Monthly Archives: March 2016

BSPC Lenten Devotional – Monday, March 21 – Saturday, March 26

Holy Week

Scripture: Mark 11:1-11
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “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. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take 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! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Palm Sunday
Where have the forty days of Lent gone?
We’ve had forty days to remember who Jesus is,
Forty days to find out who Jesus is,
Forty days to look and to listen to this man from Nazareth,
This man who walked into the hearts of people,
The man who ‘stirred their imagination,’
This man who is still walking into the hearts of his people,
And stirring the imagination of the people,
Holy Week is upon us.
We will raise our palms in joyful recognition!
We do know him.
Surely we do know him…
Ann Weems, Holy Week 

Loving God, open hearts to experience the holiness of the earth-shattering events of this week. Amen 

Monday, March 21
Let this blessing gather itself around you.
Let it give you what you will need for this journey.
You will not remember the words–they do not matter.
All you need to remember is how it sounded when you
stood in the place of death and heard the living call your name.
–Rev. Jan Richardson, from The Magdalene’s Blessing

Resurrected God, thank you for calling my name and transforming sorrow into joy. Amen. 

Tuesday, March 22
“It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with the restart.”
–Mumford and Sons, “Roll Away Your Stone”

God of renewal and rebirth, please help me remember that your grace helps me become a new creation, even when I think I have messed everything up. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23
“The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom…It is the decisive event demonstrating that God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven.”
–N.T. Wright
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church 

God, help us to daily live your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

Thursday, March 24 – Maundy Thursday

Scripture: John 13:1-35
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 feel?” 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.”

“If someone is sick or in pain I’m quick to have compassion. But if someone is acting badly, maybe hurting themselves or others, I often blame them, feeling frustration, anger, even fury. That’s refusing to wash feet. It implies that life-success is in avoiding ugliness. Foot-washing, however, says that life-success is right there, with the dirty feet, cleaning up the ugliness.”
–Alex Cook

Remind me, O God, that washing feet is not optional work-it is your work-it is holy work. Amen. 

Friday, March 25 – Good Friday

Scripture: Mark 15:42-47
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where the body was laid.

O Lamb of God
O Bread of Life,
O Light of the World,
O Prince of Peace,
O Bright Morning Star,
Lead us through our lukewarm faith
through the death-shrouded Friday
to the justice and mercy of your Easter dawning.
May we have the faith to speak your gospel of life
In this world of death
And the love to live abundantly.
We would see Jesus!
–Ann Weems, The Anointed One

Dear God, on this day of darkness and starkness, may I hear the whisper that a new day will dawn soon! Amen. 

March 26 – Holy Saturday
So give us the palms and give us a parade,
but O God, whisk us right from Palm Sunday
to that “great getting-up morning.”
Have our Easter baskets filled and waiting for us, O God,
because this year we’re tired and we’re scared
and we just want a little peace and quiet.
And so we turn and run
or we kneel and pray for mercy and for miracles
and the eyes to see this Jesus
named Emmanuel,
the eyes to see that God is with us.
Ann Weems, From Advent’s Alleluia to Easter’s Morning Light

Patient God, be with me as I wait for what I cannot see. Amen.

March 27 – Easter Sunday

SCRIPTURE: Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

BSPC Lenten Devotional – Monday, March 14 – Saturday, March 19

THEME: Generosity – Scripture: Mark 14:1-9
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.’

Monday, March 14
“The woman who anoints Jesus compels me with the way her being seems to match his in its integrity, its wholeness of purpose. Her power is not only that she has intuited the wounding that will come to Jesus and offers balm to him but also that her action of breaking and pouring out somehow mirrors his own. In a world in which women in particular are acculturated to be endlessly accessible, to empty ourselves constantly in the service of others, the tableau of Jesus and the anointing woman tells us: choose well where you pour yourself out.”
–Rev. Jan Richardson, “Sanctuary of Women”

Renewing God, as I pour myself out, help me also to be replenished by the Living Water.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 15
“The fact is, we are all both sheep and goat. We are both bearers of the Gospel and receivers of it. We meet the needs of others and have our needs met. And the strangeness of the good news is that –like those who sat before the throne and said, Huh? When did we ever feed you Lord? –We never know when it is that we touch Jesus in all of this. All that we have is a promise, a promise that your needs are holy to God. A promise that Jesus is present in the meeting of needs and his kingdom is here.”
–Rev. Nadia Boltz-Weber, ECLA

The poor are with us even now, Lord. Help me worship you by serving all.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 16
“Sometimes–oh, just once in a blue moon–I resist being receptive to God’s generosity, because I’m busy with a project and trying to manipulate (God) into helping me with it, or with getting my toys fixed or any major discomfort to pass. But God is not a banker or a bean counter. God gives us even more, which is so subversive. God just gives, to us, to you and me. I mean, look at us! Yikes. God keeps giving, forgiving and inviting us back.”
–Anne Lamott

Generous God, thank you for always giving, forgiving, and inviting me back. Your extravagant generosity leaves me breathless and in awe of you.  Amen.

Thursday, March 17
All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou are mine.
–J.W. Van Deventer

O God, accept my all–my time, talents and gifts–my life.  Amen.

Friday, March 18
“Generosity is freely sharing what you have with others. It is being willing to offer money, help or time when it is needed. To be generous means giving something that is valuable to you without expectation of reward or return. Many traditions measure generosity not by the size of the gift, but by what it cost the giver.” –Anonymous

O God, give me a generous heart willing to give what is valuable to me without expectation of reward or return.  Amen.

Saturday, March 19
“Rather than offering justification for neglecting the poor, Jesus is identifying with the poor and defenseless and affirming service to them. In an act of spontaneous and lavish love, the woman ministered to Jesus as he faced the ultimate vulnerability of death. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve Jesus directly.
Jesus reminded the disciples they would not always have him physically present to serve and adore. But you will always have the poor! Jesus tells his disciples that ‘in my physical absence, the poor are to be seen as those on whom you lavish your love for me.’ The point is made explicit in Matthew 25 when Jesus said, ‘Inasmuch as you did to the least of these you did to me.’
‘The poor you always have with you’ is not a resignation to the intractability of poverty or a calloused excuse to ignore the plight of the poor. It is an invitation to meet, love and serve the Crucified and Risen Christ in ‘the least of these.’”
–Bishop Kenneth L. Carder

Help me to show generosity and lavish love to all in your kingdom.  Amen.

BSPC Lenten Devotional – Monday, March 7 – Saturday, March 12

THEME: Forgiveness – Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34

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. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 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.

Monday, March 7
Forgive, O God, our agenda keeping rather than covenant keeping.
Forgive the arrogance of preferring our own words to yours.
Forgive our egoism that leads us to think we are wiser than you.
Forgive our busyness that makes us turn away from the war-pocked world.
Forgive our divisiveness that they might say of us again:
“How those Christians love one another!”
Forgive our controlling ways, our bowing down to power and wealth and greed.
Forgive us for making rules we’d rather follow than yours.
Give us eyes to see Jesus, the courage to stand up and speak out his name.
–From the poem “Diluting the Gospel” by Ann Weems

Dear God, give me eyes to see your Son and the courage to stand up and speak out his name. Amen.

Tuesday, March 8
“Praying means to stop expecting from God that same small-mindedness which you discover in yourself. To pray is to walk in the full light of God, and to say simply without holding back, ‘am a man (or a woman) and you are God.’ At that moment, conversion occurs, the restoration of the true relationship. Man (or woman) is not the one who once in a while makes a mistake and God is not the one who now and then forgives. No, man (or woman) is a sinner and God is love.”
–Henri Nouwen

O God, call me back into right relationship with you! I’m human and you are God. I’m a sinner and you LOVE! Amen.

Wednesday, March 9
“When God forgives us and purifies us of our sin, God also forgets it. Forgiveness results in God dropping the charges against us.”
–Billy Graham

Merciful God, when I ask for forgiveness, thank you for forgiving and forgetting my sins. Help me, O God, to do likewise and move on in the assurance of your love and acceptance.  Amen.

Thursday, March 10
“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured ‘I’m sorry,’ then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.”
–Maya Angelou

Merciful God, may I look in the mirror each morning and see my face, my own glory, not my mistakes! Amen.

Friday, March 11
“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience. When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride. For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each other’s presence.”
–Frederick Buechner

Loving and forgiving God, I long for true freedom and peace found only in you. Help me to forgive when I have been wronged and seek forgiveness when I have wronged another.  Amen.

Saturday, March 12
“Knowing we are forgiven is about being free (and freed). Engaging in the act of forgiving is also about being free (and freed). It often seems easier to judge, regulate, and resent. But it is actually freeing when we discover we do not have to do any of that. We often do not want to forgive people, but we do want to be free. Freedom from our resentments leads us to living without fear. And we all want that.”
–Jane Shaw, “A Practical Christianity: Meditations for the Season of Lent”
Forgive me, Lord, and help me forgive others so that I can be free.  Amen.