LENTEN DEVOTIONAL 2015
BRYN MAWRPRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The word Lent comes from lengthen as in the lengthening days of spring. We move through this season, almost imperceptibly, from the wintery darkness of cold days toward the full bloom of a warmer earth and the flowering glory of Gods creation. Along that winter-into-spring lengthening of days, we begin with Ash Wednesday, mindful of our mortality, and through this journey, we arrive at Easter to rejoice in Gods promises of resurrection made known to us in Jesus Christ.
While the counting down of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter may be an imperceptible lengthening of daylight hours, I hope that this book of devotions will help us be more perceptive of the gifts this journey brings. First, it is a gift from the Worship Committee and fellow church members who devoted considerable time studying these passages of scripture, meditating on their meaning, and putting their reflections into words to be shared among the BMPC family. Secondly, I believe that the corporate gathering of thoughts from varied church members makes tangible our Presbyterian affirmation of the priesthood of all believers, that all of us are ministers of the gospel to whom the scriptures are opened and from whom a gospel word is meant to be shared. Finally, the greatest gifts of this Lenten journey are the holy ones revealed through these Bible passages and their accompanying meditations Gods grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, peace and justice, which culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. These are among the spiritual gifts illumined in the thoughtful pages that follow.
The season of Lent has long been treasured by the church as a time of repentance, of turning from self toward the purposes of God. I hope that you will use this devotional guide as a way of practicing that Lenten disciple so that your journey may be a holy one, set apart for a special focus on the gifts of God for the family of God.
Grace and Peace,
Agnes W. Norfleet Pastor
Wednesday, February 18 || Ash Wednesday
PrayerExploring the Story in: Mark 1:1-14Can anyone imagine a busier passage of scripture? In a mere 14 verses, Mark has introduced so many actors (I count at least five, not counting the crowd) and so much action that we are left breathless before Jesus utters a word.
John is the easiest to interpret: the odd, charismatic preacher who warns the audience of what is coming and what it means. Despite his enormous magnetism, John is candid that his proclamation is not about himself, but about the one who is coming. Satan isnt that hard: he tries to tempt Jesus, who quickly dismisses him--more than can be said for most of us, at least for me! Gods appearance is impossible to ignore, though in Marks version, only Jesus hears it. The appearance of God drives the entire scene. And the fourth actor: Jesus, prophesied, introduced, self-exiled, proclaimed by God and finally readied for his proclamation of the good news, which Mark promises to be an action- packed journey.
The fifth actor in Marks drama, as with any Gospel, is us, the readers, the ultimate actors on the good news Jesus proclaims. The good news begins and ends with Jesus teaching, but its meaning and relevance depend on our interpretation and witness. In a world with immeasurable human needs, violence, brokenness, inequality, bigotry, greed and injustice, Jesus ministry depends on us to confront, liberate, and heal our world and our times. This is where Mark, John, God and his Son direct us in this Lenten season.
- Rich Allman
Morning: Pss. 5; 147:1-11 Evening: Pss. 27; 51 Jonah 3:1-4:11 Heb. 12:1-14 Luke 18:9-14
Gracious God, in this season, thank you for Jesus proclamation of your good news. Help us to hear that good news, and even more, to live it in our individual lives, in your church and in our world. Amen.
Thursday, February 19
Exploring the Story in: Mark 2:21-22
We, as Christians, are truly blessed to grow in Christ. Although as Christians we are sometime frustrated, we need not be. When we accept Christ into our life as our Savior, we are transformed from our old selves into the new. Christ comes teaching us to completely empty ourselves of the guilt, shame, hurt, and loneliness that we so often carry with us. Christ came here so we would not only be freed from this bondage, but also receive a new life through his everlasting forgiveness. The time he spent with his disciples revealed a fresh and wonderful outlook that many questioned then and even now.
Christ provided the vision and knowledge of this new way through his powerful actions, strong words, and uncompromising love. He often spoke of the future to answer daily questions that were asked of him. In these two verses, Christ speaks to his disciples of the new way that they shall live. There will be no more patched emotions. Instead, they will replace their old selves with ones filled with their new-found freedom. His request is for them to be prepared to have the Holy Spirit fill and complete them, in Christ.
- Peter BarberLectionary Readings
Morning: Pss. 27; 147:1220 Evening: Pss. 126; 102 Deut. 7:6-11 Titus: 1:1-16 John 1:29-34
Father, we give thanks for the anchor you have provided in your word. As we open ourselves to the changing world before us and fear the unknown, we look to you for stability and security. In this, we have overflowing joy and gratitude. In your sons name. Amen.
Friday, February 20
Exploring the Story in: Mark 3:31-35
Lectionary Readings Morning: Pss. 22; 148 Evening: Pss. 105; 130 Deut. 7:12-16 Titus 2:1-15 John 1:35-42
PrayerGod almighty, by whom and before whom we all are brethren: grant us so truly to love one another, that evidently and beyond all doubt we may love you; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord and Brother. Amen.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
1st grade Sunday school class , Mixed Media Collage
The first grade Sunday school class created this portrait of Jesus family including all of those who love and follow God.
Saturday, February 21
Exploring the Story in: Mark 4:21-25
Jesus went on: Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Dont you put it up on a table or on the mantel? Were not keeping secrets, were telling them: were not hiding things, were bringing them out into the open. Are you listening to this? really listening? Listen carefully to what I am saying - and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes. (Eugene H. Peterson, The Message) The subject of todays scripture seems to be light, the light of truth, which, with Jesus, seems always to be the truth of love, self-forgetfulness, tough but tender, giving, sharing, other-oriented and therefore something we cant keep hidden under the bed - a contradiction in terms. Love isnt love til we get it out in the open, let it shine, give it away. Hiding love extinguishes it.
But why then would anyone want to hide love? Because Jesus kind of love is scary, costly, and even dangerous in a world that runs from it, fears it - an increasingly secular world that teaches its better to look out for ourselves, not get involved.
Isnt this why we find it hard to listen? And while not listening, we lose - lose the possibility of the real life to which we are called? Perhaps here, Jesus teaches us it is in the giving away of ourselves that we find the only way to true fulfillment and joy, the kind of fulfillment and joy we sense and see in him.
- Stephen Bowen
Morning: Pss. 43; 149 Evening: Pss. 31;143 Deut. 7:17-26 Titus 3:1-15 John 1:43-51
Eternal God, present to us now and all days, present in the face and way of Jesus, grant us the courage and grace to let his love shine between us and through us into a world so desperately in need of love, your love. Amen.
Monday, February 23
PrayerExploring the Story in: Mark 5:1-20As we view the gospels and their wide scope from the historical to direct accounts, yet again, we are able to spend time even closer with Jesus and walk alongside our savior. Here, we encounter a man with the most unclean spirit and who has been thrown into the clenches of a demon; and even he, who seemingly was utterly lost, runs to Jesus upon first sight. For, as we know as believers, there is no place too dark, remote or unclean for our savior to supernaturally transform. Christ is the only and ultimate redeemer who relentlessly renews, despite our numerous faults and countless wayward departures from the righteous path. At first, this man questions Jesus as to what type of damnation he will decree. However, Jesus is like no other mortal judge or ruler. Christ stands to rescue his flock and permanently wash away their sins forever. So, Jesus casts out this vehement demonic spirit in finality without any contest from the man or the spirit. Our beautiful Lord and Savior finally leaves this man, not as one who needs to continue onward through a long recovery but an instantly and wholly renewed spirit, made only possible through the saving grace and power of the most high and loving God.
- Darryl Brown
Morning: Pss. 119; 73-80; 145
Evening: Pss.121;6 Deut. 8:1-20 Heb. 2:11-18 John 2:1-12
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ always has endless blessings and grace to bestow, no matter our condition, history, or lot in life. Allow us to be receptive at all times to remain open in heart, mind, and most of all our souls, to the ultimate power and love of Christ wh