In the Dust

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the  middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

-       John 8:1-11

This morning I’d like to invite you into a prayer exercise called “imaginative contemplation.”  Read the passage through slowly again, and really try to visualize what is happening, almost like a movie playing in your head.  Notice where Jesus and the other people in the story are and how they are moving, the heat of the day, the smells of the Temple and the crowd.  Now imagine yourself in the story – who are you?  An observer, one of the accusers, perhaps the woman caught in her sin...  What happens between you and Jesus in this encounter?  Imagine the words he is writing in the dust are a message just for you.  What do they say?  How do you receive them?

There’s no rush.  When you feel ready, you can talk with Jesus a little about what you experienced, or just thank him for meeting you in the story and loving you.