Saturday, April 20
So Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’s body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in Joseph’s own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. — Matthew 27:59-61
A poor Galilean rabbi was accused, tried, found guilty, and executed Friday. It is rumored that he will rise from the dead. So today I came to the place where he is buried. I have heard many stories about this Galilean restoring other people’s lives. I hope I’ll see a miracle — a dead man brought back to life!
I heard that two of his secret disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, received permission to take the Galilean’s body down from the cross and bury him. They anointed his body with myrrh and aloes and wrapped him in linen and spices and laid him in the tomb.
When I arrive, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are sitting opposite the tomb praying and weeping. Mary says the Galilean’s name is Jesus. Someone has rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb. Even if he is resurrected on the third day as promised, I don’t see how he will escape from the tomb.
Mary reminds me that all things are possible with God. So on this Holy Saturday, I will stay here by his tomb and await with Jesus the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life.
— The Rev. Earl Beshears
Daily Scripture Readings for Saturday, April 20: Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2019
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man.”
Those of us with long memories will recall those words a little differently: “Behold the man!” Nobody says “behold” anymore, so the word has been banished even from the liturgical reading of Scripture; but perhaps you’ll let me have “behold,” just for today.
“Behold the man!” What Pilate means is something like this: “Oh, look at the poor fellow.” He means to express pity and contempt: pity for this beaten, bruised, bleeding wretch; contempt for the chief priests who see in this weakling—this man who can’t even be bothered to defend himself—a threat to their power.
But his words say more than he means. “Behold the man!” It’s not just “Look at this guy.” It’s “Behold human being itself, its fulfillment and perfection, not as an abstract ideal, not as a pious hope, but incarnate in this flesh and these bones, bleeding real blood, suffering real pain, and enacting real obedience at an unimaginable cost.”
Christ, as William Porcher DuBose said, is “the truth and the fulfillment of every” human being, and so there is “no higher act of ourselves, or exercise of our personality, than in becoming and being no longer ourselves, but Christ.” Yet too often I would rather be myself, rather claim any identity but his, than bow my head to his easy yoke. And it is my own self-assertion, or my own self-negation, that laid on him the burden that he willingly bore:
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus.
I it was denied thee.
I crucified thee.
But all of that was crucified with him, and it is dead to me, and I to it, if only I will take hold of that perfect humanity, which, having done all it was commanded to do, pronounced in the voice of the great high priest the great Amen: “It is finished, accomplished, done to perfection.”
What he has been for us, he wants also to be in us and with us: the perfect human life, divinely lived. Behold the man!
— The Rev. Canon Dr. Thomas Williams
Daily Scripture Readings for Friday, April 19: Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2019
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” — John 13:34
The readings today each encourage us to remember. In the Hebrew Scriptures reading from Exodus, we hear the story of the Passover. The people are told that it is to be a day of remembrance for them that they are to celebrate annually as a “festival to the Lord.”
In the Epistle lesson, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the celebration of the first Lord’s Supper by Jesus, in which he tells the disciples that they are to partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of Him.
In the Gospel lesson, we hear the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and are led to remember Christ the servant of all.
We are certainly called to remember these events, but we are also called to respond. Jesus says to the disciples that they are to wash each other’s feet just as he has done for them. He concludes by giving them a new commandment, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
As we prepare for the Easter celebration, perhaps today is a day we should pause to remember those events that are such a significant part of our history. But it is also a day that we should reflect on the ways we are living into our call to love and serve each other.
Is the love of Christ sufficiently guiding and shining through us today, or is there more we could be doing in service to Christ and to our neighbor? Are we doing enough that we can stand with the Psalmist and proclaim, “I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people”?
— The Rev. Scott Nonken
Daily Scripture Readings for Thursday, April 18: Psalm 116:1, 10-17 Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 John 13:1-17, 31b-35
MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2019
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. — Psalm 51:1-2
Today’s Psalms and Hebrew Scriptures reading speak to cleansing using water as a metaphor, letting go, and nature. Create a clean heart and right spirit. Desire truth from your inner being and knowing, and draw from the simplicity of water and nature. Destroy old vineyards that may have produced poor harvests based on unrooted thoughts, not grounded in truth or from a clean spirit.
In my spiritual journey, I have noticed that when I hold on to ideas and emotions that don’t serve me presently, I struggle. I don’t recognize truth but stray to historic events, ideals, or popular beliefs that are no longer grounded in fact or foundation.
We live in a world where social media and “news” come to us in many different forms.
I draw key messages in today’s scripture that could be summarized as “live your life, not someone else’s life or situation.” I choose to live my own “reality show,” not another’s. Cleansing and letting go the need to be something different from what God intended me to be is a right and proper path to live into my full life’s potential.
- Tim Lanz
Daily Scripture Readings for Monday, April 15: Psalm 51:1-18(19-20), 69:1-23; Jeremiah 12:1-16; Philippians 3:1-14; John 12:9-19
SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2019 | Palm Sunday
As Jesus was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
— Luke 19:37-40
The descent from the Mount of Olives into the City of Jerusalem that Jesus took is quite steep. When one is walking down that path, it is necessary to be very careful not to succumb to the incline.
Yet, when Jesus was proceeding on a colt along this path, we are told that many people were lining the way and spreading their cloaks on the road. They were praising God joyfully as the Lord passed by them, acknowledging all the deeds of power that they had seen in observing the ministry of Jesus. It must have been a wonderful display of jubilant thanksgiving!
But there were some dissenters in the group along the way, who told Jesus to order the celebration to cease. There always were and have been and are such dissenters around Jesus, not agreeing with his radical challenges to the hierarchies and systems that create enmity and discord among peoples.
Jesus responded personally to those dissenters that day, indicating that he would not silence the voices of joy and praise and thanksgiving; he would not stop the “multitude of the disciples” from throwing down their cloaks in homage to him.
It is fair to ask the question: Who are we as we observe Jesus entering into the Holy City? Are we able to see with the eyes of our hearts the deeds of power and works of divine love that transcend the ways of the world? Do we joyfully sing praises of thanksgiving for what God is doing through the presence of Jesus with us? Or are we afraid to let go of what seems to be our security and settle with scales on our eyes that will not see within our hearts—hearts prepared for us by God?
The dynamics of this day in Jesus’s life are the dynamics of every day in our lives as baptized and made in the image of God. “I tell you, if these disciples were silent, the stones would shout out.”
— The Rt. Rev. Barry Howe
Daily Scripture Readings for April 13: Psalm 31:9-16 Isaiah 50:4-9a Philippians 2:5-11 Luke 23:1-49
SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2019
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
- Psalm 42:7-8
Most days I “zoom” between each of the many roles I play in this life and between my personal and work appointments and interactions. I do my best to make connections with others and stop to feel God’s presence.
I admit that I often have difficulty quieting my mind to let God in. I also admit to feeling overwhelmed at times — as though waves were crashing over me and I have to concentrate to find to my breath.
That is why this Psalm called to me. The imagery it creates with “your waves have rolled over me,” and the tenderness of God commanding his lovingkindness in the daytime, and allowing that to be with us through the night, touched me.
I fall asleep almost every night with the rhythmic sounds of my son’s breaths on his ventilator. If I wake in the night, it’s as though my son’s breaths are God’s reminder to me to quiet my mind and know that he is with me.
My son is alive and so loved. This song in the night is a reminder that God’s love remains a constant part of my life, even when I’m faced with adversity.
— Kerry Carlisle
Daily Scripture Readings for April 13: Psalm 137:1-6(7-9), 144, 42, 43; Jeremiah 3 1:27-34; Romans 11:25-36; John 11:28-44
FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2019
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” — John 11:25-26
Jesus promises us eternal life though the belief in him. He is the resurrection. Our spiritual life is not threatened by death. By faith, we enter everlasting life. This gift is given to us through committing to the Lord, trusting in the Lord.
This passage reveals several truths about death. As Christians, we never die. We are promised eternal life through our faith. This promise allows us to live without fear, fully and freely. Celebrating this truth, we can embrace the present moment with joy in our hearts, knowing the resurrection of our souls is promised to us. We die only to live again!
— Blair Crimmen
Daily Scripture Readings for April 12: Psalm 22, 141, 143:1-11(12); Jeremiah 2 9:1, 4-13; Romans 11:13-24; John 11:1-27
THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2019
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore. — Psalm 131
This Psalm is incredible to me. The metaphor is one of gentleness. Maybe Mary sang this to Jesus. The final verse was fulfilled by him. Now, “The Still, Small Voice” was for all the World to hear, and its Message was of Love and Peace.
— Rex Cain
Daily Scripture Readings for April 11: Psalm 131, 132, , 140, 142; Jeremiah 26:1-16; Romans 11:1-12; John 10:19-42
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019
But of Israel God says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
— Romans 10:21
All day long ... it makes me weary just to read this line. The passage is referring to the people of Israel, who refuse to listen to God or who listen but do not obey. I remember feeling exhausted at the end of a day with children who may have been contrary! Of course, it is not just children who are willful, stubborn, or disobedient. How many times a day do I ignore God’s nudging and instead try it my way?
How remarkable is it that God continues to hold out a hand to us as we continue to be contrary? Just pondering this fills me with gratitude.
Over the last few years, I have made an attempt to focus on being grateful. As I was walking into Publix one afternoon this February, I was keenly aware that I was venturing out into the sunshine in short sleeves. My siblings were experiencing a blizzard and below-zero temperatures in North Dakota. I remember as a child being excited for a snow day and staying home from school. As an adult, it was lovely to spend a snow day cooking a hot meal, curling up with a book in front of the fireplace and looking out the window at the snowfall. Now I love venturing out in short sleeves and no jacket in February! Finding gratitude in all situations.
This Lent may we ponder and experience gratitude in this truth, that despite our tendency to be contrary and disobedient, God is steadfast. “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” May gratitude be our response and guide our actions.
— Bonnie Dickinson
Daily Scripture Readings for April 10: Psalm 119:145-176, 128, 129, 130; Jeremiah 25:30-38; Romans 10:14-21; John 10:1-18
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2019
“The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where [Jesus] comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” — John 9:30-33
Spiritual blindness is something I struggle with daily. In our busy lives, it is easy to focus on the tangible, things we can see and touch as our blessings, rather than what we know and believe to be true.
I often share this with my children when they ask for something, or feel as if they were physically overlooked, or that they didn’t receive something they asked for even when they helped someone, did a good deed, or did the right thing.
It is also hard, as an adult, to remain focused on the spiritual and not the tangible when you know you “do good” and live a godly life despite chaos and dishonesty around you.
I remind my family to trust that God listens, blesses, protects, and helps us every day! God is responsible for everything, and though we cannot see some of his blessings, they are because of him.
— Samantha Nevins
Daily Scripture Readings for April 9: Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73; Jeremiah 22:13-23; Romans 10:1-13; John 9:18-41
MONDAY, APRIL 8, 2019
“As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” — John 9:1-3
Perhaps because I’m using my Procrustean saw, I sense a shared theme in today’s four Bible passages — judgment — not the Capital J, Trumpets Ablare Grand Finale one, just the tendency or mind-set to judge our fellow humans.
The Jeremiah text tells of two baskets set on the temple steps, one containing very good figs and the other containing very bad figs. The good are deemed to represent those arbitrarily exiled from Judah and the bad those who expelled them and those left behind. An angry, wrathful God reveals to Jeremiah that he will exact revenge on the “bad figs,” pursuing them to the ends of the earth, and the “good figs” God will build up, plant, bring back, and “give a heart to know” that they are his people. Sword, famine, and pestilence will he visit on the others until they perish from the land. (But how does God really feel about them?)
Idly I wonder, who placed the baskets of figs on the steps? Who would knowingly offer figs so bad they couldn’t be eaten? Someone of a like mind with the Lord? Which came first — the analogy suggested by the figs or the judgment and revenge, with the figs as serendipitous educational props?
In Romans 9:19-33, just before and after “God’s Wrath and Mercy,” it is said that God has mercy on whomever he chooses, but also hardens the heart of whomever he chooses. Clearly a selection process is implied. Or in a word, judgment. Arbitrariness also comes to mind. God says, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” However, a watershed is suggested: pure faith, rather than works, will determine who is saved and who is not, whether Jew or Gentile. Yet God will be the final arbiter.
John speaks of Jesus’s healing of the blind man. The man is judged by his fellows — is his blindness the consequence of sin? His or his parents’? Jesus says no, he was chosen to be an example of God’s works revealed in him. So, again, judgment or no judgment? The designation of one as an Other, a setting aside, the demonstration of a divide.
I relate to these passages as an uncomfortable self-questioning about judging.
The only point I can cling to in my favor is that as I crumble gently into old age, I am compelled to say to myself — “You’re a fine one to talk!” There, but for the grace of God goes each and every one of us.
Oh! To be more like Jesus — to not only live and let live, but to love and to celebrate what is in others even if it is no more than their Otherness.
And, lest we despair, fear not! In his brilliant sermon at St. Peter’s on February 10, the Rev. Canon Thomas Williams highlighted the prayer on p. 337 of the BCP that reminds us that, though we might not be worthy to so much as gather up the crumbs under the Lord’s table, he is the same Lord “whose property is always to have mercy.”
— Marilyn Hobbs
Daily Scripture Readings for April 8: Psalm 31, 35; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Romans 9:19-33; John 9:1-17
SUNDAY, APRIL 7, 2019
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:13-14
There are many choices in how we live our lives, and the world offers many paths to reach our common goal of fullness of life. As the poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I’ve always felt drawn to religion as holding the depths of human experience of divine wisdom. Even the root of the word religion means to tie fast; to bind up all the disparate experiences of our life; to find that deep running current that can carry us to fullness of life.
In today’s Gospel story, about Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair, I see an icon of that deep current of wisdom coming to fruition in an act of love, devotion, forgiveness, gratitude, and humility.
Oh, that my life may come to that deep place of offering. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
— The Rev. Canon Sam Tallman
Daily Scripture Readings for April 7: Psalm 126; Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8
SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 2019
“With God we shall do valiantly; it is God who will tread down our foes.” — Psalm 108:13
The Psalmist, Paul, John, and others, such as mystic Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), call each of us to open eyes, ears, and innermost selves to God’s subtle call to wholeness and integrity. God’s call is persistent, though often difficult to discern given the world’s many voices demanding immediate attention. The cacophony of voices we hear recall Hamlet’s cry: “The times are out of joint — O cursed spite, that ever I was born to put them right.” But he was — and we are.
Teresa offers a perspective that recasts Hamlet’s dilemma: “I can never wish for a better friend than God, who even in this life grants a far greater peace than I am able to desire. If I have God, I will want for nothing.” To sum up the many witnesses — “What greater calamity could I experience than to make much of nothing — to cling to that what has no value? If I let go, I will have you, God; you alone suffice.”
Love, service, and prayer are the marks of a God-turned life. Such a life is not one of ease or disengagement from the problems of the world.
Our life, like that of the psalmist, is to seek God, to pray, to pursue justice and kindness, so that we “shall do valiantly.” We need to listen to prophetic warnings against those who see themselves as favored in God’s sight, or who completely disregard the living God. We need to stop and listen to Paul’s letter to the church at Rome — “It all depends on God’s mercy.” The sign of that mercy is our love, service, prayer, justice, and kindness, best seen in the spiritual food of Christ’s Body and Blood shared in the Beloved Community on earth.
— Bob Flannery
Daily Scripture Readings for April 6: Psalm 107:33-43, 108:1-6(7-13), 33; Jeremiah 23:9-15; Romans 9:1-18; John 6:60-71
FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2019
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” — Romans 8:35
We had just finished reading Romans 8:28-39 in The Good Book Club when lo and behold, I was assigned it for this meditation. Really! I need to copy it out and paste it on the fridge.
The first part, “All things work together for good,” gets bandied about as an aphorism to meet all sorts of conditions and situations, usually missing the proviso “for those who love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose.” Oh. And then there’s the list of all the things that can
never separate us from the love of God, “hardship or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ... no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (We could include some more modern items such as television, politics, etc. — make your own list.)
But wait. Some of the “things” that might eventually work together for good may, at the moment, seem not so much at the time. How about serious illness, ours or a loved one’s? And then there’s separation. Or calamity. Do you suppose there is a connection between “all things” and the list? Could it be that God, through the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is with us no matter what? You betcha!
I think I will set the reminder on my phone to remind me to read this every Monday. Especially the second part.
— Roberta Poellein
Daily Scripture Readings for April 5: Psalm 102, 107:1-32, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Romans 8:28-39, John 6:52-59
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2019
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” — John 6:51
John’s Gospel helps me to know who Jesus is, as John shares the “I am” passages throughout his writing. This passage about Jesus being the bread of life, and that this bread is His flesh for the life of the world was a challenging one for the Jews and even for the disciples of Jesus. The miraculous feeding of the five thousand with the loaves and fishes took place before Jesus declared that he is the bread of life. The manna in the desert and the miracle of the loaves were physical food for the people. Jesus was providing spiritual food that lasts eternally. Jesus is the true bread, since God sent him to bring life to the world through his death and resurrection.
I believe that each Sunday I am blessed by receiving the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Bread of Life. This gift is my spiritual food that strengthens me during my journey of faith, deepens my relationship with Jesus my Savior, and encourages me to reach out beyond myself to the larger community.
I also have the privilege as a Eucharistic visitor to bring Holy Communion to members of the Cathedral and residents of Westminster Shores, where I live. They are unable to come to Church due to physical limitations. I know that they are also blessed and strengthened by the Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, as I serve them and visit with them each Sunday.
Each time I attend the liturgy, the prayer after the Breaking of the Bread always touches my spirit as the priest prays: “The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 365)
— Kathy Kelly
Daily Scripture Readings for April 4: Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73; Jeremiah 22:13-23; Romans 8:12-27; John 6:41-51
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 2019
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” — John 6:35
Pumpernickel, white, pita, oatmeal, English muffin, rye, tortilla, brioche, whole grain, naan, and hundreds of other delicious kinds of bread. Isn’t bread the basis of almost every culture’s diet?
Grains have been cultivated for many thousands of years and made into bread around the world. Ezekiel was told by God to take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt and use them to make bread.
Bread is a staple, and sometimes the only, food that many people have to sustain them. Many of us eat it daily, perhaps at every meal, but maybe we overlook how essential it is.
When Jesus declared “I am the bread of life,” he was giving us a vivid image of how essential he is to our spiritual life, as bread from grains is to our bodies.
When we were children, our parents took care that we were well nourished. Now our task is to take care of our own nourishment every day.
That includes not only our bodies, but also our souls. How do we manage our spiritual nourishment? If we feed our spirits only occasionally, we are probably pretty malnourished spiritually and very hungry and weak. If it is once a week, are we able to maintain good health? Every day we need the spiritual food that God provides so abundantly. However you do it, find a way to get the daily “bread” that you need.
Remember that bread for our bodies comes in many forms. Find the form of spiritual bread that feeds you best and maintains your good health. Blessings, and thanks to God for all our bread.
— Cynthia Garrels
Daily Scripture Readings for April 3: Psalm 101, 109:1-4,20-30, 119:121-144; Jeremiah 18:1-11; Romans 8:1-11; John 6:27-40
TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2019
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Humanity will give you. — John 6:27
Food has always equaled love to me. It’s probably because my Italian mother showered my father, sister, and me with hearty servings of both. One of my favorite childhood memories is coming home from school on wintry Wednesdays — mom’s day off — to the irresistible smell of her spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove. Following my nose to the kitchen in full snowsuit regalia was as good as life got.
I’ve been widowed twice; both my husbands cooked. The first made memorable omelets, the second (a restaurant critic), threw together things like chicken Marsala and cheese soufflés.
So, food and I have always been in love. But transcendentally more important than anything I ever ate is the love that God has always shown me.
God, in all three of his persons, feeds our spiritual hungers as well as our physical. God holds us when we hurt, smiles when we cavort, comforts when we mourn. He is always there for us, even when it feels as if he isn’t. His food, like his love, is eternal.
— Judy Beck
Daily Scripture Readings for April 2: Psalm 97, 99, , 94, ; Jeremiah 17:19-27; Romans 7:13-25; John 6:16-27
MONDAY, APRIL 1, 2019
Lent is a time that offers us an opportunity to reflect on our spiritual journey. It is a time of intentional devotion to God. Lent may entail giving up (fasting from) something for God. Why would we do that? By giving up something we really like (perhaps even waste time on), we make more time for God in our lives. And each time we “cheat,” “slip,” and do the very thing we gave up, we have an opportunity to turn back to God. In short, fasting (and even “failing” in our attempt) returns our attention to our commitment to God. In our striving to give up something, we actually can also become aware of our other little “idols.” (The false “god” chocolate, or political rants, or road rage, or anything that we just “can’t do without.”) Lent gives us a limited time to practice turning to our true God and coming to terms with our hunger and need for God. Ironically, there is a real sense of freedom in that.
— Emily Williams
Daily Scripture Readings for April 1: Psalm 89:1-18, 89:19-52; Jeremiah 16:10-21; Romans 7:1-12; John 6:1-15
SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2019
From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! — 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
At Berkeley Preparatory School, I hold a spiritual discipline of referring to students as children of God. What children of God are absent today? This mistake is what you have done — a child of God is who you are. What did that curious child of God get into today?
This, of course, is rooted in my theological understanding of humanity as created in God’s image; radiating the goodness of God in the world. Paul illuminates this notion in the Epistle reading today, beckoning us to regard one another not from a human standpoint, but instead as reconciled in Christ Jesus. Easy to do when human reflections line up with God’s likeness. But, in times of abuse or egregious harm, distorted reflections are on display in the world, challenging me to evermore continue to see God in the face of the wayward other.
Lent is a stark reminder of my own waywardness, and that God offers that very grace to me — especially when I distort God’s image in the world.
At a football game this fall, I ran into a former student who recently transferred to Plant High. He came up to me and said, “Chaplain Brandon, remember me, Hayden? I’m now at Plant, but I am still a child of God!”
Yes, you are, Hayden.
May we all do so well to remember this truth. Amen.
— The Rev. Brandon Peete
Daily Scripture Readings for March 31: Psalm 32 Joshua 5:9-12 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
SATURDAY, MARCH 30, 2019
“Whoever belongs to God, hears what God says.” — John 8:47
When we pray, are we truly open to God’s response? Surely we want to be. What prevents us?
When my brother died and I was overwhelmed with grief, I yearned for consolation. One night as I lay in bed thinking of my brother, dozing, dreaming, I saw him walking under an archway of trees. He turned and smiled at me and went on. Peace washed over me.
I tried to tell others what had happened. Their eyes reflected sympathy, maybe even pity. They thought my pain made me
imagine my new peace. I suppose that is possible. Or perhaps I was given a gift, an answer to my prayer. To hear what God says, don’t we need to open our hearts and listen?
— Deborah Abraham
Daily Scripture Readings for March 30: Psalm 87, 90, 136 Jeremiah 13:1-11 Romans 6:12-23 John 8:47-59
FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. — Psalm 91:14-16
Today’s psalms are 88, 91, and 92. These psalms were written by at least two different people, and they express completely different prayers. The first, Psalm 88, is a cry of utter despair that reflects the total depression of the writer and the strong likelihood that he will soon take his own life. I do not recommend that anyone read this Psalm, and it should never be shown to children.
By contrast, Psalms 91 and 92, possibly both written by the same author, are loud cries of triumph and of joy. The writer knows that God will protect him and will return the love and trust that he proclaims. He sings praises to God’s name. He will not fear the terror of the night nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness. He knows that God’s enemies shall perish, and all evildoers shall be scattered.
All that he writes is a testament to the goodness of God and the writer’s belief that God is our refuge. We should all shout in triumph and proclaim that God is our rock, in whom there is no unrighteousness. He hath set his love upon us: “with long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”
— Arturo Macias
Daily Scripture Readings for March 29: Psalm 95* & 88, 91, 92 Jeremiah 11:1-8, 14-20 Romans 6:1-11 John 8:33-47
THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2019
Jesus said: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” — John 8:12
When we seek the Light of Jesus for ourselves or others, the reflection of goodness shines out. When I seek the Light of Jesus, my thoughts clear, and I experience joy. The Light of Jesus contains Love and knowledge, wisdom and truth. If I believe the Light of Jesus is inside of me, then I must believe that I have a responsibility to shine this Light on all who I meet.
One of the obstacles to shining the Light of Jesus on others is our inborn need to judge. From the age of two, we say what we do not like. My mother used to say to my dislikes, “What you do not like does not amount to a hill of beans.” Dislikes may become situations, languages, and/or people. Judging is a tool used to separate. Paul says in Romans that judging violates the lesson of Love and becomes sin.
It is a hard task, but every day I try to cast off the beliefs and works of darkness and place myself in the armor of Light (“armor” can mean protection or amore, Love). Jesus’s Light allows us to shine goodness and Love on all who we meet. This Light also protects us from the negativity floating around us. Whenever I remember, I ask Jesus to give me the strength to pay attention to the creativity, beauty, and goodness that are to be found in each of us. We are all struggling under the
pressures of today’s world. I deeply believe that it is the armor/amore of Jesus Light and Love that can, does, and will be the force that helps us solve human and earthly problems.
I pray this is true. Praise be to our God and Jesus. Amen.
— Anita Pernell-Arnold
Daily Scripture Readings for March 28: Psalm  or 42, 43, 85, 86 Jeremiah 10:11-24 Romans 5:12-21 John 8:21-320
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” — Romans 5:1-2
I attended the recent Quiet Day at the Cathedral with the Rev. Jean Hite, who led us through meditations inspired by the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel. During the mediation about prayer, I was moved by the quote: “Prayer is an invitation to God to intervene in our lives, to let God’s will prevail in our affairs.” My meditation inspired me to pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, may your peace and grace be known to me and spread through me to the world.”
I believe this is exactly what Paul was writing to the Romans: recognize and honor the grace received and share it in the world.
— Karen Torrisi
Daily Scripture Readings for March 27: Psalm 119:97-120, 81, 82 Jeremiah 8:18-9:6 Romans 5:1-11 John 8:12-20
TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2019
"No distrust made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” — Romans 4:20-22
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded again that through our long history starting with Abraham, God will offer us redemption as long as we have faith in him as our God. Abraham had faith in God — and yet throughout history, we see this conflict of belief in a God appearing again and again. We, as humans, find it hard to believe that God loves us no matter what, and what he asks in return is faith.
With the dawn of Christianity, God gives us his son as living proof that there is a God, and yet we continue to stumble. God will always love us, and our faith and belief in God will give us never-failing redemption
— Sarah Hill
Daily Scripture Readings for March 26: Psalm 78:1-39,40-72 Jeremiah 7:21-34 Romans 4:13-25 John 7:37-52
Monday, March 25, 2019
“Greeting, favored one! The Lord is with you.” — Luke 1:28
These words spoken to Mary as Jesus’s birth is foretold are words of great comfort and hope. Which is good news, since life becomes increasingly difficult for Mary after these words are spoken.
I often wonder, if in the course of her life, Mary revisited these words. When Jesus was difficult as a child. When Jesus began to grow in notoriety. When Jesus began to get in trouble with those in authority. When Jesus spoke of dying. When Jesus died. When Jesus lay dead in the tomb.
“Greeting, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
Through Pop-up Prayer (a daily live video that I do on Facebook and accessible here) and my work in the city of St. Petersburg, I have come to meet a variety of different people. One such person is a mom who has adopted a number of special-needs children. She loves them wholeheartedly, and in sharing the love of her beautiful family, along with holding as sacred the stories of people’s lives, I have come to see that being favored by God doesn’t make one’s life easy. No, never easy. But, being favored by God does make our lives holy.
Dear ones, each of us is called by God. Each of us is marked “favored.” May we see the holiness of our lives — that God is with us — as sustaining and life-giving through the hardest moments we will face. Because those moments will come, and God being with us is often all we can hold onto.
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
God is with you indeed — may the holiness of God’s presence guide us always.
— The Rev. Canon Katie Churchwell
Daily Scripture Readings for March 24: Psalm 45; Isaiah 7:10-14; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2019
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. — Psalm 63:1-8
Each Sunday we listen to four lessons of faith from the Bible. But sometimes it only takes one word or sentence to grab our attention and give us a word of life. For me, that moment came when reading Psalm 63, verse 8: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Wow! Can it be said any more plainly? What a perfectly clear message of faith for our Lenten journey. We are encouraged by the psalmist to cling, stick, grab, or adhere to God like Superglue and never let go.
In all of life, facing adversities, in health and in sickness, in moments of great joy or of great trouble, we are reminded to bind our hearts to God, to stick to him, to bond with him again in our very souls. Oh, the Word of God, so simple, so succinct and yet so perfect for our lives this Lent 2019!
— The Rev. John Sumner
Daily Scripture Readings for March 24: Psalm 63:1-8 Exodus 3:1-15 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9
Saturday, MARCH 23, 2019
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” — Psalm 23
The opening words of the 23rd Psalm are some of the most healing ever to be prayed. Here is power to change negative thinking, freed from fear, guided into the light.
When the dearest one of my life was stricken with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the diagnosis was dire. Fear and despair consumed me. Any effort to remove fear and negativity from my thought was major. A priest friend suggested when I slept at night, if I had a small crucifix, I should hold onto it as I slept, and not to worry — the presence of Jesus through the crucifix would do the rest. I prayed those words of the psalm constantly; probably 200 times nightly. Blessedly, I was transformed.
Those words, 3,000 years later or more, still possess power for many seeking God’s healing grace. As we truly embrace God, our Shepherd, guiding us toward the light of positive thinking, little do we realize the blessing of God’s healing gift passing through us, his vessel, to another in need. Everyone has the potential to be God’s vessel of love, bringing his healing gift to others.
King David grew up as a shepherd; he knew much about shepherding; the opening words of Psalm 23 proclaim the metaphor of the psalm: “I lack nothing” gives us everything we need. God is our Shepherd!
— Richard Sias
Daily Scripture Readings for March 23: Psalm 75, 76, 23, 27 Jeremiah 5:20-31 Romans 3:19-31 John 7:1-13
Friday, March 22, 2019
“I can do nothing on my own ... I seek to do not my own will but the will of God who sent me.” — John 5:30
Each Sunday, we say the Lord’s Prayer and acknowledge our dependence on God. When we say, “Thy will be done,” I often lower my voice. I find it difficult to put God’s will over my own.
In recovery programs, Step 11 states that “we pray only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” Do I really need to follow such a guideline? Shouldn’t I be able to handle my own concerns? Honestly, I cannot. How often have I imposed my own will on a situation and hurt myself or others? Many times.
So, how do we discern God’s will for us and embrace it? First, we have to be willing to set aside our ego and self-determination. There are ample opportunities privately or in our Cathedral community to do this. For me, morning and evening prayer, meditation, formation classes, a quiet day or a nature walk can help.
Second, we must listen! We can’t listen if we are always busy, always engaged with others. There is no room to hear God’s soft whisper or the subtle intuition we feel when God is nudging us to say ‘yes’ or say ‘no.’
I finish with a prayer from the Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey, Ireland: “Lord, help me to live this day quietly, easily; to lean upon your great strength trustfully, respectfully; to await the unfolding of your
will patiently, serenely; to meet others peacefully, joyously; to face tomorrow confidently, courageously. Amen.
— Kathy Coughlan
Daily Scripture Readings for March 22: Psalm 95* & 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73 Jeremiah 5:1-9 Romans 2:25-3:18 John 5:30-47
THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2019
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. — Psalm 71:18-19a
When I was in junior high school, my family lived in a small town where there was a family-owned store downtown that made wonderful chocolate. There were two apartments above the store, and I would regularly visit an old woman who lived in one of them. Sometimes I would go shopping for her, but most of the time, we just talked.
For some reason, older people and I got along. Perhaps it was because of my grandparents, whom I loved to the point that I visited them instead of my parents every chance I got: from college and from every job I had.
To me, the psalmist is pleading for God to forgive and protect him/her in old age, just as “I have been sustained by you ever since I was born.” I once talked about “old people,” and how badly our society treats them. Now that I am one of them, the elders, I hope God will protect me from my enemies: disease, falls, people who push me aside in the grocery store. “And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.”
I supposed every generation is the hope of the previous one. But “do not abandon me,” do not let my enemies defeat me. You, God, are my protection and my savior.
— Charles Jaynes
Daily Scripture Readings for March 21: Psalm , 71, 74 Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28 Romans 2:12-24 John 5:19-29
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. — Psalm 72
It is sometimes difficult to think in terms of gratitude for all of the good things of life when the world around us seems to be falling apart — either our individual world or the whole thing. When we focus on the day-to-day, we can see chaos and sadness all around. Psalm 72 reminds us that this is God’s world, and in God’s time all will be made right.
Psalm 72 is also a prayer of intercession, asking God to bring about good things. Meanwhile, we can focus on ways we can help bring about that world by our own compassion and actions. We are part of the solution, and we can be grateful for God’s role in our lives and the lives of others.
— Jean Beshears
Daily Scripture Readings for March 20: Psalm 72, 119:73-96, Jeremiah 3:6-18, Romans 1:28-2:11, John 5:1-18
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” — John 4:48
It’s often difficult digesting faith. In this reading, Jesus is asked by a royal official to heal his child. He’s concerned that Jesus must be present and heal him directly. In Jesus’ response, “Go, your son will live,” we see that Jesus’ implied presence is all that is needed, as on his way home the official’s servants meet him and tell him the child was alive. He had, in fact, been healed the moment Jesus said that he would live.
This reminds me that as difficult as it may be sometimes, Jesus need not be here physically to work with us and through us. We are his body in this world as we carry the good news in witness to others. Charged as ministers, we carry the light.
— Phillip Paree
Daily Scripture Readings for March 19: Psalm 61, 62, 68:1-20(21-23)24-36, Jeremiah 2:1-13, Romans 1:16-25, and John 4:43-54
Monday, march 18, 2019
“Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs; You make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.” Psalm 65:8
Living in Florida gives us so many opportunities to see wildlife and magnificent sunrises and sunsets that are prepared for us by God to make us “sing for joy.”
In Psalm 65, the psalmist is praising God in Jerusalem, while admitting how overwhelming our “strong sins” are. Thankfully, after confessing our sins, we are living in forgiveness and can go on to experience the joy of our salvation.
From mountains, roaring seas, water for our crops, and flocks of sheep on the hillside, we are free to cry out in sheer joy over creation. Dolphins playing in our gulf waters surprise us and make us feel as though we have been kissed by God just watching them. God’s provision for us, coupled with extra touches of creation, make us sing for joy from the bottom of our hearts.
So — when was the last time you listened to the dawn and dusk “singing for joy”?
— Nancy Lane
Daily Scripture Readings for March 18: Psalm 56, 57, , 64, 65; Jeremiah 1:11-19; Romans 1:1-15; John 4:27-42
SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2019
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Jesis, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” — Luke 13:31-35
This Lenten passage invites us to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’s life and death and on the role we, his followers, play in his continuing mission. Jesus knows that many prophets have been stoned and killed before him, all trying to show us how much God loves us. But when the Pharisees came to tell him about Herod’s plan, he replies, “Go tell that fox, I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.” His goal was, and still is, to gather us all in love.
Leighton Ford, contemporary pastor and social activist, has said: “God loved us the way we were, but he loved us too much to leave us that way.” In Lent, we offer ourselves anew, and ask forgiveness for those things we have done which we should not have done, and pray that he will strengthen us in our commitment to do those things he calls us to do.
God gives us the gift of life. How we live it is our gift to God. That is our continuing mission.
— The Rev. Canon Millard Neal
Daily Scripture Readings for March 17: Psalm 27, Genesis 15:1-12,17-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1, and Luke 13:31-35
SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2019
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” — John 4:13-14
Jesus’ reply to the Samaritan woman’s question makes a clear distinction between the physical water of the well she was thinking of and the “living water” of which he was speaking. He said that those who drank from the water in the well would become thirsty again, but in contrast those who drank the “living water” would never thirst again. This different water would give eternal life.
This passage reveals several truths about salvation. It is once received and is sufficient for eternity. Jesus clearly states that salvation is everlasting. The illustration is that once drunk (or received), salvation is not repeated. It fully satisfies and does not have to be repeated. Salvation is a one-time event and nourishes the believer’s spiritual growth.
Salvation truly is a spring that brings refreshing, satisfying peace and joy to the soul. In contrast the things of the world do not truly satisfy and leave us thirsting for more.
— Ken Wolfe
Daily Scripture Readings for March 16: Psalm 55, 138, 139:1-17(18-23) Deuteronomy 11:18-28 Hebrews 5:1-10, John 4:1-26
FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” — Hebrews 4:15-16
What a wonderful gift God gave us by sending us his son to live among us — to see and experience our lives and shortcomings during our time as mortals, and to teach us that our shortcomings can be overcome by keeping our faith and belief in God. During Jesus’s ministry on earth, we see many times in scripture what he has taught us about the power of faith — that by belief, the afflicted could be healed; thousands could be fed from a few fish and loaves; and rough waters could be calmed. And isn’t it so in our own lives? Having been tested so many times on earth himself, Jesus understands why, because of life’s pressures, we sometimes stumble, sometimes fall, and sometimes fail. We can all take comfort that we have Jesus as an understanding representative on our behalf when we seek God’s forgiveness in finding our ways back in times of doubt; his guidance when we are seeking answers; and his healing and comfort in times of need.
— Shar Nudelman
Daily Scripture Readings for March 15: Psalm 95, 40, 54,51, Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Hebrews 4:11-16 John 3:22-36
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. — John 3:17
I AM calls into being the magnificence of creation, from the subatomic to the expanse of the galactic. A grand design (Logos), complex, beautiful — a gift freely given. But we are willful, broken, and prone to miss the mark. So Steadfast Love sends us the Logos — “that the world might be saved through Him” — redemption free to all who might accept it.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us ... and thank you.
— Tony Gecan
Daily Readings for March 14: Psalm 50 [59, 60] or 19, 46 Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5 Hebrews 4:1-10 John 3:16-21
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2019
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Humanity must be lifted up. — John 3:14
To understand what Jesus may have been referring to, we turn to a story in Deuteronomy. As the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they so angered God that poisonous snakes were sent among them. As many were bitten and died, the people called to Moses to save them. God instructed Moses to create an image of a snake and lift it high upon a pole. Those who looked on the image were healed and given new life. God had taken the image of their fallenness and death and transformed it into their salvation.
When we see Jesus lifted high upon a cross, we are, at once, gazing upon the image of our own fallenness and the image of salvation. We see the worst of our fallen humanity that would subject an innocent to pain, humiliation, and degradation — the result of our brokenness. Yet we are called to look beyond that broken brutality to see the face of who we are created to be. We see the face of our God who loves us so much that Jesus became human so that we might see our perfected humanity. We see a God who loves us so much that he once again lifts up the very image of our fallen humanity and transforms it, so that we might gaze upon the Son of Humanity and be saved.
— Betsy Adams
Daily Readings for March 13: Psalm 119:49-72, 49,  Deuteronomy 9:13-21 Hebrews 3:12-19 John 2:23-3:15
TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019
Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also “was faithful in all God’s house.” Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear God’s voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my works 10 for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.’
As in my anger I swore,
They will not enter my rest.’ ”
— Hebrews 3:1-11
The audience in this text in Hebrews represents folks like us, followers of Jesus Christ. As in the days of the early Church, we are confronted all the time with distractions that can lead us away from God. The writer reminds us to stay focused on who Christ was as the Son over God’s house. In this way, we should focus on the ministry of Christ and consider how we can participate in that ministry. What talents or time do we have to offer God? How can we help in some type of ministry?
We are then encouraged in verse 7 to listen and actually hear God’s message if God reaches out to us. This may be hard for many of us to do, particularly if it’s not convenient, or if it doesn’t fit neatly into our current schedule or into the plans we may have created for our lives. Yet, history gives us plenty of examples of people not listening to God’s voice, and they never come out ahead. Can we avoid this mistake? Listening to God may be hard, but responding to what seems to be a whisper from God may be even more challenging for most of us.
A prayer we can make is for a sensitive ear to listen to God and a receptive heart to respond to God’s urging to participate in Christ’s ministry.
— Gary Patterson
Daily Readings for March 12: Psalm 45, 47, 48; Deuteronomy 9:4-12; Hebrews 3:1-11; John 2:13-22
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God. — Deuteronomy 8:1
We have an old Arabic saying framed in our living room. The translation reads, “He who denies his heritage has no heritage.”
I think of this saying often, and did so immediately upon reading this verse. It is tempting, when we are doing well, to be proud, and to attribute our good fortune to our own ability and hard work. But really, all that we are, and all that we do, is in large part due to our heritage. I remind myself that we must always be grateful for the lessons we have learned — good and bad — from our ancestors.
While it might then be tempting to credit our ancestors and our earthly circle of influence with shaping us and guiding us, that, of course, wouldn’t be sufficient. It is God who gives us (and our ancestors and influencers, for that matter) the abilities and strength that lead us to success. Without God, we would be nothing, and we would have nothing.
It is so incredibly easy, in the chaotic bustle of today, to forget the power and the grace of God. Let us remember, and let us be grateful.
— Sarah Albert
Daily Lectionary Readings for March 11: Psalm 41, 52, 44; Deuteronomy 8:11-20; Hebrews 2:11-18; John 2:1-12
SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2019
“…Grant that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in thy mercy, and evermore serve thee in holiness and pureness of living, to thy honor and glory; through our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (from the Great Litany, BCP pg. 133)
This excerpt from the Great Litany invites us to call upon the name of Christ, just as Paul advised the Romans in his epistle. There are so many temptations around us each and every day, and unlike Jesus, who resisted temptation in the desert, we likely find ourselves lured in the wrong direction by our own vices in ways that leave us feeling separated from the God who created and loves us just as we are.
Since moving to St. Petersburg, I have often used Waze, a map application on my phone, to help me find my way around. I completely trust its directions, and it has never left me feeling lost. Relying on this app has made me think about my confidence in God’s mercy. Do I live as if I fully trust God’s love and guidance?
On this first Sunday in Lent, take a deep breath and remember that Christ is with us even when we seem to be walking in the wrong direction. This Lent, may we continually turn to God and trust that God’s love is guiding each of us in the way of truth, for ourselves and for serving Christ in all that we do.
— The Rev. Paige Hanks
Daily Lectionary Readings for March 10: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Saturday, March 9, 2019
I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. — Phillippians 4:12
A spiritual journey “having little and having much” is an ebb and flow for me. I have indeed known times of extreme want and times of extreme plenty. Both events I have chosen to witness with gratitude. There have been deserts and periods of barren territory that have filled me with moments of despair; many I have selected as my badge rather than them selecting me.
When I have found myself at my lowest, I am lifted up. I have received gifts of spirit in human and divine forms. I get made “whole” even at the time I want that least because God says “you will be filled up.” Some of the smallest moments are those of biggest grace. God can be found in the quiet, peaceful places; the sad and heartbreaking places; and the places where thousands of people are.
God’s grace is mystical and magical, and my needs are satisfied so I can easily give it back as a God-child, and receive it freely from another.
— Neal Ward
Daily Lectionary Readings for March 9: Psalm 30,32,42,43; Ezekiel 39:1-4,25-32; Philippians 4:10-20; John 17:20-26
FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2019
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12
We are very familiar with the language in the last sentence of this passage, as it mirrors the blessing at communion. (BCP 339). Our catechism tells us that prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words. (BCP 856). An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church indicates that we can pray through words, acts, or silence. Any act or activity offered to God in a spirit of dedication may be prayerful, such as offering ourselves in oblation. We address God in prayers of adoration, petition, penitence, intercession, praise, and thanksgiving. Some prayers are in the form of listening, as in contemplative, meditative, or centering prayer. There are many ways to pray, but our catechism tells us that there are seven principal kinds of prayer and defines them for us (BCP 857). We can be creative in prayer individually, and we can unite with our faith community in corporate worship. There are many ways to the peace of God.
— Susan Churuti
Daily Lectionary Readings for March 8: Psalm 95, 31, 35; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Philippians 4:1-9; John 17:9-19
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. — Philippians 3:12
Have you ever been on a long journey and begun to wonder if you would ever get there: “Are we there yet?” I have experienced that several times, but most definitely on a trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia several years ago that lasted almost 15 hours. I indeed got there, even though it took a long time.
However, Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (3:12-21), speaks about his journey to reach the perfection of God through Jesus and exhorts the Philippians to do the same: “I have not yet arrived. My journey is not complete. I am not complete. God still has work to do.” He makes it clear that, while we are still on the earth, our Christian journey toward the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” can never be fully realized, but we must constantly strive for it. He warns that it may be a difficult course and might require perseverance and discipline.
He tells us that if we are going to press on toward the goal before us, we cannot keep looking behind. There is no profit in agonizing over what has happened in the past; berating ourselves for some act in our past is not moving forward. The past should not drag us down nor should it ever be used as an excuse for not continually moving forward. Complimenting ourselves for what we have achieved or feeling that we have arrived is not moving forward. Christians should not live in the past, but with an eye to the future.
Paul is encouraging all of us to join him in pressing on in our walk in faith. We have not yet arrived, but we must fix our eyes on the goal and strive in God’s strength to reach that for which we are called. We must never ever consider turning back. There is no level of attainment that is high enough; there is no level of attainment so high that we are allowed to slack off in our journey.
We, just like Paul, are awaiting the day when we will fully know Christ Jesus our Lord. A day when we will truly know the power of his resurrection because we will have experienced it for ourselves – a day when we are finally complete and have arrived.
– Ray McColgan
Daily Readings for March 7: Psalm 37:1-18, 19-42; Habbakuk 3:1-10 (11-15), 16-18, Philippians 3:12-21, John 17:1-8
ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. — Hebrews 12:1
Today, the calendar reads Ash Wednesday — but Ash Wednesday is any day when our lot is cast with those who can no longer plan, set goals, have portfolios that secure a place in ordered society. Our lot is cast with those whose stars are no longer aligned, and the “cloud of witnesses” passing by the bus bench on which we are drawn into a self-protective heap are those who are feeling burdened by our social disarray.
Ash Wednesday is any day we know ourselves to be beyond mercy; any day we see that the full consequences of time have come. But we come, suppliants with outstretched hands, to receive grace. Those outstretched hands reveal our part in the order that builds walls, shuts doors, and disregards the wreckage caused by fiat. In those hands we bear the marks of our frailties, the inadequacies of our ideas, our halting willingness. We fear. Has our Lord’s forbearance reached an end?
Yet we come. We have no other hope. We have received mercy before. Perhaps again this Ash Wednesday, coming with downcast eyes and owning our burden of shame, we will receive a word — “seek the Lord and ye shall live.”
— Gabriele Stauf
Daily Readings for Ash Wednesday: Psalms 95, 32, 143, 102, 130; Amos 5:6-15; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14