We make a lot of choices everyday but what does it mean to be truly chosen? This meeting invites the group to engage in an Ignatian contemplation as they reflect upon the manner in which they were chosen in baptism as God’s very beloved. This prayer is an opportunity for members to be led by the Spirit as they allow their imaginations to animate scripture. Standing before Jesus as he gets baptized can help us to realize that we too are beloved by God.
You may want to consider creating a particular ambiance centered on water such as a fountain, a bowl of water, a floating candle, or if weather permits, having your meeting by a source of water, like a river, beach, or fountain. Like the last contemplation, we offer you a helpful script that you may utilize directly or to develop your own reflection.
Supplies: Meditation music
Ask for the grace to deepen our sense of being God’s beloved from our very creation as Jesus came to know in his baptism.
Name a choice you had to make in the past week.
Invite two members to read the following passage together, alternating paragraphs.
“I very much believe that the core moment of Jesus’ public life was the baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, “You are my beloved on whom my favor rests.” That is the core experience of Jesus. He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is.
The temptations in the desert are temptations to move him away from that spiritual identity. He was tempted to believe he was someone else: You are the one who can turn stone into bread. You are the one who can jump from the temple. You are the one who can make others bow to your power. Jesus said, “No, no, no. I am the Beloved from God.” I think his whole life is continually claiming that identity in the midst of everything. There are times in which he is praised, times when he is despised or rejected, but he keeps saying, ‘Others will leave me alone, but my Father will not leave me alone. I am the beloved Son of God. I am the hope found in that identity.’
Prayer, then, is listening to that voice – to the one who calls you Beloved. It is to constantly go back to the truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves. I’m not what I do. I’m not what people say about me. I’m not what I have. Although there is nothing wrong with success, there is nothing wrong with popularity, there is nothing wrong with being powerful, finally my spiritual identity is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in my spiritual identity. Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that core identity.”
from “Parting Words” by Henri Nouwen
After a brief reflection on this passage comes to a natural lull, consider inviting members into beginning the contemplation:
- I invite you to find a comfortable position in your chair, with both feet on the ground and palms resting open on your lap. This posture indicates a rootedness on the holy ground below us and receptivity to God’s abundant gifts surrounding us. I invite you to take a couple of breathes, slowly, inhale, and exhale. With each exhale, allow your body to fall more deeply into your chair allowing any tension to be released with each breath. Keep breathing and recognize the rising and falling of your body. Notice God’s very life present in the filling of your lungs with life and energizing your body in stillness.
- I will read the following passage a couple times through. Listen to the words and take note of any images that emerge.
(Then, read the following passage two times through):
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
- (The contemplation should be about 15-20 minutes. Be present to the Spirit moving and do not feel rushed. Try to not move forward if you sense yourself moving forward from fear of further silence. Allow your inner sense of the spirit to be the one guiding the contemplation. Trust your inner voice of truth.)
- Allow yourself to enter the scene. Tap into your five senses in your presence at the Jordan as you notice your place in the scene. Notice the crowds around the Jordan River. What else are you seeing? the people, animals, movement, nature (pause for 1 minute) What are you hearing? perhaps the sounds of the water, the wind, children playing, birds chirping… (pause for 1 minute) What are you touching? … grass, rocks, the hand of another … (pause for 1 minute) What does the air feel like, cold or warm? What are the colors that surround you in nature or within the people’s garments? (pause for 1 minute) What smells permeate your nose? Notice all these elements and be present to them. (pause for 1 minute)
- Now notice who you are in the scene and where your proximity is in relation to all the action. What influences or factors shape your proximity? What draws you in or keeps you at a distance? (pause for 2-3 minutes)
- Now, imagine Jesus seeking you out personally. He desires to especially baptize you. What stirs within you upon this request? What are you feeling? (pause for 2-3 minutes) As he draws the water and pours it over you, he proclaims “You are my Beloved child, (insert each group member’s name in this space), with whom I am well pleased.” Upon feeling the water rush over you, and the sun beating down upon you, what do you feel? How are you consoled or challenged? Pay attention to what stirs within you. (pause for 2-3 minutes)
- As you spend time with Jesus- what do you say to Him? What does he say back to you? What kind of dialogue emerges? (pause for 2-3 minutes)
- As you continue your time with Him, what do you do? Take notice of how you are uniquely present to one another. (pause for 3-4 minutes)
- Now, it is time for you to leave, how do you depart from Jesus, from the others gathered? What stirs within you upon your departure? (pause for 2-3 minutes)
- Now, take time speak with God about this experience. Tell God what is remaining with you and listen.
- In gratitude, we thank God for this time and we pray for deepened listening to how we are called to know ourselves as the Beloved. When you are ready, please open your eyes and become aware of your presence in this room and gathering.
- What struck you?
- What is remaining within you? What images, words, or themes are present?
- How were you surprised, challenged, or consoled?
- As always, if the meditation did not speak to group members, create the space for anything else that is stirring within their hearts at this time to be shared.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
Take time this week to return to this reflection and try to imagine God calling you “beloved.”
You may want to consider utilizing the water present in a closing ritual of some kind.
“Therefore we, members of the Christian Life Community, have composed these General Principles to aid us in making our own the choices of Jesus Christ and taking part through Him, with Him, and in Him in this loving initiative which expresses God’s promise of faithfulness forever.” (CLC-USA General Principles #1)
“Perhaps there is little to say because this style of contemplation is often more a ‘being with’ experience than a word-response.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:1-16
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-14