Image by Joe Mania

Lent Daily Devotions

Introduction

 

Typically, when we enter into the season of Lent, we are confronted with our mortality with the imposition of ashes and the reminder that we are but dust and to dust we will return. Throughout the penitent season, we remind ourselves of our dependence on God by fasting, by giving up things, and by devoting ourselves to prayer and worship. In the midst of this season of devotion, we are reminded of our frailty, of our limitations, and of our need for God’s saving help.


I don’t know about you, but I feel like maybe I need that reminder a little less this year. For perhaps the first time in my lifetime, we’ve spent the past year confronting and facing our collective mortality and frailty as a species on a daily basis, we’ve faced how limited our capacity is to put others’ safety and health first, we’ve been giving things up—dear and treasured things like time with family—with no clear end in sight. 


So what is Lent for in a year in which we have been doing Lenten-like things for so long? 


Perhaps it’s a reminder that what we are experiencing has a place in the holy story and in the holy story of our lives. Rather than a pause or an aberration from normal life, the losing of things and experiencing our mortality, weakness, and limits are integral parts of the spiritual life, so much so that the ancient Christian calendar devotes a significant portion of the year to it exclusively.
 

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Perhaps, this year, Lent is more of a comfort than a challenge, a comfort to know that our faith in its wisdom and our God in their  generosity and grace make space for our frailty, our shortcomings, and our mortality to become sacred, holy, and a path to draw near to God and to each other. 


I pray that these devotions, written by members of Trinity parish, will be just that—a comfort and moment of daily connection. As is our tradition, each of these reflections are based on the daily office readings, which begins on page 934 of the BCP. A small difference you’ll notice from previous years is that the Sunday devotion is dedicated to our ongoing Gospel-Based Discipleship series and we invite you to continue on that journey, which is included in this booklet as well, and to engage with worship, the sermon, and the Wednesday meditation each week as well. 

With gratitude,

 

 

David+

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February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday

 

“... and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” 
Hebrews 12:1

 

This epistle appears to have been written well after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It appears, too, to have been written to a group of very weary early Christians who may have been losing hope and needed a “cheerleader” with a strong “voice” to encourage them and to revive their sagging faith. 


The ancient author (unnamed) reminds me of school athletic coaches I have known who gave legendary “pep talks” to their tired teams and inspired them to “dig deep” and “believe they could, indeed, win.” In my long career as a school man heard many such exhortations, so this passage in Hebrews resonated clearly with my own life experiences. 


Specifically, the passage itself imagines a race (“…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…”) In this case the “race” is to earn the Kingdom of God by staying faithful.  The writer acknowledges that this will not be easy and that to achieve this heavenly goal, one must “not grow weary or faint-hearted…in your struggle against sin…”


Later the writer says, much like a coach, “…you have to endure…(therefore) lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet…” This type of ringing “pep talk” usually inspires renewed efforts.


Reminding this group of early Christians of their ultimate goal, the author speaks very clearly to his ancient brethren and to us, “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”


We all need these kinds of “coaches” and their “pep talks” in our lives. That is particularly true today, it seems to me, as many of our familiar comforts of life have been diminished and/or removed by the COVID 19 Pandemic. (Virtual Church is a current comfort and blessing, for example, but not the same a being present in person to worship.  Nonetheless, “…(we) have to endure…and make straight paths for (our) feet.”).


Reflection: How and where do you find the “pep” talks you need in daily life? Will you be active in your search or will you retreat like the early Christians in this passage in fear and fatigue and become discouraged?


Erich Cluxton

 

February 18, 2021
Thursday after Ash Wednesday

 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”  Philippians 3: 12-21


Pressing towards the goal.  How many times have we heard this as we’ve gone through our lives?  Speaking for myself, and my background in sales, TOO many!    In today’s social media filled society, how difficult is it to be an adolescent and/or teenager?  The pressure to be perfect, to never make mistakes, to be held accountable for everything that it said or done on these platforms.  How about the pressure that parents put on their children to be the best student, the best athlete, to get in to a great college?  As adults, we turn on the TV and watch vitriolic hate spewed out on an hourly basis.  Frankly, it’s too much, and we put entirely too much pressure on ourselves, peers, and family.  


We need to ease up.  Let go of the reigns every once in awhile.


In this passage, Paul tells his people as they get older they mature.  He tells them he is not perfect, but he is striving to work towards godliness.  He fails, he sins, but he is striving to be better all the time.  They too can be better if they continue to educate themselves about the church, and follow those who are leading a godly life.  We will never be perfect in this life, but we should always be working towards godliness.


Dear God-
As we continue to be challenged and influenced by outside forces, please help us to see a better path, and continue to educate us in your word.
Amen.


Mark Whitney

February 19, 2021
Friday after Ash Wednesday

 

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts 
and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7


I have always been told that I am a “glass is half full” kind of person.  Generally, I think this is true, though it is not always in my best interest, or even helpful to be so. And it is not always easy, as life has a way of challenging me. I do believe that if we are patient, life will work out well in the end, but not necessarily in our time or as we imagined it. As the T-shirt says, “Life is Good.” This attitude has helped me through many of life’s hurdles. My husband suggests that I put my childish motto on my tombstone: “Things have a funny way of working out.” 


In today’s lesson, Paul is writing from prison to a faith community. He is full of joy and inspiration and encourages his listeners to “… not worry about anything…” This is easier for some than for others. We are all different and we approach our life in the world in different ways.  This reading from Paul’s letter reminds us that we should rejoice, for life is good. Be gentle. Don’t worry. Pray. “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart.”

 
But Paul goes on to challenge us. We can’t just sit around and wait for goodness. We must “keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” 


Today’s lesson reminds me to be hopeful. Keep moving. Keep giving. Keep loving. Keep praying. In the end, things do have a funny way of working out!


Reflection: What sentiment would you put on your tombstone?


Frances Smyth

February 20, 2021
Saturday after Ash Wednesday

 

“I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.”  Philippians 4:12-13

 

I remember the lean days, watching and tracking every penny to make ends meet.  And I’ve known the days of more than enough ( at least by worldly standards). I’m thinking though that this passage applies to my spiritual journey as well. I have known the lean days of doubt, depression, grief, anxiety and have known the days of light, joy, wonder and blessings.  Through it all, as verse 13 says, I’ve relied on the strength of Christ.  That strength can come in many different ways.  Often it comes as “Christ through others”.  I can still see myself sitting at my grandmother’s little kitchen table, so deeply sad after the loss of my baby, and her hand reaching across the table, those clear blue eyes looking right at me, saying, “It’s going to be good again.”.  Others had said similar things to me, but somehow, in that moment, I knew it as truth. Countless times, especially here at Trinity, I have experienced Christ through others; the warm touch, the smile just when I needed it.


Sometimes the strength comes from “Christ within me”. During that same period of grief in my life, I caught myself in the mirror once and saw the look of sadness and tears on my face and immediately my hands reached out as if they were someone else’s  and touched my face gently, over and over with  my voice saying, “It’s ok. You’re ok”,  Self soothing some would say, but for me, the self that was doing the soothing was my True Self, the God within, the place of Light, Christ’s strength within. I read Rumi, or Mary Oliver and some words of truth touch that same place.


In times of spiritual plenty I’ve had the chance to be “Christ to others”. In my support group, I see that experience, strength and hope hold people up when they are at their lowest and watch the healing power of “Christ through others” lift spirits in a way nothing else can. When I get to share a story in Godly Play I feel the plenty of “Christ within” and hear in the children the “Christ through others”, sometimes in ways that stop you in your tracks. 


I’m sure on this journey I’ll continue to have times of need and times of plenty and my prayer is to rely on Christ within and Christ though others to see me through.  And my continual prayer is that it sees me through to God’s purpose for my life and how that purpose can serve others.


Reflection: I wonder where you’ve experienced “Christ within”? I wonder where you’ve experienced “Christ through others”? How does this send you into the world to serve?


Beth Chestnut

February 21, 2021
First Sunday in Lent

 

Mark 1:9-15


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”


And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”


Reflection: After Jesus was baptized he was driven out into the wilderness by the Spirit. Sometimes, when you declare to others whose side you’re on you become a target. As a disciple of Jesus we are on the side of righteousness, justice and peace. We are targets of the Evil One. When have you been a target for doing what is right?

 

February 22, 2021
Monday in the First Week of Lent

 

I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. I Cor. 1: 10


I enjoy Paul’s letters to Corinth partly because I have been there. Perched on the isthmus that separates two seas and connects the Greek Peloponnese with the mainland, it had two ports, a staging area for sending goods overland and a population which included drunk foreign sailors, lots of prostitutes and fabulously wealthy importers. It was frenetic, sophisticated and notoriously WICKED. Sin city.


Paul had quite a time establishing a church there, and an even harder time keeping them straight. In this letter, he greets and compliments the congregation conventionally and then drops the bomb: “I heard that you are divided. No, folks, that won’t do. You should agree with each other completely.”


What was he thinking? A church with no dissension. Come on. No church, no family, no human partnership, even homogenous ones, are “united in the same mind”. What faith he had. He honestly believed that this bunch could become Christ-followers strong enough to put aside differences. Paul was experienced; he knew these diverse, opinionated people personally. He must have known the odds against such unity.


His faith was not in their strength, but in Christ’s. As ours must be, we diverse, opinionated Christians thousands of years later.
Heal our dissensions, O Lord, and give us faith in Christ’s strength alone.


Erwin Gunnells

February 23, 2021
Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

 

“He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”   1 Corinthians 1:31


There’s always “that one guy.” You know the type: gloating about their own supposedly terrific accomplishments while looking down on all the others. Their thin facade crumbles eventually and collapses, revealing their true selves, but the damage is done. “That one guy” is a victim of a society built on the crows about someone’s great personal achievements. 


God understood the fragility of his creation and knew that, as his imperfect sheep, we would boast. A lot.

 
God instead asked us to boast about him and his wondrous ways. He asked us to strip ourselves of our pride and to proclaim his name loudly. If we were to boast about anyone at all, it should be Christ because he never crumbles and collapses. His true self is always on blinding display, a leading example for those of us yearning for his guidance. We should follow his example this Lent.


Reflection: Boasting about God instead of yourself is difficult. What is an example of when you put aside your own accomplishments to brag about God?


Caroline Barton, age 14

February 24, 2021
Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.    Mark 1:35


I love the moments right before sunrise, times when it seems no one else in the world is awake. All is quiet except perhaps for the sounds of a few birds singing. I feel a special relationship to God at this time; how beautiful is His creation! In this passage Jesus chooses early morning to pray in solitude, away from His fellow disciples and away from the crowds. He displays, through His actions, that prayer is necessary to maintain and nourish focus and preparation. Early morning devotion happens at a time when our minds are most refreshed, when we are free from distractions, when the world is still. By being grounded in the habit of solitary prayer, we are best prepared to handle our everyday responsibilities and challenges. It gives us a time to focus only on Him and ourselves. Without it, enemies of the spirit such as doubt, fear, worry, and despair become our focus.


Take time in the early morning hours to talk to God. See it not as a duty but as a privilege. Make it a priority.


Reflection: How can my early morning conversations with God prepare me for each day?


Leslie Welker

February 25, 2021
Thursday  in the First Week of Lent

 

“The written law brings death but the Spirit brings life.” I Corinthians 3:6


We have a rather instinctive response to illness, disfigurement, adversity. We believe we have done something wrong and we are being punished. Two stories contribute to this reflection: Joseph, being favored by the Lord (Genesis 39:1-23), is successful, well-built and good looking. (Spoiler alert: he has adversities but prevails); Jesus forgives (Mark 2:1-12) a paralyzed man’s sins to heal him (Spoiler alert: the rabbis rebuke Jesus for his forgiveness). Paul describes the Spirit as giving life rather than death.


We know that illness, loss and adversity or natural occurrences in life. We observe that in the natural world all living creatures die.


Over the better part of my 72 years I have had a lot of experience in integrating science and spirituality. They are the same substance. We have profound tools in addressing the adversity, fears and illnesses that beset us. Sometimes we do have to see what our own thoughts and behaviors are contributing. Sometimes we have to open ourselves up to ‘the Spirit’ which is quite beyond our individual power to control.


Reflection: Where would I wish for ‘the Spirit’ to bring life?


Dr. Laurie Hamilton

February 26, 2021
Friday  in the First Week of Lent

 

“As Jesus walked along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collect booth, and he said to him,“Follow me,” And Levi got up and followed him.”  Mark 2:14


I never thought my career would be as a youth leader and I’m sure Levi never thought his would be following Jesus as one of his 12 disciples. But Jesus sought out Levi and I feel like God sought me out as well to do this with my life. As a result, like Levi did, I have seen God at work and have gotten to be a part of that work, too. With mission trips, I felt called to help and to break bread with people that do not have the same life as I do. Often, as a youth minister, I get to be with young people during difficult moments or important transitions and God gives me the right words to say when they are seeking advice. Also, I love our young people no matter what is going on with them. God loves us unconditionally. I do my best to do the same as a youth leader. 


Just look what Jesus does next. He sits down at dinner in Levi’s house with many tax collectors and sinners. Why did Jesus spend time with the tax collectors and sinners? Jesus identified with the sinners. Jesus showed by his example how to be with people and accept them with open arms. 


I’ve been on the receiving end of such grace from God myself.When I was a teenager, I lied a lot. I always got caught when I lied. Jesus never gave up on me and showed me what my lies were doing to myself, my family, and friends. Now, I am brutally honest and that is so freeing! 


When I have sinned, I feel God’s grace and He speaks to my heart.  I know that Jesus was doing the same thing with the tax collectors and sinners as with his disciples.


Reflection: How were you led to follow Jesus? How does Jesus speak to you when you sin?


Debbie Cox

February 27, 2021
Saturday  in the First Week of Lent

 

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”  He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  
And he also gave some to his companions.”   Mark 2: 23- 26  

  
This story in Mark, and the several that precede it, I have shelved in my mental library as the “Gotcha Narratives.”  In each, Scribes and Pharisees think they’ve caught Jesus and the disciples in an infraction of Jewish law, and they attack those practices as contrary to the rigid regulations of the Old Testament.  Rather than trivializing their beliefs, Jesus in each case points to a bigger picture, a greater good, a relationship between faith and action that relies on moral values above and beyond adherence to technicalities of Jewish law.  In an earlier verse he points out that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around, and in this one he revisits that with an emphatic example of where meeting the needs of the hungry superseded the prohibitions and customs of the law.


As a Lenten reading, this section of Mark turns my thoughts to the moment on Good Friday when the veil of the Temple is rent in two, exposing the Holiest of Holies, the place so sacred that only the high priest could enter to speak directly to God. By what Jesus did through his death on the cross, barriers to God are down and God’s people can now move from a legalistically based worship to a personal relationship with their Lord.  The stories in Mark suggest, to me, that with that relationship comes a responsibility to seek and recognize, above all, what is righteous and good and benefits others, and to weigh decisions and judgements accordingly. 


Reflection: How many times do I take cover behind what is a custom or a trivial legality rather than truly trying to figure out What Would Jesus Do?


Marti Touchstone

February 28, 2021
Second Sunday in Lent


Mark 8:31-38


Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”


He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”    


Reflection: We believe that life with Jesus will bring us blessings. Yet here Jesus tells us that we must lose our lives to save them. What have you sacrificed to be a disciple of Jesus?

 

March 1, 2021
Monday in the Second Week of Lent

 

Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities … And the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said… When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.  And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. Gen. 41:46-57


Reading this Bible story familiar since childhood, I was stunned by my new connection with its details.  The story of Joseph and the Egyption famine bears remarkable similarities to our times now.  Famine or pandemic, we individually, as a community, a country and world are suffering through a crisis of literally biblical proportions.  


Joseph is an inspiration for coping and hopefully thriving in our present calamity.  Here is a man who was betrayed by his brothers, sold on the international slave market, and was an immigrant in a foreign country where his skin, language and customs were different from those around him. Yet when the famine hit and spread through the ancient world, he embraced his philanthropic role and remained calm and grounded. He prepared and worked hard for the people of Egypt and those beyond its borders.  Joseph was dedicated to the mission assigned to him by God through the Pharaoh. 


Reflection: Today, what can I do to try to follow God’s mission for me and to cope, thrive and help those around me in these strange and troubled times? 


Juleigh Sitton

March 2, 2021
Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent


“Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34b-35


In the readings for today, a common theme presents itself. The reading from Genesis tells the story of Joseph meeting his brothers for the first time after they had sold him into slavery. The reading from 1 Corinthians tells of Paul’s response to the report of sexual immorality within the church. Finally, the reading from Mark tells of the scribes of Nazareth accusing Jesus of being in league with demons. These are uncomfortable readings, full of anger, strife, resentment and intolerance. 


In many unfortunate ways, these readings parallel what is going on in our world today. Violence, oppression and hatred dominate the evening news and fear pervades our daily lives. 


Despite these uncomfortable stories, they each contain seeds of hope and redemption as well as guidance for our lives in these challenging times. For Joseph, despite the (quite justified) anger at his brothers, he ultimately comes to forgive them and welcome his family to Egypt so that they might survive the famine. While Paul argues for harsh judgement on sinners in the church, this reading also includes one of scripture’s most powerful calls to communion (which is part of our Eucharist service) – “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast” (1 Cor 5:7b-8a). Finally, in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus responds to his accusers with condemnation of disunity (“if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” Mark 3:24) and a call for unity (“Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” Mark 3:34b-35).


As we live our lives during this Lenten season, in the shadows of a global pandemic, economic hardships and partisan enmity, let us take hope from the words of scripture that even in the darkest of times, God calls us to become one family in the Kingdom of God.

 

Let us pray to our Lord, healer of divisions, to grant us the grace to see through the hatred, fear and anger in the world and allow us to see that we are all members of one holy and united Kingdom of Heaven. 


 Doug Scothorn 

March 3, 2021
Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent 

 

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.   Mark 4:8


Our Lord’s parable speaks to the varying conditions of our hearts and how that affects our ability to receive and utilize his word.  Having grown up on my grandfather’s farm, spring has always been special to me.  I recall that my grandfather’s fields were never uniform in soil quality or production capability all on their own.  All required work, and attention to produce their best. The process of ridding the tilled soil of stones, weeds and thorns was a constant, ongoing process.   I suspect that our hearts are similar in nature to those fields.  In some seasons, our hearts may be stony and choked with thorns.  At other times, warm and receptive of his word and teachings.  We must always be self-aware of the condition of our own hearts.  We must remain vigilant and willing to do the (sometimes difficult) work of keeping our heart free of stones, weeds and thorns.  The best harvest in our fields and hearts require our self-awareness, discernment, and sometimes hard work.   For myself, I know that this is a constant, ongoing process.


Heavenly father, as we walk through this Lenten season grace us with the wisdom, discernment and self-awareness to understand the shortcomings of our own hearts.  Grant us the strength and courage to haul out the stones.  Grace us with the perseverance to uproot the creep of weeds and thorns.  Guide us in cultivating a space of purity for your word and spirit to reside within us.  In your holy name, I ask these things.   Amen.


Robin G. Earley

March 4, 2021
Thursday in the Second Week of Lent

 

And their father Jacob said to them, ‘I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!’”   Genesis 42:29-38


Let me tell you what I see. I see a family with few options in the middle of a famine. They may have prepared for a drought but this one has surpassed their capacity for preparation. And so they must cast themselves upon the mercy and whims of a foreign nation if they are to live. I see a father who favored one son and never stopped favoring him after he was gone. The father may have descendants and wives and wealth but it all hardly matters without that son. I see brothers living in the long shadow of the violence born out of their jealousy. I imagine that day has marked each of them in different ways. I see the one brother who tried and failed to curb the violence desperate to get it right this time. I wonder how his sons feel about being offered up as collateral.  I wonder how the sons’ mothers and wives feel about it. I see the people of God, my spiritual siblings, in their powerlessness, frailty, woundedness, and complexity. 


Reflection: I’d encourage you to consider your communion with the saints –in our shared powerlessness, frailty, woundedness, and complexity. 


Erin Collins

March 5, 2021
Friday in the Second Week of Lent

 

But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and the disciples woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”    Mark 4:38-41


This familiar story lends itself to vivid imagination and has inspired artists to render a boat tossing in a roiling sea with Jesus standing calmly, arms outstretched. Clearly it is about faith – or the lack of it.  Like other miraculous events, I wonder, did it happen, and does it matter? I have no idea if Jesus calmed the Sea of Galilee that dark and stormy night.  But it is a helpful story for us to consider. The whiney question the disciples awakened Jesus with, “Don’t you care if we drown?” sounds pretty believable, 21st –Century, to me. I doubt if any of them expected Jesus’ response: “still no faith?”


One of the satisfactions of growing older, at least for me, is that I don’t worry too much about faith. If Jesus were to preach at 60 Church Street and ask about my faith, I think I would consider it almost a rhetorical question. At least at this hour.


That is all that matters. We struggle for most of our lives questioning our faith and whether it is strong enough, whether we believe what we think God wants us to believe.  Our faith understandably has its ups and downs, like the stormy sea Mark writes about. It is often stronger when we are in a crisis and need God to know we have a firm faith.  Depending on how the crisis turns out, our faith may take a dive, or it may soar. Too often, people think their faith is weak or inadequate. It doesn’t have to be that complicated.


Instead of worrying about our faith, I hope we can simply be assured that God loves us, and if we love God and try hard to love and serve our neighbors, our faith is just fine.  That is my prayer.


Reflection: If you worry about your faith, do you know why? Could it have to do with your neighbors?


Ralph Simpson

March 6, 2021
Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

 

“…the men looked at one another in amazement. Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.”   Genesis 43: 16-34


This excerpt is from the beginning of the story of Joseph, when he recognized his brothers who had sold him into slavery and spoke of him as if he was dead. In the meantime Joseph had risen to power in Egypt and was then in a position to either punish them or reconcile with them. Joseph already knew what they had done, and waited for them to become aware that they stood in the presence of the one against whom they committed their offense. 


In this season of lent we stand before God who already knows our misdeeds and hypocrisy even before we develop the courage to confess. God already knows what we have done, and waits ready to reconcile and restore blessings upon us – just as Joseph did with his brothers. 


I Corinthians tells us, before all else, keep God’s commandments; and Mark 5 tells of an out-of-control person who was relieved of his demons. God is going to forgive and restore each of us.

 
Reflection: What will you need to do in preparation for this blessing?  


Scott Hart

March 7, 2021
Third Sunday in Lent


John 2:13-22


The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.


Reflection: One of Jesus’ first acts in entering the holy city of Jerusalem is to overturn the tables of the money changers. Jesus is not angry at people for making money, he is angry that they are making money off of the worship of God. Do you worship God to get something of God or simply for the joy that comes from worshipping?

 

March 8, 2021
Monday in the Third Week of Lent

 

At once Jesus realized that the power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked “Who touched my clothes?” … He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” … He took her by the hand (Jairus’ deceased daughter), and said to her “Talitha koum! (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately, the girl stood up and began to walk around. At this, they were completely astonished. 
Mark 5: 30,34 and 41-42


Everyone’s Lenten journey is different. For many, this 40 days is an extension of nearly a year of COVID wilderness. Some seek repentance, others redemption from a wilderness of loneliness, hopelessness, or desperation. For others, spiritual enlightenment or a renewal of commitment to God and Christ is the aim.


In today’s selected passages, we are reminded that during his earthly ministry, Jesus immediately healed those who came to him in faith, believing he could heal them. 


A woman believed that simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garment would heal her. She reached out and touched him, and Jesus felt his power leave him. Power that healed her, immediately. She confessed she touched him, and he told her faith healed her.
A little girl died. Jesus told her to get up. She did not simply wake from death. Again, immediately, she stood up and walked around, completely restored.


People were astonished. 


As you progress in your Lenten journey, remember we worship a God who wants us to reach out, to believe with faith, and who can heal us in astonishing ways. 


Reflection: Have you experienced immediate and astonishing answers to your prayers? Have you shared with others what God did for you?


Chad Hardy

March 9, 2021
Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent


When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”   Mark 5: 27  


In re-reading Mark 5: 21-43, I am suddenly interested in the “interruption”. What nerve! We are all guilty of it – especially with cell phone delays, awkward Zoom meetings or now not noticing that our friend with a mask was already speaking. We can easily break someone’s train of thought, meaning to or not. Is our need to speak more urgent? Is what we are thinking more important?


Am I more important?


I imagine that I am on the other side of the lake and I witness this woman in the crowd, interrupting Jesus as Jarius pleads for his dying daughter. Suddenly there is a crisis. The crowd separates. Jesus is diverted, accosted, touched inappropriately by a woman so consumed with her own suffering that she changed the timing of Jesus’ healing of Jarius’ daughter. 


Do you see her boldness as selfishness, desperation, fear, or faith? Have you ever been this desperate?


She was a member of a society that shunned the unclean and impure.  She was excluded, alone. And not only did she interrupt but she “touched his clothes”.


She is healed. She was rewarded for her interruption. She was rewarded for her faith.


And what does Mark tell us about Jesus? He felt her presence. Then He asked, “Who touched me?”  He saw her and confirmed that “her faith had healed her.” He recognized her as one of God’s own - never mind the social norms or cultural expectations. No one is excluded from Jesus.


In this period of Lent, I am reminded to ask, to pray with gratitude and need and to look for ways to see someone who needs me.


Jennine Hough

March 10, 2021
Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent


“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.”  1 Corinthians 8:1-3


Paul wrote these words in reference to the consumption of food sacrificed to idols. In verses 8-13 he continues by writing that Christians (because they worship the one God) “are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” However, it would be wrong to eat such food if doing so caused those of less understanding to stumble in their faith. He teaches that it is better to abstain if eating could cause harm to others. 


Knowledge is, of course, a gift from God, and, as is true with all gifts, should be used to help others. We are so fortunate in this country to have access to educational opportunities throughout our lives. Yet how often do we use this gift to “puff up” our own arguments and egos -- to cut down rather than to build up? How often do we speak without the humility that should always be present in light of the limits of our own understanding? We know that knowledge can even be misused to mislead and intentionally cause others to stumble.


Paul teaches that the greatest gift, that of love, must be foremost in all we do. When we strive to serve through love, our God--given knowledge can be the force for good in creation that it is intended to be. His words encourage us to seek those ways in which we can best use our knowledge to build up and to bless.


Anne Bleynat

March 11, 2021
Thursday in the Third Week of Lent


But he answered “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five--and two fish.”   Mark 6, 37-38

The disciples were surprised when Jesus told them to feed the crowds. They did not think they could do it because it would cost too much! Jesus broke the bread and the fish and fed the crowd of 5,000 people. How could he do this? He performed a miracle. This means we should have faith in God. When we are lonely, he gives us friends.  When we are scared, he can make us feel safe.  Sometimes we are troubled and need to have faith in God to make it through. 


The disciples knew Jesus could perform miracles, but doubted him in that minute.  Sometimes we forget how powerful God is. When people forget to trust in God and think their problems are too big for even God to solve, we can remember this story.  If God can take five loaves and two fish and feed 5,000, what problem of yours can’t he solve?  God can do all things.  


Samuel Pass, Age 9

March 12, 2021
Friday  in the Third Week of Lent


“Because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed”   Mark 6:50-51


Jesus commanded His disciples to sail ahead to Bethsaida without Him; surely confused and potentially nervous, they obeyed and set out upon a tumultuous sea. We are called by Christ to do difficult things that may seem fruitless, counterproductive, or even perilous. However, these missions and journeys strengthen our relationships with Christ through growth, pursuing righteousness, and sharing the Gospel and Christ’s love with others. I often confine Jesus to a box and only expect to see glimpses of Him in the familiar places of church, Christian friends, and nature. Even though I know that God is the omnipresent Creator of everything, I still find myself surprised to find Christ in less conventional settings, especially those of confusion, pain, suffering, and shame; often those faced along the journeys we are called to embark on. Akin to the disciples, I, too, would have been shocked to see Jesus strolling across the waters to help me as I struggled in the task He had given me. 


We should not be taken aback or bewildered when we see Jesus in the vulnerable or undesirable places of peril and discomfort; especially when we are called to seek them out to bring Him glory. 


Reflection: Where have you been surprised to see Christ in your life? Why were you taken aback to see Him there?


Abigail Earley 

March 13, 2021
Saturday in the Third Week of Lent


No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.   1 Corinthians 10:13 


A rock has longevity the likes of which is rarely seen on earth, and many desire an eternal life as portrayed by a rock, which rarely shows us signs of injury, or aging, or pain. Paul has referred to Jesus in this letter to the Corinthians as a rock. Waves crash like temptations upon a rock, and the rock appears unscathed for eons. As tempting as it might be to flop out as “idolaters” living a hedonistic life, Paul reminds these Greeks, who live in a rocky land, that these waves will crash over them and carry them to the dark depths of the ocean as insignificant dead beings. 


Each individual has God-given freedom to choose to follow a temptation, or not. The rock of Christ is a firm foundation on which to make your choices. Just because you want things doesn’t mean you should have them. I, personally, have been overcome by waves here and there throughout my life with the tide pulling me toward the wilderness depths, but clinging to the rock through prayer as a foundation has always helped me endure. Careful conversations with God point me toward the way of Love and service toward all creation. Prayer improves choices through reflection of possible outcomes. Those of us rock huggers who use prayer as a foundation for making choices most often are led through storms safely. The pathway always leads to Love.


My “Dad” quote to my kids has often been, “Make sure that everything you do, or say, does not adversely affect anyone.” Raise every being up, and protect all of God’s creation. Doing unto others good things, and not bad things, is the even firmer foundation of the rock, that is Jesus Christ, the Way of Love and service that keeps one from perishing in the wilderness. 


Reflection: What are some of the big waves that have crashed over you? Did you stand firm in Love to attain the Peace which passes all understanding, or get carried out to sea? Was prayer a tool used in making your decisions? Did God provide a way for you to endure temptations when bad, hasty choices were made?


Arthur High Garst III

March 14, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Lent


John 3:14-21


Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.


“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”


Reflection: Today’s Gospel contains an often used verse in public life, verse 16, “For God so loved the world….” Take some time to consider if that is the “theme” of this passage or is it another word or phrase? Discuss it with a friend.

 

March 15, 2021
Monday in the Fourth Week in Lent


“’Everything is permissible’---but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible’---but not everything is constructive.”.....”for ‘The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.’”   I Corinthians 10:14-11:1


Paul is writing about food and the possibility that some foods may be considered off limits for whatever reason.  He is telling the Corinthians and us that what we eat is not the issue.  The issue is Who we worship.  He emphasizes that in our freedom, we need to be careful not to give someone the idea that we are double-minded and worship (or give power to) pagan forces.


This concept has applied in my life as popular notions of forces other than Christ controlling life and circumstances: superstitious rituals, seances, and other such practices. 


I know that our LORD created the heavens and the stars and placed them in our lives.  In fact, the “wise men from the east” were following a star to find the baby Jesus.  Our LORD can use His marvelous creation in many ways to enhance this world and our lives...but He is the LORD!

 

Nevertheless, “Do not cause anyone to stumble,” “do all for the glory of God.”


Sara Lavelle 

March 16, 2021
Tuesday  in the Fourth Week in Lent


“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.”  Mark 8:2

 
It is not often in the Gospels that we know how Jesus feels.  The authors often write of how he feels, but here Jesus tells us in the first person.


Jesus is preparing to feed another multitude.  In this instance it is the four thousand.  Two chapters earlier Jesus performed a miracle and fed five thousand.  Additionally, his ministry has now taken him beyond the pale.  Jesus is among Gentiles.  Yet he feels compassion for ‘the other.’


Every day is a test of my will, a test of my patience, a test of my attention.  Each and every day is a test of my will.  Every day is a new opportunity to find compassion for all I meet, even for ‘the other.’


Reflection: In a world of suffering, can I each day feel compassion, rather than turn away?


Chris Kamm

March 17, 2021
Wednesday in the Fourth Week in Lent

 

And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye heart yet hardened?   Mark 8:12,17


When I read the passage, it brought back a point in my life where I was going through a rough time. I was at a really low point in my life, that my faith was shaken. I continued to pray and ask for confirmation that everything was going to be okay. I also began to question why I was praying and if it really was going to make a difference in my situation. My faith was still there and I continued to pray and believe. The bad situation that I was in got better and better. I truly believe that my faith brought be through several storms that I went through in my life. In the passage, Jesus asked why do people question him and ask for signs or confirmation. There should not be any confirmation or signs to know that he will provide all our needs. Jesus wants everyone to trust and believe in him, knowing everything will be alright.


Reflection: How strong is your faith?


Michael Wherry

March 18, 2021
Thursday in the Fourth Week in Lent

For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?   Mark 8:36


These words from Jesus bring to mind an old song….


“A Satisfied Mind”

 
”How many times have you heard someone say
“If I had his money, I could do things my way?”
Little they know that it’s so hard to find
One rich man in a hundred with a satisfied mind…  
Money can’t buy back your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonely, or a love that’s grown cold
The wealthiest person is a pauper at times his
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind”

 

Circa 1955 written by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes


Isn’t this what Jesus is saying when he calls the crowd over to join the disciples?  A reminder that without our souls, we have nothing.  He is imploring us to focus squarely on the true life, the life we can find in God, a life beyond our possessions, our wealth, and our social stature.    Jesus continues on and asks if we intend to be “fair weather” friends claiming Him only when it suits us? Is that really the path we intend for ourselves or will we walk the walk to Jerusalem, amidst  humiliation and suffering,  to heal, comfort, feed, and bring about equality for all of God’s children?  


And to think, I almost missed it!  The important lines, the ones where Jesus reveals the destiny of the Son of Man, and asks this question about our souls, our essence. You see, I used to be found hanging out several verses back frantically searching for the answer to THE question of “Who do you say I am?” I never felt like I could receive an A or an Amen with my answer. I moved on from this singular question and began to realize that Jesus did not show up to hand out grades and gold stars. There are no checklists. Jesus will meet me just where I am. His mercy and understanding surpasses anything I can comprehend. 


The season of Lent calls us home to lose ourselves so we can find ourselves. In this time of contemplation we are asked to  remind ourselves not to be so caught up in our human distractions  that we miss it, this love, this purpose.   As we move toward Holy Week, all are invited to lay the distractions down, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus to that place where He loses his life so that we may find ours. God has been waiting for us there all along. 


Peace Be With You
Rhonda Kilby

March 19, 2021
Friday in the Fourth Week in Lent


If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  1 Cor. 13:1 


Bill Watterson is a cartoonist who wrote the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin was a mischievous six-year-old boy, and he enjoyed watching cartoons on television. Typically, Calvin’s 1980s television was depicted bouncing wildly on its stand with exclamation points, stars, and spirals pouring out of it. A noisy gong, indeed. 


Much of the past year resembled Calvin’s television. As the nation’s conversation grew continually louder, and the language increasingly anger filled, I rationed my consumption of news. I found myself seeking a quiet place where I could rest a while. 

 

Many of us pride ourselves on our desire to push forward. Despite adversities, we forge ahead. There comes a point, however, when pausing and allowing yourself to rest and reflect becomes essential. When we quiet ourselves, it is not uncommon to hear the still, small voice of God. And God speaks with love. Always. 


Perhaps that is our greatest challenge in this Lenten season. How do we change our personal discourse, and the discourse of our nation? How can we quiet the noise and clang of modern life? We do so by embracing love. When we speak with love for each other, we speak in God’s language. 


Reflection: Our world is currently filled with noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. How might we bring calm to the conversation by learning to communicate with love? 


J. Patrick Thomas O’Toole

March 20, 2021
Saturday  in the Fourth Week in Lent


 “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?  And he said, Certainly I will be with thee…”   Exodus 2:23-3:15


Perhaps you felt more confident than I did when you had your first child, but the day they let me take my baby home from the hospital, my primary emotion was pure, plain, unadulterated terror.  What had made me think I was capable of caring for this fragile, tiny creature?  To compensate for my perceived inadequacies, I bought every parenting book I could find and subscribed to no less than 4 parenting magazines.


Then and now, life has presented me with challenges and situations that felt beyond my capabilities. How could I manage to care for my aging parents?  What should my reaction be to a co-worker who expressed offensive views about members of the LGBT community?  How can I be a healing presence in a world that seems mired in racism, inequality, and injustice?  All these situations and more have left me as overwhelmed as I was the day I brought my baby home.  I have frequently asked God why He has put me in these situations that seem beyond my capacity to handle or do or be.  But I have learned that no matter what journey I may find myself on, no matter how inadequate or incapable I feel, that God walks with me every step of the way, supplying me with the strength, grace, resources, wisdom and courage for whatever path I find myself on. 


Who am I to do this hard thing?  I am the one God calls, and certainly He will be with me.  


Reflection: Was there a time you found yourself in a situation you didn’t think you could handle?  Looking back, do you see how God supplied what you needed?


Cassia Imholz

March 21, 2021
Fifth Sunday in Lent


John 12:20-33


Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.


“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.


Reflection: What elements in your life need to die in order that you might be free to bear even more fruit, for yourself and for others?

 

March 22, 2021
Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent


“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes

not me but the one who sent me.”-Mark 9:37

Both the old testament and gospel readings for today speak of the “one who sent me.”  Moses and Aaron were sent by God to Pharaoh and spoke what God told them to say.  Jesus speaks of welcoming a child as welcoming him and the one who sent him.  God spoke through these people. He sent them on a mission and gave them the words they needed to stay to complete that mission.  The Rite II post communion prayer suggests that we are all being sent by God: Send us now to do the work you have given us to do.  The idea of God sending me to do his work was compelling to me.  Where am I being sent? What is God telling me to say? Will I be welcomed? Do God’s words really come out of my mouth? God sends all of us, every day.  We may not have as grand or daunting a task as Moses and Aaron, but we each have a task and the work of God we are sent to do every day.  We are sent out to do God’s work, to spread the love of Christ, and we must trust that God will give us the words to say.


Reflection: Where is God sending you today?


Anna Whisnant
 

March 23, 2021
Tuesday  in the Fifth Week of Lent


Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”  Exodus 5:22-6:1 (NRSV)


This exchange comes at the end of Exodus 5, which recounts the increasingly cruel treatment of the Israelites in response to Moses’ pleas for their release. Their workload doubled, beaten by their oppressors, the Israelites question Moses, resenting that his advocacy has prompted greater suffering. I sympathize with their resentment – despite generations of servitude, I sense them wishing for things to go back to the way they were, thinking to themselves, “at least it was better than this.”  Moses echoes these doubts when he confronts God, almost accusingly: Why send me? Why provoke the Pharaoh to further abuse the Israelites? Why allow things to get worse, when all might have been left well enough alone? Yet God reassures him that there are greater things to come, that while the night has grown darker, the dawn will shine all the brighter.


I find myself drawing on this message as we endure this pandemic. I hear many express the desire for things to “return to normal,” for the comfort of the familiar to replace the pronounced trauma we are experiencing. But I remind myself that the world we lived in before COVID-19 was not perfect, or just, and that the ills laid bare by the disease were already there, festering below the surface. I pray that in rebuilding from this disaster we do not reconstruct the old “normal,” but instead build anew a better, more Christlike society, creating a brighter dawn to replace what we knew before.


Reflection: What can I do to contribute to this vision of a better and more Christlike society? How can I inspire others to do likewise?


R. Isaac Boulter

March 24, 2021
Wednesday  in the Fifth Week of Lent


“Let the little children come to me.”  Mark 10:14


This verse from Mark brought back my first memory of Sunday School at Holy Trinity Church in Greensboro. I remember this particular Sunday being a warm summer day and I am sure that my two sisters and I were dressed alike and pushed out the door to church that morning. In the children’s hour, we colored a picture of Jesus with his arms extended and many children at his knee awaiting his embrace. I would like to believe that the picture included a diverse group of children, but sadly I don’t remember that. I do remember how the verse made me feel the warmth of God’s love. As I took my artwork back to my seat with my family where I heard my father’s rich baritone and my mother’s slightly off-key timbre, I knew how safe my family, my church and God’s love made me feel. 


I missed my own grandson’s christening this year because of the pandemic, but I trust his joining will begin as mine did feeling welcomed and loved as a child of God. 


Reflection: Has your understanding of God changed since you were an innocent child?


Dillon Manly

March 25, 2021
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent


The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”    Mark 10:26-27


In this chapter of Mark, Jesus continues to teach his followers about the saving Grace of God. I once had God’s Grace explained to me this way during a sermon. The priest explained, “Imagine Heaven is in Hawaii and you are standing at the coast of California next to Mother Teresa. At the sound of a horn, both of you start to swim West. No matter how much you try, eventually you tire and begin to tread water. Mother Teresa is a surprisingly good swimmer, far outpacing you, but eventually she tires as well and treads water . When things look dire, a Coast Guard cutter rescues you both and delivers you to the shores of Hawaii. That is God’s saving Grace”. 


Reflection: During this Lenten season, what deep water does God need to save you from? 


Todd Cross

March 26, 2021
Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent


And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory. Mark 10:37


Jesus tells his disciples as they are walking to Jerusalem what he will face when they get there: Jesus will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes and will be condemned to death.  Then he will be handed over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit on him, flog him, and then kill him.  


Having heard this terrible thing that will happen to their friend Jesus, James and John seemingly IGNORE the horror that will happen and think only of themselves and how they can be honored after their deaths with Jesus.  James and John actually tell him they want to be great by sitting one at Jesus’ right hand and one at Jesus’ left hand in heaven.


However, Jesus uses this as a teaching opportunity for James and John and tells them anyone who wishes to be great must the the slave to all.  He teaches them that anyone who wishes to be first must do as Jesus did, for Jesus came into the world not be BE served but TO serve.


It is tough to be a Christian when Jesus tells us that rather than receiving honor as a believer that we must serve others who need our care.  And here we thought being served would be a good idea.  Darn it!  I think of how I can serve others if that’s what part of being a Christian means.  I might put sand on my neighbor’s walk instead of waiting for them to sand my walk.  I might call the 92 year old man who lives nearby to see what groceries I might pick up for him when I shop. I might call or write notes  when someone is ill or call on someone who is bereaved and lonely. I might drop by with a batch of cookie when I sense someone needs company.  I don’t have to bake them for heaven’s sake!  Fresh Market has excellent ones.


Reflection: I like to write in my diary at the end of the day what I am thankful for, but I might also include asking God to put into my mind that person who needs something or wishes for something that I can provide.


Lynne Diehl 

March 27, 2021
Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent


Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52

Quiet 
        after Mark 10:46-52


Bartimaeus, blind beggar of Jericho,
calls, Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.
Grant me sight, let me see again.
Bartimaeus, blind beggar of Jericho,
I’m your brother, blind beggar Lee,
of Asheville, North Carolina,
calling out to Jesus with you,
across the pages, across the years,
through my blindness and tears,
crying out 
with you 
in faith,
helping you push aside, 
and scoot around scoffers,
who think you’re not worthy
to be touched and healed,
by the grace of God 
through the grace of his Son.
Quiet, they tell you.
Don’t be quiet!
I’m jumping up with you,
they’re not going to stop us.


Lee Stockdale