Begin by becoming more still, more silent, more focussed
- As we begin this time of prayerful reflection, begin by becoming more still, more silent, more focussed. There are different ways of doing this, and you may already have one that suits you, but in each session of this retreat we will use a different form of stillness exercise. Today, spend a little time becoming aware of the sensations of different parts of your body. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting in a comfortable chair, lying down, or walking. First of all, spend some time becoming aware of your body. Become aware of different sensations in different parts of your body.
- Perhaps now focus on your feet, the shoes that surround them, ground they press against, the way they move. It can help to wiggle your toes at this point!
- Now work your way up through your body – from your legs, your hips, your torso, your arms and hands, to your face and scalp. Let the feeling of each part register with you, and only move on when it has done so.
- When you’ve reached your head, let your attention return to your feet, and move slowly again through your body once or twice.
- Then, when you’re ready, let that point of attention come to rest, somewhere at the centre of yourself. It’s from that quiet centre that you can now listen to the account of Martha’s encounter with Jesus.
John 11:1, 3-6, 17-27
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
What words would you use to describe your experience of God’s love for you?
- Martha, Mary and Lazarus are from Bethany, a village within walking distance of Jerusalem. Their home is a haven for Jesus during his ministry. Jesus feels comfortable coming to their home for a meal and they feel free to call on Jesus whenever they have need. Do you feel comfortable in Jesus’ presence?
- This episode is often entitled “The Raising of Lazarus.” It might be better called “The belief of Martha”, for the account is mainly of Jesus’ conversation with Martha. Their conversation transforms the Lazarus miracle story into a story about the fullness of new life possible to all who believe in Jesus. Can you identify with Martha? How?
- Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus . The sisters send word that their brother is ill, but they do not ask Jesus to come or cure him. Notice how confident they are in Jesus and his love. God loves us in many and varied ways – as merciful, healing, forgiving, unconditionally, to name a few. What words would you use to describe your experience of God’s love for you?
- When Martha hears that Jesus is here she goes out straight away to meet him. Are you eager to move from where you are now in your life and to go out to meet Jesus on this retreat?
Talk to God
Reflect on any events in your life that have deepened your faith
- What might Martha have been thinking as she went out to meet Jesus? Perhaps she remembers what he had done for others: the widow of Nain, whose son was restored to life, or Jairus’ daughter who was also dead, but then came back to life. Have you witnessed God powerfully at work in the lives of others? Has God worked powerfully in your life? Do you think God can do so again or does he seem to delay?
- Jesus says to Martha ‘ I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ What’s it like for you to hear these words of comfort and healing?
- With conviction, Martha makes her great profession of faith: “ Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” We hear a lot about Peter’s profession of faith in answer to Jesus’ question “Who do you say I am?” But Martha comes to the same degree of faith and her confession is equally powerful. You may want to try writing your own profession of faith.
- Reflect on any events in your life that have deepened your faith. As this prayer draws to a close, enter into a conversation with the Lord. How might you complete the sentence: “Yes, Lord, I believe…..?