Archive for March, 2009

Lent 6 – Psalm 31:9-10, 14

From Psalm 31:9-10, 14 – Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away…But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

In these verses, the psalmist makes a clear connection between faith and health – between spiritual and physical well being. Grief has caused wasting of both body and soul…misery has made the psalmist weaker. We owe it to one another to appreciate this complex interaction within each other.

Prayer:

Gracious God, bless our efforts this day to bring hope and healing to your children, our brothers and sisters. AMEN.

Lent 6 – Isaiah 50:7-8

From Isaiah 50:7-8 – The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

People of faith: Stand Together! Throughout life, many of us struggle alone needlessly. God is always by our side, but often the best visual evidence of that presence is when we stand together with our brothers and sisters of faith.

Prayer:

Loving God, help us create a community of faith where all feel supported and loved. AMEN.

Lent 6 – Mark 11:2, 7-9

Welcome to the sixth week of Lent. Some congregations will treat this Sunday as Palm Sunday, while others will recognize it as Passion Sunday. There are lectionary selections for both of these options.

For Palm Sunday the lectionary selections include: Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16 and Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. For Passion Sunday, the lectionary selections include: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11 and Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39, (40-47).

From Mark 11:2, 7-9 – …and [Jesus] said to [two of his disciples], “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it…Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a far cry from the heinous death he is to suffer in a few days when the people shout “Give us Barabbas,” saving the life of a criminal over that of Jesus. If Jesus were among us today, would we give him honor, or would we see him as a radical? Would we be scared of his controversial views on religion, on love of neighbors, on love of enemies? Would we shout “Give us Barabbas?”

Prayer:

Steadfast God, we long to be in your presence. Give us wisdom to know that which is from you. AMEN.

Lent 5 – John 12:24

From John 12:24 – Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Have you ever simply thrown seeds onto a garden? The results are generally less than gratifying. If you want seeds to flourish, you must tend to their environment – the soil, the nutrients, the light, the weeds. In a community sense, aren’t we gardeners for one another…doing what we can so those around us can flourish?

Prayer:

Loving God, in this garden we call life, help us nurture one another in ways that help all live abundantly. AMEN.

Lent 5 – Psalm 119:12-15

From Psalm 119:12-15 – Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes. With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth. I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.

I like the phrase faith journey, because that is what I am on. I like to think of my life as an ongoing conversation with God. Of course, as with any long conversation, I don’t always listen as well as I should.

Prayer:

Gracious God, help me keep focused on your word so that I might be more like the person you would have me be. AMEN.

Lent 5 – Psalm 119:9-10

From Psalm 119:9-10 – How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments

While I was a fair swimmer and lifeguard at one time, I have never been dedicated to a sport enough to be a good athlete – too much time, too much training, too much work. Yet this scripture tells me that our approach to God should exceed the dedication that a marathon runner or a great basketball player has to his or her sport.

Prayer:

Steadfast God, we have the faith of a mustard seed, and yet you remain faithful to us. Thank you. AMEN.

Lent 5 – Psalm 51:10-12

From Psalm 51:10-12 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore me to the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Throughout my life, my relationship with God has been on a continuum. Sometimes I am intimately connected to God and other times I am distant. What I have learned is that at those times I feel farthest from God, I am the one who has been moving away, rather than God moving from me.

Prayer:

Steadfast God, help us develop our faith so that we always sense you by our side, regardless of our circumstance. AMEN.

Lent 5 – Jeremiah 31:33-34

Welcome to the fifth week of Lent. The lectionary selections for this week include: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10 and John 12:20-33. An alternate Psalm is Psalm 119:9-16.

From Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34 – The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Type “forgiveness and healing” into a search engine, and you will find a host of articles speaking to the healing benefits of forgiveness including this article from the American Medical Student Association. I have a friend who was abused as a child, and her ability to forgive has allowed her to become a caregiver for the now elderly abuser as his health declines. Forgiveness can be powerful and life-restoring.

Prayer:

Gracious God, help free us from the prisons of our pasts by giving us strength to be more forgiving people. AMEN.

Did You Know? Table – April

Earlier this month, I introduced the idea of Did You Know? tables as a simple health ministry in which all congregations can engage.

There are a number of observances in the month of April.  You might consider utilizing some of the information available below for your Did You Know? table in April.

April is:

National Minority Health Awareness Month: The Office of Minority Health is focusing on preconception health this year.  Look for the posters and other information on this important issue.  You can also find resources on other issues that disproportionately affect minorities on their site.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month: To raise awareness of child abuse and its prevention, you can review a resource guide for 2009 from the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

National Autism Awareness Month: In January and February, I highlighted Autism Sunday and some prayers for use on Autism Sunday.  In the United States, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.  You can also find helpful information on the site of the Autism Society of America.

Alcohol Awareness Month: The month of April is used to draw awareness to problem drinking.  The SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information has a number of resources available for free. For quick information on Alcoholics Anonymous, you can print out their fact sheet.  The National Institute on Aging also provides helpful information for older individuals.  My friends at www.HopeandHealing.org have some articles which may be of interest on recovery.  

There are other observances during April including Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month and Foot Health Awareness Month (of particular interest to diabetics).

Good luck with your Did You Know? table in April.

Lent 4 – Numbers 21:6, 8; John 3:14-15

Remember Monday’s verses where the Israelites lose patience with God and Moses? These verses follow: From Numbers 21:6, 8 – Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died…And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” And from John 3:14-15 – And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

When I first read the serpent verses, I was somewhat perplexed as to what to do with them. And while we are all familiar with John 3:16, verses 14 and 15 allude to these odd verses in Numbers. But for me, these earlier verses in John 3 place Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection in a clear healing context.

Prayer:

Healing God, help us be agents of resurrection this day by offering hope and healing to those who come before us. AMEN.

Lent 4 – Ephesians 2:8-10

From Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

In Romans 12 Paul directs says to “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice…” He goes on the say, “…be transformed by the renewing of your minds…” Our faith journey is a transformative one, as I see it. Faith and works are intimately linked.

Prayer:

Almighty God who can transform one’s faith of a mustard seed into something amazing, work in us so we can be all you would have us be. AMEN.

Lent 4 – Psalm 107:1

From Psalm 107:1 – O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

In reading through the lectionary scriptures, one of my favorite words describing God is steadfast. In a world punctuated by material things that are “here today and gone tomorrow,” God is unwavering and resolute.

Prayer:

Gracious God, we thank you for your faith in us. May our faith in you deepen each day. AMEN.


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