Monday, March 2, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 2, 2015

Yet among the mature we do speak of wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
I Corinthians 2:6-8


If they only knew… Paul makes a telling point. If Pontius Pilate and Herod had known, the crucifixion would not have happened. Pair that with Christ's saying "Blessed are they who have not seen but believe."

It's like the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus. In Hell, the rich man wants to save his living brothers by having Abraham appear to them. He's told that they have Moses and the Prophets, and if the brothers won't listen to the prophets, they won't be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.

But most people didn't know, despite all the foreshadowing, despite the Prophets, despite John the Baptist; only those mature enough to understand who Christ was when the truth was revealed. We have to be children in our trusting relationship with God, but we have to understand as adults. That is what it is to be mature in God. To understand that wisdom which became fully revealed in Christ. To believe, even having not seen.

Greg Davis

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lenten Reflection - March 1, 2015 The Second Sunday of Lent

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:24


When we have the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—it makes up for what we lack as mere human beings. That is the wonderful part of belonging to Jesus Christ—once we belong to him, we live and are guided by the Holy Spirit. We leave our worldly choices behind and do as God would have us do. When we live God's way, he brings incredible gifts into our lives! We live, not with this understanding just in our heads, but in our hearts--believing that people and things are holy and good. We don't need to get our own way anymore, because we delight in God's will and walk in his ways to the glory of his name. What could be more important in this world or the next?

Yet, how often do we struggle with thinking or saying or doing what we want to rather than what we know we should? How often do we know what we should do, yet still we leave it undone? And, how often do we insist on getting our own way instead of yielding to others and to God? When we act like people of the flesh, we behave like unbelievers who do not have the Holy Spirit. We don't always love God with our whole heart or our neighbors as ourselves. Then, over and over and over, we confess to God that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, and we humbly repent. We ask for mercy and forgiveness for Jesus' sake, and God grants it to us—over and over and over!

Marjie Mack

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lenten Reflection - February 28, 2015

God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14


What???

Much thinking required.

This is hard.

Maybe there was a problem in Colossae that Paul was responding to. What were they up to? Well a little bit of research reveals that Colossians is one of the prison letters that Paul wrote when he was imprisoned the first time. He had gotten word that the people of Colossae were fighting and trying to settle some doctrine that confused them. In this light, we can read this as a sort of Pauline smack-down: Together with Christ, you're forgiven, the legal record is erased, Jesus was nailed to the cross... for you... for each and every one of us.

On the other hand, there seems to be some compelling evidence that Paul did not write this epistle, that it was in fact written by someone on the ground in Colossae, but somehow became attributed to Paul. The anxiety the Colossians were having seemed to revolve around the symbolic observances of new Christian laws. They were good on the big things, but bogged down on the fine print. Well, regardless of the topic, the advice is sound: Together with Christ, you're forgiven, the legal record is erased, Jesus was nailed to the cross... for you... for each and every one of us.

One of my most powerful and vivid memories of Cursillo weekend involved a cross and setting aside our anxieties and worries. It was, if I recall correctly, the second evening when we were all tired and confused about what we were doing at Cursillo in the first place. But this exercise was very centering and comforting. Together with Christ...

JoEllen Kelly

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenten Reflection - February 27, 2015

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:28-31


As I do every time I read this passage or watch it in a movie, the first thing I feel is anger. How dare they treat our Savior like this? What more in the world could he have done to prove his true identity. Then I remember, he went through this for me. Then the anger transforms to shame. My sin was the thorns and mocking. It is hard to imagine the pain and embarrassment our Lord must have felt. Even harder to comprehend is that he had the power to stop it at any time but did not. No matter how brutal, he was determined not to interfere with God's will and to allow the plan to play out. And again, he did this for me.

As we reflect on our work within our Lord's church and how difficult it can be from time to time, let's not forget what he went through for us. Also we should remember that after all that, he was willing to forgive, and asked his father to forgive those same people responsible for inflicting this pain and humility on him. How then can we ever hold a grudge or cast judgment on someone within his Church?

And finally, I would like to share that reflecting on this passage has helped give me energy to face the tasks ahead of me this year within our parish. No matter how challenging the tasks may get, they can never mirror the things our Lord went through on our account.

Steven E. Dorsey

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lenten Reflection - February 26, 2015

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14


During my research of this passage, I found it interesting that Paul wrote the letter in his own handwriting thereby emphasizing its importance. His goal was to declare in no uncertain terms that he placed his trust in nothing but Jesus Christ –- crucified for the pardon of our sins and the salvation of our souls. The symbolism of the cross is also very important. In earlier times, the cross was an instrument of torture, a symbol of utter shame and a most dishonorable form of death. When you think about it, it is truly astounding that God could use the vilest of symbols and turn it into a glorious token of victory.

So what does this boil down to for us? Like Paul, we need to trust in and rely on our Lord at all times. While this may seem difficult during moments in our lives, it is He who grounds us and provides that spiritual comfort no one else can fulfill. Living our lives in a thoughtful and caring manner is a small price to pay for the One who sacrificed so dearly to take on the sins of the world. If ever in need of being reminded of the importance of that sacrifice, I would refer you to the lyrics of "The Old Rugged Cross": "To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He'll call me someday to my home far away, Where His glory forever I'll share" (last verse).

Am Okrzesik

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lenten Reflection - February 25, 2015

Pilate said to them, "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah? "All of them said, "Let him be crucified!" Then he asked, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!"
Matthew 27-22-23


These were troubled times in Jerusalem. This was a time of unrest between the people and Rome. Zealots roamed the land rebelling against what they believed to be a tyrannical government. Rome had its hands full trying to quell unrest and prevent a general rebellion. As governor, one of Pilate's primary responsibilities was to maintain peace, and he would be held accountable if there was violence and rebellion. Jerusalem was preparing for the Festival of Unleavened Bread and would be crowded with people coming to participate in Passover. Expecting that there could be trouble, as was his custom, Pilate and his legions traveled to Jerusalem. While Pilate entered the City from the west through Harod's Gate with a show of all his majesty and earthly power, Jesus entered from the east through the Golden Gate humbly riding on a donkey with no worldly possessions.

Jesus fell into disfavor with the Jewish religious leaders and they hated him for his violation of their rules. They found him guilty of blasphemy under Jewish law, but did not have the authority to execute him. They had to turn to Rome, but Pilate had no reason or authority to execute him for that reason. When the leaders turned to false accusations of crimes under Rome law, Pilate was not impressed, but agreed to issue a crucifixion order to appease them. This to prevent them from issuing a formal complaint to Rome that could result in his being recalled by Rome. As was the custom, Pilate offered to free one prisoner, but the crowd had been whipped into such frenzy against Jesus, they chose to release Barabbas.

So, who is responsible for Jesus' death? While the Jewish leaders were the instrument, isn't it really all of us? None of us are capable of perfection, so God in his compassion chose to come to the earth to show us perfection, and through the death of Jesus Christ, to provide us a way through him to stand before God and enter his Kingdom.

Warren Harper

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lenten Reflection - February 24, 2015

And carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
John 19:17


This passage from John is about Jesus carrying the cross to his crucifixion. For me, this passage is a reminder of my commitment in 2014 to the Daughters of the King (DOK). DOK was founded in 1885 for women of the Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran Churches. The focus of the Order is prayer, service, and personal evangelism. There are over 26,000 Daughters around the world. I am part of a religious order that is a caring community of women who support each other in our faith journey, and who work to strengthen our parishes.

When I learned the DOK motto, I realized that this is a group of women with values and commitments consistent with my own.

I am but one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.
Lord, what will you have me do?

The Spirit of the Living God truly inspired our founding mothers and the clergy who supported them. Today, 130 years later, God is still moving among us, fanning the flames of our ministry and drawing us to a closer, more personal relationship with Him through our dedication to prayer, service and evangelism. With heart, mind and spirit, we uphold and bear the cross.

Visit www.DOKnational.org to learn more.

Linda Rines