Lenten Devotional 2016BRYN MAWR PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The Gospel of Luke, which is our devotional guide and conversation partner this year for Lent, is probably my favorite gospel. I appreciate the uniqueness of each of the four and love the fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each present the life of Jesus Christ with a different point of view. But Luke has some unique characteristics that I have come to cherish. Luke is the one who gives us angels and shepherds at the birth of Jesus and walks with us down that Emmaus road after his death, slowly helping us come to see and believe in the resurrection. If it is characteristic of Mark to rush from one major miracle to another, and Matthew to sit down and listen to long sermons, then Luke is better known for inviting us to one dinner party after another. Luke is a storyteller who relishes detail and nuance as Jesus life, death and resurrection unfold. Luke is also the only gospel with a sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts how the early church began to share the gospel with the world.
So here is the key to making the most of this years devotions written by BMPC members, staff and friends during the season of Lent before us. In your Bible, you should read the gospel verses listed for each day first (only an excerpt appears on each page) and then read the reflection. Because each days devotional is based on a specific story in the gospel, you will get more insight and inspiration if you let Luke tell the story and then use these thoughtful reflections of church friends to guide your journey into the depths of meaning. Come Easter Sunday, when Luke proclaims that the women went to the tomb early in the morning (the Greek is best translated at deep dawn), we hope you will have been nurtured deeply in faith and understanding of Lukes good news.
On behalf of the congregation, I extend thanks to the writers and artists whose creative gifts have eloquently equipped us all for this spiritual journey from winter into spring and from death to new life.
Grace and Peace,
Agnes W. Norfleet Pastor
Wednesday, February 10 | | Ash Wednesday
Luke 18: 9-14 (only excerpts are printed)This parable is familiar to many, when Luke relates the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee could have been a political contender of that time, relating all of his triumphs and bragging about his worthy contributions to the community. He publicly boasts of all his good deeds, describing more of his behavior than his actual character. When he finally prays to God, he does not ask for Gods mercy, nor does he ask for forgiveness of his sins. Instead he exalts himself and thanks God that he is not like the other men. In his eyes, he is so impressive that he must be acceptable to God. The Pharisees self-righteousness is the supreme form of pride, something which blocks anyones way to God.
On the other hand, the tax collector stands away from the crowd. He cannot even lift his eyes to look up to heaven because he knows that nothing good dwells within him. He feels that he is a sinner in the eyes of God. Yet after he asks for God to be merciful to him, he is the one who goes away justified because he humbles himself before God.
How easy it is for us to think we are doing all the right things as we go about our daily lives. So often we end up subconsciously judging others and comparing ourselves to seek approval. God knows our true motives, because he created us and remains within us. It is only when we are humble enough to realize that we truly need Gods guidance that we come closer to receiving his blessings.
- Susie Alexander
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee was praying thus, God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income. But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Heavenly Father, help us remember that each day we walk with your Son, who sees us as we truly are deep inside our souls. May we be humble in your eyes, knowing that Jesus was the one who taught us to walk in his footsteps as the ultimate Christian. In his name we pray. Amen.
Thursday, February 11
Luke 3: 7-14
Words matter. Scripture is our authority. Todays text is prefaced by the words of the prophet Isaiah: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. . . . Lent brings us closer to the life of Jesus. His public min-istry is linked to John the Baptist, a kinsman. Dressed in camel skins and surviving on wild honey and locusts, John lived in the wilderness. The crowds who came to the Jordan for baptism loved John for the enemies he dared to make. He used powerful words. His words drew crowds to hear of a coming judgment and the need for a baptism of redemption. Johns most pointed words were directed to the religious and social classes. He called them a brood of vipers. His call to conversion had a social message: He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and, he who has food, let him do likewise. Participating in the bap-tism was not enough for John. It was necessary to bear fruit that befits repentance, beginning with the practice of justice and mercy.The question of the crowd speaks in our voice: What then should we do? Just as we each are uniquely placed in Gods world, our response in faith will be unique as well. John, the forerunner to share the message of justice, knew he would be judged by the king. How do you work out your salvation from the vantage point of the baptism of redemption?
- Anonymous Prayer by Brother Lawrence
Lord, make me according to thy heart. Amen.
John said to the crowdsBear fruits worthy of repentance. And the crowds asked him, What then should we do? In reply he said to them, Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise. Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, Teacher, what should we do? He said to them, Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you. Soldiers also asked him, And we, what should we do? He said to them, Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.
Friday, February 12
John answered all of them by saying, I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fireNow when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.
Bridget Daley Gibson, water color and oil crayon on paper
Wednesday night choir (kindergarten) learned a hymn to sing at a baptism; the children made illustrations to reflect on the sacrament of baptism.
PrayerServant Christ, help us to follow you into the deep waters of baptism. Help us to be renewed and in turn to link our lives with those who grieve injustice; to break free from past wrongs; to make ourselves ready for your coming kingdom. Help us follow you. Amen.From the Church in South India
Saturday, February 13
Luke 3:23-38 provides a family tree for Jesus and reveals how God is at work in accomplishing his plans for us. As the 76th generation descended from Adam, Jesus geneal-ogy tells us that our faith is rooted in history. It also shows that ordinary people matter to him and reminds us that he watches over everyones lives. This lineage differs from that in Matthew 1: 1-17. Lukes genealogy begins with Jesus and traces that line all the way back to Adam, the Son of God. Luke wanted to show that Jesus was the Son of man and the Son of God. Trac-ing the descent back to Adam meant that Jesus shares his humanity with Jew and Gentile as well as with the divine, and that Jesus is the promised savior for all people. Lukes gospel emphasized Jesus humanity. He revealed in the writings that all humans are children of God, and all that are human are created in Gods image. I believe that Luke drew an important contrast in this genealogy: Adam was created in Gods image but failed by yielding to Satans temptation. Jesus triumphed over temptation and evil and through his death on the cross, he offered all of us salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have a new beginning.
- Marian ChitesterDear God, we are grateful and give thanks that all of humankind receives your love and blessing. Let us keep in our hearts that same compassion for all. Amen.
Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the sonof Joseph, son of Heli, son of Matthatson of Josephson of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Josephson of Nathan, son of David, son of Jesseson of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abrahamson of Noah, son of Lamech, son of Methuselah, son of Enochson of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
Monday, February 15
PrayerLuke 4: 14-30Jesus has returned from his forty days in the wilderness, and he is in the power of the Spirit. In this passage, Luke introduces three themes of Jesus ministry.