Archives for posts with tag: prayer

Scripture

Matthew 26: 26-29    download

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;  28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

Reflection

I doubt we’ve ever told our children or grandchildren as we passed them the mashed potatoes or pizza at dinner time, “take, eat; this is my body.”   I doubt we’ve ever spoken such words even though at some points we may feel as though we could  make such a claim given the material or personal sacrifices we have made for our child(ren) or grandchild(ren).    Such words, however, come readily to our Lord as he presides over the Passover meal.   And he’s not being symbolic, for he had and will give his all for his disciples — and us.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We thank you for giving us your all,

for feeding us with your very life,

which was and continues to be

a gift of grace that leaves us filled.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 20 – 25images (1)

20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;  21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

 

Reflection  by St. Francis of Assisi

I know things about you that no other person knows.  You committed many more sins than people imagine; you performed many more miracles than people believe.  In order to mount to heaven you used the floor of the Inferno to give you your momentum.  “The further down you gain your momentum,” you often used to tell me, “the higher you shall be able to reach.”  The militant Christian’s greatest worth is not his virtue, but his struggle to transform into virtue the dishonor and malice within him. 

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not offended you,

by any word or deed.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not done

what is evil in thy sight.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not

walked away from you

as you make your way to the cross.

Surely not I, Lord?

Have I?

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26:  17 -19download

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

 

Reflection

The scene of the last supper is of course a Passover meal.  It reminds us again that Jesus was a Jew as were all the disciples.   It also recalls the Exodus of the Israelites who, at God’s command, smeared the blood of a lamb over the archways and lintel posts of their doors so that the angel of death would pass over their homes and only afflict the houses of the Egyptians.

This Jesus of ours will be similarly sacrificed so that the angel of death will pass over again, so that in Christ Jesus, we may know life eternal.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Would that we could smear some lamb’s blood on our lintel posts today to protect us from the threats and dangers of our world.   Would that we could know that the angel of death would just pass over us.   Help us to trust that in You, we find all our security, all of strength, all our comfort, all our refuge, all our freedom, all our life.

Amen

 

 

Scripture

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.

 

Reflection

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.

 

Prayer

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.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 6 -13yellow pouring out

6 Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8 But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste?   9 For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

 

Reflection

I bet you can remember a time when you acted incredibly extravagantly.  It was a special occasion, and you went all out.   Perhaps it was a special birthday, a graduation, an anniversary, a promotion at work.    And to celebrate, you spent more, way more than you usually do.  Someone looking in from the outside might have said to you, “Really?  You’re going to spend THAT much on this?”

“Really?” said the disciples as they watched the woman pour the costly perfume on Jesus’ head.  “Why this waste?”

When was the last time that we did something extravagant for Jesus — something that others would look at and wonder if we’re a bit crazy?    What might we do next?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You are so precious to us.

Perhaps especially so as we follow you in these Lenten days, knowing the path that you are taking and the cross that stands at the end.

May we find ways to shower you with our love and devotion.

Unreservedly.

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: 37-40images (2)

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?

39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

 

Reflection

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

It’s interesting to me that we are so shocked by the King’s (Jesus’) response to the righteous.   We readily accept the notion that Jesus died for US on the cross.   But the idea that Christ himself benefits or suffers as a result of how we treat our fellow human beings is stunning to us.

It suggests to me just how vastly we underestimate (a) God’s love for the world, (b) God’s complete empathy and identification with God’s creation and (c) our community with God.    It makes me pause to consider what I will say and how I will act with the people I’ll encounter today.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

With every word,  every touch, every act,

remind me that how I treat others

pleases or pains you.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 25: 34-36download

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

 

Reflection

There are many words that jump out at us from these three verses as we read about the plight of too many of our fellow human beings.   Hungry.  Thirsty.  Stranger.  Naked.  Sick.  Prison.

But I’m most struck by one single, small word that gets repeated over and over  — “I.”     That Jesus would have this King (himself of course) identify with those clinging to the margins of life is astounding.    If in fact Jesus is telling us that HE hungers, thirsts, feels lost, is unclothed, suffers illness and imprisonment along with our fellow men, women and children — if this is true, then what does that suggest to us as we plan our family budget, our corporate benevolences, our church missions?  What does it suggest to us about how we use our time?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You hunger.

You thirst.

You are a stranger.

You are naked.

You are sick.

You are in prison.

Along with so many people who suffer in these ways.

I am here.

Show me how I might serve you, and those you call me to love.

Amen.

Scripture

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.”

 

Prayer

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.

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