In the Book: Monday, p63
For because he himself has suffered when tempted…
John 1: 1-18
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
We recognise that topics such as body image can be a pastorally difficult topic, so that is not the direction we have taken this week. The focus is particularly upon how God became flesh, from the Majesty of Heaven to being in our postcode, and being thankful for what our bodies can do.
Think about the physical sensations of your body: the satisfying crunch of munching crisps, the cool smooth sensation of a hand trailing in water, running as a child so fast you didn’t care who was watching. Which sensations or sounds or smells do you most fondly remember from your childhood?
Our bodies are good. We are, as adults, perhaps not used to thinking thankfully about our body. What aspect of your body would you most like to thank God for this week?
Main: What difference does it make to you that God became flesh?
Read this week’s Bible verses.
1. If making a film version of John’s gospel – what kind of music would you use for the first five verses, as the gospel writer seeks to locate the story in the enormity of space and time (Leader: The first three words are intended to remind us of Genesis 1:1). Would it be like the beginning of Star Wars (http://youtu.be/UKRIUiyF0N4), highlighting the vastness of the earth, or something different?
2. The writer of John’s gospel describes Jesus in several different ways at the start of the gospel:
- God (with the Holy trinity) (v1)
- There in the beginning, eternal (v1-2)
- Creator (v3)
- Life (v4)Light (v5)
- Grace and truth (v14-18)
Which one of these aspects of Jesus most resonates with you today? If you were to choose a photo or picture to illustrate this aspect of Jesus (for a blog post or presentation, for example), what would it be? If the group is comfortable with the topic, question if anything makes you feel strange, unusual, uncomfortable, or feels particularly challenging.
There are a range of legitimately useable images of ‘God became flesh’. See if your church has the CMS ‘The Christ we Share’ pack, a series of images from artists around the world (£5), or look online:
- The Laughing Jesus
- The Christa (woman)
- Baby Jesus
- Jesus on the Cross
- Christ Jesus
- Asian Jesus
- African Jesus
- Angry Jesus
- The Jesus of My Own Making (Threads post)
3. What do you find surprising about verse 14? If you were to choose a photo or picture to illustrate this mystery, this ‘puzzle’ of Jesus’ nature, what would it be? Tanya Marlow would pick an image such as muddy Glastonbury for “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us”.
4. Listen to this weeks poem and Stephen Cherry’s reflections
5. Hear the reflection from Tanya Marlow:
6. Our bodies are limited. Psalm 103 says God has compassion on us because He knows we are limited. See Ps 103: 13-15. Spend a minute in silence meditating on this. Which word stands out for you in those verses?
6. Our bodies are frustrating. God is often described as distant/eternal, but Jesus knew both mental anguish and physical suffering. Think of those who you know (or perhaps you yourself) who are experiencing mental or physical suffering. What difference does it make to remember that Jesus experienced this too?
Provide strips of paper on which the group can describe people to pray for:
- People in physical pain
- People who can’t sleep and have no rest for their bodies
- Bodies that have been harmed
- Struggle with the fractures of depression
Scrunch into a bowl. Sit and light a candle. Pray in silence.
Finish with Meekness and Majesty, Manhood & Deity (http://youtu.be/4tK1hQpacs8)
Pick one of the following activities to take into the week:
- What is God asking of us today? How might we put skin on the love of God? e.g. Visit a lonely neighbour
- We’re made in the image of God, flesh and blood. Our society suggests many things about the body, what does it suggest? Consider watching one of the following 10 minute videos from Christian speakers on body image:
- How do we cope with being enclosed in bodies? Be aware this week of those around us affected by aging, damage and disability, and think how does faith speaks into those situations?
- A prayer meditation: Choose one of these phrases that remind us of that amazing mystery of the incarnation:
“Immanuel. God is with me.” or
“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14 or
“Jesus was fully human in every way” Heb 2:17 or
“He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Ps 103:14
This week, whenever you feel frustrated by your body in some way – tired, hungry, in pain etc – say this phrase out loud as a reminder or a prayer.