March 8th Lenten Devotional

Teach Us How to Pray

Patti Axel

Luke 11:1-12

I had a parishioner ask me the other day for a class on how to pray.  While I think that is a legitimate request, I asked her if she was looking for something specific?  There are as many ways to pray as there are pray-ers and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to pray.  Prayer is two-way communication with the One who loves us beyond all words and understanding.  God is Holy and receptive to our needs and wants us to be receptive in return.  Just like a conversation with a dear friend, prayer works well when we listen as much if not more than we speak.  God has much to say if we take the time to pay attention.  Jesus didn’t teach his disciples a long and wordy prayer – the Lord’s Prayer is rather short and to the point but it does call us to trust that God knows what God is doing and calls us to participate in the kingdom work – sharing the good news of God’s grace and extravagant love in a world desperate to hear it.

God, you hear our prayers – call us into the silence to hear what you have to say in return.  Amen

Patti Axel is the pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, GA.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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March 7th Lenten Devotional

Sisters

Betsy Hoium

Luke 10:38-42

  Have you ever noticed how different two siblings can be? My sister and I have a lot in common but many differences as well. When we were young, my sister climbed out of her crib when she was 1 year old. I’m the older sister and so my mom felt that it was time I learned this skill as well. When she went to show me how, she discovered that I knew how, I was just waiting for permission!

Sisters Mary and Martha have differing reactions to Jesus’ visit. Martha was doing all she could to make her guest feel welcome, probably preparing good food for the visit. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Both are reasonable responses until Martha gets frustrated. Rather than empathizing, however, Jesus says, “you are worried and distracted by many things…”

Jesus invites not only Martha but all of us to stop what we are doing and just be. To reflect and dwell in God’s love and grace for us. It’s like Jesus is saying you are enough without doing anything else.

In our crazy busy world, it is hard to comprehend that you are enough just the way you are.

Let us pray…God of understanding, give us the courage to slow down, focus on the people who are important in our lives and to dwell in your love for us. Amen.

 

Pastor Betsy Hoium serves at Living Waters Lutheran Church in Lino Lakes, Minnesota.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 6th Lenten Devotional

 

Fire of Self-Righteousness

Rachel Wrenn

Luke 10:29-37

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?…”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “Will it really hurt, Jesus? Will it really do so much damage if I give mercy just to those I think deserve it?

But wanting to justify herself, she asked Jesus, “Do I really have to, Jesus? Those people, they’re just so WRONG; you don’t really want me to listen to them, right?”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “How far do I have to go, Jesus? How much mercy is good enough?

Limits. Boundaries. Reasonable expectations. These are a few of my favorite things…and yet, Jesus consistently blows them out of the water. A friend of mine recently shared this quote, attributed to Augustin Craig White, from “The Dark Tower,” a pamphlet of the American Abolitionist Society, 1911: “It is a strange kind of fire, the fire of self-righteousness, which gives us such pleasure by its warmth, but does so little to banish the darkness.” When I am really, truly honest with myself, my favorite fires to set do much more to warm me than they do lighten the darkness of others. May we all be given the gift of grace, which both reveals our fires for the ash that they truly are and gives us in their place the flame of the Holy Spirit.

 

Rev. Rachel Wrenn served her first call in southwest Minnesota, “on the edge of the prairie.” She is currently pursuing her PhD in Hebrew Bible at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

 

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 5th Lenten Devotional

Your Neighbor as Yourself

Gabrielle Martone

Luke 10:25-28

The last 12 years I have attended and led a week-long mission trip to this place I love so much. When you’re working in the poorest county in America, almost everyone you encounter is struggling deeply financially, and evidence of that is everywhere you look. One year I was leading a crew in a woman’s home- we were replacing the flooring in her bedroom, kitchen and hallway. We spent a lot of time talking with our homeowner and she told us a lot about her struggles, but that she always took people in who needed it, that she was caring for her ailing husband, her grandkids, and any other kin that would pop in. This woman grew a garden in her backyard to help feed her family. One day when we working she went out to her garden and cut a bunch of cucumbers, took them inside, washed, peeled and salted them and gave them to us- a crew that brought lunch with us every day. She told us it was her favorite snack and the only way she could thank us.

We were strangers and she welcomed us as neighbors and she loved us as she loved herself and her family. It wasn’t about her; it was about showing love to us. That’s what the greatest commandments are about- not me, but God, and the other.

 

Rev. Gabrielle Martone is the senior pastor of Broadway and Port Colden UMC’s in Washington NJ.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 4th Lenten Devotional

Worthy of Love?

Andrea Allan

Psalm 36:5-10

Today’s Psalm reminds us God’s love is bigger than anything in this world, God loves us more than we can even imagine. It is a beautiful feeling to be loved so much. But many of struggle with being loved so fully because sometimes we do not think we are worthy of being so loved. We make mistakes, we are not perfect, we are sinners; how can God love us as much as the Psalmist tells us when we have so many limitations?

Do you believe that you are worthy of love and belonging?  Do you believe that right now, just as you are, that you are worthy of being touched by God in love? Or in the back of your mind are you thinking to yourself: “Perhaps, I will be worthy – as soon as I catch up on my Bible reading, or as soon as I get better at praying.”

Most of us are not sure if we truly are worthy of love and belonging from the world let alone from God. If we were, we wouldn’t struggle with sharing our gifts openly and freely, we wouldn’t judge those around us, we wouldn’t hurt one another and ourselves.

Are we worthy?  This is a question we ask of ourselves or perhaps we ask of others – but God never asks if we are worthy; God freely gives, and God freely loves us; in God we belong no matter what. Today we are reminded that even though we may not always believe it, we are worthy, we are deserving of love that is bigger than the whole world. Thanks be to God.

Rev. Andrea Allan ministers in a rural charge in Embro, Ontario at Knox United Church of Canada. She lives with her husband and daughter in Stratford Ontario.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 3rd Lenten Devotional

Shake it Off

Jo Mead

Luke 10:1-12

 Who knew? I mean that. Who knew that the seventy others sent out represented all of humanity? I only knew it from reading Elaine A. Heath’s commentary on this scripture. She writes “The number seventy implies all of humanity, as Genesis 10 provides a list of all the nations of the world, numbering seventy.”* So Jesus sends out seventy people into the world to spread the news. Seventy people who are to go (notice not take) into the world without a purse, bag, or sandals. Offer people peace when you enter a home. Accept what people offer to you in hospitality. I read this as a grand adventure of stepping out today to our neighbors all around the world. A neighbor offers me enmoladas (enchiladas with mole) or the other neighbor offers tabbouleh salad. I am to accept what is offered to me. Why? It is acceptance of hospitality. It is trying to live within a community standard instead of setting your own as the only culture of community.

We live in a time when the fear of anyone different is driving to build walls of exclusion instead of finding the place of offering peace (or in Hebrew shalom) to all people. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. A stranger is to go into a community to share the good news of the kingdom of God. If people do not accept this relationship, no need to grow angry or hostile. Move on and shake the dust off your feet. Maybe this is what we need today. Shake it off. Shake it off.

*Elaine A. Heath’s essay from Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3 , Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010. Page 214.

Rev. Jo Mead is an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference serving University United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

March 2nd Lenten Devotional

Where are you from?

Matthew March

Luke 9:57-62

Where are you from?  It’s a question that gets asked, almost as a throw-away.  People seem to want to know where other people are from.  When one lives in a rural area, the question becomes even more important.  It highlights the line between those who have deep roots and those who have more recently found their home in a given area.

It’s a question that becomes more and more complicated as our society has become so mobile.  If you ask my children where they are from, you will get two different answers.  If you ask my wife and me, we will say Michigan but, since we married, we’ve lived in five different states and haven’t set foot in Michigan in several years.

As I think about those people who told Jesus they would follow him, I imagine they were people who had deep roots in their community.  I imagine them farming the land that had been in their family for generations.  I imagine them living in a household with multiple generations.  And I imagine they had no idea of the disruptive nature of the in-breaking of the Reign of God that Jesus was bringing near.

The Reign of God disrupts the way we make our identity.  No longer is our identity about where we are from or to whose earthly family we belong.  Our identity is in Jesus Christ.  It is not about who we are but whose we are.

 

Matthew March is the pastor of St John’s Lutheran Church in Chehalis, Washington.

 

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.