Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday in Holy Week

Psalm 6  Jeremiah 15:10-21  Philippians 3:15-21  John 12:20-26

Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Words matter. 

Today’s lessons speak of human weariness and materialism. Is there a connection here?

The Psalmist begs God to “be gracious to me . . . for I am languishing
. . . Save my life, deliver me for the sake of thy steadfast love. . . .”

Paul preaches that many have values set on earthly things, but that Christians have a call higher than materialism. He entreats us to think about what is honorable, pure, lovely, and gracious.

The prophet Jeremiah hears the Lord say “If you utter what is precious and not what is worthless you shall be as my mouth.” 

Can my words make a difference? The ones I speak? Write? Sing? 

Jesus fashions his words into a parable of the “dead” seed which then produces a plant. It’s a lesson for the disciples and humankind that real life exists beyond the cross, beyond death. But also, it points to the reality that what we do in this life, what we say, can make a difference.

As Jeremiah had cried to the lord: “Thy words were found and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by thy name O Lord, God of hosts.” 

As we prepare this week for the mystery of the Cross, we remember that the words we speak are also like seeds that can produce new life.

Help me, Lord, to meditate on the ways I can use my words, to comfort, to praise and to create.

— Kay Slaughter

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday in Holy Week

Psalm 51  Jeremiah 12:1-16  Philippians 3:1-14  John 12:9-19

The Pharisees said to one another, “You can see we are getting nowhere; all the world has gone after him!”(John 12:19)

The Pharisees and the chief priests are jealous and want to kill Jesus because everyone is starting to follow him. Raising Lazarus from the dead gained Jesus a big following, and Lazarus was there too.  I think that jealousy is a big factor in this passage because sometimes when you are losing something that someone else is gaining, it can be frustrating. In this passage I think the chief priests’ and Pharisees’ plan to kill Jesus and Lazarus is a little extreme but I could see why they are upset. A way I can relate to this story is I have been jealous about some video games my friends have, but I was also grateful that I get to play the video games with them.

In today’s reading, the people are starting to put their faith in Jesus, welcoming him and Lazarus to Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday we wave our palms around to welcome Jesus just like the crowd of pilgrims about two thousand years ago.

— Will Olson-Litherland

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Psalm 31:9-16  Isaiah 50:4-9a  Philippians 4:5-11  Mark 14:1-15:39

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sebachthani? . . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? . . . Then Jesus gave out a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:34, 37)

For years this scene troubled me. The words—first in Aramaic, Jesus’ language—and then in my language, haunted me. It bothered me that just moments before dying on the cross,  Christ Jesus, the Son of God,  might have believed himself abandoned by my God, his God, his Father. Then I learned that the words reported by Mark appear also as the opening words of an ancient prayer (Ps.22:1)  

Essentially the same words are reported by Matthew (Matt: 27:46) and read in the Lectionary’s Year A.  In Luke, the dying Christ’s last words: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” (Luke 23:46) echo another psalmist (Ps 31:6). John’s approach seems different. The words he reports from the Cross are conversations with those at the Cross, and finally a simple: “It is finished.” (John19:30) 
With reflection, I now see the words from the cross as a comforting prayer, an impassioned and natural conversation with God—in everyday language, celebrating the historical presence of God among His people, and, as in Psalm 31, acknowledging feelings of desperation when life seems spent with grief and fear is on all sides, yet trusting and rejoicing assuredly in the guiding hand of God.

The passion is not lessened but the desperation I once heard has been replaced by the breath of the prayerful. In my head I now hear in that final cry the words from Psalm 31:  “But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord. . . . You are my God. . . . Make your face shine upon your servant. . .  (Ps 31: 14,16). And I see His face shining, with nothing separating Father from Son, Lord God from Christ Jesus.

Lord God, in your gracious love, you have shown us the way to Peace. Let the same mind be in me that was in Christ Jesus that in all ways I can pray with trust in you, my God, and act in love.   Amen.

—Jarrett Millard

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Psalm 137  Jeremiah 31:27-34   Romans 11:25-36 • John 11:28-44

At the beginning of our Eucharistic prayer, we greet each other with the affirmation that the Lord is with us. We offer our hearts by lifting them up.  We give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.

Our hearts, thanks, and praise to God are gifts we offer at the Holy Table. But, they are not the only gifts we offer. Each of us has other unique gifts, which God is perfecting in us for our ministries. Paul tells us in Romans 11 that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” He is referring to God’s covenant with our ancestors as unbreakable throughout the generations. However, on a personal level, I am confident in knowing that my ministry and service to God are for my lifetime, and . . . perhaps, beyond. 

I, and you, can know that God’s calling is not without the gifts that manifest as God’s transformational love. It is God’s power in us. It is God’s promise to us.

Paul closes Romans 11 with, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever.  Amen.”

Our Eucharistic prayer acknowledges this all-encompassing and creation presence of God immediately before we say the prayer our Lord taught us. 

“By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever.  AMEN.”  (BCP, 403). 

— Betsy Daniel

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Psalm 22  Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13  Romans 11:13-24  John 11:1-27

Lazarus, the man, is rarely explored in church. The Bible says woefully little about him. He only appears in the gospel of John, the most mystical of the four gospels, and there he is only mentioned twice, once coming back from the dead, and then hosting Jesus as a dinner guest shortly before our Savior goes to the cross.

Lazarus, in order to be such a friend that “Jesus wept” at his death, must have been quite the guy. We know Jesus loved to be with people, to eat and enjoy their company, and Lazarus must have been good company. We shouldn’t just remember him as some sort of mummy, coming out of the cave in his burial wrapping, but so full of life that even after he was dead, he could be summoned by Jesus’ voice.

A song, by contemporary Christian artist Carmen, imagines what happened in that time that Lazarus left his body, in “Lazarus Come Forth”: 

Needless to say the room got real quiet
When Lazarus said but I knew him
In a way you all never did
You see, man, I walked with him and talked with him
I saw how his teachings awed the crowds
Those famous tears of compassion I could actually see
He used to come over to my house after church
And my sisters would make him dinner
You see, man, I even remember the littlest things
The things that most folks would forget
Like the simple, loving way He’d just call my name
Up at the grave stone rolled away
With a loud voice Jesus started to say, Lazarus
You see it just seems like yesterday
I could hear that man saying my name
As a matter of a fact it seemed like today
Excuse me brothers I think I hear him calling me now

The point John is trying to make—“He who believes in me (Jesus, who is God and the Holy Spirit) shall never die, but have life everlasting”—is granted a physical manifestation in Lazarus. Jesus has his friend back, and we all have hope for the future.

— Lori Korleski Richardson

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Psalm 131  Jeremiah 26:1-16 • Romans 11:1-12  John 10:19-42

The gospel reading for today from John concerns a confrontation in which some of the Jewish people accuse Jesus of blasphemy because of his claims about his relationship to God. They even threaten to stone him. As I thought about this passage, two different and somewhat conflicting reactions occurred to me.

On the one hand, we all know that throughout history there have been countless examples of frauds, charlatans or plainly delusional people who have tried to assert their religious authority over others. As they view this strange Galilean, perhaps the reaction of these Jews is not completely surprising. But on the other hand, it is typical human behavior to resist someone or something radically new based on established norms, vested interest or personal comfort levels. Again, but for different reasons, the extreme hostility to Jesus might be predictable.

Then, as I thought more about it, I realized that the response Jesus gives to his challengers not only resolves both of these typical reactions, it cuts through the entire discussion with absolute clarity.

Do not believe me, then, if I am not doing the things my Father wants me to do. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, you should at least believe my works, in order that you may know once and for all that the Father is in me and that I am in the Father.  (verses 37-38)

Following however imperfectly on the example that Jesus sets, is there anything we should seek more earnestly, or anything we should practice more diligently in this season of Lent, than to show through our works that the spirit of God is operating within us?

—John Zuck