During Holy Week – as we have to be separated from one another and kept from gathering in the sanctuary – we will be keeping vigil with one another as we pray with the stained-glass windows from our sanctuary at First UMC in Warner Robins. Each day we’ll have a theme, meditation, personal prayer focus, and closing prayer. Spend some time in meditation with the image and then commit to a time of personal prayer centered on the daily prayer focus.
Theme: Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Look at the image above. Holy Week is over, but our life of discipleship to Jesus Christ continues. In some ways, it has begun anew as we have hit the highest point of the Christian year. From here on out, we focus ourselves upon the responsibilities of resurrection life, the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, and the opportunities to experience the kingdom of God in the ways we live now. Throughout all of these seasons, Jesus leads us lovingly as our Good Shepherd. How has Jesus faithfully led you into this specific season of life?
Notice above how Jesus tenderly holds one lamb against his heart. There are many times that we will feel unable to move ahead in our faith. We encounter fear, doubt, and sorrow. Jesus does not chastise us during these difficult seasons. Instead, he picks us up, hold us, and carries us. He keeps us close to the heartbeat of God, so that we might “hear” the divine love for us beating in his chest – the divine love that gives us courage, assurance, and holy comfort. Let us take a pause and in this quiet moment, let yourself be held close to the heart of God and feel the love of God for you.
The two sheep who are walking in this image are walking closely beside Jesus, one with its head tilted toward Jesus and the other with its eyes gazing intently ahead. Our Lord desires that we stay focused on what is ahead, not looking back at our many failures. As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, we are called to “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. Press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” The way to do this is to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews says, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” How might you keep your focus on Jesus in the days ahead?
Notice that Jesus is standing upon a rock. The way of Christ is firm, strong, and secure. Jesus himself is the cornerstone upon which we can stably build our lives. This does not mean that the person who builds their life upon Jesus Christ will not experience difficulties. But like the person who built their house upon a rock in the parable of Jesus, when the difficulties come, they will endure. In what ways have you endured the storms of life while anchored to Jesus Christ? How might you continue to build your life securely upon the risen Lord?
Finally, notice that Jesus has nothing upon his feet. He is standing on holy ground. Just as Moses was told to take off his sandals when approaching the presence of God in the burning bush, Jesus has removed the coverings from his feet. This symbolizes the fact that wherever we travel with Jesus, we will be traveling on holy ground. We will always be in the presence of God when we follow in the footsteps of the risen Christ. You are never alone as you navigate the roads of life. How might you recognize the presence of Jesus with you today? How are you following Jesus? With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, you will never face any experience alone.
Personal Prayer Focus: Pray for strength, endurance, and discipline within your own journey of faith and discipleship. Ask God to show you how you might incorporate spiritual practices into your daily rhythms, so that you might become a person who listens and responds deeply and openly to God.
LORD God, you have led us from the wilderness to the cross and onward to the empty tomb. In all of our journeys you have been faithful to us. May we be faithful to you and follow the paths of life you have set before us. Give us the strength and humility to say, “Lord, lead us.” Amen.