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Meditations from Eugenia

Daily Scripture and Prayer

Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church

January 2020

 

For the next several months, our daily prayer will take us on a deep dive into the Gospel of John. Slowly and prayerfully we will walk through this, the youngest and most richly symbolic of the Gospels, a verse or two at a time. I have chosen the verses to allow us to drink deeply of the nuances of each verse or image. Some verses we will savor for several days. Others, I did not include, either because to unpack them would be beyond the goals of this devotion, or because they were repetitive and, in my view, did not carry the themes forward in a way that was useful to a brief daily practice. If there is a word in the verse that I think needs explanation from the Greek I will note that in ( ).

Much love, Eugenia

 

20205 pathJanuary 1 – John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (The word Logos (Word) refers to a special word embodying an idea, a thought expressed in personal action. So the author is reinforcing that Jesus is an action of God, an expression of God.)

Dear God, we thank you on this first day of a new year for the many ways that you express your love to us, in the words of scripture, in the beauty of nature, in the gentlest experiences of love and, most especially, in your beloved Son our Savior Jesus in whom you express all that you are and all that you most deeply value. Thank you! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 2 - John 1:2-3 – “He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (The word we translate as ‘through’ also means ‘with’ and ‘for’. It implies that the Word (Jesus) is the basis of everything that exists.)

Dear God, you are our everything, the ground of our being, the source of our lives. Help us today to look to Jesus the Christ who was with you, in you, of you, in the very beginning of creation so that we can see all that we, too, can become in him. Thank you that we, even we, came into being at your command and by Jesus’ hand. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

January 3 – John 1:4 – “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” (The word for life here is not bios or biological life. It is zoe which refers to the life force itself that is independent of time, is eternal in its nature and filled with creative energy. Notice that in Christ zoe came to all people. The word for ‘light’ is used throughout John as a symbol for the opposite of chaos. It is enlightenment that calms the waters, reveals the truth and settles the soul in peace.)

Dear God, in Jesus, eternal life was expressed for the whole of creation, settling our fears, calming the chaos, pointing beyond the moment with spiritual insight that is timeless. That same One, comes to us today. Help us, O God, to welcome life today, knowing, in our deep hearts, that it is endless. Help us to wake up to the light of your calming insights and, in each new moment of peace, to recognize your hand. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

January 4 – John 1:5 – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (In John, ‘darkness’ has multiple meanings. It refers to chaos, to pain and division. On its deepest level it refers to the opposite of light or insight. It is the ‘not getting it-ness’ of a world ruled by values other than those of God.)

Dear God, oh how dark these long winter days sometimes feel! Our world is full of chaos and pain. Our nation is divided and seems to be ruled by warring truths, as if such a thing is possible. Even our own homes and hearts can feel lost in darkness sometimes. Grief, anxiety, worries of all sorts, whisper despair in our ears. Help us today to remember that your light always shines, that truth will break forth, that pain will ebb away and joy and integrity will emerge. We need only look at the stars at night to see you reminding us that chaos and futility will never have the last word. Thank you! In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.

January 5 – John 1:6-8 – “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” ( The prophet Malachi, around 400 B.C., says that a messenger or angel will come to prepare the way for a major intervention of God. All four Gospels understand that messenger to be John the Baptist. These verses were included in the story to remind us that God uses many people but we are not to substitute lesser realities for ultimate one.)

Dear God, we are grateful for your prophets of old and for those of our own time who point us toward what you are doing in the world. It is humbling to imagine that you use us in prophetic ways for our time as well. Yet we know you do. Help us to be soaked in you to such an extent that where we walk, light walks, when we speak, truth speaks, when we love, You love. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

January 6 – John 1:9-11 – “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (The word ‘true’ here might be better translated ‘authentic.’ The word ‘world’ is cosmos. That is not the Greek word for the inhabited earth, but rather for the whole of creation, the universe.)

Dear God, on this feast day of The Epiphany we seek your light! How hard it was and is to accept your majesty, to see love as both the source and rule of the entire universe! We think it is all about us. Our egos are wily and tenacious indeed. Help us today to see you all around us and to live in your light. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

20203 cliffsJanuary 7 – John 1:12-13 – “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (The phrase ‘who believed in his name’ is not found in all of the earliest manuscripts. The word ‘power’ is a huge one in Greek. It means, right, authority, power, ability and is always of divine origin. It is the capacity of God working and accomplishing God’s ends. To become ‘Children of God’ means to become mirrors of God’s nature and essence.)

Dear God, how can we, broken and confused as we are, possibly be mirrors of your nature and love? Only by your power at work in us! We thank you God that you use and empower us to show you to others even when we do not see you clearly in ourselves. Help us to receive this truth and live it with confidence today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 8 – John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John uses the word ‘flesh’ differently from Paul. In John, it simply refers to humanity and the human condition in general. Paul uses the word to refer to all that opposes God. John does not.)

Dear God, you came to share our humanity, all of it, every emotion, every ache and pain, every love and every betrayal. You loved us so much that the cosmos could not contain you. You came in skin and bones to live among us. We are grateful today for this amazing truth and for your presence still with us in Spirit, Scripture and Sacrament. Thank you, Holy One. In your name we pray. Amen.

January 9 – John 1:14 - “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (The phrase ‘lived among us’ literally is ‘tenting among us.’)

Dearest God, you pitched your tent with us long ago and even today you do the same, picking up and moving camp when we do, kindling a fire and pushing back the night, filling us with your body for food and staying close through each of our days. Thank you! Help us to see you with us at all times today, offering the sustenance of your very life to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 10 – John 1:14 - “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (The word here for ‘glory’ is a strange one. It comes from the root for ‘opinion.’ It means the honor that comes from a good opinion, but more than that, it refers to the nature and acts of God in selfmanifestation. In other words, ‘glory’ refers to God being God for all to see.)

Dear God, Glory! Every day you display yourself to us in so many ways. We see you all around us in nature. We hear you squeal in a child’s delight. We know your tenderness in the eyes of those who love us. We feel your strength as we endure hardships. Nowhere is your glory as complete, however, as in the gift of your Son. Help us to look to him in all things and for all things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 11 – John 1:14 - “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (The word here for ‘truth’ means the reality that lies at the heart of a thing, the essence of the matter distilled.)

Dear God, in Christ you came to tent with us and we see in him the essence of all things, the heart of you, the reality of your deepest yearning and divine working. We need nothing else. Help us today to go to the source and walk in the light of your truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 12 – John 1:16 – “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (The word ‘grace’ is a huge one in our family story. It means, love, power, blessing, kindness, favor, all unmerited and lavishly given. Grace is not just an emotion. Nor is it just an action. It is a force, a power. It is the very force of God’s love pouring out on and through the beloved.)

Dear God, Jesus is the full expression of your grace and you fill us with your love through him. We are so grateful. Help us today to lean into your grace and to be filled with a true ‘fullness’ of your presence in heart, mind, body and soul. Help us to be like funnels of your love to the world around us in specific ways today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 13 – John 1:17 – “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John uses the word ‘law’ in lower case to refer to a particular way of living out the covenant that is dependent on our efforts. This is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. We just needed more power and insight and that came from Jesus.)

Gracious God, we are grateful for all of salvation history, for the way you moved across the waters of chaos calling forth order and creation, for the gift of your people, for the prophets who reminded us of your way, for the great Covenant of the Law that showed us what you want for human life and community, and for the power and love in Jesus that lets us try to live for you in our own time. Thank you God. Help us today to embody Christ in all that we do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

20202 moonstoneJanuary 14 – John 1:18 – “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (The word ‘heart’ refers to essence and will, not just the emotions.) 

Dear God, sometimes we wonder about you. We wonder what you are like in person. We wonder what heaven is like and what it might be like to live so close to you without the hurts and struggles of our human lives. Do we meet our loved ones again in you? Will all our dogs be there? Will we eat dinner with Hitler and see in him the soul you created and purified? We don’t know all those things exactly. But we do know you. We know you because we know Jesus. We thank you from our depths that you did not leave us with nothing but our narrow questions but gave us all we need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 15 – John 1:19-20 – “This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.””

Dear God, what amazing clarity John the Baptist had about who he was! The people were clamoring after him and thought he was their hopes come true. And still, he kept his ego in check and clearly reminded us of who he was and who he was not. Help us today to have that clarity about ourselves and, out of that deep knowing, to proclaim who you are and point others to where hope truly lies. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.

January 16 – John 1:24-25 – “Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?””

Dear God, after John set straight those who wanted to trap him, they still wanted him to give an accounting of his actions. They wanted to know what use he was if he didn’t fit in their categories. What good was he, they wanted to know. The world wants that from us, too. Those who do not know you, or who are just too hurt to see beyond their own pain, ask those of us who remain in your Body, the Church, why we bother. What utter use are we, they ask. What are we to say to them today, Lord? Do we know who we are and the sacred roll we are to play? Give us clarity and wisdom, O Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 17 – John 1:26-27 – “John answered them, “I baptize you with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is come after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.””

Dear God, John knew his role in your great story: to help those who looked to him to find the one their hearts truly yearned to find. He knew that was his purpose even when he did not yet know who that one would be himself. Help us today to know who we are and what you would have us do to make the path straight for you to travel in our homes, community, church and world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 18 – John 1:29 – “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Dear God, until this moment John did not know who Messiah was, just that he was not it. Then he sees Jesus and everything changes in an instant. O God we thank you for the moments of ‘aha’ in our lives, whether they were gentle gifts given over time or whether they came with a snap, crackle and pop and nearly threw us to the ground. We thank you for the knowing that you have placed inside us that Jesus is the one we have looked for and longed to find. Help us to rejoice today in the faith that you have kindled in us that opened our eyes to see you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 19 – John 1:35-36 – “The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (The word ‘watched’ means to fix ones gaze, to stare hard at, to search intently.)

Dear God, sometimes our ‘ahas’ seem to fade quickly. Perhaps it could have been that way for John too if he had not immediately searched intently and then shared what he saw with others. Give us such a sense of wonder and urgency today that we will reach out to tell others where you are, near to them and even in our own little church. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 20 – John 1:37-39 – “The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and See.” (The phrase ‘come and see’ meant to interact with something and to know it for oneself.)

Dear God, here again is an example of people coming to follow you simply on the word of someone they trust. How can we become more trustworthy today? Are there ways that you need for us to change? Who in our community trusts us? Why? In this fractured age how can we be your trustworthy witnesses? Help us today, Lord to ponder these things and give us insight and courage to invite others to ‘come and see.’ In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

20204 sunset beachJanuary 21 – John 1:40-41 – “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him. “We have found Messiah” (which is translated Anointed).”

Dear God, Andrew saw in you the one he thought would save Israel from oppression and occupation. How easy it is for us even now to conflate nation and salvation. Yet you had a different kind of saving in mind. Help us today to escape the trap of trying to make you into who we think we want you to be. Help us to be open to all of who you are and what you want and not just see you as a means to get what we think we want. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 22 – John 1:42 – “He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).” (The word ‘looked at’ implies seeing to the core of a person’s heart.)

Dear God, you look at us and instantly see who we are and how you can use us. Help us today to accept the ‘name change’ that comes with being your follower. Bring forth from us the gifts you have chosen for us and show us where they are needed today, even if the greatest need is to offer our true selves to ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 23 – John 1:43-45 – “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Phillip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Phillip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him who Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (The word ‘follow’ here means to companion with, to be united with. Just a fun aside: the word ‘found’ in Greek is Eureka.)

Dear God, when we greet the sunrise and see light dawn over the land, help our first thoughts to be of you. Fill us with gratitude for life itself and the joy of living it with you and in your church together. Help us, Lord, to hear you call us to companion with you and give us courage to be united with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 24 – John 1:46 – “Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (Nazareth was not exactly a cosmopolitan garden spot in Jesus’ day. It was a tiny town, not mentioned in the Old Testament, with little water and few resources. It had a bad reputation for lack of culture, poor dialect, moral laxity and rebellious spirit. No wonder Nathanael is skeptical! The word for ‘good’ is the word for moral goodness.)

Dear God, can anything good come from our little town, our little church? Sometimes we feel like we aren’t much and aren’t many. Sometimes we think that our community has no desire for you or your church, that they have somehow ‘outgrown’ you. Sometimes we think all of that because it is true. But it is not the whole truth! You who brought salvation of the cosmos out of Nazareth, bring your salvation forth from us too! We long to serve you. Do something amazing with little us! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 25 – John 1:47 – “When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said to him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom these is no deceit.” (The word ‘deceit’ means to be without guile, craftiness, or treachery. One way to translate this would be: Here is an Israelite who deserves the name Incapable of Deceit.)

Dear God, O Wow! We want to be like Nathanael. In these days of deceit, in our little lives so often marked by unhealthy compromise and, if not downright treachery, at least a bit of craftiness designed to make us look and feel better than we are, help us to be pure of heart. Help us to live with integrity that shows instantly. Can there be anything more winsome than that these days? In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 26 – John 1:48-49 – “Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Images of fig trees are rich and diverse in the Bible. Here John probably sees the fig tree in the Garden of Eden from which God sewed the clothes for Adam and Eve. This is a symbolic way of Jesus saying that he knew Nathanael from the beginning, even in his sin.)

Dear God, you have known us from the beginning of time, when we were just a dream you had. You have known us every breath of our lives. You know the ugly. You know the noble. You know what you can yet make of us if we will be immersed in your presence and transformed with your love. Help us, like Nathanael to welcome you as one who knows us wholly and declare you our hope and our salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 27 – John 1:50-51 – “Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (Son of Man is used differently from the way it is used in the other Gospels. Gerald Sloyan in his commentary on John is helpful. He says, “That this is not the Son of Man of the Synoptics must be noted. That figure is always a simple human being or a present sufferer or a future reigning apocalyptic figure. John’s Son of Man is a person on whom angels ascend and descend from the open heavens. He is God’s man, even as the Jacob of the ladder was the man who became “Israel” and gave the name to his people. There is already a sense of mystery about Jesus’ calling to which every phrase in the first chapter contributes. He is more than and greater than all the claims that are being made in his favor.”)

Dear God, thank you again for the amazing gift of yourself in Christ Jesus. When we stay close to him we travel with the angels in full view. It is an incredible way to live. Still, we often fail to notice what is right in front of us. We even fail to notice the comings and goings of ‘angelic messengers’ deep within our own hearts or in the sweet holiness of worship in our church. Wake us up, Lord, that we may see all that you have for us today! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

20201sunset beachJanuary 28 – John 2:1-2 – “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” (In John, the phrase ‘third day’ was a signal. It reminded his hearers of the miracle of resurrection and alerted them that a wonder was about to happen that can only be fully understood on the other side of the resurrection. Remember that John thinks and writes symbolically. Weddings are frequent symbols in the Old Testament for the relationship between God and Israel. Life in God is to be a great celebration of intimacy and joy.)

Dear God, Jesus and his family and friends gathered to celebrate life. Sometimes life feels like more of a chore than a feast. We see the call to celebrate and all we do is grumble about the dirty dishes we have to clean up. Help us today to accept the amazing invitations to celebrate joy and intimacy with you. Like a newly in love couple, fill us with contentment and hope for a future held in your loving hands. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 29 – John 2:3 – “When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (For John, the statement “They have no wine” pointed out the futility of human efforts to create joy and an easy life. For him, this was a description of all of life without Jesus, who is the true wine poured out in order to assure lasting and everlasting celebration.)

Dear God, sometimes we run out. We run out of resources. We run out of strength. We run out of heart. We run out of ideas. We run out of laughter. We run out of hope. Sometimes we feel dry and spent and can do nothing about the situations in which we find ourselves. We just feel done. But we know how this story concludes. Abundance in on the way. That is how our story unfolds as well. Help us when we feel spent to do what Mary did, come to you with our problems and leave them with you for a solution that will last. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 30 – John 2:4-5 – “And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”” (Much has been written about the way Jesus chooses to address his mother here. It is a normal, polite form of address but lacks the usual qualifying word that would denote the intimacy of a mother/son relationship. Some have interpreted that as a slap in the face or a way of putting down her request. I think not. As in other instances in John, Mary becomes a symbol for all of humanity and later for the Church. In using this form of address he expands the story beyond a simple country wedding to an event of cosmic importance.)

Dear God, I wonder if Mary was taken aback when her son addressed her in the way he did. Did she see the big picture? Could she? Do we see the big picture? Can we? Sometimes I’m not so sure, but whether she did or not, Mary knew that he would do what had to be done. She didn’t question him. She simply told others to do what he told them to do. Perhaps as she did so often, she pondered these things in her heart and watched and waited. Perhaps that is what we are called to do as well. Help us Lord, to trust, even when we do not understand and to wait in faith for all to be revealed and redeemed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

January 31 – John 2:6-8 – “Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.” (There is a lot of detail in this verse. The jars were heavy stone, not easily contaminated, so not disposable. The rites of purification probably referred to the hand washing rituals required to make faithful Jews pure before God. And there were a lot of them…120-180 gallons worth! And that is the point. In the Old Testament, an abundance of wine was associated with the final days. Something big is happening here!)

Gracious God, there is such abundance in your love and graciousness toward us. Even when all our stuff is not enough, you see only potential in us. When we are bone dry you are metaphorically stomping the grapes for the super abundance that is on the way for us in Christ. When we are dry and parched, when all the rituals and rules of our lives have failed to tame our waywardness, help us to breathe deeply and trust that you can make something of us even then. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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