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 Lectionary Readings for Ash Wednesday Psalms 95, 32, 143, 102, 130; Amos 5:6-15; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14

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 Lectionary 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

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

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

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

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

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 Lectionary Readings for March 12: Psalm 45, 47, 48; Deuteronomy 9:4-12; Hebrews 3:1-11; John 2:13-22

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, [53] Deuteronomy 9:13-21 Hebrews 3:12-19 John 2:23-3:15


"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


“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

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 [83] or 42, 43, 85, 86 Jeremiah 10:11-24 Romans 5:12-21 John 8:21-320

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

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