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July 2018


A Contemplative Exercise for July 2018

 

The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised, or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used primarily in the context of a Prayer Group, but it may be used by individuals if so wished. It is not intended to be definitive.

 

In the context of a group: the periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.

 

Saying for the month

 

“I did not come to be served, but to serve.”   Mark 10:45 (NIV)

 

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; becoming aware of the sounds around you and putting them aside; and offering this time of prayer to God.

 

Say this introductory invitation to prayer, then keep a further minute or two of silence:

 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest"   Matthew 11.28 

 

Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind:

 

“I did not come to be served, but to serve.”    

 

As we come before our Lord and take this saying into our minds it may be helpful to remember that these words from Jesus follow a request from James and John to sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in glory (see verses 32 to 45, Mark 10).

I wonder, if like me, you hear James and John’s request with astonishment? Maybe it is embarrassing to read that they (and their mother, Matthew tells us) ask for thrones and positions of glory just after Jesus has clearly announced the what, where and how of his imminent death. In ancient cultures it was the seat at the right that was seen as the position of honour and the seat at the left was for an intimate friend.

On the other hand are they just claiming, in faith, what Jesus had promised? In Matthew 19 verse 28 it is reported that Jesus had said that in the future kingdom the disciples would sit on twelve thrones alongside their Lord Jesus. It does seem an incredibly over confident request from these two brothers, especially when they confidently claim that they will be able to go through the forthcoming devastating experience with Jesus, and looking back we now know that James was the first of the disciples to be martyred.

Jesus does not claim authority that is not his, so he does not actually answer the brothers’ request. Instead he draws together his band of angry, squabbling disciples. At this time it is far more important that they pull together and not be split apart over such issues. He draws them back to kingdom values and approaches and reminds them that His way is radically different …

“I did not come to be served, but to serve.”   

 

These are some questions I ask myself. Maybe just one will be helpful for you as we think around this saying, take it into our minds and then listen to it in the silence:

 

·        How much is my life aligned with Jesus’ kingship? Any times recently when I’ve acted in ways that have not displayed kingdom values?

·        Are my prayers and requests selfish, rather than recognising how much it has cost Jesus in terms of suffering and death to get an answer for me?

·        Have I taken every opportunity to pull others together, to settle them down and avoid disunity?

·        Actually, is there room for me to do a bit more of asking Jesus to fulfil the promises in His word?

 

“I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

A time is now kept for silence of the mind - between 5 and 15 minutes

 

The silence concludes with a short thanksgiving, and/or repeat the Saying:

 

 Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

 

“I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

 

 

Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

 

I did not come to be served, but to serve.

 

I wonder if Jesus’ heart fell as he heard the request from James and John? ‘Who is the greatest’ seems to be a recurring argument amongst his disciples as they jostled for status and position. Jesus has earlier encouraged them to become like children. Now he takes this further and tells them they must become like slaves… “whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Jesus himself, God incarnate, came as a slave, lived among us and is about to die like a slave. His death provides the payment, the ransom, for us. As we prepare to take the saying deeper and allow Jesus and his word to touch our hearts and our emotions we might reflect on these words just after our saying…  

 

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

Perhaps it is appropriate to respond to this supreme act of service and sacrifice from our Lord by gazing on him and adoring him, pouring out our love for Him as we recognise him as God’s servant and our ransom?

 

Again, some questions I ask myself as I ponder this saying and take it deeper into my heart. Just one may be helpful as you take the saying into your heart:

 

·        What is my priority? What takes top place on my throne? What comes first in my heart?

·        How can I seek Jesus’ kingship more? Am I ready to be His slave?

·        What stops me from serving others? What gets in the way of me showing a servant heart?

 

Kneeling before my Lord, the king, the servant king, perhaps I can let his word make inroads into my heart, into my values, my life approach and allow him to turn me around as I consider that he stepped aside from his heavenly throne, dwelt among us, suffered and died for us and took the approach in our saying:

 

I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

A time is now kept for silence of the heart - between 5 and 15 minutes

Conclude the silence with a short thanksgiving and/or by repeating the Saying:

 Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us.

 

I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

 

 

Introduction to the time of intercession – we use our will to reflect God’s word outwards.

 

I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

With this word in mind we can now bring the meaning alive not only for ourselves, but also most importantly for the lives of others, in our intercession.

Say the name of a person or a group of people, and after a short pause, repeat the saying. For example:

 

‘Alison and your family       ……       I did not come to be served, but to serve.” 

 

July is the month for ordination. Are there priests and clergy who you might bring into Jesus’ presence and pray this saying for them as they begin or continue their ministry of service?

 

Our politicians get precious little encouragement as they make tough decisions and seek to find a way forward. Perhaps this is an opportunity to use our saying in praying for these leaders?

 

Our communities are served by so many different people. Maybe consider including some of these groups in your prayers:

·        Business owners

·        Other local employers

·        Schools

·        Emergency services

 

Conclude the time of intercession with words of thanksgiving:

 

Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

 

Use the Fellowship Prayer or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer.

 

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, ourselves, our souls and bodies; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do. Amen

 

 You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.  

 

This month's exercise was contributed by DK