Archives for posts with tag: hope


images (17)61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said,

“Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.



“Make it as secure as you can.”  Ever since Jesus began his earthly ministry, some people tried to contain Jesus, to pin him down, to limit his impact.   Now, even in death, Pilate sends soldiers to make sure that Jesus didn’t get loose.

Are there ways in our own daily living that seek to make the tomb secure by sealing the stone?  Do we seek to limit Jesus’ reach into our affairs, keep him out of certain transactions, exclude him from entire parts of our lives?

This is just Saturday.   The tomb is still sealed.  But Jesus will not be tamed by Pilate.   And with the light of dawn tomorrow, he will not be quarantined by whatever stones we might choose to keep him bottled up.



Dear Lord,

We have walked with you these 40 days.  Sometimes we have followed closely.  At other times, we have watched only from afar.  Today, we remain in mourning from the blows of yesterday’s crucifixion, and from the draining, emptying effects of death.

In the wake of your death and that sealed tomb, this is a day absent hope.

It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.


And waiting to see what Sunday morning will bring.



Matthew 26: 14 -16images (3)

14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.



We all like Judas.   It’s always a relief to have someone in the picture who’s the bad guy, someone to blame.

But in a sense Judas is just a stand-in for the rest of us.   What’s your price to betray Jesus?   Those temptations roll in each day, seducing us in different ways.   It may be good ‘ol hard cash.  It might be the lure of moving up some social or corporate ladder.  Or it might be something else that captures your fancy — you can fill in the blank.  Our betrayals may be big or small.  Obvious or covert.   Intentional or careless.

The saving grace?   Just that.



Dear Lord,

Forgive me for having betrayed you yesterday.

Forgive me for any ways that I might betray you today.

Fix in my heart the intention to follow your path, to love you and neighbor, and to glorify your name.  And then give me the strength to follow through.


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


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.”



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.



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.



Matthew 25: 26-30images (2)

26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?  27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.  28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.  29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.   30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Reflection by William Barclay

This parable “lays down a rule of life which is universally true.  It tells us that to those who have, more will be given, and those who have not will lose even what they have.  The meaning is this.  If we have a talent and exercise it, we are progressively able to do more with it.  But, if we have talent and fail to exercise it, we will inevitably lose it . . . That is equally true of playing golf or playing the piano, or singing songs or writing sermons, or carving wood or thinking out ideas.  It is the lesson of life that the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and in the service of our neighbors.”



Dear Lord,

You’ve given us different gifts.  Some received 5 talents, some 2, some of us 1.  But whatever gifts we have come from you.   Nurture these gifts in us.  If we are hesitant, coax them out of us until we find the joy of devoting ourselves, with these precious gifts, to your glory.



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.


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,




Matthew 21: 18- 21

18 In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry.  19 And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it,  “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig  tree wither at once?”

21 Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.


We’ve all heard that phrase “faith to move mountains” which comes from this exchange between Jesus and his disciples.  Does Jesus mean actual, geological mountains?  Perhaps.   But it seems just as plausible to me that Jesus means the seemingly insurmountable mountains that tower over our own lives — the mountain of guilt, the mountain of a broken relationship, the mountain of a destructive habit, the mountain of lost personal dreams.

Or maybe Jesus speaks of those mountains around us in our community and our world.  The mountains of hunger, racial division, violence, poverty.   What other mountains would you name in your own life, in your community, and our world?   This Lent, Jesus invites us to a greater faith in him, and then  to cast those heaping burdens and obstacles of granite and limestone into the sea.


Dear Lord,

There is so much that seems beyond us.  Remind us that there is nothing beyond you.  Nurture in us a faith that finds strength in you.



Scripture — Matthew  21:31-34

31 The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but [the 2 blind men] shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”

32 Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?”   33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.



There’s an ongoing  debate among some theologians as to whether God is affected by human petitions and the human condition.   It’s called “impassibility.”  Is God impassible, or indifferent, to us?  One who argues yes is David Bentley Hart who wrote a book titled The Doors of the Sea following the calamitous tsunami of a few years ago.  In his view, God’s all-powerful, sovereign and omnipotent nature demands that God cannot be moved by the ever-changing nature and conditions of humanity.  God’s indifference is a reflection of God’s unchanging, ever-consistent, divine being.

For me, the incarnation of Christ, his earthly ministry and then death on the cross — among other parts of scripture — give witness to a God who is very much engaged in our world and our welfare.  These two blind men called out to Christ as he walked by, and “moved by compassion,” Jesus kneels down, touches their eyes, and restores their sight.  That action could symbolize God’s overall response to us.  Moved by compassion, God kneels down to us and restores our sight.  Our hopes.  Our ties to God and one another.  Our very lives.

And God does this even at times when we might feel or act indifferent to God.



Dear Lord,

As we continue this Lenten journey, hold our hands as we seek to walk with you.   As you gave your life for us, help us to dedicate our lives to you.


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?


palm 1Scripture – Luke 19:35-40

Then they brought [the colt] to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.   As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Prayer for the Day

Dear God,

Forgive us for the times when we are silent when we need to speak.   For the times when we face an injustice but just look the other way.  For the times when a word of faith and comfort is needed, but we are mute instead.   For the times that need a witness to Christ, but it’s just easier or more comfortable to let the occasion pass.  Lord, from the earliest of days, people you have called have at times questioned or doubted their ability to speak in your name.  Give us today the assurance, the faith, the courage, and the delight of speaking out for your love, grace, mercy and truth.


palm 1Scripture – Luke 19: 28-34

[Jesus] went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.”


Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,

In what ways, Lord, do you come to us and claim a part of our life?   In what ways are we told that you need a part of our life – our time, our energy, our compassion, our love, our resources?   Help us to untie ourselves so that we freely respond to serve you and your kingdom.