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Sunday, March 27

When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). (John 20:14-16)

“She did not know it was Jesus”.  When I read these words I am reminded of all the times in my life that I did not know it was Jesus.  The peace I found in the midst of heartache and distress.  There was Jesus offering comfort, whether I asked for it or not.  The times I have succeeded in school, work, life.  That was due to talents and gifts given from God, not from my work alone.  And the homeless man on the street asking for help.  That’s Jesus – reminding us that we have so much and others have so little.

It’s tempting to call on Jesus when we think we need things.  We are under the impression that we can handle life on our own and that Jesus will swoop in to help us when we ask for his help.  But Jesus is there always.  Gently guiding, providing people in our lives at the right times, calming our fears about new opportunities, and reminding us of his desire for how we should live.

God, please help me open my eyes and know that it is Jesus.

Michelle Dupré busy working mother

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Saturday, March 26

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)

I find it very interesting that John is careful to point out that Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple, and that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. How did it come to pass that these two, who didn’t want to make their belief in Jesus known, were be the ones who cared enough to bury him?

When St. Paul’s took a trip to Jerusalem in 2012, one of the most fascinating things I remember learning was that, after more than 2000 years, there remains a dispute about what site was the actual tomb of Jesus. One was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (meaning “a tomb cut in a rock”), which is also said to contain Golgotha where Jesus was crucified. Other people believe is the tomb of Jesus is known as the Garden Tomb. To me, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre seemed much more authentic than the Garden Tomb. I felt this could be the place where Joseph and Nicodemus laid Jesus’s body. According to verse 41, the tomb was in the same garden where he was crucified.

How did these two men come to this place to bury Jesus? How are we being called to celebrate his life?

Gracious God, as the Lenten season draws to a close, help us remember to always celebrate you and the work you’re doing in our lives and around the world. Amen.

Brett Falkenhagen Son, Partner, Friend

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Friday, March 25

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)

“It is finished.” When I say this, I generally mean, “I have done all that I can, God. I am turning this big ugly mess over to you!” But, do you suppose that is what Jesus meant? Hanging on the cross, after a gruesome few days of betrayal, pain and public humiliation, one could assume that Jesus was making a declaration of defeat, frustration and despair. However, in Aramaic, the language in which the Bible was originally written, the phrase “it is finished” translates to “completed” or “done”.  That tells us that Jesus was neither resigned nor overcome but perhaps joyful. Although it is hard for us to see the victory for Jesus in this moment of suffering, he was triumphant in the fulfillment of God’s plan for his time on earth.

I am not a Bible scholar and frequently get lost in the maze of interpretations of God’s word.  What is obvious, even to me, in the journey of Jesus’ life is the love that God has for us – and, his desire for us to share that love.  Sounds elementary, doesn’t it?

Dear God, I give thanks for the gift of your son and the love that you have for each of us.  Open our minds to the plans that you have for us and guide us to live your word. Amen.

Kyttie Sanford Hopeful for our world

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Thursday, March 24

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

What does Jesus mean when He says that we ought to wash one another's feet? Are we being called to do one specific task, or instead to step beyond ourselves? He is calling us to look around and take action to aid our neighbors, wash away the grudges we are holding onto and be in community with one another.

The act of washing is long associated with cleansing and becoming holy, such as preparing to enter the temple, or cleansing meat. Additionally you can reflect on this as spiritual washing away of worries and guilt. A service of foot washing and/or this scripture should serve as a reminder that just as we need the forgiveness and cleansing spirit of our Lord, we need to offer forgiveness, compassion, and grace to others we walk in this life with. We are all called to not think of ourselves superior or too worthy to do something for another one of God’s children. And “washing the feet” of a stranger can start with a simple hello, or act of gratitude. So be ready today, this week, and continuing on to “wash the feet” of whomever may cross your path, because our Lord has shown that no one is too mighty to do this.

Dear Lord, I pray that you continue to offer your cleansing spirit on all of us, so that we  can pour out your love on those in our community. Give us strength to offer forgiveness and grace, as we wash each other’s feet. Amen.

Kristiann Rushton Caring analytical thinker

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Wednesday, March 23

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ (John 13:21-25)

Simon Peter is SO like us! Jesus solemnly declares that one of his trusted followers will betray him, and rather than grieving with Jesus, Peter (the ORIGINAL “Rock”) sends a question to Jesus through “the one whom Jesus loved.”

“Who are you talking about, Jesus?”

It is always dangerous to psychoanalyze someone at a distance, but I can imagine one of two feelings motivating Peter to ask. It is very possible that Peter is feeling guilty that Jesus might be referring to him. Since it has been suggested to me, that if someone in India stubs their toe, I feel somehow responsible, I can well relate to a feeling of guilt driving Peter to ask his question!

On the other hand, Peter might be caught up in a feeling of pride, instantly convinced that it HAS to be one of the other disciples! This is exactly his response when Jesus correctly predicts that before the night is out, Peter will deny him three times.

While both feelings are understandable, notice how Peter so quickly makes the situation all about himself. Jesus has just revealed how his heart is breaking over the upcoming betrayal by one of his closest friends, and all Peter can do is respond, “What does this all have to do about me?”

I wonder if this Lenten season might be a good time to repent of our own attempts to see the world revolving around ourselves and “give this up,” in the spirit of Lent, and ask instead, “Lord, fill the space that was occupied by our self-centeredness with His Spirit of compassion and empathy. At least for myself, I will have to think long and hard to come up with a miracle of God that would be any greater! How about you?

Lord Jesus, I surrender to you my all, so I may be fully present to your suffering that I see in others.

Bill Gandin Forgiven sinner

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Tuesday, March 22

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:20-24)

In Eugene Peterson's "The Message" restates this passage in a fresh way.  "Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."   One of the most difficult decisions in my life was to let go of my active, formal ministry here at St. Paul's.  I knew on several levels that it was time...but it was frightening.  I trusted that when I left my position God would fill it with something new that would bear much fruit.  Indeed that has happened.  St. Paul's community of faith is more alive and vibrant and diverse and creative than at any time in our history.  At the same time, I am surprised each day with new adventures ahead of me.  God is ever calling us all forward to something real and eternal.

Creator God, give us courage to let go of life as it is, so that we may see with new eyes and live with new devotion.  Amen.

Terry Thompson painter, crier, mentor

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Monday, March 21

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’ (John 12:3-8)

When I first read this story, I did not rember the miracle Jesus had performed earlier — raising Lazarus, Mary's brother, from the dead.  Mary's act of anointing Jesus' feet with costly oils and her own tears was her way of thanking him for bringing back her brother. The lovely smell of the oils was a vivid contrast to the foul odors of Lazarus's tomb.  Mary gesture also seems to be an acknowledgement of Jesus' upcoming trial and sacrifice, giving his life not only for Lazarus but for all peoples for all times.  Her extravegant, unselfish act is in great contrast to Judas' opinion that it was unnecessary and too costly.  In this we see Mary as a true disciple and Judas as a weak person.

Dear Lord, help me to be as Mary, willing to go beyond the ordinary to acknowledge the love of Christ in my life.  Amen

Beverly McMahan Mature student of scripture

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Sunday, March 20

As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen. (Luke 19:36-37)

Those following Jesus on his march into Jerusalem, a center of religious and political power, are lined up behind a man on a colt, ready to move to the heart of the city, the Temple. People along the route are waving tree branches, much like modern football fans waving towels to rally support for their team. Many put down their outer garments on the road, a symbol of allegiance to a king.

I imagine myself as a curious observer attracted by the crowd along the way, shouting and singing praises. There were people from many places here to celebrate the high holy day of Passover. They were wondering with me, "Who is this man?"

It has been only a short time since I was imagining myself as one of the shepherds led to a newborn baby laying in a manger on a bed of straw. I was asking the question, "What child is this?"

I have seen the beginning and the ending of the life of this person dramatized in church services with grand music and inspiring words. I have seen some of the wonderful art and architecture honoring this humble man. And yet, the two questions posed above continue to haunt me and drive me as a Methodist toward a more perfect answer.

Lord, keep me on the path established by your Son, our Savior, Jesus the Christ, so that I may live the life you dream for all your creation. Amen

Sing: Open My Eyes, Ears, Mouth, and Heart on page 454 in The Methodist Hymnal.

Larry Roberts teacher, student, singer

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Saturday, March 19

Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure (2 Corinthians 4:14-17)

How strange to hear this life — our struggles, our pain, our fears — described as a “slight momentary affliction.”  This passage is the culmination of a chapter that speaks to perseverance in the face of suffering.  Paul reminds us that our true hope lies, not in this life, but in the world to come.  Though our bodies waste away, God’s grace renews our inner natures.  And though we suffer afflictions now, an eternal glory awaits us.

But our hopes in this world can distract us as easily as our cares.  We are taught to plan, to strive, to leave this world better than we found it.  This passage suggests a different focus.  How differently would we live this life if we believed it merely to be a preparation for the next?  How would our values change if we focused, not on achievement in this world, but on the “eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” that is to come?

Lord God, help us not to lose heart and as we suffer the afflictions of this world, to remember the eternal glory to come.  Amen.

William Peterson father and husband

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Friday, March 18

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Corinthians 4:5-7)

Paul gives a strange illustration in these verses: as Christians we keep the light of God in clay jars. During Paul’s time, clay jars were common, cheap, useful, and disposable containers. It’s almost as if Paul is saying “We are Tupperware for Christ!” Not the most inspiring idea. And in one sense, Paul’s completely right. We are weak and fallible, and can only hope and trust in God for our own lives (our health, our selfishness, our failings, our bodies) to be made perfect again someday. But Paul also says this: if the “treasure” of God’s message is kept in such lowly vessels, it is the ultimate witness. God’s truth is not about us!  If people as ordinary and fragile as we are can transmit God’s love, then we are only messengers to something greater than ourselves. If we can learn that the world does not revolve around us, doesn’t that take the pressure off to be perfect?  No one is perfect, and by relinquishing control, we can more effectively bear God’s love to others.  This Lent, let us empty ourselves of our own baggage so that we can be useful, trusty Tupperware for Christ!

Gracious God, our task lists and agendas are overflowing.  We try to be your servants, but often we forget to get out of the way.  Spreading your message is our agenda.  Being your vessels is our task.  Help us during Lent to empty ourselves, as Christ di

Heather and Michael McCarty we're new here!

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Thursday, March 17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! A few evenings ago, our four year old saw a spotlight in the clouds in front of our home. She squealed and screamed and ran from window to window, “Mommy, Daddy! I see the Spirit! It’s circling our house! There’s the Spirit! See it! That’s the Holy Spirit!” She was so excited, and we did not have the hearts to tell her the light was from a special event nearby. Her joy was pure and full of the beautiful faith of a child. It is so good to be reminded of the joy of the Lord. He brings good gifts. Freedom! From what do we need to be freed? Fear? Selfishness? Addiction? Expectations? Comparisons? Bitterness? Pain? Depression? Failure? Secrets? These are nothing to the Spirit of our Living God. As Williams Langland wrote, “All the wickedness in the world that man might do or say was no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea.”

Dear Lord, help us this day to see your Spirit as You work to set us free.  Help us to cooperate with your Spirit for our own freedom and the freedom of those around us.  May others see You in our eyes and in our smiles.  Help us to know and live the trut

Bethany Williams Wife, Momma, Advocate

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Wednesday, March 16

Say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness.” But until now you have not listened.’ Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord.” See, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood. The fish in the river shall die, the river itself shall stink, and the Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.’“ (Exodus 7:16-18)

It is not always easy to understand God's plan for our lives. Sometimes our own self doubt can restrain us from reaching our goals. Do not wait until God has to turn the river into blood or kill the fish in the river of your life; know and believe that you are capable of great things. Have faith in the Lord that our God would not put a trial before you which you are incapable of completing. Trust in the gifts God has given you, and live to glorify our Lord and his people.

Lord we thank you for the gifts you have bestowed upon our lives. We thank you for encouraging us to do great things, we feel the call to achieve great things in your name. We will take our gifts and use them to better your people and this beautiful earth.

Sam Holt Encouraging, supportive, caring.

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Tuesday, March 15

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” (Exodus 5:22-23)

In Exodus 5:22-23 Moses is asking the Lord why he sent him to speak to pharaoh if it is only getting his people in more trouble and why he has not rescued his people yet. When God creates us he has a specific purpose in mind, he knows exactly what you will grow up to do and become. Sometimes God calls us to do things we may not understand at first, they may be a bit uncertain or different from what we normally do but we trust that if God I calling us to do it then it will all work out for the better. Whether it’s writing the devotional for lent or speaking to God for Pharaoh when we are called to do something by God that may seem uncertain or difficult we follow it through because it is God's will for us. On my first mission trip I got really homesick the first night and I started to question whether or not I should be there but I soon realized God had called me to be there and help others and if I saw it through it would all work out.

Dear God, Remind us to seek you and question you even in our doubts. And grant us patience and peace when you cannot answer us. Amen.

Kayleigh Latimer fun, creative, and optimistic

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Monday, March 14

But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:10-13)

Sometimes in life we are faced with challenges that we should try and accomplish. Many times we think that they are almost impossible giving us reluctance to try and complete them. In Moses’ case, Moses believes that he does not possess the proper skill to teach others.  Moses is very reluctant to try and complete a challenge even with God’s help. At least for me, this verse is trying to show that with God’s help anything is possible in life but at this point in the Bible Moses is unable to realize this. I think that we must learn to be able to trust God in these situations and try and eliminate are reluctance. This comes with having faith in God. Once we are able to develop our faith more, then we will be able to accept the challenges that God places in our lives and conquer them with his help.

Dear God, please help us to open our minds and to always have faith in You. Please help us to trust You in all our situations in life and to know that through you anything is possible.

In Your amazing name we pray, Amen.

Hank Philpott Adventurous, forgiving, trustworthy

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Sunday, March 13

3/13/2016

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalm 118:19-23)

What is it about the psalms that speak to us so deeply, inspiring centuries of Christian worship? Speaking to our spiritual insufficiencies and bare needs, they are poetry, ideas about God that have music and physicality to them that we can carry with us in life and faith. In these verses of Psalm 118, we hear songs of thanksgiving for answered prayers, and a pronouncement about the centrality of Jesus.

Nineteenth century Latin scholar and Anglican clergyman John Mason Neale translated the 6th-7th century text into the hymn we know today as “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation”.

Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ our head and cornerstone,
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the church in one.

The music to which the text is sung was adapted in 1842 by Ernest Hawkins after a tune written by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) to be sung at the end of his anthem “O God, Thou are my God” . The hymn remained obscure until the 1960 wedding of Princess Margaret when it was sung in Westminster Abbey.

Gracious Father, We thank you for our many blessings, and for the great gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. We praise you for your infinite mercy and grace, and know that your ear is always tuned to our every longing and need.  Help us to grow in your boundle

Georgia Struthers Traveller, singer, friend

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Saturday, March 12

And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:20-24)

We have all had times when we have prayed for healing.  Healing prayers asking for help to get through the day, to family, health (physical or emotional), financial, to food and shelter.  The list can go on and on.

We cry out a desperate pray asking for healing.   Then there is the waiting, wondering 'if' God will answer our request.  Or as the father asked in the scripture, "have pity on us and help us." Maybe in our words we may say, " 'if' you can do anything Lord, have a heart and help us".

Jesus is saying, "there are no 'ifs' among believers.  Anything can happen, all things are possible for the one who believes.

Then is "Believing" and "Surrender" the same. By substituting "Surrender" in place of "Believing", then believing in God is Surrendering to His will; giving Him the power of healing in what is best for all.

Lent reminds us of the struggles Jesus encounted as a human with disappointments, being rejected, questioned, tempted, and suffered.  On the cross Jesus asked "Why have You forsaken Me?" And finally surrendering to God's will, "Into Your hands I commend my spirit to you".

Gracious and comforting God, Forgive us for our lack faith and not trusting in You.  We ask you to help us in our unbelief. May your presence be within us increasing our faith. In Christ Name, AMEN.

Rod Kotenbrink St. Paul member

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Friday, March 11

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:2-7)

This passage in Mark's gospel is replete with imagery as if filmed by Cecil B. DeMille. There is a mountaintop, a cloud, dazzling white robes, spectres ofpast biblical personages, and an unseen voice. Jesus is transfigured.

  While transfigured is usually considered as a change in form or appearance—like metamorphosis—it can also be a change which is exalting, glorifying, or spiritual.

   If we go to our own quiet, beautiful place, and in that silence meditate, might we not be spiritually transformed? Might we not attain new insights? Unlike the disciples, who display great incomprehension, might we not understand that we are not meant to control all situations? We need only "...listen to him."

Heavenly Father help us to make time during our busy daily schedules to sit quietly and listen to the teachings of your Son, the Beloved, so that our minds may be elevated and our spirituality enhanced. Thine be the glory. Amen.

Janet Yauch Traveler, volunteer, grandma.

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Thursday, March 10

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? (Mark 8:34-37)

Self-denial means much more than delaying gratification, or suppressing our desires during Lent. It means separating ourselves from what defines us in the world. It means to put to death our own plans and desires and turn our lives over to Jesus to do his will. He call us to commit our whole lives to him, to trust him alone for our salvation, and then to follow him as his disciples.

The cross signifies suffering, rejection, persecution, even death, but Jesus reminds us that if we are willing to deny ourselves out of love for him, and follow him in humble obedience, the cross that we carry will result not in death, but life everlasting. There is no greater joy than following Christ.

Lead us O God in the way of Christ. Give us the courage take up our cross and follow you. Open our eyes so that we may see in the cross the revelation of your love through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

Gloria Wellington Loyal, Caring, Creative

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Wednesday, March 9

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13)

This verse kept echoing a song from childhood summers at church camp:  “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love… yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Because my gut says, “is love all ya got???”  I want a SIGN—some great feat of awe and wonder to prove God’s love.  Something showy.  But what greater sign than the quiet power of love in the human heart?  When I stopped asking for a sign and started BEING a sign, it broke my heart wide open.  I found a newpower to see the presence of God in the frustratingly imperfect faces of everyday life—in you and in me.  Instead of looking for our differences, I began to look for our “highest common denominator.”  Suddenly, God was no longer “out there”;  His spirit dwells in me.  And surprise! The more freely I give of what I found—the ordinary love of my ordinary heart—the greater my capacity for ordinary love has grown.  The more gentleness I have for the world, the more gentle I become with myself.

I know I’m a Christian by my love.  Who needs a sign?

Today may I work to BE a sign, rather than look for one.  May I throw myself in people and find myself in You.  Through Christ, may I be known by my love.  So be it.

Wendy Moses Powerless, Recovered, Loving

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Tuesday, March 8

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” (Mark 8:1-4)

The beginning of the event – how does it end?

Jesus recognized that the crowd was hungry — were they murmuring like the Israelites in the desert? (Exodus 16:2-3).  Is this really the same story?  The Israelites had followed Moses into the desert, to reach a new place, a new home, to have a new beginning.  The crowd is following Jesus, yearning for a new relationship, a new experience, to have new meaning in their lives.

God gave the Israelites manna, and they were hungry no more.  The disciples, by asking the question, failed to remember that God provided for the Israelites, even when they were in the desert.  This snippet of text does not tell us how the event ended, but if we remember that God will provide, we know the answer.  Even when we are in a desert, we will be fed, we will not be hungry.

Dear God, Help me to remember that you will provide, you will feed my hunger, you will hold me tight, you will be with me as I traverse the desert.  Thank you for your presence.  Amen.

Norman Mahan Working to remember

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