Archives for posts with tag: prayer

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Scripture —  Matthew 21: 10 – 13

11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Reflection

Clean house.   That’s what Jesus chooses to do as soon as he enters the city of Jerusalem.  Set aside any notion of the docile, meek Christ.  This Jesus sends the pay day lenders and merchants packing.  Quite an entrance.

If we imagine Jesus riding the Palm Sunday procession into our own hearts and lives, instead of Jerusalem, where do we expect that he’d apply his broom?   What habits would he rout out of us?  What dirt would he sweep out from the corners that we keep under wraps?   What offenses would he expel from us?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We often seek you for comfort and guidance.   Let us now open the doors and windows of our lives to you and ask you to help us rid ourselves of all that offends you.  Create in us clean hearts, loving spirits, and forgiving ways.

Amen

 

 

Scripture — Matthew 21:1-5download

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.  3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. ”

4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Reflection

It’s a little thing.  Telling the disciples to go into the town and fetch a donkey which will be tied up.  But then it’s a big thing, a really big thing.  Because it shows how what occurs during the season of Lent doesn’t just happen to Jesus.  Instead, as reflected in this donkey errand in which all is known and pre-arranged, Jesus is carrying out God’s greater plan.    And he still is.

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We hunger to be used just like those disciples, dispatched by you for an task or mission.  Help us to realize that in fact we are summoned just as plainly as those two, dispatched to spread your gospel truth, love and grace.  This Lenten seaons, give us, we pray, that clarity of call and purpose.

Amen

Come

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.

 

Reflection

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.

 

Prayer

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.

Amen

images (2)Scripture — Matthew 20:  24-28

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.  But Jesus called them to him and said,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.  It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave;  just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Reflection, from Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf

“The idea of The Servant as Leader came out of reading Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East.  In this story we see a band of men on a mythical journey.  The central figure of the story is Leo who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song.  He is a person of extraordinary presence.  All goes well until Leo disappears.  Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned.  They cannot make it without the servant Leo.  One of the party, after some years of wandering finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey.  There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, it’s guiding spirit, a great and noble leader.”

Prayer, by Thomas a Kempis

Let not thy Word, O Lord, become a judgment upon us, that we hear it and do it not, that we know it and love it not, that we believe it and obey it not; O thou, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, world without end.  Amen.

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Scripture — Matthew 20: 17-19

17 While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death;  19 then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

A Poem of Lent and the Cross

The cross is the abyss of wonders,

the center of desires, the school of virtues,

the house of wisdom, the throne of love,

the theatre of joys and the place of sorrows;

It is the root of happiness, and the gate of heaven.

by Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations

Prayer

Dear Lord,

As we embark on this walk of 40 days to Jerusalem and the cross, lead us with your love, guide us with your grace, mend us by your mercy and revive us by your righteousness.   With each step, help us to leave behind who we were and enter into who you would have us become.   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.

Silhouettes of Three CrossesScripture  

Luke 22: 7-13

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.”

They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?”

“Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘   He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.”

So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You have prepared the way for us.  You have provided a room for us to share the last supper and saved a seat for each of us.  As you walk towards the cross, we will watch helplessly, wondering what we could do.  But even then, as you are nailed to that cross, it is you who is preparing the way for us.  Thank you Jesus.

Amen

Silhouettes of Three CrossesScripture 

Luke 22: 1-6 

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.  The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve;  he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.  They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.   So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Prayer for the Day

Dear Lord,

Was it only for the money?   Would Judas still have betrayed our Lord had the price not been right?   What would be our price?  What tempts us today to walk away from Christ?    Strengthen us, we pray, in our discipleship and faith, and make us single-minded in our devotion to you.

Amen