Archives for posts with tag: prayer

On this Christmas evening, I pray for:

HOPEP1060809

Hope for those who are hungry or cold tonight.

Hope for those who face an illness.

Hope for those for whom life is full of stress.

Hope for those who only see darkness this night.

PEACE

Peace in our own hearts, free from bitterness, resentment and yearnings for revenge.

Peace in our communities where injustice continues to plague us.

Peace in our country where matters of race — the mere color of skin — amazingly still rend us apart.

Peace in our world where people huddle in fear, are devastated by loss, and are desperate just to survive.

JOY

Joy for all Christians as we celebrate the birth of the Savior.

Joy for all people, regardless of faith tradition, as we celebrate the God who is the source of all that is, who calls us to live lives of goodness, who forgives us for our faults, and who shows us the way.

Joy for presents — be they unwrapped today, or visible in the faces of those we love.

Joy for those who have gone before us and whom we remember tonight, and for the new lives entering the world.

LOVE

Love for God.

Love for our family and friends.

Love for strangers near and far.

Love for those we might find reason to dislike or fear.

HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE.

May they be yours tonight and the year to come.

Amen

 

Scripture

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.

 

Reflection

“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.

 

Prayer

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.

Breathing.

And waiting to see what Sunday morning will bring.

Amen.

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Todays devotion consists entirely of an illustrated scripture reading from Matthew 27:1-60 as Jesus goes to the cross.

Matthew 27:1-60  

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When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

 

 

 

images (19)3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” 7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

jesus_before_pilate_jekel11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”

12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer.  13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?”  14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas.  17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.  19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.  21 The

Pilate Ecce-Homo-Antonio-Ciseri-1880governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”   23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”    But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”   25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!

26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

mocking of Christ 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.  28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,  29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,

“Hail, King of the Jews!”

30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

 

stripping of our Lord

 

 

 

31 After mocking him,

they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him.

Then they led him away to crucify him.

 

 

 

 

download (7)32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.  33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.  35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;  36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him.  37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

 

images (16) 38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,  42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.  43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.'”

44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

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45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

 

Jesus on cross

 

50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

 

 

 

 

 

Centurion4

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.  52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

 

54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,

“Truly this man was God’s Son!”

 

 

 

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55 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.  58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.

 

 

 

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He then rolled a great stone

to the door of the tomb

and went away.

 

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 69-75images (12)

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”

71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.   75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

 

Reflection

As we enter into this Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, tradition has us focus upon Peter’s denial of Christ.   This is the enthusiastic disciple — the one who leaped into the water to walk to Christ;  the one who professed to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”;  the one who said that HE would never deny his Lord.

But then we have our own moments, moments when people effectively say “You are with Jesus” and we deny it.  Moments when someone makes an off-color joke at someone else’s expense, but it’s just a joke so we keep silent.   Or when someone suggests cutting a corner in some enterprise which is not entirely legal or ethical, but we go along and keep silent.  Or when someone asks us for some help and we pretend not to see or hear them.  Or when we cling to old hurts and grudges rather than practice forgiveness.

Or when . . .

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We want to follow you, but often we fail.   Sometimes we fail unwittingly, carelessly.  Sometimes we fail intentionally.  Forgive us for the ways that we deny you.  Forgive us and call upon us to be your disciples again.

Amen

 

p.s.  At some point along the way, I missed a day and so my devotions jump from day 36 to day 38.  Call today my “Leap Devotional”!

Scripture

Matthew 26: 65-68images

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?”

They [the council] answered,  “He deserves death.”

67 Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him,68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”

 

Reflection

The verdict was in.   It didn’t take long.  Of course the religious authorities had been looking for a way to kill Jesus for a while.

The question of the High Priest still rings in our ears:   “Why do we still need witnesses?”   Per usual, the opponents of Jesus say something ironic.  Why do they still need witnesses?  Because they did not yet know the truth.   And yet, where were the witnesses for Jesus?  They were nowhere to be found.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

They condemned you to death and would then turn you over to Pilate.

They rendered their verdict of guilty.

No one stood up for you.

Not a one.

Help us, we pray, to stand up for you today.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 61-64images

At last two came forward  61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'”

62 The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?”

63 But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 

Reflection

How often it is that opponents of Jesus unwittingly say the most ironic things.   “I put you under oath before the living God,” says the high priest, “tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”   It conjures up images of George Burns on the witness stand in the movie “Oh God!” in which he takes the oath, saying “So help me, me.”

How many ways do we put God to the test?   How many times do we call on God to perform for us, so as to prove that God is God?    How do we put God on the stand when it is we who are to be judged?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Forgive our insolence at times.

Forgive us for demanding explanations,

for putting you to the test,

for asking you to defend yourself,

for putting you on the stand.

 

We thank you for your patience,

forbearance,  and your mercy

as the one who is the judge,

and who rules with forgiveness

and love.

Amen

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 55-56images (1)

55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.  56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

 

Reflection

I expect that Jesus knew it would happen all along.  Even when he called out to them along the sea of Galilee to follow him, I expect he knew that this night would come when all, not some, all of the disciples would desert him.   Did they go as a group, or did they slink away one by one — each making the choice, by themselves, to flee.  Some may have stepped away quietly, covertly walking among the shadows of night so as to avoid notice.   But I imagine some of them may have just run.

I expect we’ve “been there, done that” at one point or another.  Are you the slink-away type?  Or do you prefer to just flat our run from Jesus?

Of course he always gives us the option.  So which will it be?  Will we slink back to Jesus, or will we run back to him?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Forgive us for our weakness.

Forgive us for our fear.

Forgive us for our lack of conviction

to stand with you.  To not run.

Make us disciples anew, call us again,

give us the hope, the mercy, the challenge, the joy

to be your disciples again.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 45-49images (1)

45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.  48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 

Reflection

A peck on the cheek — betrayal.   Isn’t it curious that of all the signs that Judas could have given to signal who is to be arrested, he chose a kiss.   Not a handshake,  not a wink,  not “it’s the guy I’ll stand next to”  nor the person to whom I’ll say “Hello Rabbi.”    But a kiss.

It underscores the personal nature of the betrayal.  The fact that Judas was one of the twelve, chosen as a disciple.  Why did we even need a betrayal in the gospel story anyway?  Weren’t there plenty of people eager to have Jesus arrested who could have arranged to make it happen away from the crowd?

But betrayal is in the heart of the story.  And of course not just on Judas’ part, but by all of the disciples.  All of the supposed faithful failed Jesus.  Intentionally.  Spectacularly.   And yet he went to the cross for them (and us) anyway.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

How many ways have I been untrue to you?

How many times have I allowed my temper to flare, gossip to govern, self-interest to predominate?

As we look back upon just yesterday, how many things would I have done differently had I lived that day with the intention to apply the gospel in my every word and deed?

Now we have a new day.

Amen.

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 40-44   images

40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?  41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.   45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?”

 

Reflection

You’ve that experience, I’m sure.   You’re sitting there, in a class room, a conference room, church (!) — and your head suddenly snaps back and you realize you’d been dozing.

Three times Jesus goes off to pray, three times he returns to find the disciples catching some z’s.   “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?”   We are nearing the beginning of Holy Week, a time when the temptation is great to think ahead to a glorious Easter service and resurrection, pretty dresses and hats, Easter Egg hunts and chocolate eggs.   But rushing past the darkness of Holy Week is akin to falling asleep in the garden of Gethsemane.   Instead, Jesus bids us to stay awake and accompany him as he walks toward the cross.    It seems the least we can do.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Awaken us to your call this Lenten season.

If our eyes get droopy and our attention wanders,

shake us up,  refresh our devotion to you,

and lead us into the coming week of a triumphal entry,

an evening meal in that upstairs room,

and a dark Friday.

And only then, draw us forward to that first light of dawn

on a day the begins the rest of our lives.

Amen

 

gather us back

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 30-35download (1)

30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

33 Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”

34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

35 Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

 

Reflection

What, I wonder, is behind Peter’s vehement denial that he will never desert  Jesus?   Is it — at that moment — the fervent feeling of devotion that he has for Jesus?   Is it — at that moment — the strength of his faith?   Or is it, I wonder, his pride?   Jesus has just poked all the disciples in the chest and predicted their failure to be true to him.   Peter, in a jingoistic  response, doubles down, pledging that  not only will he not desert Jesus, he’ll die with him.   These declarations, however, will soon dissipate like steam in the evening breeze.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Strengthen us, we pray, for the long journey.

Strengthen us for the challenges that we will face;  for the tests to our faith;  for the urge to flee instead of stand by your side when the cost of discipleship becomes apparent.

Amen