Beyond the Empty Tomb – 1. The Upper Room

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19 April: John 20.19-22 The Upper Room
Welcome to ‘Beyond the Empty Tomb’ Weekly podcasts providing a led meditation on the Resurrection Appearances of Jesus.
Today’s Resurrection appearance is from John 20.19-22 – Jesus appearing to the disciples in the upper room. The symbol I suggest you use with this meditation is a cross that you can hold in your hand. 
If you don’t have one with you, I suggest you pause now to get it and then resume.
Stilling – Preparing to Pray
Take time now to settle into this space – to let go of what you have been about 
To come to presence in the here and now of this moment
Bring to mind what has led you to do this today…
What you are hoping for…
Let yourself become aware that beneath your reasons lies a deeper reason – that God has brought you here – and that God is welcoming you into this time
Let yourself notice God’s gaze on you
And relax into God’s presence
Taking some deeper breaths – as you breathe in – ask for God’s help in this time
As you breathe out – let go of any tensions
As you breathe in – draw upon the Holy Spirit to help you pray
As you breathe out – entrust yourself to God’s holding
John 20.19-22:
And so when it was late on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were closed where the disciples were, for fear of the Judaeans, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and says to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And saying this, he showed his hands and his side. And so the disciples rejoiced, seeing the Lord. And so Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you. As the Father sent me, I also send you.’ And saying this, he breathed on them and says to them, ‘Receive [the] Holy Spirit.’
Pick up your cross  now, and quietly reflect on the sense of Jesus crucified. Let yourself notice any sense of loss and pain, dismay or upset, and awareness of  how Jesus’ disciples would have felt after the crucifixion
Now in your mind’s eye, picture the scene in the upper room. It is evening, the room is lit by candles. The disciples gathered, aware of the news of the empty tomb.
Aware also of their fear of the people of Jerusalem.
Look around, notice how things are arranged, where people are, listen to the voices, notice the atmosphere in the room, notice the smell of candles, food, people
Let yourself become part of the group
Jesus appears!
Peace be with you…
– Look – notice – look at Jesus’ face – take it his gaze, the expression on his face
– What do you see in his eyes?  
He shows his hands, his side
– Look
– How do you feel as you gaze on his wounds   
Peace to you, he says
– notice how you are experiencing his peace
As the Father has sent me, so I send you…
– receive Jesus’ sending…
Watch Jesus’ face as he Breathes –
Receive Holy Spirit – 
– draw in Holy Spirit 
Let yourself move into conversation with Jesus – tell him how you have found this experience – be open, honest, and listen to his response
Now we draw to a close – let conversation finish
Take time now just to reflect on this – what has been most significant, uplifting, energising – offer thanks
What has been difficult, challenging – ask for light to be shed on this.
Glory be…
Reflections on this meditation

I’ve approached this in a very Ignatian way, drawing upon the process of prayer he offers in the Spiritual Exercises, and on the guidance he offers when praying with the resurrection appearances of Jesus.

So, time is given at the beginning to the approach to prayer – by stopping, coming into awareness of God’s presence, seeking God’s grace.

Ignatius offers very clear guidance in praying with the resurrection scenes to be attentive to two things in particular – awareness of Christ’s divinity – how it shines through, and of his joy. I chose not to be explicit in suggesting looking for these things, but rather to invite looking directly at Jesus’ face – in the expectation that by doing so the way in which each person needs to notice his divinity and joy will come to them. 

As ever in offering led meditations such as this, one is trusting that the Holy Spirit will be at work, doing what you hope might be done, but in the particular way that each person needs. It is wonderfully liberating to pull back from feeling you have to make sure people get what they should get from a meditation, to rather – simply offer a space, a framework, where encounter can happen and let that do the work. I find it deeply moving when I am privileged to hear about people’s experiences after the event.  Hearing about how something deeply personal, meaningful and appropriate happened, gives a joy in the work of the Holy Spirit, as well as building up trust in the process that ‘allows the Creator to deal with the creature, and the creature with their Creator.’

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

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