Archive for August, 2017

Imaginative Contemplation: The Bleeding Woman

Posted: August 25, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

We have spoken before about the importance of reading scripture with open hands, and imaginative contemplation is one way of doing that. The reader places themselves in the story and engages their sense and emotions, in order to bring the action to life and create a space in which they are open to new insight and revelation. It can be as simple as reading a passage and then let the imagination take over, but a little bit of guidance can be helpful, especially if this is a new practice, so while we are on our summer break I will be offering a few written contemplations for you to use. Obviously this is a less analytical approach to the Bible than we have been taking over the past few months, but I hope it will provide some balance and refreshment.

This imagination contemplation is adapted from one written by my sister Emma, who joined us to lead the youth work at our last weekend away, and will be joining us again this year.

 

bleeding woman.jpg

 

Take some deep breaths and enjoy the space you are in. Be still in the presence of God.

Imagine a scene. You are standing on a shore. What can you see and hear and smell? Who are you with?

A man approaches the shore and steps out of his boat with a group of friends who follow him. You look around you and see you are one of many gathered there to greet this man. You realise this is Jesus, the one people are talking about. What are you thinking? How do you feel?

You are jostled by the crowd to follow this man and his friends. What can you see around you? What are you expecting?

Suddenly a man bursts forth from the crowd and falls at the feet of Jesus. You hear him ask Jesus for help. His daughter is sick and he knows Jesus can heal her. Jesus starts to follow the man and you move after him. Why are you following? What are you thinking?

The crowd comes to a standstill. You crane to see what’s happening. Jesus has stopped moving. He is looking around for something or someone. A woman emerges from the crowd. Who is she? Why has she come forward?

You move forward in the crowd to see more of what is going on, pushing past people as you go. Why are you so drawn to the action? What are you feeling?

You hear Jesus say “your faith has healed you.” What does that mean? Who do you think this man really is?

You hear whispers in the crowd that this woman has been ill for twelve years. No physician has been able to help and no doctor has cured her but this man has the power to heal. There is a buzz in the crowd. Is she really healed? Is this man everything he says he is?

You look around and realise the crowd has gone. You look ahead and see only Jesus. You want to ask him something. What are you thinking? What are you feeling?

You walk toward Jesus and stare into his eyes. What does he look like up close? How does he make you feel?

You build up the courage to ask him a question. What is on your heart? What do you ask him?

Jesus looks at you and begins to speak. Really listen to him. What is he saying to you? What do you need to do about it?

In your own time, end this contemplation.

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Imaginative Contemplation: The Woman at the Well

Posted: August 2, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

We have spoken before about the importance of reading scripture with open hands, and imaginative contemplation is one way of doing that. The reader places themselves in the story and engages their sense and emotions, in order to bring the action to life and create a space in which they are open to new insight and revelation. It can be as simple as reading a passage and then let the imagination take over, but a little bit of guidance can be helpful, especially if this is a new practice, so while we are on our summer break I will be offering a few written contemplations for you to use. Obviously this is a less analytical approach to the Bible than we have been taking over the past few months, but I hope it will provide some balance and refreshment.

 

SamaritanWomanAtTheWell-HeQi

 

You leave your house and walk into the centre of town. It’s the middle of the day and it’s hot. The air is still and almost shimmering in the heat. Take a moment to place yourself in the scene and imagine what you can see…hear…smell. 

You head for the cool of a tree and feel yourself relax as you reach the shade. You’re out of the sun and the scrutiny of your neighbours. Stay in this place a while and rest in the peaceful atmosphere of a cool place in the heat of the day. 

After you’ve rested for a moment, you’re startled by a voice asking for a drink. You turn around and see a man sitting just a few feet away. He is a stranger here and yet he feels almost familiar. How do you feel as you look at him? 

Again he asks for a drink. Something in you resists the request. What may be stopping you from responding to his call? 

The man gets up and walks towards you. He looks at you with kindness and understanding. After a moment he speaks again. “If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would ask me and I would give you living water.” You look around but the man has nothing with him. He has no water to give. It doesn’t make sense. What else feels confusing or impossible to you now? 

The man doesn’t give up and walk away. Instead he says “No one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.” What does it feel like to hear those words? 

You hear yourself asking for some of that water. What is it that makes you long for it? 

You are half expecting him to produce a flask from somewhere, but the man simply smiles and sends you on an errand. Your heart sinks as you realise you can’t do what he asks. He obviously doesn’t know the truth and you must come clean. What is it that you need to tell him about? 

You could fall down as he tells you he already knows and praises you for your honesty. How does it feel to realise this man knows you so intimately? 

There’s clearly something important on his mind because suddenly he tells you, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.” What does this mean and how are you called to respond? 

You know that this man is very special, but still you are amazed when he tells you he is the one you have been waiting for. How does it feel to be in the presence of the one who calls you back to God? 

You run to tell everyone you know about this man you have met, and your enthusiasm is clearly catching because they want to meet him too. When the crowds have quietened down you go back to find him. What do you say to him now?

Take this time to talk with Christ or simply sit in his presence. You may like to return to any thoughts or feeling raised by this contemplation or bring him something else that is on your heart.  

I now invite you to bring this time of contemplative prayer to a close. As you do, be aware that you remain in the presence of God, and ask the Spirit to continue to speak to you through this experience of Christ.