Below is the meditation/spiritual practices supplement for this coming Sunday’s virtual church service. Engaging in a spiritual practice helps you to find the answers to the following questions:
- Who am I?
- How do I find inner peace, contentment, joy?
- What are my gifts and how am I called to use them for my own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?
Spiritual practices help to fulfill the deeper longing in our heart for meaning, purpose and fulfillment and help us to overcome the inner obstacles to living our life’s purpose.
Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell 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 had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
John 11: 1-45
EZ 37: 12-14
Ps 130: 1-8
ROM 8: 8-11
Dying to Rise Again
The story of Lazarus foreshadowed Jesus’ resurrection and gives us an opportunity to foreshadow the promise of new life within our own lived experience. Like Lazarus, we too are invited to enter into the tomb so that we can experience the invitation to new life. As we enter the tomb, we are invited to identify the things within ourselves and within our lives that are not life-giving, those things which keep us small, constricted and imprisoned. Then, we are invited to allow those things to be released, healed and transformed within the tomb – metaphorically giving ourselves over to death. As we allow the imprisoning parts of ourselves to die, we are making room for new life to be called forth, to take root and to grow. At that time, we, like Lazarus will be invited to “Come out” – into the new and freer life that God intends for us.
With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Creative Expression. You will need two blank sheets of paper and crayons to complete this activity. You might also find it helpful to have music playing in the background as you complete this exercise (I might recommend The Davinci Code Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer for setting the scene).
- Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of the story of the raising of Lazarus.
- With crayons and paper, draw your own tomb. On the stones of the tomb, write your fears, your compulsive behaviors, any unhealthy attitudes or thought patters, external obstacles, etc. anything that you perceive as a hindrance to enjoying the life of freedom, fulfillment, purpose and meaning that God intends for you. Specifically, depict those things you would like to let die and leave behind in the tomb.
- After you have created your tomb. Imagine that you are within the tomb and that all those things you want to be freed of are being healed, released and transformed as you surrender to death in the tomb.
- Once you feel freed of these fears, etc. or when you have a sense of the experience of the tomb being complete, Allow yourself to hear Jesus’ voice calling out to you, “(Your Name), Come out!” Allow yourself to respond to Jesus’ words and imagine yourself arising and coming forth out of the tomb.
- On the second piece of paper, create a depiction of what your new life will look like after coming forth out of the tomb.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, take a photo of your images and post them on the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church community page on Facebook.
The whole point of Authentic Freedom is to invite us into the tomb – to provide us with an opportunity to identify the fears and resulting compulsive behaviors that prevent us from living the freedom that God intended – and to provide effective tools for transforming these fears. Naming the fear, I have discovered, is 99% of the process. Once the “demon” is named, it no longer has power over us and we are more free to discover the life of meaning, purpose and fulfillment that God intends for us.
What are the fears that prevent you from enjoying a life that is authentically free?
What are the unhealthy behaviors that arise out of these fears?