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Holy Saturday – April 7

Psalm 88; Lamentations 3:37-58; Hebrews 4:1-16; John 19:38-42

 

John 19:38-42

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

 

I’m curious about the mixture of myrrh and aloes that these two followers of Jesus bring along with them to dress the body of Jesus. It makes me wonder what the healing mixture was used for. Jewish burial customs did not permit their use for embalming so they must have served another purpose not known by the Gospel writer. To help me figure this out I ponder lines from the traditional Christmas Carol, We three Kings of Orient Are:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume,

Breathes a life of gathering gloom,

Sorrowing, signing, bleeding, dying,

Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Maybe Joseph and his friend Nicodemus were hoping that Jesus wasn’t dead when they applied this ancient antiseptic balm. In my mind, they were convinced they could revive their Lord by tending to his wounds. Love might be enough, if applied correctly and with enough faith. Such tender hope is evocative of the manger scene, where myrrh is burned as incense as a new mother tends to her child. The aroma of healing herbs surrounds Jesus at his birth and again at the time of his death – in both instances, his body is held in healing embrace. Sometimes I wonder at the kindnesses that surrounded me at my own birth and I hope that the same might be true of my dying moment. I take comfort from the inference that it isn’t just Jesus who is resurrected. It is everything he represents, everything he came for, everything his friends saw in him, and everyone that his life touches.

Gareth E.

Good Friday – April 6

Psalm 22; Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-33; 1 Peter 1:10-20; John 13:36-38

 

John 13:36-38

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

 

In this passage I see God speaking to the common sinner. Despite how devout and loyal Simon Peter was to Jesus, Jesus still foresaw Simon Peter denying him three times before the cock crowed. As sinners, this should touch us all, for the majority of us are not nearly as loyal as Simon Peter. If such a man could commit a sin of that magnitude, who’s to say the rest of us can’t. The passage is meant to humble us sinners, for no one is holier than Thou.

Alix P.

Maundy Thursday – April 5

Psalm 102; Lamentations 2:10-18; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32; Mark 14:12-25

 

Mark 14:12-25

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

 

When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

 

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

 

 

What word jumped out at you? ___________________________________________________________________

 

Read the passage again. What phrase jumped out at you this time? __________________________________________________________________________________________

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Read the passage a third time. What is God saying to you today in this

reading?  __________________________________________________________________________________

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Wednesday in Holy Week – April 4

Psalm 55; Lamentations 2:1-9; 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11; Mark 12:1-11

 

Mark 12:1-11

Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

 

 

The Word that stood out to me in this reading is “parables” – teachings. Jesus wanted me to learn something from this story. Was it to be as giving as the man who leased his land for a share of produce? Was it to not be greedy as the tenants were? Or, was it that he wanted me to understand that sometimes we need to pick our battles and to emulate what Jesus would do with these tenants?

I don’t think Jesus would send me knowing that I would be killed; He would go and talk to the tenants. Jesus is the cornerstone for me in my life. It is His strength which gives me my support; he teaches me to give me knowledge, and he forgives freely when I make mistakes. This is a good lesson for me: to remember the support the cornerstone offers which makes me a good Christian even if I am flawed. I know that Jesus will forgive me and help me grow as a Christian. I wasn’t going to do a meditation but Margaret gave me one anyway – another lesson learned. Jesus calls me in so many different ways and I need to remember to be open to His call and build my foundations on His cornerstone.

Anthony G.

Tuesday in Holy Week – April 3

Psalm 6, 12; Lamentations 1:17-22; 2 Corinthians 1:8-22; Mark 11:27-33

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

 

“They argued with one another.”

How many times do I find myself in this position in my life? Sometimes I argue with myself. When confronted with difficult choices, sometimes I feel boxed in. If I choose one way, I might disappoint someone. I might even upset some people – maybe those in “authority.” But if I comply or conform or do “what is expected,” I risk compromising my principles and beliefs.

What is the right thing to do? It seems that life is full of difficult choices. And while it can be very comforting to boil the world down to a series of black and white issues and litmus tests, things are rarely that easy. Someone once told me that for every complex problem, there is a simple solution – that is not always correct.

Lord, give me the patience, the strength, and the wisdom to pause and reflect when confronted with difficult choices. Help me to discern and not jump at the easy answer. Help me trust my values and beliefs and not be swayed by what is “expected” and what “authority” tells me I should do. In the stillness, let me hear the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.

Peter C.

Monday in Holy Week – April 2

Psalm 51:1-18; Lamentations 1:1-2, 6-12; 2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Mark 11:12-25

 Mark 11:12-25

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

 

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it.”

Believe that you HAVE received it, not that you WILL receive it but that you already HAVE. And to believe that, I have to have a total trust in God, and that in turn means, for me, belief in a God who is and was and ever shall be, a God who is active in my life, a God who anticipates my every need, my every pain, my every joy, who was and is waiting at the crossroads of every decision I have ever made and ever will make. Unlike the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, however, my God is not flailing straw-filled arms in every which way. No, my God is standing there, leaning on the signpost, watchful yet waiting, ready to accompany me as I approach and choose my way. God may know what I’m going to do but God allows me the choice. So what if I make the “wrong” choice? Map Quest! God reconfigures and is there at the next signpost! One could argue that God knew I was going to make that “wrong” decision but I won’t go there – that’s a red herring or a fig tree! I may make the “wrong” choices; I may not “hear” God’s answer to my prayer. But the point is that God is the “Lord of all hopefulness, the Lord of all joy.”(Hymn 482) God is there attentive to, listening to, and answering my every prayer, and that I believe.

 Sonia S.

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday – April 1

Psalm 24, 29; Zechariah 9:9-12; 1 Timothy 6:12-16; Mark 11:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

 

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

 

We can spend a lifetime reading into the Bible’s parables and stories. Perhaps there’s a message in this one in its reference to an unridden colt: a creature young and inexperienced, has never had anyone sit on it, yet is called to service, to perform a simple task: carrying Jesus into Jerusalem.

I’m also struck by the disciples’ faith in taking the colt. I would imagine most owners would react poorly to some ruffians borrowing a colt without asking. They took a chance, “why not, it could work?”, and exercised their faith.

Kevin G.