Holy Week Mini-Devotions: Easter Sunday

 

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Read: Psalm 118:1-2, Jeremiah 31:1-6

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”

Listen: Blessed Assurance – Elevation Worship

Readings: John 20:1-18; Matthew 28:1-10; Colossians 3:1-14

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Pray:

Lord,
Today we stand in the Garden of Gethsemane to find it empty.
You are not there.
All that is left is the light of the moon, holding midnight at bay.

Lord,
Today we stand on the Hill of the Skulls to find it still empty.
You are not there.
All that is left is a sunrise, conquering the darkness of the night.

Lord,
Today we stand outside your tomb to find it still empty.
You are not there.
All that is left in it is darkness, conquered by your light.

Lord,
Today we stand in your light. We are no longer empty
because you are here.
You are what’s left. You live forever.

Holy Week Mini-Devotions: Maundy Thursday

 

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Read: Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Listen: The Servant Song

Readings: John 13:1-17, 31b-35; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

Pray/meditate:

Lord,
The water pours like the blood.
It cleanses. It cleans.
It washes away the death-stains of sin.
It restores. It redeems.
The towel comes away white as snow.
We are remembered, but our sins are forgotten.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah,
amen.

Holy Week Mini-Devotions: Palm/Passion Sunday

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Read: Psalm 118:1-2

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”

Listen: All Glory Laud and Honor; The Passover Song.

Readings: Matthew 21:1-11, Matthew 27:11-54

8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Pray/meditate:

Lord, far too often it is we who cry “Hosanna in the highest!”
before demanding the release of Barabbas.
Far too often do we spread fronds over your path,
only to leave you naked on the cross.
Far too often we crown you king
with a crown made of thorns.

We are so fallen, Lord.

We started this Lenten season in ashes,
mindful of those things we value above you
and your service,
mindful of our weaknesses
made perfect in your strength,
mindful of the sinful world
and the light of your kingdom in it.
This week we end Lent in blood:
in your sacrifice given and found perfect,
in your victory over the power of sin and death,
in your restoration and our redemption
(undeserved, often unwanted, but freely given.)

You have risen, Lord.

As we walk this week between the “Hosanna!”
and the “Crucify him!”,
help us to remember all that we’ve forgotten about grace.
Help us to remember the service of your life,
the sacrifice of your death,
the glory of your resurrection,
the power of your ascension,
and the promise of your Kingdom.
As you died, may we die to ourselves;
as you rose, may we rise to life in you.

We are lifted up, Lord.

Amen.


I’ll be posting more devotions on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

#CoffeeTimePrayer: Listening for Jesus’ voice

 

 

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Today’s reading: John 10:3-5 (NRSV)

 

3 “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

For the past few weeks, our women’s Bible study has been working through Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind. One of the lessons we’re learning is just what Jesus describes in John 10:3-5: learning to listen to Jesus’ voice and not to follow the voice of strangers. But I think we can go one step further and commit to not even recognising strangers’ voices.

You’re not good enough. Things will never change. Aren’t you tired of hoping they will? God doesn’t care. You’re such a bad person – a bad mother/a terrible husband/a lost cause. If we recognise these thoughts or their variations it’s because we’ve grown familiar with the enemy’s voice. Often we assume these thoughts – these lies – are just our own voices swirling back at us; another lie!

Learning to recognise and listen to Jesus’ voice is the only way to “unlearn” our recognition of the enemy’s voice. When we focus only on the voice of our Shepherd, other, conflicting voices will fail to reach our ears.

How do we do that? By listening to the voice of our Shepherd through prayer, the study of the Word, contemplation, fasting and worship.

We’re about halfway through Lent. If you haven’t set aside anything special, now may be a good time to pick one of the above practices (or others) and commit to them for the remainder of this Lenten season with the intent of growing more familiar with Jesus’ voice.

We don’t seem to have a problem hearing out the enemy and his poisonous monologues. Similarly, we won’t be able to learn Jesus’ voice unless we listen!

Prayer: Dearest Shepherd Jesus, I listen for your voice. I confess that your voice is the only one I’m interested in hearing! Help me to learn to listen to you, to find your voice in my heart, my prayers, my study and my meditation. Amen.

#CoffeeTimePrayer: Finding life

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Reading: Luke 24:1-5 (NRSV)

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

Quite a few years ago there was a fatal motor car accident on one of our town’s bridges. Next to it, between the bridge and its intersection now sits a small patch of well-maintained grass, decorated with a white wooden cross, flowers and other mementos. Looking at this memorial when driving past is a sad reminder of the way we try to remember life where it has passed, and how painful it can be to revisit the tombs of our grief.

It couldn’t have been easy for the women to visit Jesus’ tomb that morning. They had spent the Sabbath in shock, grief and mourning, having lost their friend, their leader and the man they thought their Messiah to a painful, humiliating death. Their emotional pain would probably have been augmented by fear: fear of the political climate in Jerusalem, anxiety about whether they or their friends or relatives would face the same fate as Jesus had, worry about whether they would be ostracised, disappointed that things had not turned out differently. No indeed, visiting Jesus’ tomb as the twelve hid was an act of devotion, bravery and duty that gets far too little attention in male-driven narratives!

But imagine their confusion (elation, bewilderment, disbelief, shock) when they find only a vision of angels and an empty tomb instead of Jesus’ body. Imagine the beginning of hope in the pits of their stomachs as they began to wonder – could it be true? What if Jesus had risen again? What if his terrible death had been redeemed? What if their longing for their Messiah wasn’t hopeless after all?

The words of the angel chided them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” These words asked so many other questions: Why did you not believe? Why did you mourn? Why did you lose hope? Did you truly not realise that the tomb was empty all along?

Well, friends? Why do we – resurrected to new lives in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) – continue to look for the living among the dead? What do we hope to find among the tombs of our former, sin-dead lives, other than graves? And yet – if only we would take the trouble to roll away the stones covering them – we would see that these tombs are empty. Not because we never died, but because we have already risen in the Spirit.

Lent starts in a few weeks. In the northern hemisphere Christians can look to the beginnings of spring around them to remember their new life. In the southern hemisphere, however, we can look to the discolouring leaves, the longer nights, the crisper air to remind us that yes, we have descended into the grave just like our Lord. But the grave couldn’t contain him and it can’t contain us, just like winter cannot constantly contain the world.

What was buried will rise again.

Instead of seeking our lives among the dead, let us seek Life, eternal and abundant (John 10:10) with its source, Jesus Christ.


Prayer: Dearest Lord, I seek and find my life in You today. Amen.