March 24 - Laurel Cook

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AM Psalm 137:1-6(7-9), 144; PM Psalm 42, 43

Exodus 10:21-11:8; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18; Mark 10:46-52

 

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling;

That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness;
and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

- Psalm 43:3-6

 

There is a curse attributed (apocryphally) to the ancient Chinese which simply states, “May you live in interesting times.” Perhaps our heightened awareness made possible by social media and newscasting in an ever-shrinking world makes me feel that this curse is upon us now. Too many days, political rancor and crude behavior, as well as the natural violence of our dear planet itself, leave me feeling small and fragile, helpless to mitigate so much suffering of my fellow beings.

 My brothers and sisters, it is a time when the study of scripture and the practice of prayer are essential to our spiritual health and, indeed, the health of our civilization. It is not only the solace and comfort of prayer, but the power of conversation with God, which draw me to our pews and fill my heart. I offer to you this portion of Psalm 43 for meditation today. We must remember that we are all children of God, held in the palm of his hand, protected by his love, even—or rather, especially—in these confusing and “interesting” times.

 

- Laurel Cook

March 25 - the Rev Marsha Vollkommer

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The Liturgy of the Palms

Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

The Liturgy of the Word

Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, [40-47]

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus … who emptied himself … and humbled himself … and became obedient.

- Philippians 2:5-11

 I struggle with my less than admirable instincts on Palm Sunday. No matter what I know of Jesus—Son of God, God Incarnate—there is always a part of me that is briefly pleased to know he experienced a very human moment of glory in his entry into Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter that I know this is just the beginning of the journey to the cross. My very human needs take pleasure in the knowledge that Jesus was greeted, and welcomed, and adored—because my very human self would like to think that in some small way in my life I am welcomed and adored, too. The cheers and adulation feed my need to be appreciated, acknowledged, successful, and fulfilled.

 What a blessing it is, then, to listen to the words in the Letter to the Philippians and to hear the reminder that no matter how human, Jesus did not live to be adored or appreciated but walked among us to share God’s love. The way Jesus walked was the way of humility and obedience—humble in the gift of God’s unconditional love, and obedient to the will of the One who created all of us. Jesus emptied himself that God might fill him. Jesus put himself last, that he might live a life of putting God first, always.

 “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” sounds like an impossible command, something mere mortals can never be expected to achieve. Paul didn’t expect the people of Philippi to figure it out for themselves. He pointed them directly to Jesus, who emptied himself of himself and all his human weakness; who humbled himself in the realization that his life was a gift from God and meant to be lived in service to God; and who became obedient to the one intention for all of our lives: to love all creation, all the parts and people we love and all the parts and people we don’t, as God the Creator loves.

 Dear God, May I empty myself to learn the mind of Jesus, that I might humbly and obediently walk in his way and live in your will.
Amen.

 

- Marsha Vollkommer

February 14 - Doug Bosscher

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Joel 2:1-2,12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 103 or 103:8-14, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

 

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our sins from us.

As a father cares for his children,
so does the Lord care for those who fear him.

For he himself knows whereof we are made;
he remembers that we are but dust.

- Psalm 103:8-14

Psalm 103 begins and ends with a call to bless the LORD, first by the author himself, and it concludes with a summons to the heavenly hosts to join in praise. The middle section describes God’s redemptive works for those who fear him.

Meditate on a few:

  • God forgives all our iniquities, not as we deserve.
  • God heals all our diseases.
  • God redeems our lives.
  • God crowns us with compassionate love and mercy.
  • God satisfies us with good things.
  • God knows our frailty and mortality.

Scripture uses the phrase “fear the LORD” to describe believers who benefit from God’s redemptive works (vs. 11, 13 and 17) this phrase is used 300 times in the Bible. Read Exodus 20:20 to distinguish “being afraid” from “fearing the LORD.”

Do you fear failure? Do you fear what others think? Do you fear losing your job or your health? What we fear holds sway over us and controls us. Fear grabs our attention and most often is debilitating. I both love and fear my table saw. When I engage with it, it has my full attention. The power for good and ill is foremost in my head.

Followers of Jesus are called to give undivided attention to our LORD and Savior: God’s name, God’s will, and God’s kingdom. Having this fear of the LORD acknowledges Who is in charge. The lesser fears of our lives must take a back seat to the one fear that matters: fearing the LORD.

May Ash Wednesday and all of Lent enable you to fully acknowledge Jesus as LORD. Begin by recounting how the LORD has forgiven you through Jesus’ life, temptations, suffering and death.

- Doug Bosscher

February 15 - Diane Parker

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AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42, Habakkuk 3:1-10(11-15)16-18; Philippians 3:12-21; John 17:1-8

Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him,
and he will bring it to pass.

 Psalm 37:3-5

Today’s lessons include the themes of living as a friend of Christ, growing into Christian maturity, and being good examples to one another. We accomplish all this not so much by our own efforts, but with the generous support and guidance God is pleased to give us. Our role in this lifelong process is to trust God and wait. “Trust in the Lord and do good” (Psalm 37:3). “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

“Wait for the Lord and keep to his way” (Psalm 37:34).

When I first started praying years ago, I unconsciously expected a quick answer. I didn’t expect “yes” every time I asked for something; the answer might be “no.” But I assumed God would respond right away, as if he were scratching the request off his list of things to do. It took a long time to learn that the answer might be something like “maybe” or “wait and see.”

Have you ever had the experience of reflecting on some situation in your life where the Holy Spirit was nudging you to help out, and you didn’t notice until it was too late? And when you noticed that you had dropped the ball, did you ask for a “do-over”? The answer to that prayer is “no.” However, there will be other opportunities to listen and help God work lovingly in the world. You just have to watch, wait, and respond when called to help. God is the master choreographer; we are dancers who can move to his direction.

- Diane Parker

February 16 - Tommy Tubbs

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AM Psalm 95[for the invitatory] & 31; PM Psalm 35

Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32; Philippians 4:1-9; John 17:9-19

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 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.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about* these things. 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.

- Philippians 4:4-9

To say the world has always been turbulent could be considered an understatement. To say we live in turbulent times could be considered an even greater understatement. Regardless of any political affiliation, we all can agree there is much division and hatred. We should not look as practicing Christian love and compassion as a politically charged move, but rather as a move that benefits all regardless of race, sexuality, class or political affiliation.

It can be difficult to make sense of all the hatred and fear we are in the midst of now, but perhaps it can be easier to reflect upon the love of God and our mission as Christians. As Paul writes, the peace of God surpasses all understanding, and as Christians we should do our best to share that peace.

One can easily get caught up in all the fear in the world, and while this certainly is a difficult time for many, we shouldn’t let this fear in the way of experiencing and sharing the love of God.

- Tommy Tubbs

February 17 - Kathy Mintz

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AM Psalm 30, 32; PM Psalm 42, 43, Ezekiel 39:21-29; Philippians 4:10-20; John 17:20-26

 

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

- Philippians 4:12-13

At the time of this writing, I was experiencing the wonder of Advent while pondering the ironic way the Creator of the universe chose to enter into the human realm dressed in humility and traveling on foot as one who was homeless! This is the path He chose to reveal ‘The Way’ to us. The anointed Word causes me to thirst for His truth like the panting of the deer that seeks refreshment.

When I trust in Him I have a hiding place from trouble. I am counseled with His guiding eye and am surrounded by His lovingkindness.

The sin that once weighed me down and drained my strength was released when I confessed it to Him, received His forgiveness, and was relieved from the guilt that the sin imposed. I sing praises of thankfulness to Him!

Paul’s words set an example for me: be content with whatever the Lord provides, whether in plenty or in want. I am convinced “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

It is the ironic Way of our Savior that astounds yet captures my soul, as I contemplate His prayer “…. that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26b).

As I wrestle with the issues that beset me daily, may I always stop, turn off the noise of this world, and meditate on His Word, where deeper communion with Him always guides me into the comfort of that all-encompassing love.

- Kathy Mintz 

February 19 - Paula Franck

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AM Psalm 41, 52; PM Psalm 44

Genesis 37:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-19; Mark 1:1-13

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Mark+1:1-13

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” ’, John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

- Mark 1:1-4

On this first Monday in Lent, we read the opening verses of the Gospel of Mark as John the Baptist calls us to “Prepare the way of the Lord . . .” (1:3). Mark goes on to tell us that John’s message was one of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. We read these same words on the Second Sunday of Advent, another season of preparation. In the coming weeks, how are we to prepare the way for the mystery of the miracle of Easter?

Lent is like spring cleaning. It is dusting the cobwebs out of the corners and clearing out the closets, the attic, the basement, and the garage. It is a time to sort through our “stuff” and get rid of what we no longer need. It is the same with our spiritual life. The journey of Lent is an opportunity to do some spiritual spring cleaning – to declutter our souls – so we have room to receive the gift of the Resurrection in our lives.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy calls us to forgiveness, reconciliation, and repentance. “To repent is to come to your senses. It is not so much something you do as something that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, “I’m sorry,” than to the future and saying, “Wow!”*

Thus we can pray with Henri Nouwen: “O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.”

- Paula Franck

* from Frederick  Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

February 20 - Jim Schmotzer

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AM Psalm 45; PM Psalm 47, 48

Genesis 37:12-24; 1 Corinthians 1:20-31; Mark 1:14-28

 

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

- 1 Corinthians 1:20-21

Information is available, it’s easy, and it can be overloading and stressful. the technology revolution has brought us to the information age, played out on smartphones. In a nanosecond we can Google the answer to most questions or curiosities. We no longer wait for the evening news or morning paper.

No matter how much information we have, we still need something more. That more is wisdom. Wisdom goes deeper. We can “learn” information, but we must “earn” wisdom. Wisdom grows through struggles, listening, time, perseverance, and—well, life. Information can make us feel smart, but wisdom is more.

Living within a church community provides numerous opportunities to grow in wisdom. Some of those are:

Realizing that we are not God. Proper perspective and humility are a great place to start.

Space and opportunities for listening and learning where even questions and doubt are valued and encouraged.

Serving others. When we serve, we clarify and live out our values.

Being with others. Relating, listening, and laughing all encourage growth.

Traditions and rhythms. Helping find the balance of life that goes beyond urgencies and reaches to depths of soul and substance.

A breadth of ages. Mixing across generations provides opportunities to understand life from broader perspectives.

When crises arise, we want and need wisdom. May this Lenten season be one in which each of us and all of us are learning and growing in wisdom.

- Jim Schmotzer

February 21 - Shirley J. Susich

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AM Psalm 119:49-72; PM Psalm 49, [53]

Genesis 37:25-36; 1 Corinthians 2:1-13; Mark 1:29-45

 

When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

– Genesis 37:28

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. [Jesus] came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

– Mark 1:30-31

Our Old Testament and Gospel lessons for today reflect on the lives of Joseph from the Book of Genesis and Jesus the Christ. Joseph was sold into slavery by his fearful, jealous brothers, then rose to become the second most powerful person in Egypt. Today’s lesson from Mark tell us of healings by Jesus, the Son of God, who came to love and care for those in need and to show the world the way of God. Both Joseph and Jesus lived faithful, spiritual lives, committed to do the work God had given them to do in service to their people.

Lent is a time to pause, analyze our priorities, stretch our boundaries; a time to strengthen our faith. Sometimes I find myself wondering what it is I am meant to do. I know I can’t do everything, even though sometimes I want to.

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In the tradition of Joseph and Jesus, let’s hold out our hands and walk with them this Lenten season, not in fasting from a food or a bad habit, but rather in giving of ourselves to help others have a better life. By using kind words, by opening a door for someone, by helping someone carry a heavy load, by volunteering for one of St. Paul’s wonderful ministries like the St. Anne’s Guild or the Chancel Guild, or a local community organization … let us do the work God has given us to do.

- Reflection and photo by Shirley J. Susich

February 22 - Caitlin Thomson Jans

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AM Psalm 50; PM Psalm [59, 60] or 19, 46

Genesis 39:1-23; 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15; Mark 2:1-12

 

The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken;
he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,
God reveals himself in glory

Psalm 50:1-2

In Praise

The moss on our fence, the tulips

that have migrated from our neighbor’s

yard, the tentative green of buds,

all declare for you against the gray

of sky, the sun up there somewhere,

in those clouds of yours. All that is

rooted on our street sings your praise,

yet my ears were not made to hear it,

the earbuds in them telling me the state

of the world instead, so I take them

out, notice the squirrels foraging

in the pines, the yellow of forsythia,

the last blush of cherry blossoms

covering the sidewalk, as if a wedding

happened here, the joyous

aftermath of love celebrated.

 

 - Caitlin Thomson Jans

February 23 - Neal Tognazzini

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AM Psalm 95 [for the Invitatory] 40, 54; PM Psalm 51

Genesis 40:1-23; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Mark 2:13-22

 

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

– 1 Corinthians 3:18-19a

 

In the epistle appointed for today, Paul presents us with a paradox: “If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

This hits especially close to home for me as a professor of philosophy, since the word philosophy derives from the Greek word philosophia, meaning “love of wisdom.” I’ve spent my adult life up to now pursuing wisdom, so it sounds like Paul is calling me out here. Enough with the wisdom-loving, Neal: become a fool instead! But who wants to be a fool?

The resolution to this paradox comes from realizing that Paul is distinguishing between two types of wisdom. On one hand, we have “the wisdom of this world.” On the other hand, we have real or genuine wisdom. Let the world think you a fool, Paul says, because the world, as usual, has its priorities mixed up. Those who are full of the wisdom of the world view their knowledge – “their craftiness,” as Paul puts it – as a tool for control, power, and domination.

Even otherwise mild-mannered philosophers like myself can fall into the trap of objectifying the universe: thinking of it as something that’s just waiting to be grasped and completely comprehended by the power of my mind. If only I try hard enough, I can wrap my mind around the entire world!

But in this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is reminding me that this frame of mind is not true wisdom; it’s foolish arrogance. God’s creation doesn’t bend to my will; instead, I must bend, in humility, before my Creator.

- Neal Tognazzini

February 24 - Joanne Clark

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AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23)

Gen. 41:1-13; 1 Cor. 4:1-7; Mark 2:23-3:6

 

Give ear to my prayer, O God; do not hide yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and answer me; I am troubled by my complaint.

- Psalm 55:1-2

 

Here we are, ten days into Lent. How’s it going for you? Are you still fine with those good intentions? Or are you tempted to lighten up a little? Even though this is being written almost three months ahead of time and I have no idea what Lenten discipline I’ll take on, I can tell you that by today I’m beginning to have second thoughts. It doesn’t take long for my bright and shiny promises to lose their appeal.

I notice that my prayers have shifted a bit, as if my good intentions should earn me an occasional free pass. I know better, of course, but still I demand, “Are You paying attention here? Do You see how hard I’m trying?”

Then I realize what I’m really saying, and I come to the last phrase of the verses above: “I am troubled by my complaint.” I am very troubled when I realize what my questions imply.

For one thing, I took on this discipline on my own; the responsibility for keeping it is on me, not God.

More importantly, even if I’m a complete flop this Lent, God’s love for me is not based on my accomplishments (or lack of them).

So maybe I should approach this whole discipline thing as simply a chance to not complain. Maybe this Lent is an opportunity to grow up and closer to the God who loves me.

- Joanne Clark

February 25 - the Rev Chuck Whitmore

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Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38

 

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of you Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

- The Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent

 

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent, Jesus has this to say: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). For me these words are quite a challenge. At times it seems that if I deny myself, I will lose myself. And who will notice or care? But when I don’t deny myself, I find myself drifting away from Jesus and doing the things I don’t want to do. I am more alone and lost than ever.

That is why the Collect above is so important to me. It is a reminder and a sign of my hope. Jesus is loving and forgiving, calling us back from our selfishness. Jesus was sent to bring us the truth of God’s love and care for us, and we constantly need to be reminded of this truth. All of us stray, but Jesus never gives up on us. Jesus calls us and welcomes us back. Aren’t we blessed!

- Chuck Whitmore

February 26 - Ron Weitnauer

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AM Psalm 56, 57, [58]; PM Psalm 64, 65

Genesis 41:46-57; 1 Corinthians 4:8-20(21); Mark 3:7-19a

 

During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities ... Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure. The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said ... When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.” ... Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe. 

Genesis 41

 

How to explain Lent to a child

On his thirtieth birthday, Jesus gave himself a present.

He didn’t throw a party where everyone could eat, drink, and celebrate. (They’d just end up making a big fuss over him—He was sort of a rock star—He didn’t want that.)

No. Jesus went out into the huge desert.

Didn’t tell anybody.

He just left.

It started out great. He had time to think, pray, meditate. He deliberately didn’t eat any food. He drank from the pools, watched the animals and the stars and saw how awesome this world is. He was happy.

But it got tougher. He got hungry, thirsty, and lonely. He got stung by a scorpion. He slept on hard rocks. He shivered at night and roasted during the day.

He got weak and skinny. He staggered when he walked. He looked horrible.

(The angels were worried.)

And then came Satan.

Satan was mean and tricky and he saw a chance to finally get this Jesus guy to follow him, like everybody else did.

Satan tried to trick Jesus three different ways. It didn’t work. Jesus won. He not only won, he ROARED like a lion—he OWNED Satan, who had to slink off in shame.

And then Satan knew that Jesus was very powerful.

How did Jesus do that when he was sooo weak?

Jesus had built up strength. Inside him he had stored away strength and power from God. Like Joseph did with the grain. Like we have to do—store up the good power from God for when we need it.

Lent is the time to remember this. To remember what Jesus did and try to be like him.

 

- Ron Weitnauer

February 27 - Christy Hosler

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AM Psalm 61, 62; PM Psalm 68:1-20(21-23)24-36

Gen. 42:1-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-8; Mark 3:19b-35

 

Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

- 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8

Sometimes my soul feels cluttered like a grungy kitchen cabinet. Old assumptions and prejudices, like jars of stale herbs, get in the way even though they’re desiccated and forgotten. Worries and anxieties pile up uselessly, like almost-empty bags of dried beans and wild rice. Something sticky must have spilled weeks ago, gumming up my good intentions. And there’s a weird musty smell from somewhere in the back—an old grudge, mushy as a rotten potato.

In Lent, God invites us to do the cleaning that we’ve been putting off. It’s an invitation we hesitate to accept; usually we’d rather keep procrastinating, even as our storage capacity shrinks. It’s hard for me to open that door and face the ugly stuff. It takes time and energy to look at what I’ve been lugging around and to be honest about what I need to discard.

Sometimes Lent is about prayer or meditation; moving forward might mean apologizing to someone or having a difficult conversation. Whatever God calls us to do, it’s because that’s what we need in order to start again. The Spirit works with us to clear space for what is fresh and true and life-giving, to prepare for the feast of Easter.

- Christy Hosler

February 28 - Lucy Eggerth

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AM Psalm 72; PM Psalm 119:73-96

Genesis 42:18-28; 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8; Mark 4:1-20

 

May there be abundance of grain on the earth, growing thick even on the hilltops; may its fruit flourish like Lebanon, and its grain like grass upon the earth. – Psalm 72:16

Joseph then gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. This was done for them. – Genesis 42:25

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen.” – Mark 4:8-9

 

In today’s readings I noticed several passages about grain. Psalm 72 has a lush description of grain growing on the earth: the grain grows thickly all the way to the hilltops, its fruit flourishes, and it covers the land like grass.

Genesis tells about Joseph’s generosity to the brothers who betrayed him. When they come to Egypt to buy grain, he sends them away with their sacks filled, returns the payment they had made, and gives them food for the journey. And in the end he forgives them fully for what they did.

In Mark’s gospel Jesus tells about grain that fails to grow and other grain that yields a bountiful crop. Jesus says that when grain falls onto good soil and produces well, it is like what happens when people hear the word of God, accept it, and act upon it. These readings made me think about God’s abundance and how we are called to live.

- Lucy Eggerth

March 1 - Dawna Seely

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AM Psalm [70], 71; PM Psalm 74

Genesis 42:29-38; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Mark 4:21-34

 

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be ashamed.

In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.

– Psalm 71:1-2

Many psalms alternate between feelings of elation and times of “woe is me.” We can all relate to this.

Psalm 71 describes someone experiencing trouble and their response to adversity. It is easy to forget God until we are in trouble. Then we cry “deliver me and set me free” (v. 2), or “do not cast me off” (v. 9). William Thomas Cummings said, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Many find that a regular practice of prayer and meditation helps counteract this tendency to come to God only in times of need.

The Psalmist also speaks of “the wicked, the evildoer” (v. 4) and those who “seize him; because there is none who will save” (v. 11). Have you ever felt kicked while you were down? Remember: the difference between the wicked and the righteous is time. We have all filled both roles. During Lent we can think of times we’ve been both righteous and wicked.

In the dark days of winter and the time of reflection in Lent, let us consider, in our own lives, times of darkness, persecution, depression, lack of direction … times when we could not see our way out of trouble. We can cry out to God in the darkness as a wolf howls on a cold winter night. Then we can wait for the salvation from God to appear. (Hint: it sometimes comes out of unexpected places.)

In the meantime, as described in Psalm 71, let us “recount your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long” (v. 15).

- Dawna Seely