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Week 2 Day 1: In the Beginning

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

In the Beginning
Jesus is God’s way of speaking to us – God’s Word, you might say.

-Br. Mark Brown


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript:

The theme for this second week is God’s love as it is revealed in and through Jesus Christ. The topic for today is “In the Beginning”. I’ll read the very first verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

This, of course, has echoes of the very beginning of Genesis. John is consciously rhyming with that beginning of Genesis. It’s also mysterious and paradoxical and ambiguous. It may be the most mysterious, paradoxical and ambiguous verse of the Bible. If you read very closely and if you translate closely it gets even stranger. If we translate very closely it would be “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was toward God and the Word was God.” No translator knows quite what to do with that, so we have “the Word was with God”.

Then, a few verses later we read that this Word, which was with or toward and was God, was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. The Word comes into being into the world as a human being, as flesh, as fleshly human being. Jesus is God’s way of speaking to us – God’s Word, you might say. We might say God, who is love, speaks the word of love in Jesus Christ. We also read in this very first few verses of the Gospel of John that through Christ, through the living Word, light comes into the world, life comes into the world. Not only grace, but grace upon grace, comes into the world, and truth comes into the world through Jesus Christ. This is a huge, huge chapter of the Gospel of John, a huge, huge opening verse of the Gospel of John.

I think we could pray with this in multiple ways. Maybe the wisest is simply to sit silently before the great mystery and paradox of God. Or, we might reflect on our own humanity as made in the image and likeness of God, in the flesh, incarnate as Jesus was incarnate in the flesh. We might ask ourselves if there’s one word spoken by my life in this world, what would that word be? Does my life speak love? Does my life speak light? Does my life speak life or grace or truth? These are all possibilities. What is the word that your life is speaking?

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Compilation: God is Love

We are pleased to share this compilation of the first week’s videos, which take up the theme “God is Love.” We hope this compilation will help you to catch up on any videos you might have missed, as well as to provide an easy way to share the week’s videos in a group. We’d love to know how this week went for you!


Week 1 Day 1: God is Love

Week 1 Day 2: God So Loved the World

Week 1 Day 3: Love’s Self-offering

Week 1 Day 4: That the World Might Be Saved

Week 1 Day 5: Children of God

Week 1 Day 6: Love that Casts Out Fear

Monastic Internship Program: Accepting Applications

Each autumn, our community welcomes a small group of young men and women to live alongside our community as monastic interns for a period of nine months. They participate fully in our daily rhythm of prayer and worship and receive formation and guidance as they discern the shape of their Christian vocation. The gifts they bring – personal talents, diverse perspectives, burning questions, unique passions, and gifts of the Holy Spirit – enrich our life together immeasurably. Their hard work alongside us, day by day, also helps make our ministry possible.

If nine months of full and balanced life in a monastic community is an experience that you or someone you know would find worthwhile, we invite you to read more>

Week 1 Day 6: Love that Casts Out Fear

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
I John 4:18

Love that Casts Out Fear
We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.

-Br. Jonathan Maury


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: In this week of our “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John,” we reflect on a text from the First Letter of John: “God is love.” And today we focus more directly on another verse from the First Letter of John: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Our human existence is plagued with fears. We have some fears built into our DNA that have helped preserve us as a species, whether it be a fear of pitch darkness or some other phobia. We also deal day to day with our fear of the unknown or the unfamiliar, which comes up again and again in small ways. But it is in these fears that we forget the perfect love which casts out fear.

But I believe that the true, deepest fear that we have, the greatest fear that we have, is that of losing the loving regard of those close to us, or of even God.  When I feel myself to have, by my words or actions, caused my loss of the loving regard of others or of God, I’m already punishing myself with self-inflicted wounds. But what does the letter say? The letter says “there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment.” God is by nature that Perfect Love, the perfect love which comes in Jesus. Jesus’ actions and teachings are rooted in this truth. In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel we read Jesus speaking: “Now is my soul troubled and what should I say: Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this reason that I’ve come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Jesus knows that by keeping up relationship with God in prayer and in openness of heart, his fears will be calmed and dispelled and healed. And Jesus by example teaches us to rely also on relationship with God, who is the perfect love casting out fear. Let us pray today for Jesus to grant us memories of those times when our fears have been dispelled by the perfect love which casts out fear, by the remembrance of God which has come to us either in our life of prayer or in our relationships with others. And we might also bring our present fears before the Father, as Jesus brought his fear so that that perfect love which is God, God’s presence, may be imparted to us, that we may glorify God’s name this day in ways great and small, ways particular to us and reflect that perfect love which is without fear, that perfect love which is God.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Day 5: Children of God

“…to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12,13

Children of God
Our identity, our sense of value, our self-worth doesn’t depend on our appearance, on our achievements, on our reputation, on our success, on our wealth, on our possessions, or any external factors. Instead, it’s rooted and deeply grounded within us: We know that we are loved by God and that there is nothing in the world that can separate us from the love of God.

– Br. David Vryhof


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: Our theme this week is “God is Love,” and we’re asking in our prayer that God will reveal to us, deepen within us, the knowledge that we are deeply, profoundly, irrevocably and unconditionally loved by God. Today we focus on a couple of verses from the first chapter of John, where John writes, “To all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God who were born not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John is pointing us toward our true identity as children of God. He says when we open ourselves to receive the love of God as it’s brought to us in the person and work of Jesus, we become transformed and we begin to realize that our primary identity is this beloved child of God.

There are many things in the world that we use to talk about our identity or indicate our identity. We might talk about our vocation, our work, our relationships – all of them feed into who we are as people. John is suggesting that the most important thing about us is that we know that we are beloved children of God, because when we have this at the center of our identity, we can live in what Saint Paul calls “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Our identity, our sense of value, our self-worth doesn’t depend on our appearance, on our achievements, on our reputation, on our success, on our wealth, on our possessions, or any external factors. It doesn’t depend on those things. Instead, it’s rooted and deeply grounded within us. We know that we are loved by God and that there is nothing in the world that can separate us from the love of God.

So today might be an opportunity to reflect on your own sense of identity. From what and from whom do you derive your sense of worth, your sense of who you are? How might this be different if you embraced as the central characteristic of your identity the fact that you are a beloved child of God? I invite you to consider the kind of freedom that that brings.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Day 4: That the World Might Be Saved

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
John 3:17

That the World Might Be Saved
God uses experiences of brokenness to break through to us the Good News that God loves us as we are. God comes not to condemn but to save.

-Br. Luke Ditewig


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: This week’s theme is “God is Love.” We’re asking, “How can we further be assured that God has unconditional love for us?” Today’s verse is: “Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world in order to condemn the world, but rather that it might be saved through him.”

For what do you feel or fear being condemned? What is it that you have done wrong, or what it is that you hear the words “you’re not good enough,” or “something is missing”? Those are different. We all do wrong and we all have the challenge of shame, which tells us that we’re not good enough.

In both God uses experiences of brokenness to break through to us the Good News that God loves us as we are. God comes not to condemn but to save. I invite you in your prayer to listen first for what are the voices that condemn, voices that you hear in yourself or that others have said to you. Acknowledge those voices and set those aside. Then be attentive to what it is that you have done wrong, that you are wounded, or that you feel lost. Hold these honestly before God and listen for God’s response.

God comes – as our verse reminds us today – not to condemn, but to save.  For God loves you as you are.  Listen for God’s voice to you today.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Day 3: Love’s Self-offering

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
I John 4:9,10

Love’s Self-offering
We don’t have to earn this; this is a love that is given. It’s a reality that, like grace, is both unearned and undeserved.

-Br. Keith Nelson


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: From the First letter of John: “God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

When I read and pray with this passage, the first thing that comes to me is that we don’t have to earn this, that this is a love that is given. It’s a reality that, like grace, is both unearned and undeserved. So I think that that’s the first thing that I desire to pray with when I read this passage: the reality that I don’t have to earn this, that this isn’t about something, a list of things, that I have to do in order for God to love me.

There’s a little bit of theology that I love about this verse called “prevenient grace,” the idea that grace not only comes behind us to clean up our mistakes but that it goes before us as well, so even the desire to pray, even the desire to grow in the knowledge and assurance of God’s love is in us because God has prompted that desire in us already. So it [i.e. grace] comes before us, and it goes after us, and it surrounds us on all sides, so it’s not about earning it.

I think the second thing that occurs to me is that we don’t always have to feel it and we’re not always going to feel it consciously, that this is a love that is in fact deeper than our conscious feelings. So that, on any given day, if we don’t feel the love of God, we don’t have to take that as a sign that God doesn’t love us, that we can … Of course the life of our feelings is essential to pay attention to, and God uses our feelings to send us many signs and hints in our lives of prayer, but we don’t have to rely on those feelings necessarily to know and to be assured of a love that transcends our feelings on any given day.

So one prayer practice that you might try is you might come up with a prayer of self-offering, a prayer that offers the wholeness of your self beyond your particular feelings on any given day, beyond your perhaps desire to earn God’s love, and it can just be a prayer that offers your whole self, knowing that grace has prompted you to pray that prayer and that grace will follow upon that prayer after you’ve offered it along with your whole self.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Day 2: God So Loved the World

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
John 3:16

God So Loved the World
So which world is it that God loves? Is it the world, the creation in its original glory, or is it the world that is fallen, broken, imperfect, sinful? Well, of course it’s both.

-Br. Mark Brown


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: Our theme for today is “God’s love for the world.”  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” That’s, of course, one of the well-known and most beloved verses of the entire Bible. You can even see it at ballgames. John uses the word “world” a lot. In the fourth gospel, the word “world” appears about 80 times and that’s four times as many times as the word “world” in all three other gospels combined. So it’s a word that means a lot to him and it keeps recurring in the gospel.

But it seems to mean different things. On the one hand, “world” means the world as God created it.  This first chapter, the first chapter of the Gospel of John, talks about the world coming into existence through Christ, the living Word of God, and so it refers back to Genesis and God’s creating the world through the word, by speaking the word and when he’s done, he pronounces it very good so there’s that sense of the “world” being what God has created and being good.

But there’s also a sense in the gospel that “world” means perhaps what we might call the fallen world. Jesus says to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He refers to it in other places, to “the ruler of this world,” meaning probably the devil or the adversary of our nature. He speaks of the peace that he can give that the “world” cannot give and that the “world” doesn’t know him or doesn’t understand him or his followers.

So which world is it that God loves? Is it the world, the creation in its original glory, or is it the world that is fallen, broken, imperfect, sinful? Well, of course it’s both. God loves the world that he created but he loves the world even in its fallen and broken state. It says that he came into the world not to judge but to save this world.

So if I were praying with this passage, I think I would personalize it and reflect on how God loves all of me, not only whatever I might be in my heavenly perfection eventually, but all of me, even now – the good, the bad and the ugly, all things together – and give thanks that God’s love for me is so completely unconditional. If for me, then for everybody else as well, even those we might be tempted to judge.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.

Week 1 Day 1: God is Love

“…we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
I John 4:16

God is Love
The conditions of your life – to whom you were born, how you were raised, how you were helped, how you were hurt, how you’ve been encouraged or discouraged, how you’ve lost your way along the way – it’s in those conditions that God has met you and God will meet you. God’s love for you is without condition.

– Br. Curtis Almquist


We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.


Transcript: The focus for our first week is “God is Love” – that God’s love for you is unconditional, which is to say that the conditions in which you have known life – to whom you were born, how you were raised, how you were helped, how you were hurt, how you’ve been encouraged or discouraged, how you’ve lost your way along the way – those are the conditions in which you have known your life. And it’s in those conditions that God has met you and God will meet you.

Not just in the best of times. Hopefully you’ve had some wonderful times where God’s light and life and love has been mediated to you through people and through the circumstances of life. But also in the worst of times, which may well be how God has most broken through to you.  When you are without hope or power of your own, your experience of brokenness becomes God’s breakthrough.

We’ll talk this week about how God’s love for you is without condition.

Our focus for today is God is Love. And we draw our inspiration from I John 4:16: “God is love. Those who abide in God, abide in love and God’s love abides in them.”

Now, that verb, abide, is repeated 63 times in the Gospel According to John and the three epistles — 63 times! Now, why the repetition? There are some things in life that do not need to be repeated. We don’t need reminders. For example, we don’t need to be reminded to breathe several times a minute in order to do that. We don’t need to be reminded to sleep some every day. Maybe to sleep more, but we will sleep at some point during the day.

So, why is this recurring reminder to abide? I think it’s because many of us are prone to run away. We cannot imagine that God could or would love us, given the circumstances of our life. We’re not disciplined enough, focused enough, generous enough, forgiving enough, compassionate enough.  We’ve got our list of rejections because we find those rejecting qualities inadmissible and unacceptable. We presume that God is blocked out.  And yet, I think it’s exactly the opposite: that God will reach through to us in the best of times and God will also reach through to us in the worst of times. And the invitation is not to run away but to stay where we are, which is where God is going to come to meet us, where God’s light and life and love for us will be mediated.

A question for you: Think back on your life. How has God’s love for you been mediated? Through whom has that happened? How has that happened, that you have come to know something about God’s love? And then conversely, where do you find in yourself any resistance? Is there something about you, who you are, how you are, as you are, the way you are, that you think precludes God’s love for you? I beg to differ. I beg to differ.

We invite you to share your reflections as a comment or using #MeetingJesus on social media.