FIRST REFORMED CHURCH Lenten Devotional OF 2012-07-10¢  2009 Lenten Devotional Graphic by Greg Matusic

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  • 2009

    Lenten Devotional

    Graphic by Greg Matusic

    Members of the Congregation

    FIRST REFORMED CHURCH

    OF SCHENECTADY

    8 N. CHURCH STREET SCHENECTADY, NY 12305

    (518) 377-2201

    For information about the church, its worship services and its programs,

    we invite you to call or visit us. You may also find us on the internet at

    www.1stReformed.com

  • LENTEN SCHEDULE

    Ash Wednesday

    6:00 pm Supper in Assembly Hall 7:00 pm Service in Poling Chapel

    Every Wednesday from March 4th through April 1st

    6:00 pm Supper in Assembly Hall 7:00 pm Lenten Studies/Service in Various Locations

    1.

    “Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A Comparative Study” Dr. Peter Bedford, Chair of Religious Studies, Union College

    2. “The Influence of New Netherlands on Our Faith and Values” Laura Linder and Additional Presenters

    3. “Acts of Kindness”* Christine Daniels and Stacey Midge *This course of service begins at 5:30 and includes preparing and sharing a meal each week with residents of various shelters in our city.

    Maundy Thursday - April 9 8 Pm – Contemplative Communion in Sanctuary Chancel

    Good Friday - April 10 12 noon in Sanctuary

    INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

    First Reformed is grateful for the many people who wrote this Devotional. We could have ordered a ready-made one. We could have simply suggested these passages for Lenten readings at the dinner table. But it’s so much more personal to read what our congregation thinks about these scripture passages that take us, day by day, through Lent. Attending the Lenten dinners and classes certainly prepares us for Easter, but not everyone can take part in these activities. Further, the daily readings provide a quiet time, a meditative time, to remember the Easter story and connect with the individuals writing about these passages. It’s not easy writing a devotional. We sometimes think that we need a minister beside us all the way. The Protestant tradition, however, allows us, urges us, to come to Scripture as we are, see how it calls us personally and forces us to think. Some of us will read these in the morning, before entering the busy day (sometimes the fray). Some of us will read them at the dinner table, engaging the family. Some will read them before bed. Whatever is your fashion is right for you. Read them, consider them, talk to the writers. Let this Devotional lead you to Easter day. We thank Heather Scribner, Office Administrator and Pat Krawczak, Administrative Assistant, for their work on this Devotional. Virginia Laumeister Linda Witkowski

  • February 25, 2009 Sarah Howes Ash Wednesday, 1st Day of Lent Joel 2:1-1, 12-17

    Sackcloth? Repentance? Some say, “repent and be saved” but I was saved and then repented. I opened to God out of sheer desperation, not repentance. God gave me the gift of repentance after first giving me the gift of grace. So I have not experienced repentance outside of the experience of being loved and cherished by the very God whose amazing love pricked my conscience and provoked awareness of my many shortcomings in loving God, my neighbor and myself. We are preparing to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion and celebrate his resurrection. Jesus was divine to me in the sense of coming to earth on a mission of love from God imbued with God’s infinite capacity for loving us and human enough to feel the frustration of dealing with our petty follies topped off by the terror of having to die a gruesome death on the cross to deliver us from the fear that separates us from God. This should take our breaths away. This should knock our socks off. This could make a person humble—repentant—for the silly things we let ourselves get absorbed by instead of focusing on how much God loves us and letting gratitude for that affect everything we do.

    But our foibles in such matters aren’t news to God. God knew that before coming. Jesus left the church in our hands! Can you imagine being Jesus and going through all of the above and then leaving that amazing work in humanity’s hands? Physically anyway—the Spirit was sent, thank God, to guide the actions of our hands and the speech of our tongues if we would only let it. Putting on sackcloth is now an inward discipline—letting God’s Spirit rough up our consciousness to keep us in touch with God’s work of love in all its manifestations. When we let God’s love win in our lives, we experience resurrection and victory over the forces of deathly anxiety, vengeance and whatever else we are letting eat away at us. Ours is not a deeply penitent tradition. We tend to emphasize the good news. But what God has taught me is that the good news is that we can be honest about ourselves—both our goodness and badness— and still be held in God’s loving embrace. Thank you God, for coming into our lives, and always wanting to be accepted ever more deeply into our hearts, and minds, and actions. Open us up in this season of humble preparation to receive what you want to give. February 26, 2009 Gladys and Gordon DePree 2nd Day of Lent Psalm 119:96 “I have noticed limitations to all perfection, but your commandment has no limits at all.” Psalm 119:96 It is difficult to find something big enough to live for. For a few years once discipline may seem interesting, and then the shortcomings and flaws begin to appear. Our interest is drawn to another, thinking this will be big enough to contain life… but again, it ends in disillusionment. What is big enough for me to give my one precious life to, wholly and without reservation? There are words that echo again and again through the pages of the Bible: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… and your neighbor as yourself. These words are so vast that we can never come to the end of them. In never reaching the end of the possibilities they present to us, we

  • can never become disillusioned. If they fail, it is because we have faltered… but always above us and ahead of us, for as far as we can see, these words challenge us and beckon to us. They are the only words in the world big enough to live for. February 27, 2009 Katherine Trimarco 3rd Day of Lent 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 In this scripture, Paul describes how a new life in Christ shows us that we will no longer view ourselves only from a human point of view as we no longer see Christ from only a human point of view. Because God’s grace gives us a new life, we are able to become messengers to others about the reconciliation to God that makes possible this new life. What is this new life like? Reconciliation with God means that the attitudes we hold about ourselves, our identity, and our attitudes about others will change. Instead of seeing ourselves as compared to others, we see ourselves as loved by God. God has made us with unique abilities and opportunities, the use of which only makes sense in the light of arrogance or the frustration and guilt of not measuring up. The relationship with God frees us from that trap. The love of God and the freedom to be oneself give us the courage to seek community in an authentic way. The freedom of the new life is great news! Who could not share such good news with others? Thus, we become messengers of the new life to others. Lord, help us to be always open to your guidance and make us willing messengers of your love in the world. Amen.

    February 28,2009 Carol Troost 4th Day of Lent 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 Carol’s two views of this passage illustrate how full and frought with implication these selections are. The Good News translation of this passage, v. 10 reads… “although saddened, we are always glad; we seem poor, but we make many people rich; we seem to have nothing, yet we really possess everything.” Paul struggled and suffered much as an apostle but was faithful. A hymn written by James Edmeston in 1821 captures some of Paul’s attitude. “Lead Us, Heavenly Father, Lead Us.”

    Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us O’er the world’s tempestuous sea; Guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us, For we have no help but Thee, Yet possessing every blessing, If our God our Father be.

    Savior, breathe forgiveness o’er us; All our weakness Thou doest know ; Thou didst tread this earth before us; Thou didst feel its keenest woe; Lone and dreary, faint and weary, Through the desert Thou didst go. Spirit of our God, descending, Fill our heart with heavenly joy; Love with every passion blending, Leisure that can never cloy;

  • Thus provided, pardoned, guided, Nothing can our peace destroy In this passage, Paul speaks of the hardships he has endured because of his faithfulness as an apostle. In The Message, the translation reads, “please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us….our work as God’s servants gets validated in the details. There’s a hymn, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee,” written by Washington Gladden just after the Civil War. It is a disciple’s prayer that we may be more like Christ in His character and His service to men, despite the cost. Like Paul, Rev. Gladden saw his calling in the “detai