Waiting

CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.



TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.

You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:

“In one or two words, how have you lived as your little self, today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by letting your ego be your guide, today.

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you lived as your True Self, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for living within you each day.”

Pause


READING SUMMARY
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.

Then share a summary of this evening’s text. Using your own words is strongly encouraged. If that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming, or if you would like a young person to lead this portion, here are some thoughts on this story:

The main point of this text comes at the end, but is told at the beginning. Jesus’ friend Lazarus will die but Jesus will bring him back to life. In the first part of this story, Jesus is away from the family of Lazarus and when given word that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where he was at. Death is an important part of this story, which we will find out in the second half of this story tomorrow night, but so is the wait. Sometimes, we have to wait. For many of us, we have to wait in times of uncertainty and pain. One of the most amazing pieces of the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is that Jesus is the love of God personified. God joined us in life, both the joys and the suffering. God sits with us in the wait and the discomfort that might come along with that waiting.


SHARING THE READING
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from John 11:1-162
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the [feet of Jesus] with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, [Rabbi, the one] you love is ill.’ 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Only Begotten may be glorified through it.’ 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
7 Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ 8The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ 9Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ 11After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ 12The disciples said to him, [‘Rabbi], if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’



DISCUSS
At the close of the reading you might begin with basic questions, such as:
Did this reading have any words or ideas that anyone doesn’t understand?
Let’s explore what those might mean, together.

If you are ready for further discussion, you might consider these questions:
*Talk about waiting. What are some things that have been hard to wait for? Discuss thoughts and feelings that come up when things are hard to wait for.
*What are your thoughts and feelings about God joining us in the wait and the discomfort that waiting might bring?

CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and I encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of
God.

After a few deep breaths, share the following:


Notice your breath.
Notice the physical sensations of breathing in:
Your nose
Your rib cage
Your abdomen
the physical pause before you exhale...

Pause

Notice your breath.
Notice the physical sensations of breathing out:
Your abdomen
Your rib cage
Your nose
the pause before you inhale...

Pause

When you inhale, count to three before you exhale.
When you exhale, count to three before you inhale.

Pause

Notice how your breath continues even as you wait. Allow the nourishment of your breath to relax your body as we spend the next couple of minutes waiting and breathing. 

Pause for what feels appropriate for those in the room.


At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us 
in this time. 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.

Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.

BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”

Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”


  1. With One Voice, Augsburg Fortress; 1995: #686.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), uploaded from Oremus Bible Browser; accessed 03.20.20.

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