Lectio with Lazarus and Jesus

Time for another Lectio, I think! For those who haven't used this method of Bible reading called Lectio Divina, here is a description.

Remember that this is not Bible study - it is a slow, meditative mulling-over of the scripture passage. Particularly with the sentence, phrase or word that 'jumps out at you' the most. To describe it very unflatteringly, think of a cow chewing the cud - she chews slowly and continuously - to get every bit of goodness from the grass!

John 11.32–44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’
Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Picture from www.allposters.co.uk

And may God bless you in your prayer.

The Bible story of Bartimaeus is touching and encouraging - he definitely wasn't going to give up! You might like to try using the passage to do an Ignatian imaginative contemplation. If you don't know how to do that, then you will find an introduction here.

Familiarise yourself with the story below as told in Mark's gospel, then stop reading, close your eyes, and imagine the scene unfolding before you. You might be aware of the dust on your feet, of the noises of the crowd, the jostling. Let your imagination go - be there!

When you have finished, come back to the text below the reading.

The story of Bartimaeus
Mark 10:46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

From the NRSV

After the time of imaginative contemplation, reflect for a little while:
  • I wonder how the scene unfolded for you?
  • Were you yourself in the scene or did you identify yourself with someone already in the story?
  • Did you speak to Jesus?
  • How did Jesus respond to you?
  • How did you feel?
Let the story from your imagination just 'be' inside your heart and head.

When you feel ready, speak to God directly about your time of prayer. Just as though God (perhaps in the person of Jesus) were sitting beside you. Speak from your heart.

Then finish by thanking God and returning to a sense of everyday life.

It often helps to write down your thoughts either at this time or a little later - perhaps in a prayer journal that you can keep and look back on. Sometimes, just the writing can be a time of spiritual integration - when things fall into place - or maybe it's just to keep a record for the future.

The blessing of the living God, creator, redeemer and life-giver be with you always.

Picture from www.allposters.co.uk Item #: 927500

Try another one

Picture from www.allposters.co.uk Item #: 927500

It is Autumn now in England and the trees are looking like beautiful patchwork quilts - or Joseph's 'coat of many colours' (to quote the musical rather than the Bible)! Dappled colours, misty mornings, pale sunlight, glorious sunsets - it is a very lovely time of year despite it being the precursor to poorer weather and darker days.

And here is something else lovely that echoes the wonder of this season. I can just imagine Gerard Manley Hopkins sitting in the grounds of St Beuno's in North Wales writing this (he was probably safely in his room - but, hey, I can imagine)!

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things --
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
     For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced -- fold, fallow, and plough;
     And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
           Praise him.

Poem - Africa's Plea

At our Wednesday Cafe Church that we hold in Costa Coffee in Frodsham one of our retired clergy rounded up the evening by reading a short poem called Africa's Plea. A murmur of appreciation went around afterwards and I thought I would like to share it with you.

Although written by an African - Roland Tombekai Dempster - it could have been written by any person who feels the injustice of not being accepted for who they are. Here it is:

Africa's Plea
Picture from www.allposters.co.uk
I am not you -
but you will not
give me a chance
will not let me be me

'If I were you' -
but you know
I am not you,
yet you will not
let me be me.

You meddle, interfere
in my affairs
as if they were yours
and you were me.

You are unfair, unwise,
foolish to think
that I can be you,
talk, act
and think like you.

God made me me.
He made you you.
For God's sake
Let me be me.

Perhaps when we look at someone who is different in some way - colour, creed, gender, orientation, nationality, we would do well to remember these words:

God made me me.
He made you you.
For God's sake
Let me be me.

This well-known prayer is in various prayer books - usually in Morning Prayer. Personally, I think its a great prayer at bed-time!

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord,
to know you is eternal life,
to serve you is perfect freedom:
defend us your servants from all assaults of our enemies,
that we may trust in your defence
and not fear the power of any adversaries;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Early Christians in the British Isles who favoured a 'Celtic' form of spirituality often spoke and prayed about God's protective 'circling' presence. The 'Caim' (a Gaelic word for encompassing, usually pronounced kyme) was the name given to these circling prayers.

Circling prayers have become one of the distinctive modern expressions of Celtic spirituality. Here is a typical modern version of a caim:

Circle us Lord,
Keep love within, keep hatred out.
Keep joy within, keep fear out.
Keep peace within, keep worry out.
Keep light within, keep darkness out.
May you stand in the circle with us, today and always.

Taken from St Cuthbert's website

Perhaps the most famous of the ancient circling prayers was written by St Patrick:
Image from Wikipedia

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all who love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

From St Patrick's Breastplate

These types of prayers are relatively easy to learn by heart and you can pray for others using them by substituting 'you' or a name in place of 'me' and 'us'.
For instance, if you are sitting quietly with someone who is ill, you can say one of these prayers in your heart for the sick person.

May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit circle you with his peace. Amen.