PALM SUNDAY DEVOTIONAL

April 14 Preparing: Richard ( Palm Sunday/ Passion Week)

May your Lenten season be one of challenge, commitment, and support as the church responds to the call of God – “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Rend Your Heart

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Luke 19:28-40

19:28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

19:29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,

19:30 saying, "Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.

19:31 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it.'"

19:32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.

19:33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"

19:34 They said, "The Lord needs it."

19:35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

19:36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

19:37 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,

19:38 saying, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!"

19:39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop."

19:40 He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."

As we lift up our shouts of praise on this Palm Sunday, might we also lay down ways of living that do not honor God, our neighbor, and all life around us? As we lift up our voices crying out for an end to injustice and suffering, might we also lay down our lives, allowing Christ to fill them with humility and the new beginnings of hope? As we lift up our palms with songs to bless the One who comes in peace, might we also lay down the superficial cries of victory and triumph? As we lift up our eyes to see a vision of earth and heaven made one, might we also lay down our expectations of how God will change us and our world; of how God will come into our lives to accomplish this? As we lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, might we also lay down our hearts until they burn with the desires of God’s heart? And in our lifting up and laying down, God might just weave us into a tapestry of resurrection.

The triumphant parade with shouts of joy and blessing will cause our hearts to rise and swell to the highest of highs. The excitement of the boisterous parade where Jesus is accepted by the crowds will fade, and our hearts will slip to the depths of despair, and Jesus is rejected. Holy Week brings us to a space and a time for lament, for struggle, for sorrow. Time slows, and we will walk through betrayal and unanswered prayer into darkness and death. We have done the work to prepare our hearts to walk from the procession to the table, from the cross to the stone-cold tomb.

Today, as we celebrate Love Incarnate who came to live, and work, and dance among us, perhaps we are the borrowed colt. Perhaps we need to lay down our coats to line the way. The story continues, and we have prepared our feet to follow its path with a hope that is stronger than despair, a light that is stronger than darkness, and a love that is stronger than death.

Submitted in Love,
Richard Weeber, Elder – Lakeshore Christian Church (2019)

Lenten Reflection—With All Your Heart God’s Generous Heart

Lenten Reflection—With All Your Heart God’s Generous Heart
If you look up the definition of generous in the Miriam Webster’s dictionary, it says
“characterized by a noble or kindly spirit; liberal in giving.”

 I don’t think that any of us can deny the fact that our God is liberal in giving! Each morning that we open our eyes is a gift. He blessed us with our earthly home and he “gives us this day our daily bread” and everything else we need to sustain our lives. As we know, he did not stop there! He also gave us his own son who display the ultimate act of generosity by sacrificing his life to redeem us, securing our heavenly future.

 How do we recognize God for his generosity? Many people talk about “giving something up for Lent”. I would like to propose that we go out of our way to practice generosity. I invite you to reflect upon some excerpts from Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet:

 You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. . .

There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. . . 

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;  And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.  And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall someday be given;  Therefore, give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely, he who is worthy to receive his days and nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. . .

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life—while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.  And you receivers—and you are all receivers—assume no weight of gratitude,
lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
For to be over mindful of your debt, is to doubt His generosity. . .

submitted by Dr. Martina Moore

 

Ash Wednesday Devotion

 ASH WEDNESDAY Joel 2 vs. 1-2; 12-17 and Matthew 6 vs. 1-6

 It may be a safe assumption to say most of us do not look forward to forty days of Lent like we do the season of Advent. The anticipation of Christmas, the preparations, the parties we don’t experience that with Lent. However, without the Resurrection we would have no need of Christmas. Lent is a more intimate time because of the lack of fanfare. It is a time to focus on our connection with God.

The first reading is from the book of Joel, a minor prophet, we probably have never read, who is calling the Jewish people to repent through “fasting, community prayer and heartfelt contrition”[1]; this in the midst of a natural disaster! The Jewish people had turned away from God and Joel was calling them to turn back so they could experience God’s blessings.  You say, “That sounds wonderful but I’m too busy to pray and I don’t know how.” I contend you do know how to pray, we just don’t see a benefit unless we need something.

The second reading is a more familiar one from the book of Matthew that actually gives you direction on how to pray.  If you continue to read the passage it introduces the Lord’s Prayer. While the Our Father can be a rout prayer it is very succinct in its form and covers the purpose of prayer. The instruction in Matthew continues on the way you should fast. Fasting, hum, a real sticking point especially in light of those failed New Year Resolutions.  Abstaining is a way to draw your attention back to God. It could be a abstaining from food but it could also be changing your routine so prayer has a place in your schedule.

So what do I hope for myself and for you this Lent, I hope you will open a bible and read the scripture. Ask God to show you what it means to you and then sit silently and listen.  Give the gift to yourself of undivided attention to these passages over the next five days. Read them over and over. It is awesome how each time you can see something different. God is still speaking, are you listening?

 Kathy Scheurman


[1]  Introduction The Book of Joel(copyright blblica.com 1973). http://www.biblica.com

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