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March 2018


A Contemplative Exercise for March 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

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."   John 12:23 (NRSV)

To begin the exercise, first spend a short while in relaxation and preparing to be still; become aware of the sounds around you and put them aside; offer 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:

 

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."     

 As we come before our Lord and take this saying into our minds it may be helpful to consider what events happened around these words of Jesus:

Jesus has entered Jerusalem, riding a donkey, and he has then driven the traders from the Court of the Gentiles.  The marketplace has been removed from the court and now it is back to being a quiet place for prayer for the Gentiles. Some God-fearing Greeks seek out the disciple with a Greek name as an avenue to Jesus: they want to see Jesus, they want to have an interview with him. Perhaps they wished to thank him for restoring their place of quiet prayer? These are some of questions that we might ponder as we prepare to listen to these words with our minds: why did the Greek Gentiles persist in seeking out Jesus and speaking with him? Was he waiting for them to come to him?

We don't know but we do know that this is the sign Jesus has been waiting for. Whereas previously Jesus has been clear that his time has not yet come it is when the Gentiles come looking for him that he pronounces that the hour has come, in our saying...

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

As we take this saying in to our minds and gaze upon the Son of Man we might remember that he willingly gave his life for us and went through an excruciating death so that we can come into relationship with him. Perhaps we might be aware that we can come to the foot of the cross and kneel before him with our sins forgiven because the penalty for our sin was poured out on Jesus; the hour had come for our Lord to be crucified for us.

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."  

 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.

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."  

 

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

 "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

 As we prepare to take the saying deeper and allow Jesus and his word to touch our hearts and our emotions, we might remember that in this saying - "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" - Jesus does not say that it is time for him to be crucified: he looks beyond the cross to the glory that will follow his crucifixion. His prayer that the Father would be glorified is answered by the Father, from heaven. Jesus is assured that his life and ministry has already glorified the Father and the suffering and death that is to come will also glorify his Father.

 Jesus uses a practical picture to try and help us understand the key spiritual truths

o   suffering comes before glory - if I feel I am in the dark ground, can I look forward, beyond this cross, to emerging from this dark place and showing Christ's glory? 

o   death is needed for a fruitful life  - Are there things in me that need to die or be surrendered so Jesus' Holy Spirit can better work in me and through me? 

o   surrender comes before victory -  am I ready to enter in to this mystery of letting go? 

Perhaps this is quite a mystery to us though any keen gardeners, allotment holders and even those amongst us without green fingers might still have some familiarity with the idea that it is only after seeds and bulbs are buried that we see things springing to life. At this time of year we see shoots peeping through and look forward to glorious flowers, fruit and vegetables.

As we ponder some of these questions, it might be helpful now to step away from the cross and join the resurrected, glorified Jesus as he journeyed along the road to Emmaus. As he walked with the two he unpacked the scriptures and explained again, as he does around our saying, that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory. Perhaps our hearts can also be strangely warmed as we encounter our Lord, know the joy of walking with our risen Lord, our glorified Lord, and maybe we will allow him to set our hearts on fire as we listen to our saying:

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." 

 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.

 "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." 

 

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

 "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." 

 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:

'Bobby and your family   .....   "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." 

Perhaps there are people we care for who are going through tough times? We might imagine bringing these people to walk alongside Jesus on the road to Emmaus so that Jesus can speak to them, that they might recognise him in their situation and be drawn to his love and glory.

There may be other people and even situations that we would dearly love to be drawn to Jesus as he is lifted up, to respond to God's love and glory.

There may also be many aspects of our world and nation where perhaps we long for the Shekinah glory of Jesus and our Father to be more evident? Again, we pray for these situations, using the saying, that Jesus' love and glory might shine forth brightly, through the Christians who allow Jesus to work through them and also through the structures and organisations that work for justice and change.

 

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