John Day 40: The Restoration of Peter

Simon Peter Do You Love Me by ShouYume

Today we finish our journey through John. I am thankful for your companionship and look forward to new adventures together. Where should we go next? – Lisa <><

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 40 Reading:
John 21:15-25

Bringing the Word to Life
Show the love of God by feeding the birds or other creatures that live in your community.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. – John 21:17 (NRSV)

Observation
Jesus restores Peter to relationship and leadership by asking Peter three times if he loves him. Peter says yes and Jesus instructs him to feed his sheep- to shepherd God’s people as Jesus had. Jesus then tells Peter that following him and serving him will take him places he does not want to go or expect to go. Finally, Jesus tells Peter to mind his own calling and not to worry or compare his calling to the calling of others.

Application
The last two chapters of John illustrate the grace-filled journey of every Christ-follower.

  • Jesus comes to us, unlocking the doors we hide behind, releasing us from our self-imposed prisons of chaos and fear
  • Jesus comes to us in all our doubts, answering our hearts and minds with patience, peace and truth
  • Jesus comes to us, calling us out of our old ways and habits and into a new and better life
  • Jesus comes to us, drawing us out of the cold, dark waters of grief and disappointment to feed us and warm us
  • Jesus comes to us, opening our eyes and hearts to the beauty, diversity and greatness of his plan
  • Jesus comes to us, again and again and again, forgiving our failures, restoring us to right relationship,
  • Jesus comes to us, empowering us and sending us out tend his Word and world so all might hear his good news come into his heavenly fold

Prayer
Risen Christ, we bless your coming and welcome you again. Thank you for forgiving us and restoring us when we sin and stray. Keep our steps strong and sure on the journey with you. Empower us to welcome and serve and share with everyone we meet, as you have done for us. May the victory and grace of your Kingdom spread and grow, now and forever. Amen.

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Click Here for another excellent reflection on this scripture by Dr. Steve Harper entitled A Fresh Start

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

John Day 39: The Miraculous Catch of Fish

Cast Your Net Again by Daniel Bonnell

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 39 Reading:
John 21:1-14

Bringing the Word to Life
Say a special prayer for all who are suffering, especially the fishermen, as a result of the gulf oil spill, the earthquake in Haiti, and the earthquakes/typhoons in Japan.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Jesus said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. – John 21:6 (NRSV)

Observation
Was Peter in the upper room when Jesus appeared to the disciples Easter evening, or had Peter separated himself from the group, ashamed he had denied Jesus three times? Whatever the case, Peter goes back to what he knows, fishing. Jesus seeks him out as he did when he first called Peter from the nets years before. Peter’s eyes are opened at the miraculous catch of fish and his restoration begins.

Application
Like Peter, I am reminded of my calling from Jesus to be a fisher of men and women. I am also reminded of the great diversity and beauty of those who will be God’s people. So many and yet the net of God’s grace and church will not break.

Prayer/Poem
This poem was inspired by Matthew 13:47-50, John 21:1-14, John 12:31-32, Psalms 40:1-3, and the painting Cast Your Net Again by Daniel Bonnell. It was originally written as the sermon for a World Communion Sunday Worship Service. It could be voiced with one or two speakers.

Cast Your Net Again
It had been a long night of fishing
We smelled of bait and salt-
salt from the sea
salt from the sweat
salt from the tears
It was a strange combination of perspiration and desperation
The sun was about to come up, and we hadn’t caught a thing
We were downhearted
Not so much because we hadn’t caught anything,
But because everything changed
He was gone
our leader
our teacher
our friend
our future
We were missing Jesus

He had called us from our nets years before,
Come, follow me…
And that’s what we did
We gave up everything we knew
our nets
our lives
and followed him
“Fishers of men,” he said…
Now he was gone and all that was left was the nets… empty nets…

Children, you have no fish, have you?
                                                                     No, no fish
Cast your net again and you will find some

Cast your net again,
Where had we heard this familiar foolishness
So we cast it… we cast it wide, dragged it deep, swept it around the sea
Suddenly so many fish

The cry goes up with our hope
It is the Lord! It is Jesus!
He sank down to the bottom
Down to the mud and the darkness
Down to the pain and the brokenness
Down to our level

Until he was lifted up- lifted up on a cross
Up went the fists
Up went the curses
Up went the sign
Up went the stares

Down came the hammer
Down came the tears
Down came the blood
Down came the love
Down to our level- buried beneath waves of fear and sin
Buried beneath earth

He did as he promised
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself

It is the Lord! It is Jesus!
He is lifted up from the earth
Up from the grave
Up goes the shout
Up goes the sun with the Son

Cast your net again, my Jesus
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
Draw us up from the bottom with you
Draw us up from the mud and the darkness
Up from the pain and the brokenness and the selfishness and the loneliness
Draw us up from the fear and the hate and the sin and the death
Draw us up from the bottom with you

Draw us up,
Draw us all, my Jesus
Fisher of men and women, sober and addicted, poor and prosperous, infant and aged
Draw us up, Draw us all, my Jesus
Healthy and ill, free and imprisoned, questioning and confident
Draw us up, Draw us all
Fisher of nations and galaxies

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Cast your net again into the sea of humanity
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
Draw us up
Draw us in
We are caught in your saving embrace

“Now follow me,” says Jesus.
“Come, cast the net
Cast the net again and again and again and we will find some more
Cast it wide, drag it deep, sweep it around the sea
So many, so different, so beautiful
Use all your strength to bring them in
Have no fear, the net will not break.”

© 2009, revised 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Book Shelf: Simple Church

Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples
Thom S. Rainer (Author), Eric Geiger (Author)
Published by B & H Books (June 1, 2006)

My review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Important book for reminding clergy and laity of the true mission of the church. When you clear away the clutter and concentrate on making disciples through worship, small groups, and service, the church becomes healthy and fruitful. Solid research, solid principles (not programs) presented in an approachable and enjoyable way. If you aren’t into the science behind the statistics, its easy to skip those sections.

BONUS: The Florida Conference Office of Congregational Excellence offers an inexpensive DVD of Eric Geiger presenting this material. Great for a leadership retreat. You can reach them at http://congregationaltransformation.com/  

From the publisher:
The simple revolution is here. From the iPod design to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world. Multi-awarded #1 national bestseller Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. Based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus. Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify.

Book Shelf: The Art of Pastoring

The Art of Pastoring:
Contemplative Reflections

William C. Martin (Author)
Published by Vital Faith Resources (March 1, 2001)

My review: 5 out of 5 stars
Wonderful, thin volume you will reference over and over again. Martin’s thoughts on the worldly understanding of success, productivity and control are especially helpful for recovering workaholics. This book is best enjoyed in small, reflective bites.

From the publisher:
Eighty-one reflections that offer refreshment to pastors. Scores of pastors from numerous denominations have found these reflections a pungent reminder of who they are as ministers of Christ.

John Day 38: Receive the Holy Spirit

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 38 Reading: 
John 20:19-30

Bringing the Word to Life
Use a nail or pencil to pierce a piece of fruit or meat. Reflect on the wounds of Christ and our need to believe without seeing.

Our wounds and scares become the icons of grace. – Paul Young

Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging gears and face our own true nature. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20:21-22 (NRSV)

Jesus not only offers his light to humanity, he offers his breath, his innermost life, so that we may truly belong to him as brothers and sisters and as sons and daughters of his heavenly Father. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Knowing the Trinity is being involved in this circling movement: drawn by the Son towards the Father, drawn into the Father’s breathing out of the Spirit so that the Sons’ life may be again made real in the world. It is where contemplation and action become inseparable. –Rowan Williams, The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ

Observation
On Easter Sunday, Jesus makes three post resurrection appearances- first to Mary Magdalene in the garden, then to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), and finally to a group of disciples hiding from the Jewish leaders. In this third appearance, Jesus twice bids those gathered peace and then breathes on them so they will receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfills his promises to rise from the dead and to send the Holy Spirit. Eight days later Jesus appears to them again when Thomas is present so he too may see and believe.

Application
Jesus knows what we need and provides it: God’s peace, presence and power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. With these gifts we are commissioned and empowered to join Christ in saving the world.

In the grief and shame of confronting our sin, we get the wind knocked out of us. In God’s forgiveness our old spirit of fear and anxiety is blown away.  Our old, tangled lives are wiped out and we begin fresh. God breathes a new peace into us, the peace of knowing we are loved and forgiven and free, the blessing of being deeply at peace with ourselves and God and the world. God creates us anew, with a new spirit.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, A New Spirit

You, O Eternal Trinity,
are a deep sea into which,
the more I enter,
the more I find,
and the more I find,
the more I seek.
O abyss,
O eternal Godhead,
O sea profound,
what more could you give me than yourself?
God’s grace, unsought and unearned,
blows through my life,
and all I need to do
is raise my sails to catch the full wind.
– Catherine of Siena

Prayer
One day when our daughters were very little, I took them to the church playground at Epworth UMC in Durham, NC. It was a beautiful, bright blue day under the pine trees, full of play and little girl giggles. It was exactly what I needed. I was beyond tired and stressed from trying to handle seminary classes, children, husband and some semblance of personal hygiene. As I stood there a breeze brushed my face. It was as if Jesus was breathing on me: strengthening me, telling me everything was going to be alright, and confirming my calling.

The following hymn text, Wind of the Spirit, was born from this great grace. It is set to the tune ASSURANCE which is most often associated with Fanny Crosby’s text Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine. I chose this tune because it is one of my favorites and because Fanny Crosby is one of my faith heroes, both as a writer and as a person with great challenges who was still used in powerful ways by God.- Lisa <><

Wind of the Spirit
Meter 9 10.99 with refrain
Suggested Tune: ASSURANCE (United Methodist Hymnal #369)

Wind of the Spirit, blow on your child
Reveal the fiction now hidden by style
Self centered passions hold all control
Feeding me falsehood, withering my soul

REFRAIN:  Great Holy Spirit. Sweet Mystery.
Pour forth your glory eternally
Life’s Liberator. Death’s Enemy.
Come Holy Spirit, set your child free*

Wind of Salvation, breathe on my bones,
Resurrect life where destruction was sown,
Flow through my nature, parched now by sin
Pour out forgiveness, cleanse me again (refrain)

Breath of the Savior, soft on my face
whispers a message of love, peace, and grace.
Constantly calling, helping me turn,
offering a life I never could earn. (refrain)

Bright Blazing Spirit, Tongues of Pure Fire
Dance on your children, ignite our desire
Forge our devotion purer than gold.
Shining for all the world to behold. (refrain)

* alternate texts:
Come Holy Spirit, set your church free
Come Holy Spirit, sanctify me

© 4/1999, revised 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

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Click here, for Steve Garnaas-Holmes meaningful prayer on Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ entitled A Prayer to St. Thomas. Also consider his post entitled, Thomas’ Prayer.

Click here for a powerful reflection on the Holy Spirit as wind and breath of life by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Conspiracy.

Click here for reflections and prayers on the wounds of Christ.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

 

John Day 37: The Resurrection of Jesus

He is Not Here by Walter Rane

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 37 Reading:
John 20:1-18

Bringing the Word to Life
When Jesus rose the grave clothes were left behind. Reflect on Jesus’ bodily resurrection as you fold some clothes, a tissue, or a piece of cloth.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!”
– John 20:18 (NRSV)

John Chrysostom, selection from The Easter Homily
Hell took a body, and face to face met God!
It took earth, and encountered Heaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?”
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and Life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the tombs!
For Christ being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept.
To Him be glory and dominion through all the ages of ages!

Observation
In John’s version of the Easter story, Mary Magdalene makes her way to the tomb to find it open and Jesus’ body missing. She runs to tell the disciples. Peter and another disciple run to the tomb to investigate and then leave for home. Mary stays and encounters two angels and then Jesus himself. She runs back to tell the disciples what has happened. Jesus is risen from the dead!

Application
The authenticity and transparency of Mary’s emotional journey that first Easter captures my heart.

Mary makes her way to the tomb… sobbing, solitary, silent. She is struck by a sudden rush of surprise and horror as she finds the tomb open and Jesus’ body missing. She races back to the disciples- her broken heart crushed yet pounding in her chest. Three of them race back to the tomb to find the grave clothes scattered on the cold, stone slab. The men investigate then leave and she is alone again. Her head swimming and her stomach nauseous, “Where have they taken him?” She imagines all the ways they might be further desecrating Jesus’ body. She looks inside again hoping to wake from this nightmare. Her eyes, now swollen from dust and salty tears are now almost blinded by the brightness of the angels’ appearance. They try to speak to her but she turns away only to encounter someone else. Overcome by anguish, she begs him hysterically for the location of Jesus’ body.

Then, through the terror and the pain she hears her name… Mary. In that exquisite moment all is instantly peace. Her eyes open to behold her beloved Savior. She reaches for him as she collapses to the soft, dark earth. He gives her a message, the most beautiful and hopeful message every given. She rises and runs again to the other disciples, this time alive with joy.

Now is a good time to remember that the grace given to us by God to become contemplative comes to us at great cost–namely, Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world.  We are redeemed and made “response-able” (contemplative) because on the Cross, Jesus re-opened the way to God which original sin had closed.  That’s the main reason why contemplatives are among the most humble people in the world.  We can never take credit for our spirituality.  Life is Gift.  Jesus has accomplished what we never could.  We must never separate our attentiveness to God from the atonement.  Through Christ our “sight” has been restored, our “hearing” repaired, and our spirits returned to the condition where deep communion with God is possible. – Steve Harper

Prayer
Break through Jesus.
Break through the tombs we make for ourselves.
Break through the rocks others would bury us beneath.
Break through the layers of sin and habit, pain and terror
callused eyes, hardened mind, gravelly heart
Break through poverty and prejudice and hate
through lack of opportunity and despair
through our imaginings and our realities

We know nothing can keep you in the grave
You are risen, just as you said
We trust you to raise us up with you.
and to make us alive with your joy. Amen.

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For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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John Day 36: The Burial of Jesus

Station XIV Jesus is Laid in the Tomb by Gwyneth Leech. Commissioned by Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 36 Reading:
John 19:31-42

Bringing the Word to Life
Spend some time smelling the different spices in your kitchen. As you smell them, reflect on Jesus’ burial.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. – John 19:40 (NRSV)

A dread and marvelous mystery we see come to pass this day. He whom none may touch is seized; he who looses Adam from the curse is bound. He who tries our hearts and inner thoughts is unjustly brought to trial. He who closed the abyss is shut in prison. He before whom the powers of heaven stand with trembling, stands before Pilate; the Creator is struck by the hand of a creature. He who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the cross; the Destroyer of hell is enclosed in a tomb.- Byzantine liturgy

Observation
The bodies need to come down from the crosses due to the Sabbath. The soldiers break the leg bones of the two thieves so they will die quickly. Jesus is dead already, but they thrust a spear in his side to make sure. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus bury Jesus in a tomb that had never been used before.

Application
Joseph and Nicodemus are both secret followers of Jesus. Yet one comes forward to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body and the other brings an extravagant amount of spices for his burial. I imagine the sorrow, pain and regret as they carefully wash him, anoint him, and wrap him. “Would things have been different if I had spoken up? If I had made my faith known?”

My prayer came out as a poem today…
Hebrews 2:9 (NRSV)
We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The Taste of Death
I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
I am held captive by downfall and falsehood
or I am held by Christ
whose outstretched arms free me from fear and captivity
Who holds me? Death or Christ?

Great Love bends low to us
Suffers with us and for us
Tastes death so we might be free

What does death taste like?
Amniotic fluid and stable hay
Breast milk and sawdust
Bread broken before sour wine
Salty tears, bitter fear
Ashes to ashes, mud pie
Blood and water served on a centurion’s spear
Linen, spices or stone?

It’s hard to taste anything when your lips are cracked and bloody
Your tongue swollen and stuck to the roof of your mouth

Word made Flesh
Flesh made Mercy
Embodied Love
Wondrous Love
Surprising Sympathetic Savior
Magnificent Christ
Taste and see that the Lord is good

I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
Hold me, Jesus

© 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

***********
For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.