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March 29, 2018

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Lent Reflections
Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."


After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.


"Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."


Love is the heart of the message that Jesus has given us. In this passage from the Gospel of John we see a contrast between love and power. Jesus is a powerful figure in that “the Father had given all things into his hands,” and yet here he acts as a servant when he washes the feet of his disciples. Washing feet has become such a common practice on Maundy Thursday that the action has almost lost its meaning.


Peter, who frequently seems to represent our poor human inability to understand the message of Jesus, reminds us of the significance of the image of a master washing the feet of a servant when he says, “You will never wash my feet.”  Yet Jesus is setting an example for us when, in love and humility, he serves the needs of others. In our relationships with others the world encourages us to compare, compete, and judge and to attempt to control and dominate. Jesus calls us to love.

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March 28, 2018

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Lent Reflections
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Mark 12:1-11

Jesus began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watch-tower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:

'The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; 
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes?'"


I know I'm not alone. There is turmoil in my life…today. This parable reminds me of two truths.


I often wear the shoes of a tenant. I know what God wants, and, all too often, I fall short. I do what I want to do instead. Secondly, I am reminded that God is God and I am not. He shows patience and forgiveness over and over, giving me chance after chance. I pray I will develop this grace when people and situations let me down or turn away from me.


I pray. Thank you, God, for the many chances you give me to do your will. Grant me patience and forgiveness. Amen.

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March 27, 2018

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Lent Reflections
Tuesday in Holy Week, March 27, 2018
Mark 11:27-33

Again the group came to Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?" Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me." They argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'Of human origin?'" — they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."


"Should I have knee surgery or just try physical therapy?” Your doctors’ answers may differ. “Can I afford to support the church in the way I’d like?” Financial advisors may differ. We ask,“Should I take on the job that St. James has asked of me?”  Family members will definitely differ. We do need the opinions of these knowledgeable people, but it’s hard to know which expert to heed. We need a tie breaker.


These daily decisions as to how we live our lives are certainly not of the magnitude of those made by a Churchill or a Lincoln, but on occasion they can be life changing for us and sometimes to others. We need experts. But, how do we decide?


Lucky us - as Christians, we always have the expert. We know exactly who our authority, our tie breaker is, so we are able to turn to scripture, to study works of faith, to consult with caring friends and clergy, and most of all to pray fervently that we will hear as God sends His guidance.


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March 26, 2107

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Lent Reflections
Monday in Holy Week, March 26, 2018
Mark 11:12-25

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.


Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written,
'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?' But you have made it a den of robbers."

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.


In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.


"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."


Who has, recently or in the past, wronged you, that you need to forgive? While praying, many of us tend to name a list of things we have done wrong for the day, or week, and ask God to forgive us for them. This isn’t wrong, but as this passage points out, there is something we should be doing before we ask God to forgive us of all our sins. We are told to first forgive those we have something against.



When there is unforgiveness and bitterness, it causes division. Feelings are hurt, friendships are severed, or even churches split because of unforgiven wrongs. It might start out small and seem to be nothing, but soon it grows into bitterness and anger toward those whom we haven’t forgiven.


Make it a part of your daily prayers to think of any person who might have sinned against you and made you angry, sad or hurt, and forgive them. For many of us, this may happen multiple times throughout the day, and we neglect to first forgive others in prayer before we ask to be forgiven ourselves. Take time today to ask God to help you in your journey toward grace and forgiveness with others.

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