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Scripture

Matthew 26: 57-60  images (10)

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered.  58 But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.

59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death,  60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.

 

Reflection

I had a great Aunt named Lillie Mae.   She grew up in Philadelphia and her father was an alcoholic.  Finally, her mother threw her father out of the house, so bad was his drinking.  When Lillie Mae became a teenager, she got a job at a retail store in downtown Philadelphia.  She had to work at night but she was afraid of making that trip each evening.  So she would run from her house until she reached the relative safety of the bus stop.   She would learn later in life that each night she worked, her father was waiting for her in the shadows.  And as she ran to the bus stop, he would run along with her from a distance behind.

Peter deserted his Lord, but not entirely.  He followed at a distance, walking in the shadows.  He could have abandoned Jesus altogether.  And as we know, he will proceed to deny Jesus three times.  And yet, there was a measure of faithfulness in him that night as he stood by, watching.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Sometimes we can only muster up a small amount of faithfulness.

We may have failed you in many ways, but we still have that longing deep within to stick with you.

Take that mustard seed within each of us and nurture it, we pray, until our faith blossoms and we find that we can stand with you in broad daylight.

Amen

Apologies for missing my Saturday post!  Sometimes life is just like that.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 41-46images

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

Reflection

There are consequences for our actions.  The scriptures lift these up, and perhaps none as starkly as this passage from Matthew 25 where the people are separated like the sheep and the goats.    We are all sinners of course and Christ died for us, not when we had straightened up, but while we were yet steeped in sin.   So there is boundless grace in the cross and God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

And still, Matthew 25 paints a sharp “or else” portrait that reminds us of God’s call on our lives.   In some places, the gospels define faithfulness as confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Here, faithfulness is defined as serving one another, especially those in need.   So for those of us who need a nudge at times to care for the “least of these” (and that can include pastors at times), well, here we go.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We’re grateful for the clarity and force of your call for us to respond to the human need around us.  In the face of another’s hunger, sickness, imprisonment, loneliness, or nakedness,  spur us to action in your name.   And for the times we fail to act, forgive us, and call us again.

Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 1 -13download (1)

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.   5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.

8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Reflection

Lamps — check.

Oil — check.

Coffee to stay awake — check.

What’s your checklist to prepare yourself as we delve deeper into Lent?   We’re 15 days in.   Perhaps you’ve given up a favorite thing or two, and maybe you’ve made a positive commitment to DO something this Lent.   Whatever it is, I invite you to reaffirm for yourself how you’re preparing for the cross — and for the new life beyond.

Prayer  by William O’Malley

God, my Friend,

I offer You each moment of this day

whatever comes — the unexpected challenges,

diversions from my plans,

the need-filled glance,

the expectations and complaints,

the being taken for granted,

the slights and sleights-of-hand.

I’d be grateful if You could keep me aware of my pesky habits, like . . .

And, between us, perhaps we can enliven the spirits of those I live and work with, like . . .

Whatever else befalls,

I trust we can cope with it,

together.

Amen

White Flower near Christian CrossScripture

Luke 24:1 – 12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.   They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.  

While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.   The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.   Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.   Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.   But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Prayer for the Day

Dear God,

It is early Easter morning and we make our way, along with the women, to the tomb.  We carry spices, the dew on the grass is still wet, the morning light yet dim.   We speak in soft tones about the task that is before us.  The shock of crucifixion still hangs over us.   At last, we draw close to the tomb where we had seen him laid two days before.  We suddenly stop in our tracks.  Not a word.   The stone that had been there is rolled away.  Slowly, we creep forward – and then we go in.  We shriek as those two men appear.

Their bewildering question:  “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Their stunning proclamation:   “He is not here, but has risen.”

He has . . . risen?  He has risen!  He Has Risen!   HE HAS RISEN!

Praise God!  Praise God for new life!   Praise God for forgiveness of sin!   Praise God for making all things new!   Praise God!

We stoop to quickly pick up all the spices that we had thrown in our fright.  We scramble out of the tomb, breathing hard.

Whom shall we tell?

Amen

Silhouettes of Three CrossesSacred Writing

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore.

On the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe.  It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium.  We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious ladies.

To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggested a milk-and-water person;  they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.  True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with the honest inquirers, and humble before heaven;  but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites;  he referred to king Herod as “that fox”;  he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a “gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”;   he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple;  he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations;   he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other peoples’ pigs and property;  he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position;  when confronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb.

He was emphatically not a dull man in his human lifetime, and if he was God, there can be nothing dull about God either.  But he had “a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,” and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without him.

So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.

by Dorothy Sayers,

from A Lent Sourcebook:  The Forty Days

 

Prayer for the Day

Dear God,

This span between the death of your Son on Good Friday and the promise of his resurrection tomorrow is a “no man’s land.”   We are adrift.  Our Lord is dead.  And so there is an emptiness to these couple days.  We are helpless to set it aright.

We are waiting for you.

Amen

Silhouettes of Three CrossesScripture

Luke 22:31 – 23:55 (excerpts)

[Jesus said,] “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!”

Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me” . . .

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”

Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed,  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”

Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.  In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.  When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief,  and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him;  but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?”

When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?”

Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.  But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him . . .

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.  Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.”

But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.  The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”   They kept heaping many other insults on him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council.  They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.”

He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?”

He said to them, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate.   They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”

Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

He answered, “You say so.”

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.”

But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place” . . .

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him.  Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death.   I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!”   (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)

Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again;  but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”

A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.”

But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.  So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted.  He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus . . .

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they cast lots to divide his clothing.  And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?   And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,  while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.    Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Having said this, he breathed his last.

When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.”

And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts.  But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.  Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.  This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.    Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid.

It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.  The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.

 

Prayer for the Day

Dear Lord and Savior,

What might we say this day?

This day when we fall asleep as you pray in agony.  This day when we betray you with a kiss.  This day when we say “I don’t know him.”   This day when we interrogate you, but you don’t answer.   This day when we shout “crucify him!”   This day when we wash our hands of you.  This day when we wonder why you just don’t just save yourself.  This day when we gather at the cross and wonder what we have done.

What might we say?

Amen

Silhouettes of Three CrossesScripture

Luke 22: 14-23

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;  for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!”

Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.

 

Prayer for the Day

Dear Lord,

Gratitude.  We are filled with gratitude for how you feed and nurture us.  Even though you know that there will be times when we’ll turn away from you, still, you offer us your body, your all.  Today we remember how you gathered your disciples in that upper room.  What if we go through this day mindful that tonight, we will be having dinner with you?  What anticipation!  What joy! What gratitude.

Amen.