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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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March 25, 2018

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Lent Reflections
Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018
Mark 14:1-15, 47

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people."


While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."


Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.


On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.


On their journey from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of His disciples into town to borrow a colt. Fulfilling the prophesy, "…Behold, your king is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey..." This action to me, shows how Jesus was not only the Son of God but one of us. Even though he worked to present himself has one of the people, his followers "rolled out the red carpet" for Him by placing their garments and palm branches in His path. They greeted Him with praise and thanksgiving for His coming. Even though, it seems to me, He tried to blend in as humble and "one of us," the people knew He was different. They shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!" Hosanna is an exclamation of praise that means, "save us." It is interesting to me that even though this man came riding into down on a donkey, wearing rags, and doing his best to be humble, the people recognized him as The One who would save us all. I wonder if we would be this open today? Will we recognize The One if he comes again riding in a beat up car, appearing far less glamorous than the images we see on T.V.? Will our hearts be open? Will we roll out the red carpet?

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