Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Week 5 Day 1: Beloved Children of God

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”
I John 3:1

Beloved Children of God
What may seem to us a black hole of need is actually a mine, and it’s a gold mine, which Jesus wants to unearth to bring into the light. The reminder about abiding, abiding, abiding is don’t run away. Stay put.

-Br. Curtis Almquist



Transcript:

Our theme this week is inspired by Jesus’ words remembered in John chapter 15, “Abide in me as I abide in you.” ‘Abide,’ that verb, which is repeated so many times in the Gospel according to John and the three epistles (of John). To stay, to be there, to dwell there, why is that repeated so many times?

For one, we may find ourselves not being able to believe that Jesus wants to abide in us. We can barely take ourselves. There may be something about ourselves – how we practice our life, our own sense of brokenness, inadequacy, lack of discipline, of (some days) duplicity – which we find unacceptable, and surely Jesus wouldn’t accept it either. We may also find that we feel like a black hole of need. And yet, Jesus does want to come and abide in us. And what may seem to us a black hole of need is actually a mine, and it’s a gold mine, which Jesus wants to unearth to bring into the light. The reminder about abiding, abiding, abiding is don’t run away. Stay put. Jesus has come to you, is cherishing you, and wants to expose you to God’s light and God’s life and God’s love for you.

We remember today how we are called ‘beloved children of God.’ Now what do you know about children? Children are still growing, physically, mentally, developmentally. They don’t have it all together. And what’s beautiful in this reminder that we’re called ‘children of God’ is that God creates us as children. We enter this world as children. If we look to the scriptures, we discover that we are called ‘children’ in God’s eyes for the rest of our lives.

Now we can take inspiration from Jesus who was born as a child. We have these snapshots of Jesus in the Gospels when he’s a very young infant, when he’s age 12, and then we don’t see him again until he’s age 30. What was going on during all of those, what are sometimes called “hidden” years? We don’t know. But, it seems that he was getting it together, finding his voice, finding his calling, finding what his life was to be about. It took a long time for him to claim who he truly was and what he was created to be.

And so for you: who you are now has come through a series of the best of successes and probably the most miserable of mistakes. Children are prone to stumble and get lost and sometimes feel terribly abandoned and not understood. In God’s eyes, regardless of how old you are, you’ll always be regarded as a child. You might find it helpful to do some reflecting on what you know about being a child. What was it like for you growing up? What was it that was good and formative in your life? And what was it for you that was breaking and perhaps de-formative in life? Then how is it that you can take in that God knows you and loves you as a child, a child that you will always be?

You probably do not have your act completely together. It’s going to take you the rest of your life and beyond, I think, for that to happen. But take some consolation in knowing that God creates children, knows children, and knows and loves you as a child. Where do you find that inviting? And where do you find yourself resisting the love and acceptance? Because I think that resistance is probably an invitation point in your prayer to Jesus.

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

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29 Comments

  1. Stan Lewis on October 15, 2018 at 17:10

    Looking at my relationship with God in the context of family is an image that brings me comfort. As a parent, I know there is nothing that can change the love I have for my daughters. I love them unconditionally, despite their flaws, and I celebrate their beauty and their gifts and talents as well. They bring me joy. To know my heavenly Father feels this way about me, is a blessing indeed.

  2. Mary Anderson on March 27, 2018 at 23:34

    Dear God, Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally as his beloved child. Forgive me when I don’t listen and stray, guide me when I do; open my heart to fill with your compassion so that in return I share it with others. Amen.

  3. Carol Niemand on March 22, 2018 at 02:02

    I often find myself fighting back when I know what God is telling me to do. It has taken me a lifetime to begin to accept mydself just as I am and that is only because I have been drawn closer to God.

  4. Dorothy Wilson on March 20, 2018 at 17:01

    Many times in my life I have called out to Jesus to get me through difficult times in my life. As an adult, when I had to deal with different situations , I wanted to be a child and not have any responsibilities, I would curl up into a ball and say to Jesus you take over as the parent.. Be my the driver and I will be the co-pilot as I am driving through storms or unfamiliar territory.What a relief to know that I am a child, & God is in my wonderful parent and I am loved.

  5. Pamela Ann Quarstein on March 17, 2018 at 00:04

    C L A I M
    C laim who you are, a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of God
    L ive and love as God loves us
    A ccept
    I nvite, and help the lost
    M eanwhile, find your voice for God.

    • John on March 23, 2018 at 18:50

      I love “find your voice”…thank you.

  6. Mary on March 14, 2018 at 19:57

    My parents were very good role models. I was blessed with a live-in Nana my whole life, a woman of great faith. Her room was a place of respite for me. My earthly father was scary and intimidating. Being the youngest, I was slow to find my voice, but because of that, I learned how to listen. I don’t want to fault my father, he wasn’t abusive or anything, but I am grateful for the closeness and acceptance my father in heaven gives me. I could never talk to my earthly father the way I talk to God. I think we all need to hear over and over just how much God loves us. Eventually it begins to sink in.

  7. David John Drew on March 14, 2018 at 04:56

    O God, Giver of Life and Sustainer of Souls,

    Easter was always a unique time when I was a child. My mother and father always bought me a new set of clothes, especially for that special Sunday. It is true, I needed them, for I was forever growing as boys do, and the old shirts, shoes and pant were worn out, too small, tight, ripped and faded. Likewise, O lord God, this time every year you present the opportunity for me, and everyone, to reflect on the past in relation to now, and the course of my life – to realize how much I have outgrown all those old ways, perhaps on the spiritual path I happened to pick up or accumulate bad habits, or develop eccentric characteristics… and you prepare me with new perspectives, the chance to adopt a new outlook, and better understanding. You open my mind, broaden my horizon – where once the path forward was narrow, you make it wider and easier to walk forward.

    God, Physician of Souls,

    I praise you and give you thanks – I am grateful for your continued love, concern and protection, I am in debt for your attention, for nurturing my spirit on the path of life. Thank you for providing me an entirely fresh way of seeing the world in relationship with others and to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You inspire growth and positivity in my life that enables change, growth and constant conversion – stripping away the old and adopting the new. Like a true physician of the soul and mind, every day you weigh, measure and assess me in preparation for the next day, and so I experience a revelation daily. I abide in your nurturing care.

    + Amen

    Pax Christi – David

  8. Maureen on March 13, 2018 at 05:32

    The words today drew forth a sigh of relief, surrender, a feeling like a small child at the end of a crying spell, comforted in the arms of a parent. In learning to accept the myriad imperfections of my childish human nature, the knots of resistance are beginning to unravel. Always seemed to learn the hard way so consider this an RSVP to the invitation extended. With child-like trust I will abide, stay put, and open more to Jesus’ guiding love. What infinite patience He has dealing with this errant child!
    Thank you for this deepening friendship.

  9. mary on March 13, 2018 at 02:05

    Brother Curtis reminds us that in fact we are not alone in a bottomless pit of need, rather a mine, with God handing us the picks and trowels to find the most worthy nuggets.
    A real comfort to me today.
    plus, who loves the birds tweeting? I sometimes get excited because i think they’re my birds come back early in a long gray spring. Will have to do with the song of the birds on these videos. I wonder if they singing the gospel of john to their little sister and brother birds…..

  10. Jean on March 12, 2018 at 23:14

    Psalm 131 is so helpful to me. A weaned child is often described as a disciplined child. But as a mother who nursed her children as long as Hannah probably nursed Samuel I see a contented child who has had all her needs met. When my children were in the process of weaning themselves They often would just just need to touch base by snuggling and patting me before running off to play.

  11. James on March 12, 2018 at 21:08

    One of my most cherished childhood memories was when my father would put me up on his shoulders. I recall how my entire view of the world changed as I was led around wherever my father wanted to take me knowing that I was safe and headed in the right direction. How I long for those sublime childhood moments and what I wouldn’t give to spend just one more second on the broad shoulders of my Jesus loving father. I can still do that, only I’m riding on the shoulders of my Heavenly Father. I just need to stop holding on and just let go. My Father will never let me go just as my earthly father never did. I miss you Dad, and I love you Jesus.

  12. April Baily on March 12, 2018 at 18:53

    One might say that a child is just a creature with much yet to learn. I think that describes us all very well. It is nice to think of being a child of God. I had an excellent relationship with my parents and so the idea of being taken care of by God as I was taken care of by my parents is a very warm and loving vision. Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I do appreciate an adult relationship with Jesus. However, that doesn’t mean I am not yet a child in many respects.

  13. Mary Russell on March 12, 2018 at 16:59

    Thank you, Brother Curtis for the invaluable reflection on this passage from John and reminder that as a child of God, I am permitted to not “have it all together.”

    Abiding in Jesus , trusting in the power of his love for me (and all mankind ), may I accept and have patience with my anxieties, my sloth, and my weaknesses !

    Consoled by the reminder that as a child grows, I too have the option of growth through faith , and knowing this, I face the day and its challenges with renewed vigor.

  14. Ruth West on March 12, 2018 at 09:53

    Thanks for this good message. I abide in the Lord, and He abides in me.
    One thing I remember when I was a child was that I did not question the faith. It was just a fact, as my good parents modeled the Christian life before me. As I grew older, studied Theology and heard so many sermons, I realized there were so many scriptures questioned, some fellow church-goers who appeared to be hypocritical, etc. I like the simplicity of a child. Apparently, so did Jesus. When the disciples rebuked the people for taking up his time by bringing the little children to him, he said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

  15. Damon D. Hickey on March 12, 2018 at 08:14

    Today’s emphasis is on being a child of God. And I have to say from the very start that I don’t want to be treated like a child. No one does, including children. We all aspire to be seen and to be treated as mature, even when—especially when—we’re acting childish. When college students go home the first time, it’s often very disappointing, because they feel different, but they aren’t seen as different. They’re still seen as children, and the last thing they want to be told is, you’ll always be a child to me. Yes, they want always to be cherished, comforted when needed, and sometimes challenged to grow, but they don’t want to be condescended to by someone who’s being superior. The best intergenerational relationships I know are those where the age differences are acknowledged but aren’t primary. That’s why grandparents are often closer than parents to the next generation. I want an adult relationship with Jesus in which there’s mutual respect and love—companionship, to use our bishop’s favorite word—and in which both of us can learn and grow. I’m not sure whether that’s possible, but it’s a lot closer to the relationship between friends or lovers than between most parents and children.

    • CHRISTINA MCKERROW on March 17, 2018 at 20:18

      That’s so sad. I had good parents but that doesn’t mean that I have always seen them in that light. I am now 83 yrs. old and am so thankful that I have lived so long. Why? Because I can now see them and what their lives were like while I was a child and young. We lived in a very difficult place, it was wartime in London, and my mother had many years of unhappiness and illness. I didn’t realise what fifteen years of her life must have been like. Now, like most of us, I have experienced my own ups and downs but I once read of an inscription on a grave stone. This couple had lived a less-than-perfect life, but left this message behind them for their children: WE DID OUR BEST. And that is what most of us do – we do our best and sometimes that doesn’t seem like enough, but that becomes history. Blessings.

  16. Agatha Nolen on March 12, 2018 at 00:47

    Somehow these are comforting words to me. To know that I’m on a journey that really doesn’t have an end, I can relax and enjoy the ride. Some days seem like sheer joy and others pure misery, but I can seek solace that Jesus is with me every step. In my memoir I recounted a turning point for me. It was in a dream where I was still a small girl, and I was always just slightly out of the man’s reach. But then one day, he scooped me up in his arms and I felt his warm embrace. It was only talking with a friend much later, that I realized that man was God and he would always take care of me.

    • Bishop Hollywood on March 12, 2018 at 01:17

      We are children of the Father and we have to know that. We are loved more than words alone can explain, so with that being said,we are following the one who knows exactly what we are going through because he lived in the flesh just we do. He know the trials and tribulations we are going through. But the difference is he never sinned.

  17. Meredith Penfield on March 11, 2018 at 21:21

    Great advice. I am still not ready to commit all to God’s hands but I will not give up being open to the possibility.

  18. Meg on March 11, 2018 at 20:08

    As a Navy Brat, my mom and our church family were the constant sources of truth and comfort. Dad was flying off carriers, six months at a whack, so it was mom and the church with whom God blessed me and schooled me in faith.

    When my dad became overwhelmed with dispair and mental illness, it was my mom’s bedtime prayers and the weekly prayers of our congregation, “for those in mental darkness,” that brought dad to wellness again. Dad was visited by Jesus while reading and singing from the hymnal at the gardens at the institution. He felt complete forgiveness and a desire to get well and return to his family. This was the miracle of healing I had prayed for nightly as a child.

    That was my first understanding, as a child, that even grown ups need God’s mercy in their lives. Today, as a child in an aging adult body, I appreciate the perspective that I have the rest of my life and eternity to “get it together.” The goal is not the perfection of Meg; but rather my faithfulness on this life journey. Praise be to God. Sincere thanks to you, Br. Curtis, for giving us this meditation today.

  19. Bryan Cook on March 11, 2018 at 18:18

    I look back on my life with so many regrets, seemingly far more than happinesses. But I reflect that the rear view mirror is so clouded by my insecurities that I I cannot see and properly dimension the positives. In recovery, I vowed to stop looking in the rear view mirror; rather, I feel much better paying attention to what currently surrounds me and focussing on the road ahead. I know that my Lord has my back and is my guide. This is a kind of odd reflection for an historian, but put in perspective, the past is a series of learning events which have enabled me to face the future with maturity, although I still play like a child.

  20. marta engdahl on March 11, 2018 at 16:47

    For “Mothering” Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Lent, I made a Simnel cake, filled with all the good, sweet things of the earth: dried cherries, dried currants, dried Sultanas, candied citrus, almond paste, butter, eggs, etc. It’s fun to think of the origins of the ingredients from all over the earth, traditions from people of every land, all sorts of people being welcomed into God’s Kingdom.

  21. marta engdahl on March 11, 2018 at 16:43

    In the “ups” and “downs” of life it is comforting to know that in either phase, God is with us: holding us when we are up (and down), and holding us and comforting us when we are “down”, and “up”. Holding us through all the times, through all the years, until we come to Him and His glorious Kingdom.

  22. Susan on March 11, 2018 at 16:13

    Thank you Lord, for being my Mother and coming to me through my Mother.

  23. John David Spangler on March 11, 2018 at 16:08

    As a child and now,I often let my ego take charge rather than accept the guidance a child needs. I was a child when my parents taught me to walk and am still, at 89, a child, still growing — physically, mentally, developmentally. Now, God guides my steps. All too often, I do not listen. I know, as Susan writes, that I could do better and that here is more to doing better than smiting my chest. I must be alert and make the effort. I must, as the poet, Paul Joseph Dunbar, wrote: “Keep a pluggin’ away.” To do so, we, as his children, get God’s help. His help comes in many ways. In my case, it often comes through an agnostic friend. Thanks be to God!

  24. Keith Aldred on March 11, 2018 at 14:01

    Today is Mothering Sunday. May we thank God for our mothers and the love they give freely. May we thank God likewise. May we respond to that love, by loving God’s children.

  25. Nancy Barnard Starr fsj on March 11, 2018 at 13:05

    Oh, this is lovely, and meaningful right now as a friend seeks the light. As do I. We seem such cave-dwellers sometimes! Thank you, Br Curtis. A hundred thanks.

  26. Susan Marengo on March 9, 2018 at 18:09

    I often find myself praying “I’m sorry Lord I could have done better”.

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