Journey to the CrossBryn Mawr Presbyterian Church
2014 Lenten Devotional
Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:13
Jesus withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. -Matthew 14:13 Throughout the Bible, we find invitations to go to a place apart for quiet, meditative reflection on who God is and who we are in relationship to God. Lent is the season of the Christian year that gives us opportunity to practice that spiritual discipline in a focused way. From Ash Wednesday through Easter we journey with Jesus. We consider his embodying the love of God for the world through his preaching, teaching, provoking the powers, healing the sick and his raising the dead to new life. We follow him to his death and stand at a distance with disciples who denied him and women who weep. We await with great anticipation that joyful Easter dawn when we realize that there is no power great enough to defeat Gods undying love. Life on earth and life eternal are victorious in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Lenten journey inward nurtures us to practice our faith by reaching out in Christian service, as we walk with joy in our step responding to that good news in word and deed, and we live as hopeful people and faithful followers of Christs body, the church.
These Lenten reflections, written by members of our church family, are made available by the Worship Committee as a way of inviting all of us into a deeper observance of Lent. Jesus himself often displayed his need to be alone, to get away from the crowds, to go to a place apart, to pray, to be still and to bask in the knowledge that God is God. So also we are invited to observe Lent by finding a place apart, being still, and reading these scriptures, devotions and prayers to remember Gods sacrificial love for us and for the world, to be nurtured in our love for God, and to recommit ourselves to following Christ in the risky places where he leads his disciples.
Grace and peace,
Agnes W. Norfleet Pastor
Wednesday, March 5 || Ash Wednesday
PrayerExploring the Story in: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
In this continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us (as He so often does) of the importance of the condition of our hearts. He assumes we will be practicing piety, giving alms, and praying. But he suggests that some may do this with impure motives. So during this time of reflection, let us explore our own hearts. Are our devotional practices, our giving, and our prayers motivated by a desire to grow closer to God? Or do we do these things to be noticed, to be counted, or out of a sense of obligation or duty? The implication of this scripture reminds me of the saying Our true character is that which we display when no one is watching. Jesus suggestion that our devotional practices be done in private is not a call away from communal worship, prayer, or offering, but a suggestion that if our practice is an outward expression motivated by a desire for public recognition, then that (and only that) will be our reward. On the other hand, if our practice is an outward expression of an inner desire to love and worship God, then a closer communion with Him will be our reward.
In verses 16-21, the theme continues. What is it that our outward lives indicate? Are we storing up treasures on earth? If so, then the natural result (moths, thieves, rust) will be our reward. But if we are storing up the treasures of true devotion and generosity, our hearts will be full, and no moth or thief can take that away. Most important of all, we will have riches beyond our imagination.
- Elinor Ball
Morning: Pss. 5; 147:111 Evening: Pss. 27; 51 Amos 5:615 Heb. 12:114 Luke 18:914
God, give us genuine hearts, seeking hearts, hearts that are full of the love and generosity that can only come from You. Then may we know and fully understand what it means to be rich. Amen.
Thursday, March 6
Exploring the Story in: Matthew 2:14-18
Few of us, thank goodness, have had to run for our lives. Or, even worse, have had to run with a child to save the childs life. Thats whats happened in these verses. Joseph and Mary listened to the prophets warning and fled to Egypt, thereby saving Jesus from Herods massacre of the children in Bethlehem.
As a parent and grandparent, I cant even imagine the fear they must have felt. As if this young family hadnt been through enough: the potential for public scorn due to an illegitimate pregnancy, a hard journey on foot/donkey when heavy with child, no room at the inn, labor and delivery in an unsterilized stable. Sounds to me like a time for major anxiety, if not sheer panic. Yet somehow, these chosen ones carried on, trusting in the Lord to deliver them while remaining open to His purposes.
In times of trouble in our own lives, it isnt always easy to turn it over to God, is it? Prayer may be comforting, but it can be a challenge to really mean it when we say, Thy will be done. And to give it up and put our faith in God, trusting that no matter what, we are not alone and can rest in the reassurance that the eternal, loving Father is right there by our side.
Turning it over to God is something Ive worked on in my own life, and doing so has never let me down. When I find myself starting to worrywhen fear rises in my throatwhen my imagination runs wild with worst case scenarios I try to stop myself, consider whether I really have any control over the situation, and send it all off to the Almightys care. Sometimes Ive actually felt an invisible hand reaching down to reassuringly take mine. Ah, the gift of faith! May it be so for you, too.
- Donna Barrickman
Morning: Pss. 27; 147:1220 Evening: Pss. 126; 102 Hab. 3:110 (1115) 1618 Phil. 3:1221 John 17:18
Heavenly Father, we pray that our troubles may be few. But when they do arise, we ask that you help us to remember that no matter what, you are there for us. We thank you that there is nothing we have to face alone, and that we can depend on your guidance as you lovingly hold us in the palm of your hand. Amen.
Friday, March 7
Exploring the Story in: Matthew 3:13-17
Lectionary Readings Morning: Pss. 22; 148 Evening: Pss. 105; 130 Ezek. 18:14, 2532 Phil. 4:19 John 17:919
PrayerNo need for fear or deep despairSeekers of God receive his care.No need for fear or deep despairWe are at home and God is there.
Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila
Paige Wilder, Grade 5, Consider the Lilies of the Field
Saturday, March 8
Exploring the Story in: Matthew 3:1-13
By the time of John the Baptist, the message of a coming Messiah had been part of the life of the Jewish people for hundreds of years, since it was first mentioned in Isaiah 40. John arrived on the scene saying that that time was now and urged the people to get ready by repenting their sins.
Johns mission was to prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John prepared the way, not knowing what it would actually look like when Gods kingdom arrived. In describing it, John used phrases like: the axe is laid to the root of the trees [to be] cut down and thrown into the fire and the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. John was expecting a vengeful and mighty Messiah, someone who would clean the world up in a single stroke. But as Dr. N.T. Wright puts it, Instead we get Jesus. A Jesus who seems to be identifying himself, not with a God who sweeps all before him in judgment, but with the people who are themselves facing that judgment and needing to repent. (Matthew For Everyone, Part 1)
Dr. Wright sums up as follows: [Jesus] comes to fulfill Gods plans, not ours, and even his prophets sometimes seem to misunderstand what hes up to. He will not always play the music we expect. But if we learn to listen carefully to what he says, and watch carefully what he does, we will find that our real longings, the hunger beneath the surface excitement, will be richly met.
- Mary Bassett
Morning: Pss. 43; 149 Evening: Pss. 31; 143 Ezek. 39:2129 Phil. 4:1020 John 17:2026
Dear Father, keep us mindful that Jesus came to fulfill your plans for the world and not our own. Help us to listen carefully to His words, and watch carefully His actions, that we might live lives that better exemplify His spirit. Amen.
Monday, March 10
Exploring the Story in: Matthew 4:1-11Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week. While some give something up for Lent as a symbolic fast, as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, others take something on a spiritual practice like deliberate prayer or scripture readingas Jesus prepared for his ministry. Frederick Beuchner says, After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians ask, What is our identity? Calling? Mission?
Jesus was led to the wilderness where he spent 40 days fasting, and, when pained with hunger, Satan arrived to tempt Jesus with food, spectacle, and power. Last year, Agnes challenged us to consider how Jesus, each time he was tempted, used his knowledge of the scriptures to resist temptation.
When tempted with physical food, Jesus said, It is written, Humans dont live on bread alone. (Deuteronomy 8)
When tempted by a grand spectacle, Jesus said, It is written, Dont put the Lord your God to the test. (Deuteronomy 6)
When tempted with power, Jesus said, It is written, Worship the Lord your God and God only shall you serve. (Deuteronomy 6)
Sometimes thats enough: when you journey into a rough, wildernes