Today's lectionary reading: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
Selected passage for reflection: Acts 3:12-19 (NIV)
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
It’s a hard thing to hear when someone tells you the truth about yourself. A friend once said to me, “You don’t like people telling you ‘No’, do you?” I winced. I had no come-back for that because I knew in that moment it was true. I was embarrassed because I hadn’t seen this part of myself before. I felt exposed.
I wonder what the people who were listening to Peter felt when he told the truth about them? “...you handed him over to be killed...disowned him...killed the author of life…” Painful stuff to hear and own. Did they cringe? Hide? Defend themselves? Get angry at Peter? Slink away? Brush it off? Continue to relive his words?
The Prayer of Examen helps me see the truth about myself. Doing the Examen, I walk with Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit back through my day and ask for help in seeing where I moved toward God and where I moved away from God (or where I showed love and didn’t show love, or moved toward compassion and away from compassion). The key, I think, is to remember that God is walking with me as I remember my day. If it’s just me walking back through my day, I can think I’m so good that I don’t need to repent of anything or so bad that I want to run away and not be with myself or God. With the Holy Spirit with me, I can respond with gratefulness for the times I see that I moved with love and I can also face the times I didn’t squarely and let the Spirit do some healing work in me.
Sometime today or tomorrow, take 5-7min to do the Prayer of Examen. Ask Jesus to walk back through your day with you. You can imagine that you are holding Jesus’ hand as you do this or imagine that a candle or a light is walking with you and illuminating your path. Say a word of gratefulness when you feel it. When something hard comes into view, take a breath and look at it together with Jesus or the light. Name what happened, express whatever feelings come up, and move on to the next memory. You can end this practice with a simple “Thank you.”
God, we need You to tell us the truth. Sometimes we don’t see it. Help us to become more and more aware of where you are in our lives and how You are working.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
About the Author
Sue Braun is a spiritual director, a supervisor at the C. John Weborg Center for Spiritual Direction at North Park Seminary in Chicago, and a group facilitator at North Park Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts. Sue is a native Chicagoan, loves the lakefront in all kinds of weather, and especially likes seeing the first Snowdrops poke their heads up in Spring.