Readings for the Week of March 31

Ps 22Phil 2:5-11Mk 14:32 – 15:39Is 52:13-53:12

“Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grand that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. (Palm Saturday at Wheatland) You can read about the origin of this celebration here:  Mark 11:1-11. Palm Sunday is a double edged sword. On the one hand it is a day on which we should rejoice. The Messiah is being heralded by those he came to save. Waving the Palm branches and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in name of the Lord!” is our affirmation of the Messiahship, the Lordship, of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand the palm branches we wave will deteriorate. They will grow dry and brittle and eventually crumble into dust. They then become for us the ashes we smear on our foreheads at the beginning of the Lenten season. We wave the green, lively branch on Palm Sunday as our faith stands firm. That same branch is the ash of repentance. Those green branches symbolized the faith of the people of Jerusalem heralding their deliverer. Their faith in him was inspiring, fresh and true. A few days later those same palm branch waving faithful shouted “crucify him!”

As we wave the branches this year may we be reminded that is the faith of Christ through us that empowers our faithfulness. As watch them crumble of the year may we be reminded that is Christ’s faith that preserves us in and through our weakness.

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Readings for the Week ~ March 17

Psalm 1222 Chronicles 36:14-23Eph 2:4-10John 6:4-15

This Saturday marks the Feast of St. Patrick. Patrick is credited with being one of the first missionary bishops and is largely responsible for bringing the Gospel to Ireland. Patrick is an icon of Christian service emphasizing the incarnation of Christ and the Trinitarian embrace of God.

Here is part of the “Lorica of St. Patrick” (adapted by the compilers of Celtic Daily Prayer)

Christ, as a light 
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

Amen.

Readings for the Week of March 10

Psalm 97Exodus 20:1-17Romans 7:13-25John 2:13-22

As we continue our journey through Lent we are confronted with failure. Repentance is an acknowledgment, usually after the fact but possibly before, that we have failed. We failed to live up to a standard set for us or by us. We failed to live like we intended. We failed to be that which we have desired to be. We failed to see God by God’s reference point rather than ours. Failure requires repentance, a reorientation to what is true about God.

“The problem isn’t sinning, nearly as much as our unwillingness to admit that we have sinned, or at least as Jesus does, to engage honestly with darkness and our capacity for evil.”

As we journey through Lent we are confronted with deliverance. Like Noah through waters of the flood and Israel through the Red Sea and the believers through baptism, we are delivered through as much as from.

Readings for the Beginning of Lent

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. I encourage you to join us this Wednesday, Feb 22, at 7 PM for a service of prayer, repentance and the imposition of ashes. Some Christians call the season of Lent “The Bright Sadness”. While it is a season of repentance, reflection and mourning it is punctuated with weekly expressions of joy and celebration. It is a forced sadness that we bring upon ourselves as we begin the journey with Jesus to the cross (sadness) and through that to the resurrection (bright).

This post includes the Scripture readings for both Ash Wednesday and the 1st Saturday of Lent. If you don’t have a habit of reading Scripture this Lenten season is a good time to take one up. Prayerful reflection on the weekly readings that we use in our worship service is a good place to start. Volume is good but in depth reflection is better. Letting the words of Scripture sink down deep over the days of the week opens up those words to read our lives as we read the lines.

In addition to the Scriptures I have also included two traditional prayers that are associated with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. These are great guides and prompts to our praying life. May God bless you as you pray and read, read and pray!

Scriptures for Ash Wednesday:

Isaiah 58:1-12Psalm 1032 Corinthians 5:20-6:10Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Scriptures for the 1st Saturday of Lent:

Genesis 9:8-17Psalm 25I Peter 3:18-22Mark 1:9-13

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings for the Week of February 18

Psalm 271 Kings 19:9-18 2 Peter 1:16-21Mark 9:2-9

Each of our readings this week have a reference to a “mountain top” experience. From being set “high upon a rock” while God protects the psalmist, to the earth-shattering experience of Elijah that reveals God’s voice heard not in the loudness but in the stillness, to the New Testament references to Christ’s transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, where Elijah and Moses are seen present to him.

Many of us remember similar “mountain top” experiences where we felt unusually close to God, or perhaps I should say that God felt unusually close to us? Reconsider those experiences today. What made them so valuable to you? What would that kind of experience with God be like for you today? Do you think you can “hear” God in the way you could then?

“O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Lent#4: Scripture Readings for April 2

Psalm 23I Samuel 16:1-13Ephesians 5:1-14 John 9:1-38

There is a theme running through this week’s readings. It’s summarized by Samuel’s comment in I Samuel 16:7: People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

Our impatience with one another, ourselves and God comes from our inability to see what God does. Seeking God’s perspective allows us to look at the heart and ask the kinds of questions that direct us deeper into God’s heart.