions.  We walk around situations blind, seeking answers to the wrong questions.  The blind man also seems spiritually as well as physically blind to Jesus, for he doesn’t approach Jesus.  Jesus instead goes to the blind man and spits on him.  It may take the same kind of eye opening in our lives.  God comes to us and opens our eyes despite our own failure to admit we need help.

Meditation with Music:  Read the scripture a couple of times till the story is clear in your mind.  Search the Internet for the Song “For the First Time” by Rod Stewart.  Put yourself in the place of the blind man and imagine the relationship between you and Jesus and your healing while you listen to the song.  Listen to the song a couple of times and let the lyrics and the story stay with you through out the day as a continual prayer.


Day 2

I don’t know if you caught the part about the spitting in the reading, but especially in that day spitting on someone was degrading.  But the man seems to endure the spit and the mud and does what Jesus says, to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.  And because of his obedience, he can see.  He is not healed while with Jesus.  He is healed when he is away and washing.  So, he has yet to see Jesus, both physically and spiritually.  Do not dismiss the trust that this must have involved.  He allowed someone to spit in his eyes and then went and washed it out in a different location.  Most people would have ignored this command for healing.  So there is  receptivity in this man to Jesus and his healing.

Centering Prayer:  Spend twenty minutes in quietness and stillness with Jesus.  Allow this time to be a receptivity to God’s healing touch in your life.


Day 3

Those in the story who can physically see Jesus, unlike the man who was blind, refuse to see the miracle.  They refuse to acknowledge Jesus in their midst.  There are the neighbors who refuse to acknowledge that he is the same man.  There are the Pharisees who deal in rubrics of questions:  How were you healed? Who healed you?  When did he heal you?   And then we have the parents who don’t even want to claim their child, let alone his healing, so they defer back to him saying, “Go ask him, he’s old enough to answer for himself”.  All the while no one rejoices that he is healed.                

Gratitude Journal or Prayer Beads:  Spend time giving thanks for the healing moments you have had in the past days/weeks/year (physical, emotional, or spiritual).  Give thanks to God for each grace-giving healing touch.


Day 4

It even takes the blind man awhile to understand the miracle that has happened to him.  As he is examined by each physically seeing but spiritually blind group, he becomes more and more sure of what happened and who healed him. He tells the neighbors, “I am the man”.   He tells the Pharisees, I was blind, but now I see, and then later with more assurance, “ This is amazing!  You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes!  It's well known that God isn't at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence does his will.  He cheekily says to them “do you want to be a disciple?” Finally, at the end, he totally physically and spiritually sees Jesus and confesses, “Lord, I believe”. 

Lectio Divina (Praying the Scriptures):  Read the story slowly a first time.  Read the story again for a second time focusing on the response of the community.  Where are you in the story?  Are you the blind man?  Are you one of the doubting community, family or religious bystanders who questions the healing?  What is Jesus saying to you?  Let the conversations that this brings between you and Jesus be a continual prayer through out the day. 

  

Day 5

Jesus seeks us first, even when we are unaware of our need for him.  So many times, we are in darkness and   blind to the world, ourselves, and God.  But Jesus invades our life: through scripture, through the act of another, through prayer, or through our desperation.  And suddenly, we are no longer content being blind.   Our healing involves having the scales pulled away to reveal our deepest fears, the armor that keeps God and others at a distance, and ultimately our resistance to trust Jesus.  The hard work of healing might make us want to want to return to blindness; we are content to be king of our own darkness or dark mess.  This washing can be harder than we thought.

Examen (Praying through the day/week with Jesus):  Pray through the events of the past day or week and seek Jesus’ guidance to see where you were resistant to be honest and open to the blindness of our lives.  Where did you see Jesus working healing in your life?  Where did you put up resistance to trust Jesus? 


Day 6

The ancient prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester:  Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.  O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly day by day.  Amen

Meditation with Music:  Search the Internet for the song “Day by Day” from Godspell by Stephen Schwarthz and John-Michael Tebelak.  For your meditation today, listen to the song a couple of times and let it be your prayer through out the day. 


Day 7

Sabbath:  Rest today knowing that Jesus seeks to find you, even when you might be resistant to his healing touch.  


 WEEK EIGHT


With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.


God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.


The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.


But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!


That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.


All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.


Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.


God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.


So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.


None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.


Romans 8, The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson


 

Day 1

Lectio Divina (Praying the Scriptures with God):  Read the chapter slowly to get the overall message that Paul is sharing.  Read the chapter again, a second time, with a focus on what God is communicating to you.   Does this part of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome address any fears that you have had in the past week/month?  Does the passage give you reassurance?  Pray with God your fears and hear the replies that God has for you.  Sit in silence, drinking in the assurance that nothing separates you from God’s presence and love.  Throughout the day, when you are fearful, anxious or stressed, remind yourself of the assurance of this passage.


Day 2

Scripture Memorization:  Memorize Romans 8:35, 37-39.  Any translation is fine, but I particularly like the NRSV translation:   

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, 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 from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   

Print and place this scripture prayer where you can see it throughout the day and use it as your prayer throughout the week.  This prayer is a great one to memorize and pray during times of stress, anxiety, and fear.


Day 3

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Examen (Praying through the day/week with Jesus):  We often think of a resurrection life as in the future (i.e. after we die), but resurrection life is meant to be lived now!  Review your past day or week with Jesus and see those opportunities that you had to live a resurrection life.  Did you embrace the moment knowing that God’s spirit was by your side?  Did you have an expectancy of what’s next?  Ask God to give you a spirit of expectant  adventure this week versus one of timid grave-tending. 


Day 4

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Centering Prayer:  Use this time of silence before God to allow God to arouse God’s Spirit within you and bring you joy.  Still the voices and thoughts that come to you and trust that God “has this”.


Day 5

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Practicing the Presence (Seeking God’s presence in the everyday): When we are paralyzed with fears, even prayer can be too much of a struggle.  Instead of focusing on what and how we pray, sometimes it is easier to trust that God is praying for us.   Practice today seeking the presence of Jesus in your midst and do not worry about what to pray for.  Look instead, for the moments when you feel his comfort and love.


Day 6

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

Jesus Prayer:  When we are sick, experiencing dis-ease, tired, grieving, or stressed it is easy to be self-absorbed.  Use the prayer time today to pray the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”), reminding yourself that even in our sin, God loves and forgives us.


Day 7

Sabbath:  God has adopted you and you are free from law or anything else that ties you down and keeps you from a resurrected life.  Seek to live today as that child of God!


 

WEEK NINE

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble".  Matthew 5:1-12   The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson


Day 1

Scriptural Imagination: Read the passage slowly to get an overall understanding of the situation and sermon Jesus is preaching.  Read the passage a second time and imagine where you are in the scene.  Picture Jesus as he climbs the hillside and then begins to preach.  What are your emotions as he says each line (what we know as the Beatitudes – or “You are Blessed When..”)  Do you want to protest at any point?  If you do, tell Jesus your concerns, anxiety or frustrations at what he is saying.  Is there any part of the sermon that reassures you?  Are there times during the sermon that you feel Jesus is talking to you?  Spend time just being in Jesus’ presence while on the hillside.  Picture the scene around you.   What emotions are you feeling?  Don’t rush to end this experience.  Let your body be healed by the presence of Jesus with you on the hillside.


Day 2

Welcoming Prayer (Welcoming the presence of God into the everyday): Read the Matthew passage slowly, acknowledging the emotions that you experience with each blessing.  Let your emotions and feelings wash over you without inhibitions.  Welcome your emotions. Ask Jesus to help you let go of each emotion.  One at a time, name your emotions ( i.e. anxiety, fear, stress, pain, grief) and let them go, experiencing the peace of Jesus’ presence and assurance that you are blessed and loved.

Welcoming Prayer is a form of contemplative prayer that was formulated by Mary Mrozowski who was a cohort of Fr Thomas Keating who developed what we know as Centering Prayer. 


Day 3

Welcoming Prayer (Welcoming the presence of God into the everyday): 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Phillippians 4:6-7  The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Welcoming Prayer is an extension of Centering Prayer.  When you practice Centering Prayer, you are letting thoughts go and allowing God to work in your heart, mind and soul.  Welcoming Prayer takes that same practice into everyday life.  When you find yourself in anxious and stressful situations, you acknowledge first the emotions that you are experiencing and welcome them.  By acknowledging the emotions, just like you acknowledge the thoughts in your mind in centering prayer, you are able to give them to God and then let them go.  Read the passage above with Welcoming Prayer in mind.  Practice Welcoming Prayer throughout the day. 


Day 4

Welcoming Prayer (Welcoming the presence of God into the everyday): 

Gently become aware of your body and your interior state.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.  I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment because I know it is for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.

I let go of my desire for security.  I let go of my desire for approval.  I let go of my desire for control.

I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person, or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.   Mary Mrozowski (1925-1993)

Pray the above Welcoming Prayer throughout the day.  What does it mean to let go; not only your emotions, but also your desires for security, approval, control and your need to change situations, conditions, other persons or yourself?  Which parts of this prayer are the hardest for you to pray?


Day 5

John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, praised for you or criticized for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours.

So be it.  And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.  (Contemporary Version)

John Wesley encouraged this adapted Covenant prayer to be prayed in a worship service of commitment and renewal. It has become an important part of the worship services of many congregations as a renewal of commitment at the first of each year.  The Covenant Prayer, like the Welcoming Prayer, requires a letting go of control and a practice of trusting God.  John Wesley wrote in his journal at different times that the service was a blessing to many people.  Post the covenant prayer in strategic locations (bathroom mirror, car, etc.).  Pray the prayer through out the day.  Just like the Welcoming Prayer, acknowledge the parts that are hard for you to pray.  Experience the emotions that they bring to you, acknowledge them to God and then let them go. Does this prayer, like the beatitudes, acknowledge blessings in your life?


Day 6

Breath Prayer:  There are times of anxiety, grief, and stress, when emotions wash over us and we become paralyzed in our prayer life.  Breath prayers are important prayers to know during these times, because they are short simple prayers.  The Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”  is a breath prayer.  Another form of this prayer is the “Kyrie Eleison” which is Greek for “Lord Have Mercy”.  Many times, it is prayed “Lord Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy”.   Pray one of these breath prayers or develop your own and pray it with your full body by breathing in during the first portion of the prayer and breathing out during the remainder of the prayer.  By utilizing your breath during the prayer, you become less anxious and more aware. 


Day 7

Sabbath:  Take a rest from worry today.  Let this scripture passage be your lived prayer today. 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Phillippians 4:6-7  The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson


WEEK TEN

Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.   Matthew 9:20-22  The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”  When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.” Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”  When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed. Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”   Luke 8:43-48 The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson (Message)


Day 1

Any condition that involved blood was considered unclean during Jesus’ time.  The woman with the hemorrhage would have been quarantined from society for those twelve years and had to be desperate to risk societal rule and touch Jesus.  She believed that all she needed to do to be healed was to touch the edge of Jesus’ robe.  Jesus’ response to her healing in The Message translation was “live well and live blessed”!  In the NRSV and the NI translation it is “Go in Peace!”  Shalom is the Jewish word for peace and it means wholeness, wellness, or completeness.  I can see how Eugene Peterson translated it to live well and blessed. 

Mandala:  Mandalas are Buddhist images that is utilized for meditation.  Christians have utilized the Mandalas for hundreds of years in stained glass windows.  Mandalas symbolize wholeness and completeness.  Search the internet for images of Mandalas (many are utilized for coloring) and Mandala style stained glass windows in Christian Churches.  Read the two scriptures above with the command of Jesus to live a life of shalom.  Draw your own Mandala that symbolizes your life in shalom.  What does it look like to have a life of wellness, blessing, peace, wholeness, and completeness?  What does shalom mean for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being?  This drawing may be a process and your mandala may change over the coming days/weeks/months.  Risk revisiting it and see if your understanding of Jesus’ instruction for “Live well, Live blessed” changes.


Day 2

Meditation in God’s Creation:  Many times, during illness, grief, or depression we quarantine ourselves from God’s creation.  Risk getting outside yourself to experience creation’s shalom.  Take a walk or just sit and listen. Seek being in fellowship with others.   Ask God to help you find the peace today that you need.


Day 3

Scriptural Imagination:  Read the two stories again.  Close your eyes and picture you as the woman in the story.  What is your illness?  Have you been in isolation or quarantine because of it (this could be symbolic)?  What are you wanting from Jesus?  Are you desperate enough to risk touching his robe?  What are the expressions of the people around you?  What is Jesus’ response to you?  Don’t rush this meditation.  Spend time afterwards experiencing the healing peace that Jesus wants for you.


Day 4

Gratitude Journal:  Journal the different ways God has provided healing through peace, wholeness, wellness or completeness.  Focus on your whole being; physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.  Have you received some healing in parts of your life that you have not recognized in the past?  Does the healing in some areas provide healing in others?  Use this as a positive experience and give thanks for any healing you have received.


Day 5

Practicing the Presence:  Throughout your day, seek to live as one who has been healed by Jesus and is living their life well and blessed.  How does this practice affect you?  How does this practice affect others?


Day 6

Centering Prayer:  You have been busy this week doing things that symbolize “a life healed”. Today, experience silence with the presence of Jesus through Centering Prayer.  Allow him to continue to work healing shalom in your life. 


Day 7

Sabbath:  On the seventh day, God rested and looked at his creation and called it “very good!”   Spend time resting knowing that God created you and called you “very good!”


WEEK ELEVEN

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. Philippians 4:4-14 The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson


Day 1

Practicing The Presence:  Spend time today, seeking God in all that you do.  When you prepare a meal, really experience and appreciate the smells, the act of preparing food, and the taste of each bite.  While outside, listen and look at God’s creation; experience the wonder of a storm or a bright beautiful day.  While with others, appreciate their gifts, their humor, and their talents.  Experience all of the gifts that God has surrounded us with.  When the day is complete give thanks to God and seek to experience tomorrow in the same way!   Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.


Day 2

Jewish Happiness Prayer: (Eilu Dearim)as translated by Rabbi Evan Moffic (The Happiness Prayer:  Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today, Center Street, 2017)  Utilize the ancient prayer below and spend time with God rejoicing in these acts that

God has given you to experience happiness.

How will you find happiness in this world and peace in the world to come?

By learning these wisdom practices from your ancestors:

Honor those who gave you life

Be Kind

Keep learning

Invite others into your life

Be there when others need you

Celebrate good times

Support yourself and others during times of loss

Pray with intention

Forgive

Look inside and commit

I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess… Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.


Day 3

Means of Grace:  John Wesley (the founder of Methodism and other Wesleyan traditions) encouraged us to experience God through the “Means of Grace”.  These are daily practices that God has provided for us to experience God’s love and grace:  Prayer, Study of Scripture, Fellowship with Others, Worship and Holy Communion, Fasting or Discipline (Giving up something that might separate us from God or others or that might bring us closer to God) and practicing acts of mercy and justice.  These means of grace are very similar to the Happiness Prayer from yesterday.   Our happiness and God’s grace require acts and practice from us!  Spend time in prayer with God, asking what means of grace practices you might seek to experience God’s happiness and joy.


Day 4

Morning Prayer: (Prayer of Thanksgiving Taken from UMC Hymnal – Morning Prayer) Memorize the prayer below and let it be your prayer throughout the week.

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors, and to devote each day to your Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.


Day 5

Gratitude Journal:  Spend time in your gratitude journal giving thanks for the blessings that God has given you.  Seek to keep that gratitude going throughout the day by sharing it with others.                                                                                                   Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!


Day 6

Centering Prayer:  As you seek to be quiet in the presence of God today, let it be done with the acknowledgement of joy and happiness in your life.


Day 7

Sabbath:  If possible today, take a rest from all that worries you and gives you anxiety.  Seek to experience the underlying joy and happiness that God has provided for you.


WEEK TWELVE

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.  John 1:14      The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H Peterson.

I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”  Revelation 21:1-5              The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H Peterson


Day 1

There are times when we attempt to communicate to others that we understand their pain, and it falls flat because we aren’t they, and though we have experienced pain, it is not the same as their experience.  The scriptures tell us that God moved into our neighborhood in the person of Jesus (in the gospel of John) and ultimate permanent physical moving into the neighborhood in the second coming of Jesus (in Revelation).   God has truly experienced our pain in the incarnation of Jesus Christ; flesh and blood who lived with us and experienced pain and death.  But with the resurrection of life, we have the ultimate message that ultimately our bodies will not experience pain and death.  Everything will be made new.  That is the hope of our faith.  So how do we live out that faith in the present?  

Meditation with Adult Coloring Pages:  Search the internet for a coloring page or scripture that reflects your hope of a new heaven and new earth.  Spend time in meditation coloring, embracing the hope of God making all things new for you.

 

Day 2

Examen: Pray through your day/week with God.  Ask God to show you signs of newness and healing over the past day/week.  Seek to discover how God is making all things new in your life.  Give thanks that God is present with you and knows your pain and suffering.

 

Day 3

Meditation in God’s Creation:  Take a walk or enjoy sitting in the outside.  Seek to find those ways that God has moved into the neighborhood.  Where is God making all things new?  How is God making all things new in your life?

 

Day 4

Scripture Memorization:  Our thoughts concerning the Kingdom of God can often be a picture of the Revelation passage in the future.  Memorize parts or all of the scripture above and use it as your prayer of a current revelation of God’s kingdom in your life.  

 Day 5

Mandala:  Mandalas are a representation of wholeness and completeness.  Search the internet or create your own mandala that represents your understanding of God moving into your neighborhood and making all things new.  Spend time coloring or creating it while giving thanks to God who is working healing in your life.

 

Day 6

Gratitude Journal:  God has been working healing in your life since the day you were born.  Because we have been unaware, God’s grace has not always been evident.  Hopefully over the past twelve weeks you have begun to be present, mindful and aware of God’s graceful healing.  Spend time today journaling thanks for all that God has done for you (both when you were unaware and aware of God’s works). 

 

Day 7

Sabbath:   Rest today enjoying the serenity of God’s healing presence in your life.




Copyright 2020 by Teresa Holt.   All rights reserved. This may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.