Winnetka Covenant Church Lenten Devotional 2آ  Relief is doing to provide clean water and sanitation

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    Winnetka Covenant Church

    Lenten Devotional Guide 2016

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    INTRODUCTION

    Lent is the period of forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays), begin-ning on Ash Wednesday and ending at sundown on Holy Saturday, the evening before Easter. During Lent, we enter into a season of preparation, self-reflection, and repentance when we seek to literally “turn around” and realign our lives and focus toward God. It is a time to give up things, as well as take on new life-giving practices, helping us rid ourselves of distractions and our own selfish desires. By doing so, we seek to live and love as more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Winnetka Covenant members and friends have created this devotional guide to aid us in deepening our devotion to Christ on our Lenten journey with a daily focus on Scripture and prayer.

    We invite you to pray with us using the Project Blue Prayer Focuses throughout this booklet. These offer suggestions for how you might pray for specific people and concerns related to the need for clean water around the world. Throughout Lent, our congregation will be participating in Proj- ect Blue, which was launched at CHIC2015 in partnership with Covenant World Relief.

    Through Project Blue, we will have the opportunity to do three things: 1) Become aware of the need for clean water and sanitation around the world. 2) Become engaged in the issues of injustice that exist in the world due to the lack of clean water and sanitation. 3) Work together to raise funds for the work that Covenant World Relief is doing to provide clean water and sanitation.

    May God bless our congregation as we journey together in Lent, toward the cross of Christ, and toward resurrection.

    —Andrea Johnson

    Winnetka Covenant Church Lenten Devotional Guide

    2016

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    FEBRUARY 10—Mark 9:30-37 (Ash Wednesday)

    But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest (v. 34, NRSV).

    My recent seminary graduation ceremony left me very aware of the desire to appear greater. For that evening, receiving a degree with honors was important. It showed a measure of stature. However, a glitch in recording my grades was discovered too late to include “with honors” after my name. My diploma will indicate this, but who sees that? Standing with fellow graduates for this public event, like the disciples, I wanted to be a little better than the others. I wore the honors cords but was conflicted whether to bother. Nobody would have known.

    Nobody in my ministry will ever ask my grade point and the cords will soon be tossed away. In this passage Jesus reminds us it’s not about achiev- ing but serving. It’s not about receiving recognition; it’s about recognizing how much we have yet to receive by welcoming the one who created us. It’s not about greatness that fades; it’s about sacrifice that redeems, like Christ’s death for our sin.

    Loving God, during our Lenten journey, sharpen our desire to welcome and receive your Son. Point us to ways we can serve together in humility as your people and your church. Amen.

    —Denise Johnson

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    FEBRUARY 11—MARK 8:31-35

    He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things… Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me (vv. 31, 34, NRSV).

    I am still learning. We are still being taught by Jesus, who tells his disciples about his impending journey into suffering, death, and resurrection, and at the same time calls them along, into the same journey. This is Lent, the connecting of our story, our journey, with the story and journey of Jesus.

    Very much like Peter, I am prone to tell Jesus it can’t be so, either for him or for me. The voice in my head starts to chatter: “It must be a mistake. Self-denying love does not go far in the real world. There seems to be no succeeding purpose.”

    And in hearing these things, Jesus speaks right through me to Satan, who has control of my head and heart. I am still learning. We are still being taught by Jesus. God’s love shall not succeed through self-preservation. And self-sacrifice is a saving act in which mercy and grace make the dark- ness bright, shining, full of light.

    Dear Lord Jesus, teach me again the power of love. Be patient with my preoc- cupation with worldly things. Send your Spirit to help me follow you, wherev- er you go. Amen.

    —Peter Hawkinson

    Project Blue Prayer Focus: The people of Bangladesh, where human waste flows into open waterways where people bathe and wash clothes

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    FEBRUARY 12—MATTHEW 11:28-30

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (NIV).

    These words have a special place in my heart and in my voice as they have been immortalized in a soprano aria of Handel’s Messiah. In these words we are openly and lovingly encouraged to come to him, to leave all burdens, and to rest. What an invitation! Life’s challenges come in many different forms—burdens of guilt and shame, of stress and pain, burdens of fears and anxiety, loneliness, lack of meaning and purpose. They challenge us in relationships, work, finances, health, and even in faith. How can one find rest through all of life’s challenges?

    We tend to forget through the hectic schedules of our daily lives that rest is simply indispensable. When we allow ourselves to learn and live by God’s intentions, letting go of all of our burdens, we then can find rest in his presence. Take a moment and listen to Handel’s aria. Hear how he even uses the notes and phrases to emphasize Jesus’s words. I always appreciated how he gives the soprano time to rest.

    Lord, there are times in our lives when we might feel weary and our burdens heavy; you speak to us in the silence of our hearts giving us peace in your presence. May we hear your voice and have humility to ask for your help. May we also share in your work, to open our hearts to those who face darkness alone.

    —Nadia Jimenez

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    FEBRUARY 13—MARK 1:35-39

    It had been a busy Sabbath day. Jesus and his new friends went to Caper-naum and worshiped at the synagogue. There he taught and amazed everyone with his authority, even the evil spirit who had to let go of one of the listeners. Straightaway the company went to Simon and Andrew’s house where Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with fever—until she too found release. Soon their whole town was at the door with others who needed spirit-cleansing and body-healing. Sabbath rest? Forget about it!

    You might think that Jesus would sleep in the next day, but no, he got up before sunrise and found a quiet place to pray. When Simon and the others finally woke up, they went out to find their missing guest. “We’re all looking for you!” they said. What did they want, and why did that move them to barge in on his solitude?

    We can’t be sure, but we have a guess, something to do with keeping this breakout of kingdom goodness close at hand. We do know that Jesus had already moved on: “Let’s go to your neighbor towns so I can teach this way for them too—it’s why I have come.”

    Lord Jesus, we want your best, and when we think about it, we want it for others as much as we want it for ourselves. Forgive us when we choose action without prayer and prayer without compassion.

    —Paul Koptak

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    FEBRUARY 14—MARK 10:17-31 (1st Sunday of Lent)

    A wealthy young man asked the all-important question of Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” “You know all the commandments,” Jesus responds, and the young man acknowledges his faithful compliance with the law. But there’s one more thing lacking: he must sell his worldly goods and give the money to the poor. That’s not the answer the young man was looking for! When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving. His emotional attachment to his wealth and status overruled his willingness to heed the words of Jesus.

    Do our possessions and privilege make us insensitive to the great needs of those around us? “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires…for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6: 9-10).

    To love God above all else is also to open our eyes to the dire needs of people around us and serve them in Christ’s name. The two are inextricably bound together.

    Eternal God, you call us from the vain world’s golden store, From each idol that would keep us, saying, “Christian, love me more.” May we give our hearts to your obedience, serve and love you best of all. Amen. (“Jesus Calls Us o’er the Tumult,” The Covenant Hymnal, #379)

    —Royce Eckhardt

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    FEBRUARY 15—HEBREWS 12:2-3

    Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart (NRSV).

    This passage is telling us how the Lenten story ends. Christ has “endured the cross, disregarding its shame,” but here we get to peek ahead an