Monday, March 30, 2015

A Lenten Meditation Inspired by Jesus' Prayer for Unity



Jesus walked the Earth in perfect unity with the Father's will.  He carried out what the Father wanted Him to do wherever his ministry led him to.  He was God made flesh, and yet, Jesus offered a prayer at the end of His earthly life that has yet to be answered.  At the last supper with His disciples, He asked "That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me." (John 17:21) 

But how many ways have Christians subdivided themselves centuries later?  How many denominations have assembled their own distinct followings?  It doesn't stop within the Christian church, we are witnessing the killing of many innocents merely because of different religious beliefs, all in the name of the same God, albeit addressed according to their own understanding.  Did Jesus miss this somehow in his prayer? No, for Jesus' prayer for unity is for everyone as one of the greatest prayers in the Bible.  It holds a particularly honored spot because it was Himself as the great "I AM" who spoke it.  At least twice in his prayer Jesus repeated himself by emphasizing why unity is important.  In verse 23 He pressed again what he said only a few sentences before: "that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love Them, even as Thou didst love Me."   This prayer shall eventually be answered.

True disciples of Jesus Christ reside within all the different denominations and traditions and cultural distinction. There are visible and invisible church.  The visible church is structured upon denominations, sects - Catholic, Baptist, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and others.  The invisible church is the practice of true spirituality regardless of denomination or sect.  Beyond doctrinal distinctions and forms of worship there is a deeper conviction which resounds in believers everywhere. 

The visible and invisible church unite if there is one or more practitioners sincerely practicing the teachings of Christ.  "This I command you, that you love one another." (John 15:17) 

For over 2,000 years there has continually been streams of the great unity Jesus had prayed for.  It is present during great revivals when believers band together to present the gospel.  It is present when people pray together even if they are from different churches and even, as mentioned, of different religious following.  It is present when Christians decide on joint missionary endeavors and give to mission projects other than their own.

But the time must be close because the Second Coming of the Lord is fast approaching.  The final great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is imminent. What will make the world turn in unprecedented numbers to call on the name of the Lord?  According to the prayer of Jesus, unity is the key.  It is what will make the world realize who He is and why He came.  It will testify about him and cause people to accept His love.  We are in the generation where "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come." (Matthew 24:14)

The end of the world  is what man will do to the planet, unless he begins to understand that all, including him are one in Christ, one in GOD, that man is one in God as Christ is one in God, cause Christ is in man too, as the Kingdom of Heaven is within a man.  Recognition and practice of this will prevent man from unduly killing another man and the environment.

The very root of our fallen rebellious and selfish nature discards unity.  Disharmony, suspicion and bickering manifest themselves in all the major problem situations in the world.  Every time love triumphs, unity vanquishes disunity.  If the Kingdom of Heaven is within, any denomination will do as long as you practice it sincerely and it allows you to get to know yourself in a deeper comprehensive sense.

Please experience this reflection in the meditation below. 

Good Friday Meditation

Some initial preparations: This coming Good Friday, April 3, 2015, do this meditation on the hour of Great Mercy, 3 pm, when the Lord gave himself up on the cross in atonement for humanity.
  • Optional: It is ideal that no meat be consumed for at least 24 hours before the meditation, taking in only fish, fruits, vegetables, grains & nuts. Avoid all liquors and all hallucinogenic substances. 
Reserve your room, or a corner of your house that is private where you will not be disturbed by anyone for an hour at least; tell anyone concerned that you are pursuing matters of personal development.
  • Optional: Have in hand either frankincense, rose scented incense sticks, or sage to burn as you begin the meditation. 
Have a crucifix on hand - better a plain & bare one - which you will hang on a wall, or placed on an altar on the wall, or on a table in front of you situated at the east, which you will face as you do the meditation. Have a bible on hand and bookmark the page where the verses john 17:21 - 23, Jesus' prayer for unity, is located. Or you can use the photo at the top of this blog post.

Have a sturdy chair upon which you are most comfortable sitting on as you do the meditation; or you can simply sit crossed legged upon the floor while doing the meditation if you are comfortable doing so. Bathe yourself before doing the meditation (for those who can according to their Good Friday tradition). Wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow the air to freely circulate as you do the meditation.
  • Optional: Have a music player around to play music that will greatly assist you in the meditation. Or simply do the meditation in silence. Suggested music for this meditation - Beethoven's 'Ode an die Freude' ( 'Ode to Joy' ) or Handel's 'Messiah' especially the Hallelujah chorus. 
You now start the meditation by making the sign of the cross, slowly and in full. You make the sign of the cross in front of the crucifix situated at the east if you have chosen to use a crucifix for this meditation. If you have chosen to use either frankincense, rose scented incense sticks, or sage during the meditation, proceed to light them up now. Allow them to burn for 3 to 5 minutes before proceeding to the next step of the meditation.

Sit comfortably on your chair, not slouching, either with your back supported comfortably by the chair or sit with your butt resting comfortably on the edge of the chair, both feet resting firmly but comfortably on the floor. Or sit crossed legged on the floor if again you are comfortable doing so.

Proceed to read either verbally or in silence the verses John 17:21 - 23, Jesus Prayer for Unity from your bible. Read them slowly and with full awareness of the meaning behind the verses. Repeat reading the verses a few times. If you have chosen to do the meditation accompanied with music, again either Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' or the 'Hallelujah chorus' from Handel's 'Messiah', turn on the music now. Or you can proceed to the next steps of the meditation in silence.

Still keeping your back comfortably straight while sitting either on the chair or on the floor cross-legged, slowly close your eyes and put both your hands on your lap, palms down. Take a few slow deep breaths to relax yourself as you put your attention within yourself. Feel the emotion of Peace. Notice the quiet, the peace around you as you do this meditation privately, being alone. Or you can remember an incident in your past when you truly felt peaceful, and dwell on that feeling of peace generated for a few moments. Then feel joy, feel the emotion of joy arising from within you. Again you can remember a time in your past when you truly felt joyful to bring about the feeling of joy from within you. If you are playing either of the two suggested music in accompaniment with this meditation, this would be very easy. Feel joy and dwell on the feeling for a few moments. Then feel love. Feel the emotion of love coming out of your heart. You can go back to a memory you have of a time spent with a beloved to kindle the feeling of love. Feel love and dwell on this feeling for a few moments. Finally, feel bliss, the emotion of bliss, coming from within you. By dwelling on the positive feelings preceding this, it would be easy to engender the positive feeling of bliss at this time. Feel the emotion of bliss and dwell on it for a few moments.

Repeat the cycle of feeling the positive emotions, one by one dwelling on them for few moments at a time - peace, joy, love, bliss. Repeat the cycle of feeling these positive emotions several times. At anytime when you want, stop dwelling on the positive emotions and just be silent - don't feel anything and don't think of anything in particular. Simply be quiet and dwell in this quietness for several minutes. After dwelling in the silence for several minutes, take several slow and deep breaths, and  proceed to slowly wiggle your toes, then your fingers for a minute or so to slowly return you to normal waking consciousness. Slowly twist your neck and head to the right and then to the left several times. And then when you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Slowly stand up from your sitting position and again slowly make the sign of the cross in full. If you have burnt frankincense or sage during the meditation, now is the time to snuff them out. The meditation has ended.  Go in peace. Carry out your normal activities for the day. 

Note: If you want to practice this meditation regularly, best do it twice a day, the 1st time in the morning before you begin your day's activities, before taking in breakfast, and the second time at dusk, or when you come home from work, before eating dinner.