Let your whole attention be focussed on the object that you’re holding
- The prayer of each session of this retreat invites you to a different way of growing more still, more focussed, in preparation for hearing God’s word. Today you could begin by picking up some kind of physical object, something that you can comfortably hold. It could be a cup, or a piece of fruit, a feather, or a pebble. If there is nothing else to hand, you might focus on a piece of clothing that you are wearing. Choose something, and sit quietly for a moment with it.
- Now turn this object over in your hands. Look closely at it. Notice how it feels, how heavy it is, whether it is rough or smooth, hard or soft. Let your whole attention, for a few moments, be focussed on this object that you’re holding.
The object that you selected is ultimately a part of God’s creation
- Now take a second look. What is there about this object that you didn’t notice the first time around? What is it that makes it unique, one of a kind? Even if it’s something mass-produced, there will be something about it that separates it out from others of its kind.
- Spend just a little more time appreciating the object that you selected, something that is ultimately a part of God’s creation. Then in the quiet space that you have reached, listen to part of a speech that King David gave towards the end of his life.
1 Chronicles 28: 2, 4-8
Then King David rose to his feet and said: ‘Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God; and I made preparations for building. Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my ancestral house to be king over Israel for ever; for he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took delight in making me king over all Israel. And of all my sons, for the Lord has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, “It is your son Solomon who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be a son to me, and I will be a father to him. I will establish his kingdom for ever if he continues resolute in keeping my commandments and my ordinances, as he is today.” Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and search out all the commandments of the Lord your God; that you may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you for ever.
Try to recognise God at work in one of the difficult moments of your own life
- Of all Jesus’ ancestors, the two most illustrious are undoubtedly David and Solomon, remembered as the greatest kings of Israel. David was a military leader, defeating Israel’s enemies and establishing Jerusalem as its capital. Solomon built the Temple at the heart of that city. And, as David reminds the people here, they were chosen by God to do these things. How do you respond to the idea that you, too, might have been specially chosen by God to help him carry out his plans for our world?
- David didn’t enjoy an easy life. His predecessor as king, Saul, saw him as a rival and tried to kill him. Later several of his sons rose in civil war against him. Yet at the end of his life David could recognise God working through all these experiences, those that seemed good and those that seemed bad. Try for a moment to recognise God at work in one of the difficult moments of your own life. Or ask God to help you to see him there.
- Solomon is remembered especially for his wisdom. He himself valued this as a gift from God, more than riches or a long life. What image comes to mind when you think of a wise person? Can you recognise wisdom as a gift that you possess, or would want to possess, in any way?
Talking to the Lord
What do the lives of the ancestors of Jesus tell you about how God works in your life
- Several times in the gospels Jesus is singled out as being a descendant of King David. He is born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary have to return to David’s city for a census. Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, calls out to Jesus as “son of David”. Yet he is born in a stable, and is executed as a traitor to the state. David is promised in the passage that we have heard that he and his descendants will be kings over Israel forever. Matthew’s gospel believes that Jesus is a fulfilment of this promise. How do you react to the idea of King Jesus?
- As we come to the end of this time of prayer, speak to Jesus, called the “son of David” in Matthew’s gospel, about these ancestors of his, and what their lives tell you about how God works in your life and the world about you.