Week 2 Day 5: Jesus, the Savior

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.”
I John 4:14

Jesus, the Savior
I think it’s true that none of us show up on the scene ready to go, fully complete. Our first instinct, as soon as our lungs are cleared, is to cry out for help as loud as we can.

-Br. Jim Woodrum



Transcript:

In the first week we began to explore the love of God. And this week, we’re learning how that love of God has been manifest in our lives through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago, I got into an argument with a friend when I made the statement that I didn’t believe in the “self-made” man. He pushed back a little bit, and he said, “But Jim, your success as a musician has been the result of your hard study and your hard work in the practice room, and in your courage to take an audition when there were many other people who could play the part just as well as you.” And whilst some of that is true, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize that there were many people in my life who actually nurtured my love of music, who taught me how to read music, who taught me how to practice efficiently and how to showcase the ways that I could perform the part that was unique to me, and that might win the audition.

As a matter of fact, I think it’s true that none of us show up on the scene ready to go, fully complete. Our first instinct, as soon as our lungs are cleared, is to cry out for help as loud as we can. I believe that this is what the Johannine community was witnessing to when they wrote, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.” I believe we never really fully outgrow the instinct to cry for help. But how the love of God is made manifest in our life is by the fact that Jesus has come into our lives and into our human condition, to be with us, to guide us, to walk with us and to help nurture the things that we need in order to be fully alive, to be more completely who God has created us to be.

So maybe in your prayer life, maybe you would want to focus on: “What in my life needs help? Where can I not go it alone? Where do I need God’s help and love and provision in order to take the next step?” This is how God is waiting to meet us in our lives. All we have to do is ask.

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

Week 2 Day 4: Jesus, the Teacher

“If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
John 13:12-15

Jesus, the Teacher
When I consider Jesus as teacher, I often think of him as a kind of guru: a spiritual teacher that teaches more by their presence or by their actions and not perhaps as much by their words.

-Br. Nicholas Bartoli



Transcript:

In Week Two of the series, we’re exploring what it means for us for Jesus to have been the Word of God made flesh and how Jesus shares God’s love of the world through that. Today specifically we’ll be looking at what it means for Jesus to be in the role of teacher. The scripture that we’re looking at today is John chapter 13, verses 14 and 15: “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.”

When I consider Jesus as teacher, I often think of him as a kind of guru. A guru is sort of a spiritual teacher that teaches more by their presence or by their actions and not perhaps as much by their words. We can see in this scripture, for example, that Jesus is teaching by the example he sets for his disciples. In Jesus’ case, he was the Word made flesh. He became an incarnation of God’s love and presence in the world, helping us to more fully live into that role ourselves. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he was giving them a concrete example of what God’s love made manifest in the world might look like. In this case, simply a desire to serve out of that love.

Jesus gives for us an example of what the Word made flesh, this intersection between the spiritual and material, might look like in our lives. He’s our example. He’s our role model, our teacher. We’re invited, like Jesus, to embody God’s spirit of love and mercy in the world and to share that love in the world by virtue of our presence and by our actions, serving others out of love, as Jesus did. So I encourage you this week, this day, to include in your prayers a prayer to let God help us more fully embody God’s love in the world, to let God live through us, as Jesus did.

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

Week 2 Day 3: Jesus, the Healer

“Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids, blind, lame and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’”
John 5:2-6

Jesus, the Healer
Perhaps at times, like me, you have questioned the value or importance to God of your personal well-being or of your health in body, mind, or spirit. You’ve found yourself unable to believe that the love of God could include you.

-Br. Jonathan Maury



Transcript:

This week as we meet Jesus in John’s Gospel we reflect on the Word made flesh who lived and lives among us. Today our focus is on the Word made flesh in the person of Jesus, the healer. Perhaps at times, like me, you have questioned the value or importance to God of your personal well-being or of your health in body, mind, or spirit. You’ve found yourself unable to believe that the love of God could include you and the fullness of your being as important as anything else in the world.

In a life-long struggle with clinical depression, I found myself at many stages finding this feeling and turning away from God. From adolescent resignation to the feelings as being just part of human existence to later frightening and destructive thoughts and actions, I have at times lost a sense of God’s love for me. Yet, we have before us today the story of the man at the pool of Bethzatha. This has become a touchstone for me, a touchstone of a means by which I gradually and gratefully accept the compassion and love of Jesus to heal me, to heal me as I need in any given moment and time in my life and in my illness.

It amazes me that Jesus – in hearing a litany of complaint and hopelessness from the man to his question “Do you wish to be healed?” – can hear deep inside this a feeble desire for that healing, a hope for that healing. Jesus does bring about his physical healing to that man who walks again. Now, the same man is later confronted by the religious authorities and fears the consequences to himself of Jesus’ loving action toward him and so he betrays Jesus to those authorities. But this does not negate the freely-given, sacrificially-given love of God and Jesus for this man’s healing and wholeness. That love, that sacrifice, now abide in this man to be renewed in the future, to be renewed for his continued healing, his wholeness in body, mind, and spirit and his well-being of soul at just the right time for him.

I bid you today to pray with me to remember those instances in which you have perhaps been reluctant to accept or even refused the loving kindness of God for healing that Jesus has come to you to offer. Then turn gratefully and vulnerably toward that Jesus who offers that loving kindness to us in ways beyond our imagining – to us and to others around us, and through those others around us to us as well. Live in the gratitude and knowledge of Jesus’ continuing love for us, that the Word made flesh indeed dwells in our flesh, continually healing, forgiving, restoring us to well-being at each moment along the way just as we have need – not as we may believe we have need, but as we truly have need. Then offer your gratitude and loving kindness back to God for this gift of healing in Jesus’ life.

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

Week 2 Day 2: The Word Was Made Flesh


“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

The Word Was Made Flesh
In Jesus, God took on the totality of our humanity, which means that he was just like us in every way. He had the same emotions that we have. He knew pain. He knew anger. He knew anxiety, and he needed human affection as we do.

-Br. Geoffrey Tristram



Transcript:

During the first week we have been looking and praying, thinking about how much God loves each one of us. During this second week we are looking at the way in which, as it were, God broke all the bounds of generosity when he sent Jesus into the world as a man: the Incarnation, this great gift of God. There’s probably nowhere in scripture which proclaims with such magnificence this wonderful, generous gift of God out of his enormous love for us than the beginning of Saint John’s gospel.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” The Word became flesh. John doesn’t say the Word became a man or a body. He uses a quite startling and almost shocking word: flesh, the Greek word sarx, to say without any doubt that in Jesus, God became flesh and blood just like us. In Jesus, God took on the totality of our humanity, which means that he was just like us in every way. He was shaped by a family like us. He grew and had to learn. Luke tells us that he grew in stature and in wisdom. He had the same emotions that we have. He knew pain. He knew anger. He knew anxiety, and he needed human affection as we do.

For me, this is incredibly important, the fact that he experienced everything that I experience. He knows how I feel and he knows my deepest thoughts, my deepest fears, my deepest hopes. It tells me, and this is so important for my life, that there is no part of my life which I cannot bring to Jesus in prayer. I think when I was first a Christian my prayers were probably very pious. I used to pray about the sort of things I thought God wanted to hear. I think I censored an awful lot. As I’ve grown in the Christian faith, as I’ve come to understand this deep mystery of the Incarnation, that God loves me so much that God longs for me to bring every part of myself to God in prayer, even the parts that I’m not particularly proud of or that I don’t like to actually think about myself. God says “Bring them to the surface. Bring them to the light, into my presence, and allow me to transfigure and redeem everything that you are. That is how much I love you.”

So perhaps some questions we might ask today are “How honest am I in my prayers?”, and then secondly to perhaps hear God’s invitation to bring the deepest parts of our humanity up into God’s searching love, that we might be healed and redeemed and set free. That is how much God loves us.

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

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



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 answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

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

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



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 answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

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


 


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 answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

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



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 answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

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



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 answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus