Week Two: Seeing and Loving the Unseen

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DEVOTION

I enjoy those old puzzles, “Where’s Waldo?”  I try to outwit those who create all those images, trying to make Waldo seem hidden.  There are various tactics used to find, or “see,” Waldo. 

As we move into the second week of Lent, I am thinking of how difficult it is for us to see and love those we cannot see.  Like Waldo, children in today’s society (even though greatly privileged) are often unseen.  But in Jesus’ day, it was even more so.  Children were truly unseen.

What does it mean for us to share our faith with the children in our lives?  In some ways, this is what Jesus was modeling for us as He shared his own faith and knowledge with his disciples.

Just as Jesus did, we have to share with children the deep love of something that we may not be fully able to understand but still believe with our whole being.  The power of this agape love is one that calls us to look for deeper meanings and relationships in our lives.  It beckons us to surround ourselves in community like Christ did.

This week’s primary Scriptures focus on one of the most pivotal moments in Christianity, the Last Supper and the betrayal.  When I was a youth, I remember thinking I understood the mystery and power of communion, but I did not fully understand it until later in life (and still continue to learn even now).

Part of the mystery unfolded before my eyes while in seminary in Kansas City.   I served my final year there as a Chaplain Intern at the Topeka Women’s Correctional Facility.  I remember talking to women who felt like they had done so many wrong things in life that they were not even worthy of God’s love or to dip their bread in the shared common cup.  The women I worked with felt unloved and unseen.  Some felt that the story of Christ’s love and grace was for those who were not like them. 

There is an awesome wonder when you are with a group of women and they realize that Christ died for them, too.  They became a community that prayed together, served others, worshipped and shared in the Scriptures.  This group also formed the first United Methodist Women’s unit behind bars.  They helped teach me a different perspective of what it was to be a woman of faith, to have a strong prayer life and not to take my faith for granted.  I went in thinking I was going to help them while they helped me with my capstone thesis project, but I left a changed woman, empowered by their faith, friendships and conversations.

Things that are unseen and those who seem unseen at times have much to teach us, even those in the great cloud of witnesses.  During Lent, we ask “Where is Jesus?  Who is He with?  What might we learn from them?”

Rev. Rebekah Belase

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Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships, we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day One:  

We all have seen pictures or interpretations of Jesus around the table participating in the Passover with his friends. We are familiar with the words in this passage.  We hear some of them at least once a month.  We want to be close to Him like the disciples were. Jesus gave his body for me and poured out his blood for me; He willingly sacrificed all for me. Shouldn’t that motivate me to do and be better?  Use these verses as a prayer to help reconfirm God’s love for you.

Matthew 26:17-35 – Lord, as You celebrated the Passover at the house with your disciples, I think of You there preparing this meal.  I hear “when it was evening, He took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, He said, ‘Truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’”  As they sat around the table, “They were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it He broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’’’  Lord, I know after this meal, You were betrayed by your disciples.   Please help me to remember the forgiveness You have shown to others.  Amen.

Ask yourself — What do I think of when I imagine Jesus and the twelve in the room celebrating the Passover?  Would I be able to share a meal and earnestly love the ones I knew were about to betray me? How can I be more Christ-like in my actions this week?   Lord, help me see and hear how this Scripture speaks to my life right now, today.

Prayer:  Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Two:  

Jesus is preparing his last meal.  He has invited the disciples to go ahead and prepare the way for his table.  What does it mean to have to prepare your own last supper?  Growing up around the prison system, I can still remember people coming to McAlester to protest the executions that would happen there.   People would line the outside wall, protesting on both sides of the issue.  Sadly, the process is very similar to that of what happened to Christ.    Use these verses as a reflection of the journey that Jesus took with his friends.

Mark 14:12-26 — Loving God, I am thankful for your Son, whom You sent for my sins so that I may have new life in You.  You showed me that You did not just come for perfect people.  You shared a meal with imperfect people, sinners, the least and the lost.  I confess that I am not perfect.  I have not loved as I should.  Help me this week to share what it means to follow the Christ who sacrificed all for me.   Lord, hear my prayer. Amen.

Ask yourself — What is something that I can do for someone else this week?  Who have I not noticed that I pass every day?  Is there a way God is calling me to action?  Maybe this Lenten period I should focus on someone else as Jesus focused on others even on his last days.  Is there a sacrifice that I can make this week, like donate my afternoon tea or coffee money to the Skyline drive or give extra in the red bag at church this week?   Help me put my faith in action this week and think about what that looks like. 

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Three:

As you read and re-read these passages, you may start to notice some of the differences.  Luke starts with the preparation and names the two disciples, Peter and John, who will help set up the Passover meal.  Luke also joins together the past, the Passover tradition, and connects it to the unseen, or the future, stressing that participation meant sharing in the future messianic meal.   Use these verses as a prayer to reflect on the passion narrative as it begins with the Passover meal.  

Luke 22:7-30 — Great Host, thank You for the invitation to participate in this boundless meal. Forgive me when I try to get in the way of myself or let other things become a barrier.  Help me to say “yes” more often to you than I say “no.” Your table is always set and the banquet is open to all.  Amen.

Ask yourself — Is the kingdom of God only a future promise or a present reality?  Table fellowship is an important act throughout Luke’s message of Christ.  Who am I inviting to my table?  Am I fully present with those I dine with?  Can I take some time this Lenten season to slow down, say yes to relationships and enjoy earnest table fellowship?  

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Four: 

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, writes, “To wash the feet of a brother or sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus, to take the downward path, to find Jesus’ presence in the poor and the weak.  Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to-heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, and to live in communion with them?  Is it not a sign that we yearn to be men and women of forgiveness, to be healed and cleansed and to heal and cleanse others, and this to live more fully in communion with Jesus?”   Use these verses as a prayer to continue to help guide our feet this week.

John 13:1-17, 26 — Merciful Lord, You showed me how to serve others even as they were about to betray You.  You knelt to wash and serve those closest to You.  You washed the dirt away from which we came.  You taught us how to humbly serve one another.  Help me this day.  Remind me, as one of your disciples, that I am called to humbly serve as well.  There is still hatred in the world, but my joy comes from You.  As Jesus turns to the cross He prayed.  He prayed for himself as God’s Son, for the works that had been done, for the disciples, and for new believers.  Lord, I am so thankful for this journey and time to reflect on You. Amen.

Ask yourself — What does it feel like when the one I serve humbles himself to wash my feet? Have I taken time to reflect on the prayer in John 17:1-26?  Take a few moments in reflection today to pray for the works of God that go unseen, for the disciples of this praying community, and for those new believers.

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Five: 

I remember hearing phrases like, “dress for success,” or “clothes don’t make a person.” However, many of us probably find ourselves wanting to look just right, spending time and money on the precise outfit for that new job, family picture day, or a meeting with someone important. The truth is that yes, they don’t make us anything more than we already are, but sometimes that perfect outfit give us that boost of confidence we need to face the day. 

Colossians 3:12-17— Loving God, thank You for the reminders of what is important.   It is important to remember that I not only clothe myself physically, but spiritually I am clothed in Christ with “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  In a world where there is much uncivil discourse right now, please help me to be thankful for your reminders of harmony. Remind me that the inner peace I have is from you.  Help me show wisdom and gratitude for all that You give me. Help me to radiate You in all that I do.  Amen.

Ask yourself — Am I letting superficial things get in the way of my relationship with God?  Do I radiate an inner peace and understanding of what it means to be Christ- like in my daily actions?  If someone didn’t know, would they think I represented Christ in all that I say and do?

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Six:

We journey through the Scriptures this week, knowing what is ahead in the next few weeks as Lent presses on.  The ending is not a surprise.  However, I am surprised each year as I journey to the cross what new thing I pick up on or haven’t thought about in a certain way.  Each season something that was unseen to me before becomes seen in a new way through new insights and often, new people.

Colossians 1:24 — Loving God, I am not able to see your physical wounds.  And yet I understand that the body of Christ – the church, the physical embodiment in today’s world — is broken in some ways.  Help me to do what I can to be the hands and feet of Christ – his flesh – to bring healing where there is brokenness and suffering.  Amen.

Ask yourself — How can I live out the message of Christ’s suffering without it becoming a focal point of faith?  How do I reconcile the broken body of Christ I see on Good Friday with the resurrected Christ I see on Sunday (Easter)?  What can I do to be the hands of Christ today and in the days to come?

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.


Day Seven: 

Prayer: Gracious God, as your Son, Jesus, shared a meal with his friends, He broke bread with them, celebrating his friendships.   With relationships we open ourselves up to pain, disappointment, joy, wonder and support.  Please help us stay focused on You this Lenten season.  Sometimes it is easy to become like the disciples and worry more about ourselves.  However, You sent your Son to help teach us another way.  Help me to focus on the work that is undone in Christ and the reminder that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Amen.

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Look over your notes/prayers from the past week. What seems meaningful to you? Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge? Does something require more prayer of discernment? We don’t decide when God will “show up;” instead, we want to be ready and aware when He does. Whatever your experience this week, stay committed. God is!

Catherine HortonComment