The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
John 11:54 says something rather curious. Jesus was no longer going in Judea “openly.” He retreated from public view. This doesn’t seem to be out of fear. He has no apparent desire to avoid confrontation with opponents. So why does Jesus retreat? We notice that he stays with his disciples. They need to learn. They need to be with Jesus. They need to have opportunity to ask questions.
In this day of instant everything, we often entertain the idea that pastors and other Church leaders can be prepared quickly. At some times in history this has been a pattern, and a necessary one. During times of explosive growth or of intense persecution it is sometimes necessary to prepare and mobilize a pastor very quickly. Yet under normal circumstances it is a process which will take years. There is no substitute for spending time with Jesus, now shown through the presence of other leaders and in Scripture, receiving guidance. Preparedness for service in Christ’s kingdom is normally a matter of spending a good deal of time and effort in relatively predictable and controlled situations. Then, armed with at least a relatively mature understanding of Scripture and God’s grace, we can reach out with less guidance.
It is always sad to see the way pastors and teachers who have neglected training and ongoing relationships go astray. May we all have the wisdom to retreat and be together with others we can trust and respect.
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