MENTORING MOMENTS – SHINING LIGHT

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16TH
A TIME OF INSTRUCTION

As we come for our time of instruction today, Jesus invites us to dim the room and light a candle, if we have one. He then shares these words of wisdom.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, NRSV)

Look at the candle and reflect on his words. Who has been a light for you in your life? How does it feel to hear Jesus call you “the light of the world”? In what ways are you sometimes tempted to hide your light? Who may need your light today? What type of light might be needed?

Reflection:

On a recent warm evening, my three-year-old granddaughter and I sat on the front porch steps under the night sky. Looking around, she noticed that some of the nearby garden lights were not shining, so we took a few inside to check them with her toy medical instruments. We “doctors” discovered that these lights had not absorbed enough of the sunlight’s solar energy to shine brightly. A few surrounding bushes had obstructed the sun’s rays that day.

These words of instruction from Jesus remind us to shine brightly with the light of God’s love. Our good works will help others “give glory to the Father in heaven.” Today, I find that the solar-powered garden lights provide a simple lesson: absorbing the light of God’s love enables our own lights to shine and empowers us for good works. Putting our lights under a bushel would only cause them to diminish. And, as our lights shine, others can absorb this light of love, and then shine with glory for God themselves.

While I was reflecting and writing this post, I brewed a cup of tea and was so surprised to find this thought on the tea tag: It is the light in the lantern which shows you the path, not the lantern. What a timely coincidence, a God-moment for me! Receiving the guiding light of God helps to inspire us with hope for the path ahead. Absorbing the gently illuminating light of God enables us to quietly listen and softly encourage. Taking in the warm glow of God’s light strengthens us to welcome with genuine hospitality. Embracing the piercing light of God allows us to serve with clarity of purpose.

How does your light shine? With God’s love as our source, we can become a bright headlamp, a gentle candle, a moonlight reflection, a warm fire, or a strong spotlight. Our lights will adjust with God’s perfect power and intensity according to the needs of others.

May our lights so shine.


Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – FINDING THE LOST

TUESDAY, MARCH 15TH
A TIME FOR A STORY

Today we come to Jesus for our Tuesday parable. Jesus rubs his chin, deep in thought, remembering a moment. He then begins to speak to us…

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to me. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So I told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:1-7, NRSV revised*)

Reflect on this story for a few minutes. Where do you belong in this story – do you feel like the shepherd today, or the sheep, or the friends and neighbors? Are you concerned for someone who seems lost these days? Do you feel lost yourself? Or are you feeling as I am, longing for community after this pandemic, to gather in joy with friends? What might Jesus be telling you at this time?

Reflection:

Have you ever felt inwardly glad when others “got what they deserved”? Or felt resentful when others “got away with something”? Asking for a friend… 😉

Yes, I was convicted of these shortcomings as I reflected on this story. I can easily forget the grace and mercy that have been shown to me, as I stand in the middle of a well-behaved flock wondering why the one who went astray is getting all the attention. I can quickly become prideful or arrogant, as I question why heaven rejoices for the one who caused all the worry and work instead of those who followed the rules.

As I stand in the fold judging the lost sheep, questioning the fairness of Jesus, I suddenly see that I am the one who is lost. I am the one who can be apt to quickly judge, seek retribution, or desire recognition. Some sheep get lost out of innocence or ignorance; I can get lost when I know better.

And yet today, my mentor Jesus tells me that we are all important to him. His message is for all of us: We are his beloved. Whether we are the seeker, or the lost, or the flock, we can gain new perspectives from this story. At any time, we could be the one to seek the lost. We could be the one who is relieved to know we are being sought. We could be part of a faithful community, ready to rejoice at another’s homecoming.

We can be grateful that, wherever we stand in the story, Jesus is always leading us home.



Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – REST FOR THE WEARY

MONDAY, MARCH 14TH
A TIME OF COMFORT

As many of us begin a new work week we wonder what words of comfort Jesus will have for us today. We settle next to him, eagerly listening for his next insight. Jesus leans toward us, extends his open hands, and says,

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV)

Even though these words are familiar, we are blessed to hear them again. Today, are you physically weary, perhaps from a restless night or a busy weekend? Or are you spiritually and emotionally spent, out of worry and concern for yourself or others? Are you carrying a heavy burden or two (or three)? What would you like to bring to Jesus today? Spend a few moments sharing your struggles and burdens; he is listening.

Reflection:

Here is mentoring at its core: Take my yoke upon you. Back in Jesus’s time, when students chose a rabbi to follow, “Taking the yoke of the rabbi reflected a disciple’s willing submission and adherence to his chosen rabbi’s interpretation and application of the Old Testament Scriptures.”1

So here, Jesus invited his followers to learn from him, to hear his new teachings and interpretations of ancient and sacred writings. Jesus saw beyond all of the Old Testament holiness rituals and rules to give us one: Love God and love one another. Oh, this command to love can be challenging at times! But we are freed of the burden of following the 600+ laws that the Pharisees had in place.

Through Jesus our rabbi, we are also freed of the burden of rule-keeping for our salvation; instead, our obedience can grow out of gratitude, love, and trust. Jesus even went on to say that he is “gentle and humble in heart,” not strict, harsh, and unforgiving. His words of comfort can soothe and encourage our weary souls!

If anyone knows about the wearying burdens and hardships that life brings, it’s Jesus. Today, taking on the yoke of Christ means that we can let go of the reigns and let his Spirit guide our daily living. Doing so can bring our genuine rest because we are entrusting our days to the expert. We can carry what we do well – and entrust what he can do best.

In this, we will find true rest for our souls.

 


1https://www.discipledaily.org/yoke-of-the-rabbi/
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – COMFORT IN OUR GRIEF

FRIDAY, MARCH 11TH
A TIME OF BLESSING

What Friday blessing will we receive from Jesus today? We envision ourselves gazing into his warm and compassionate eyes, waiting for a good word. Jesus pauses for a moment, then quietly says to us,

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4, NRSV)

Take a few moments to sit in the silence of his tender, caring presence.

If we reflect quietly for a while, our hearts may reveal many reasons to mourn. In recent years, loss has been all around us and often close to us. Are you grieving for someone today? Grief can also surprise us years later, when a moment or a memory suddenly reminds of someone dear. Of those loved ones who have passed on, whom do you miss most? In what way might you need to be comforted today? Envision Jesus listening and caring for you. Pour out your heart and let Jesus fill it with the soothing, healing comfort of God.

Reflection:

Grief and mourning are all around us. Today I am thinking of the people of Ukraine, the loved ones lost from the pandemic, the other stories of tragedy and sorrow we hear on the news each day. Jesus’s words of assurance are desperately needed and greatly appreciated.

What are the ways we receive the comfort of God when we mourn?

It may feel premature to bring up resurrection during Lent, but we certainly find great comfort in this, don’t we? While we mourn the loved ones we have lost, we can trust Jesus’s assurance that we will be comforted – because while we await the resurrection, Jesus has already experienced it. We can know that our time apart from our loved ones is a temporary time and we will one day be reunited forever.

The comfort of God is shared through the kindness of comforting people, too. We can be conduits of God’s comfort for one another, through listening, caring, serving, tending, remembering, and encouraging. Paul’s words remind us that in our pain we will receive the comfort of God – so that we in turn may console others:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.  (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NRSV)

My comfort also comes by regarding death as an expansion more than a loss. Jesus promised and sent his spirit after he had gone from our midst, and I like to think that our loved ones are with us in a similar way. Our loved ones remain in our hearts and in our memories, but they are also present in our love, our peace, our joy. I feel that their presence is forever with us, perhaps even more intimately than before.

In our sorrow, we may not be cheerful, but we can be hopeful. We may be raw, broken, lost, and incredibly sad, but we can feel the love of God with us in the mess. We may be struggling to make it through this day, but we can trust that a new and better day will come. God will keep transforming our grief with gifts of comfort, hope, peace, and – always – love.

See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.

(Revelation 21:3-4, NRSV)




Photo by Claire Kelly on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – NOT YET MY TIME

THURSDAY, MARCH 10TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLES

Today we come to hear another of Jesus’s struggles, and we may be surprised by this story – an exchange he has with his own mother…

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and my mother was there. My disciples and I had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, my mother said to me, “They have no wine.” And I said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” My mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. I said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. I said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:1-10 NRSV, revised*)

As you sit in silence with Jesus at your side, you may recall times when you were expected to do something even as you felt inadequate, unprepared, or unwilling. Are there any expectations of you today that you would rather not do or be? Are you feeling called to do something, but the time doesn’t feel right? Do you wish to be free of certain demands that others have placed on you? How does Jesus’s experience give you new insight?

Reflection:

As I revisit this story, I notice two things. Mary, the mother of Jesus, seems to ignore his admonition to mind her own business, as well as his explanation that it was not yet his time to answer her request. Initially Mary’s words and actions seem quite insensitive and even rude, but could it be that she recognized an opportunity to encourage Jesus (as mothers like to do)? And when she speaks to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” she is leaving Jesus with the final decision. Jesus could have easily told the servants to let the situation be.

I also notice that after Jesus corrects Mary, he accepts her premature request. He makes his point, takes a moment to help her understand his purpose, then looks to the stone jugs of water and finds a solution to the problem. Jesus humbly accepts Mary’s invitation to help the bridegroom. In doing so, Jesus begins to reveal more of who he is.

In our shared struggles with Jesus, he understands the feeling we have when we are asked, invited, challenged, or directed when it is “not yet our time.” Our response to these moments can become more discerning through his example. There are times when we can make our concerns or preferences known without the need to balk, protest, or refuse to comply. There are times when we might first look around for a solution before we decline to help. There are times when we can recognize that these interruptions or invitations may actually align with God’s timing.

Maybe today Jesus is encouraging us to, “Go ahead. Give it a try.” Maybe our humble acceptance of an invitation is an opportunity for him to reveal more of who we are, too.

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10, NRSV)



Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – ASK, SEARCH, KNOCK

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9TH
A TIME OF INSTRUCTION

As we come to Jesus for our time of Wednesday instruction, our mentor revisits a familiar teaching, but one we will never tire of hearing. We lean closer, hoping to hear it anew…

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV)

What an incredible instruction this is. We have already received abundant blessings from God, and now Jesus is instructing us to ask, search, and knock for more. What would you like to ask for today? What are you searching for? Where would you like a door to open? Spend some quiet time with Jesus as you ponder these questions.

Reflection:

So often I hesitate to ask God for my own specific requests, because my prayers feel greedy (I have already been given so much), unnecessary (God knows our inmost being), short-sighted (God’s perfect will is better than my requests), or – dare I admit this? – futile (when fervent prayers don’t bring desired outcomes). My prayers then can become fairly generic, as I limit my requests and ask for such things as basic guidance, God’s will to be done, or “our daily bread”. And honestly, that seems to be more than enough.

But in this passage, Jesus instructs us to ask. He encourages us to search. He assures us to go ahead and knock. He shows us that God wants to hear our prayers, our deepest longings, our dreams, our hopes. Jesus also knows that when we articulate our deepest desires through prayer, we not only open ourselves to a greater inner awareness, but we then discover how often God does move and work in our lives.

Jesus goes on to say that God knows best how to bless us. We can pray freely and imperfectly, trusting that God will sift through our requests and give us what is GOOD. In this we find another good gift – the gift of deeper faith – as we see how our requests were answered in even greater ways than we could imagine.

When we ask, search, and knock, we will receive, find, and be answered – always with the generous, loving presence of God.



Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – START SMALL

TUESDAY, MARCH 8TH
A TIME FOR A STORY

In our time with Jesus today, we ask for a story. We have learned to love these stories, these parables, because they are simple tales that open us to deeper meaning, underlying symbolism, and at times, uniquely personal significance for us. Jesus gladly obliges…

What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches… To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. (Luke 13:18-21, NRSV)

Let your creativity flow for a moment. Do you find beauty and depth in Jesus’s simple words, that God’s kingdom could be compared to a tiny seed or a bit of yeast? What earthly item or substance would you use to describe this kingdom of God? Do you marvel that the love of God, so far beyond our comprehension, can be revealed through a simple mustard seed or a small amount of yeast?

Reflection:

Jesus is a wise teacher, who chooses to reveal God’s kingdom to us in ways we can comprehend. But he also describes the kingdom of God with these simple, common examples found in nature and our world, because this is where the kingdom is! The kingdom of God is here and now. God’s presence is within all of creation. When we understand this, we begin to realize how generously and humbly God has come to us all.

In her book, The Humility of God, Ilia Delio writes,

Too often we are wrapped up in lofty, intellectual speculations about God… In the meantime, God is present to us not only in the mundane but in the poverty and humility of ordinary life… To see the extraordinary ordinariness of God is to see with a different set of eyes, the eyes of the heart and to know God by a different logic, the logic of love. 1

If we start looking for God in the small things and the little moments, we will begin to see more of God. I think of the way the miracle of life becomes more incredible when we observe a tiny cell under a microscope. A seaside beach becomes more amazing when we look at a tiny grain of sand. Snowflakes are astonishing when we see the crystal formations in their tiny structures. In the same way, when we look more closely and intimately for God, we will discover more of God’s immense magnificence.

Yes, God is infinite mystery beyond our human knowing, but we need not be intimidated. God starts small – in our quiet prayer, in our heartfelt longing, in our simple understanding. God is in every moment of our daily living, and God is even within our frail flesh! And each small recognition, each little awareness of God’s loving presence, will become the seed that grows, the yeast that infuses and expands, into every moment of this, our incredible and eternal existence.



1Delio, Ilia, O.S.F. (2005). The Humility of God ~ A Franciscan Perspective. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – CALMING THE STORM

MONDAY, MARCH 7TH
A TIME OF COMFORT

Today our time with Jesus gives him the opportunity to comfort us. He begins by telling us this story.

On that day, when evening had come, I said to my disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took me with them in the boat, just as I was. Other boats were with us. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But I was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke me up and said to me, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” I woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. I said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”  (Mark 4:35-40, NRSV, revised*)

Envision yourself sitting with this caring friend, who wants to comfort you today. In what ways might you need his comfort? Do you sense storm clouds of trouble developing in your life, or find yourself actually weathering a storm right now, or still hurting from a storm that has recently passed through? Can you sense the serenity of Jesus? Where do you need his calming presence? Where would you ask Jesus to command peace and stillness in your life?

Reflection:

Jesus certainly didn’t have an easy, care-free life. Even before his terrible suffering and death, his life was filled with challenges and hardships. Jesus was interrupted and tested by those who wanted to accuse and find fault with him. He was confronted with the many needs of the poor, lame, blind, sick, and hungry. He was often surprised by the lack of understanding from his disciples. Today we are reminded of the time he was awakened on a boat that was quickly being overwhelmed by a terrible storm.

And yet, today Jesus is comforting us with his peace. Our mentor tells us that we do not need to be afraid. How can he say this, when he – of all people – has endured so much?

Jesus was able to have peace and even to command peace, in his circumstances and despite his circumstances, because his peace came from beyond all of that. Jesus’s peace came from God, a peace beyond our comprehension that permeated his spirit. His peace came from his trust in the One who would never leave him and always love him. And Jesus offers this same peace for us today.

Through Jesus, we too, can learn to seek God’s help in every moment, to trust God in all circumstances, and to feel God with us through every trial. Through Jesus, we can receive and share that same peace within the storm. Through Jesus, we can rest peacefully as we place ourselves into the tender care of God.

The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5b-7, NRSV)



Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – BLESSING OUR LACK

FRIDAY, MARCH 4TH
A TIME OF BLESSING

Friday times with Jesus may soon become our favorite times – as we come to receive a blessing from our teacher and mentor. Today Jesus says to us,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:3,6 NRSV)

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” (Luke 6:20-21, NRSV)

Abide in his presence and words of blessing for a few moments. Is there anything that you are especially lacking at this time? Are you feeling more of a physical poverty or a spiritual emptiness in any way? Could you be feeling a physical hunger or a spiritual longing? What blessing might Jesus be giving you through this lack?

~~~~~

Reflection:

Each gospel writer adapted Jesus’s words to convey different meanings for their intended readers, but I sense that Jesus would be satisfied with both blessings. Whether we are poor, or poor in spirit, Jesus promises that God will provide all the gifts of God’s kingdom. Whether we are hungry, or hungry for righteousness, Jesus promises that God will fill us. Whatever we are lacking, God will supply. This blessing offers us so much reassurance!

And I have found another blessing: our need can actually draw us closer to God. I have been so fortunate to have lived in financial security and spiritual peace for much of my life. But in a few difficult times – a short-term but worrisome lack of finances, a guilt-ridden and heartbreaking divorce, a frightening and uncertain time of cancer – I found myself desperate for God. I earnestly sought God for guidance, peace, forgiveness, and hope. All the time. And I felt God’s deep, abiding love holding me and helping me. All the time.

Our blessing for today is to know that God is truly aware of our needs and will satisfy them. What blessing do you seek most today, what are you hungry for? What is your deepest longing, your heart’s desire, your greatest need? Our mentor Jesus reassures us and promises us that God will fill us with all good things. The kingdom of God is here. The gifts of God are ours.

We are so very blessed. All the time.



Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – HOMETOWN WOES

THURSDAY, MARCH 3RD
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLES

Today we come to our mentor as he shares one of his trying times with us. Jesus invites us to listen and learn that we are not alone in our daily challenges, struggles, and frustrations. He has endured such difficulties (and worse) himself, and he will help us with ours.

Jesus begins…

I left that place and came to my hometown, and my disciples followed me. On the sabbath I began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard me were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at me. Then I said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And I could do no deed of power there, except that I laid my hands on a few sick people and cured them. And I was amazed at their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6, NRSV, revised*)

Sit for a few minutes to abide with Jesus. How do his words touch your soul today? Can you relate to his struggle? Have you ever felt discounted or discredited? Have others made false assumptions about you based on your past, or your culture, or your social status, or your appearance? Does it help you to know that Jesus fully understands your hurt or frustration?

~~~~~

Reflection:

Jesus’s story may have reminded us of painful times when our abilities have been doubted, our actions were criticized, or our intentions were questioned. I recall when, as a young adult, I was training to become a customer service representative. My dear cousin died suddenly one night, and my grief was immense. This must have reflected in my work, because the next week my supervisor pulled me aside to share her skepticism about my ability and her concern about my attitude. She then suggested that I resign. Fortunately, I found the courage to tell her that I wanted to stay, and I ended up being a competent and caring service representative for seven more years. What she had observed and judged was not my normal, capable self.

Jesus understands our sadness and frustration when others do not see our gifts or our potential. He has experienced the ways people can make mistaken assumptions about us. Jesus knows that others will not know our whole story, will not see our inner spirit, will not trust our ability.

But he does.

Jesus knows what is going on beneath the surface of our appearance. Jesus is saying, I can use you. I need you. Your past does not determine your present. Your present does not determine your future. You are of great worth, and I want you to come along with me today. We have work to do – together.



Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.