Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jesus: Lamb of God

Who is Jesus?  A bible study through the season after Epiphany during which you use the See-Judge-Act methodology.  Aida Irizarry-Fernandez describes this way of bible study as an "action/reflection process rooted in liberation theology and thinking." (Engaging the Bible: Critical Readings from Contemporary Women chapter III "A Communal Reading" page 17)  You'll need an open heart, a willing spirit, and a creative imagination to explore the text in this way.  When you finish your study, discover your own breath prayer.  The breath prayer is an ancient form of repetitive prayer which will emerge from your engagement with the biblical text.  

Study Suggestion:  Why not consider asking a few people to join you in a "communal" reading using this See-Judge-Act method!   
John 1: 29-42        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!  This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'  I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel."  And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'  And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."  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 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." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.  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 the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed).  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).

Movement 1/See (Read the Text closely/Examination:) We pay attention to the story, the characters, and their original context.   Re-create the scene in your mind’s eye.  Consider time, place, and people.  Consider what you learn from your five senses.    What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?    Visualize what Jesus was doing as he engaged other people … family, friends, strangers and enemies.

This week we read John's baptism story.  Remember from Matthew's version of the story last week that "baptize" is translated from the Greek word baptizo {bap-tid'-zo} which means to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, or to make clean with water.   The use of the phrase "lamb of God" reinforces the sacrament of baptism as having emerged from the Jewish sacrificial system.   

Read the text slowly with a heightened awareness of your senses … what do you see?  Who do you hear?  What do you smell and/or taste?  Are there any tactile objects you can imagine engaging in the scene?  

Read the text again as if you were John the Baptist.  How are you feeling as your cousin, Jesus, walks toward you?  The image of Jesus as Lamb of God is a strong one … echoing the temple sacrifices.  Those sacrifices were the way the Hebrew people made atonement for sin.  John makes that parallel.  How does his parallelism feel to you?  Do you “get” it?  John also says he didn’t always recognize Jesus as “Messiah” and he “testifies” that Jesus is the “Chosen One of God.”   These expressions meant that Jesus was the anointed one which was the traditional way of signifying God’s choice for a kingly ruler.    What kind of king are you expecting?  How does it feel to see your disciples turn from you in order to follow Jesus?   Is this what you wanted?  Are you going to follow too?

Read the text again as if you were one of those disciples who was a follower of John the Baptist.  Have you heard of Jesus before?  What do you see and hear that encourages you to follow Jesus?   What kind of king are you expecting?  What is Jesus’ expression, tone of voice and body language when he asks, “What do you want?”   John clearly refers to Jesus as the Chosen One to take away the sin of the world, but you refer to him as “Rabbi” which means teacher.   Why?  What are you seeking from Jesus?  What does he have that John didn’t have?  What encourages you to seek out others to come and see the Messiah? 

One last time, read the text as if you were Jesus.  How are you feeling as you approach your cousin, John?  He and the disciples call you by many names.  Which name suits you the best?   When you answer the disciples question with the expression, “come and see” what are you planning to show them?   Why do you take such an interest in Peter?   What do you see as you look at him so intently? 

John’s gospel is more theological pondering than a historic timeline.  What is the overall message about God that you think John is trying to bring to his community?   Is this message clear or do you need further explanation?   What does Jesus want to say to you about your life as a Christ-follower?

Movement 2/Judge (Look at your Life/Spiritual Discernment:) We seek to examine our own lives as we live in community ... search the text as you keep it in its original context and bring it into the "now" through the act of cross-cultural reading.   Consider why Jesus acted as he did and said the things that needed to be said.  Concentrate your attention on Jesus as you seek to be formed in his image and live as he lived. 

Keep the context of the passage and your examination of the text in your mind and enter into a time of meditation.  In what ways does God speak to you and your community today through this passage?    What is the good news we need to hear?    How is your community inviting others to “come and see?”  What are you inviting them to “come and see?”  Where is Jesus “staying” in your community?  

John called Jesus by many names that helps us to know that he thought Jesus came to save us from our sins.  Although we can’t be sure exactly what he meant, he probably had an reasonable expectation that Jesus would rise to power and crush his enemies.  In hindsight, what do these expressions mean to us today?   What do we know today that may keep us from knowing Jesus as John knew him? 

What is God’s purpose for a community that takes this passage seriously?    How does this passage challenge our way of "being" the church.  How can we embody and encourage the flourishing of the kingdom of God … right where we are?

How does this passage challenge the way I see myself?  What changes do I need to make in ... my behavior, my perspective, my way of thinking or my way of praying in light of what I have learned through this text?  What invitation do I hear the Spirit whispering in my soul?

Movement 3/Act (Take action in Light of your Faith/Transformation:) We are called to work so that the reign of God can be realized in the world today.  Work with creativity and compassion, follow the Spirit, meditate on the Word and expect that God will show you how to take action as you apply what you have learned. 

What steps does my community or do I need to take in order to respond to the invitation God gives us to “come and see?”  Who needs to be involved in my efforts to seek and find God?  How will we grow into disciples that invite others to “come and see?”   How can I make this world a better place for people to live?  What would my life look like if the reign of God were realized in my heart?   in my community?

Prayer:  “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.”  (Luke 12:48b NRSV)  As we are called to act, we sincerely seek the empowerment of Spirit and we are changed.  We become more like Christ.  

I invite you to discover your breath prayer
  • Take time to quiet yourself within. Acknowledge and then let go of all your busy  thoughts.
  • Allow a “new” name for God to emerge or simply use the name you usually use when you pray to God
  • Consider the invitation from God that emerged during your time of study 
  • Work with your words until you have about 6-8 syllables which is the most comfortable to breathe …
       or pray this one:    (breath in) Rabbi … (breath out) let me come …
                                   (breath in) Rabbi … (breath out) let me see…

As you continue to pray your prayer as you breathe throughout the day, you may find that God’s invitation seeps into you and that God’s love begins to flow in to you and out from you into a world that hurts. 

If Music is a Pathway into God's Presence for you, Listen to Nicole Nordeman’s You are my All in All

No comments:

Post a Comment