March 11th Lenten Devotional

Abide

Ann Bassett

Psalm 15

In school we were taught that if you’re not sure what a word means, it may be possible to determine the meaning by taking a close look at the context.  Psalm 15 begins by asking, “O LORD, who may abide in your tent?  Who may dwell on your holy hill?”  According to the context ABIDE seems to mean “live with”.  The Psalmist is asking, “God, who gets to live with you in your holy home?”

Lucky for us, our psalmist provides the answer.  Walk the talk and talk the walk.  If you say you’re a God follower than act like it in everything you do.  And speak the truth; our human messy, vulnerable truth.  In all that you do and say, always talk about all your neighbors in the best possible way.  Never put others down to make yourself look better.  Treat others justly.  Help each other out going so far as to lend others money without interest.  Regardless of the cost to yourself, keep your word.  Don’t glorify those who treat others badly.  Don’t, in any way, make life harder for those who are hurting.  Above all, honor the LORD.

It turns out ABIDE also has another meaning; obey, observe, follow or to act in accordance with.  Abiding (living with) God is all about abiding (obeying) God.  Those who abide by God’s laws day and night with all their heart, mind, body and soul will abide in God’s holy house.  And, as the Psalmist concludes, they shall never be moved.

Ann Bassett is the Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Spring Hill, TN. Peace Lutheran Church is sharing their almost a third of their building with The Unchained Movement which is dedicated to eradicating human sex trafficking.

©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 10th Lenten Devotional

Too Many Shoes

Allison Byerley

Luke 12:13-21

 A few years ago, our church participated in a Lenten exercise to “Count Our Blessings.” Each day we consciously counted something that most of us take for granted. One day we counted the light bulbs in our houses. One participant, who had an exquisitely landscaped yard, asked, “Do the ones outside count too?” I told her that if she had to ask, she probably knew the answer!

One day, we had to count how many shoes we owned. One woman came to me to express her horror. “I put all my shoes in the middle of my bedroom and counted. I had SEVENTY PAIRS of shoes!!” she exclaimed. Even I was impressed by that. “Do you still have seventy pairs of shoes?” I asked her. “No! I bagged up most of them and took them to Helping Hand (our local ministry assistance agency that operates a resale shop).”

She looked at her super-abundance, realized that her life’s priorities had become skewed, and acted to share her blessings with others. The rich man in Jesus’ parable looks at his super-abundance and is filled with pride and plans for more.

When was the last time you counted your blessings, especially the ones we take for granted? Like light bulbs, shoes, water faucets that bring clean water into our homes, pillows and beds, friends and the freedom to worship God? Jesus invites us to focus less on ourselves and our possessions and more on our relationship with God. Take stock of what you have and how you can share with others.

(If you would like a copy of the Count Your Blessings exercise, email me at adbyerley@gmail.com.)

 Rev. Dr. Allison Byerley is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Hawkins, TX. She is one of the editors of this volume.

©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 9th Lenten Devotional

What Power?

Scott Simmons

Luke 11:14-29

  Jesus casts out a demon and, as one would imagine, causes quite a stir among the locals. Some were amazed. Some wanted another sign from heaven as additional proof. Still others charged that Jesus used demonic powers to cast it away. Each response, however, begs the same

question: ‘what power is at work here?’

In this day and age, we still wonder about who, or what, is the power behind many of the extraordinary occurrences that disrupt our normalcy. And when this happens, some are amazed, some want more proof, and still others are quick to blame evils both real and imagined.

Today, as then, we need to hear Jesus’ blunt reminder that even when it seems as if other powers – the world, the devil, our own sinful selves – are striving for our allegiance and attention, the “Kingdom of God has (and will) come.” (20)

Through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, God has this unpredictable habit of breaking into our world to wield the only power that truly matters: the power of God’s forgiving, renewing, resurrecting love. Let us be amazed.

 

Scott Simmons is the pastor/mission developer of Lydia Place Collaborative Communities in Saint Paul, MN, a ministry of the ELCA exploring the intersection of faith, work, and daily life through collaboration, relationships and the practice of radically accepting the hospitality of others

©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 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.

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.