Archive for February, 2009

Lent 1 – Mark 1:10-13

From Mark 1:10-13 – And just as [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Like Jesus in today’s scripture, we symbolically venture into the wilderness for forty days during Lent. Lent leads to Easter and the Resurrection, and it is my prayer that this season will be life-affirming to each of you.

Prayer:

Steadfast God, thank you for walking beside us each day. Help us to know your true voice so that we won’t be distracted along the way. AMEN.

Lent 1 – Psalm 25:1, 4-5

Sunday is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. Lectionary readings for this Sunday include: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Mark 1:9-15.

From Psalm 25:1, 4-5 – To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul…Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

When I read these verses, I thought of the hymn “Here I Am, Lord.” I pulled out these three verses for today because I think they make a wonderful prayer for each day but especially for Lent.

Prayer:

“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.” AMEN.

Ash Wednesday, Lent 1 – Matthew 6:19-21

From Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

For me, part of the discipline of Lent is to take time to intentionally reassess my life and my faith, and then make course corrections, or changes, if treasures are being stored inappropriately.

Prayer:

Loving God, help us to know your will and give us the strength to act toward others and ourselves in ways which honor that knowledge. AMEN.

Ash Wednesday and Lent 1 – Isaiah 58:8-10

Continuing from our passage yesterday we read from Isaiah 58:8-10 – Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.” If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Elton John sang a song in The Lion King called “Circle of Life,” but I like the circle of life offered by today’s passage: Offer someone light, and see your light rise. Offer someone healing, and you, too, will be healed.

Prayer:

God of light and healing, help us be light-givers to those of your children who come before us this day. AMEN.

A Good Article for the Season

Please take a moment to read the article “Six Weeks of Renewal” by my co-worker at the Church Health Center, Sister Ellen Buchignani. She reflects on Ash Wednesday, Lent and fasting. Her article is posted on http://www.HopeandHealing.org. Sister Ellen is both a Sister of Mercy and a surgeon.

Ash Wednesday & Lent – Isaiah 58:6-7

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. There are lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday which include: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. An alternate to the Joel passage is Isaiah 58:1-12.

From Isaiah 58:6-7 – Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Fasting is a common observance during Lent, although not one in which I have regularly participated. While we can pay honor to and reflect on God through fasting, this passage reminds us that we also serve God through our service to others each day.

Prayer:

Gracious God, help us share ourselves with others in ways which are pleasing to you. AMEN.

Transfiguration – Mark 9:8-9

From Mark 9:8-9 – Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

What I like most about the Transfiguration story is what happens immediately after these verses. Following this deeply moving, spiritual experience, the first thing Jesus does at the bottom of the mountain is heal a little boy. Jesus didn’t bask in the glory he had just received…he went right back to work ministering to the needs of those around him.

Prayer:

Gracious God, help us be healing presences to those who come before us today. AMEN.

Transfiguration – Mark 9:2-5

From Mark 9:2-5 – Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

I know some of you reading this have had significant spiritual experiences where you knew you had been in the presence of God. I have never had a dazzling light experience, but I sense God regularly in the many ways my life is touched by other people of faith.

Prayer:

Almighty God, you make your presence in our lives known in so many ways. Help us better sense your steadfast presence. AMEN.

Transfiguration – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

From 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

I have known individuals who come to church as spiritually damaged people. For many, I think this impedes their ability to fully see the light of God. I hope and pray that as we work together, our collective light can shine brightly enough to pierce the veils these neighbors are wearing.

Prayer:

Merciful God, help each of us be a light for the world by being a light for the person sitting in front of us today. AMEN.

Transfiguration – 2 Kings 2:9-11

From 2 Kings 2:9-11 – When [Elijah and Elisha] had crossed [the Jordan River], Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit double your share of the spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not. As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind to heaven.

I read this passage and thought of John Dye who played Andrew on Touched by an Angel. He was the angel who would appear to escort a dying character to heaven. I have no idea what my final moments will be like, but it is a comforting thought to think of God as sending each of us an escort to help us on our journey to heaven.

Prayer:

God of mystery, we thank you for your steadfast presence in our lives, especially during those times when are feeling alone. AMEN.

Transfiguration – 2 Kings 2:1-2

The last Sunday of Epiphany is known as Transfiguration Sunday. The lectionary selections for this week include: 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and Mark 9:2-9.

From 2 Kings 2:1-2 – Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

I am fortunate to have several Elisha’s in my life…family and friends who would stay with me no matter what. Think of Elisha’s in your life today and give thanks to God for them today.

Prayer:

Loving God, thank you for those people in our lives on whom we can count to be with us through life’s ups and downs. Help us be better Elisha’s in their lives. AMEN.

Epiphany 6 – Mark 1:40-42

From Mark 1:40-42 – A leper came to [Jesus] begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”

Jesus healed the leper, but in making him clean he was also restoring his relationship with both God and his community. For Jesus, healing was not only an act of curing, but it was also an act of restoration.

Prayer:

Almighty God, help us be restorative presences for those who come before this day. AMEN.


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