March 2018


Holy Saturday, Mar. 31

Read Mark 15:42-47

From Janet Hellner-Burris

Pittsburgh, PA Christian Church of Wilkinsburg

The Saturday before Easter is a busy day with preparations for Easter services and family celebrations.  It never had a holy significance for me, until I met my neighbors.  Every Holy Saturday they take a turn at their Russian Orthodox Church “guarding the tomb”.   It is a ministry of prayer and presence. They simply don’t want Jesus to be alone, even in His death.

Jesus is dead.  His body lies in the tomb.  If we do not want to cheapen His Easter victory, we must stay at the tomb as well.  Feel the reality and finality of death. Remember the overwhelming events in life which threaten to deaden our soul. Pray for those who are dying physically, as well as those whose souls are being killed by poverty, racism, violence and war.

Today becomes a Holy Saturday when we stay at the tomb.  Let us watch and wait for the new life only God can raise.

 

Jesus, even in death, I will stay with you. 

Teach me how to wait on resurrection.   Amen

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Good Friday, Mar. 30

Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12

From Valerie Parsons

Wheeling, WV Island Christian Church

In the church that I was raised in, we celebrated Psalm Sunday, and then Easter with no other services between the two. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I first began to contemplate the events of Passion Week. And I remember wondering to myself, and I think I might even have asked a Sunday School teacher, what’s so good about Good Friday? It is a dark and somber day. Prayer vigils may be held, and sometimes they are combined with fasting. Often a service of the stations of cross, which is a very spiritually heavy service, is offered because this is the day that Christ was crucified. How awful, and yet, how wonderful it is.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities… and by his wounds we are healed. That’s what’s so good about Good Friday. It is the day that our Lord took our place in death, that we might be restored to life and relationship with God.

 

Holy God, we thank you we never take the sacred gift of

Life in You for granted. Amen.

Holy Thursday, Mar. 29

Read John 13:1-17,31b-35  

From Kenneth M. Hardway

Wheeling, WV First Christian Church

Association Regional Minister, WV, for Youth and Young Adults

Baptism.  Humility.  Servant-leadership.  Human denial.  Betrayal.  Even faithful disciples are ignorant in response.  The example of Christ so pervasive, so everlasting.

This night is rich.  So timely.  So lovely.  I almost wish we could stay here a little while longer.  Why is there a Friday, when Thursday night is filled with enough challenge and grace to last a lifetime?

Yet, the story goes deeper.  Love goes deeper.  How deep is your love?  To serve?  To be vulnerable?  To be rebuked?  To be washed?  To be transformed?  Is it deep enough to share?  To be known by it?  In word and deed?  Is love taught?  Or is love shown, experienced, and shared?  Love is lived.

How deep is love willing to go?  Deep enough to risk?  To being denied?  Deep enough to stand trial, and even do so alone?  Deep enough to die?  Deep enough to live?

Love is the mandate—mandatum—commandment.  Love is an ethic, an ethos, a way of life, and the way for life, and the way to life.  It is what we know, for it is what we’ve been shown and given.  It is how we are known, and how Christ is known in us.

 

You have shown us and given us deep love. 

May this love go as deep in us, and through us.  Amen.

Holy Wednesday, Mar. 28

Read Mark 14:1-11

From D. Marie Tribble

Lemoyne, PA First Christian Church

When was the last time you voluntarily gave your last to a complete stranger, with no expectation of receiving anything in return? I am not referring to the non perishable food items from the back of your cupboard that no one in your house will eat. Nor the outdated, heavily worn clothing you donated to the clothing drive each year. But a time you gave something you loved, cherished, or valued to a complete stranger with no expectation of receiving anything in return, other than enhancing their life.

Up until this point, Jesus spent every day of his life attempting to enhance the lives of others. Anticipating no benefit outside of the glorification of God. Unlike everyone else, Jesus was privilege to a divine secret others never believed although he attempted to disclose it many times; his time for departing the world was near. Days away from the significant moment, a women with no foreknowledge of the impact of her actions, comes bearing expensive, cherished perfume in an alabaster jar, and anoints Jesus. This nameless, seemingly invisible woman’s actions are shocking to many, yet viewed as selfless and sacrificial by Jesus. Her willingness to offer such a beautiful gift to Jesus, becomes an act of sacred worship forever to be remembered.

 

Lord, teach us how to give selflessly and sacrificially, in sacred worship to you. Instead of giving from habit, or obligatory responsibility. Amen.

Holy Tuesday, Mar. 27

Read Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

From Douglas McDaniel

Bluefield, WV First Christian Church

Having worked for my father for many years, I identified that with all of his gifts and talents, one attribute stood out among the rest – my father was and is a generous man. Maybe misunderstood at times and far from perfect as is his eldest son, my father paved a road of generosity for me to witness and to be shaped by. Food and rides and the occasional twenty-dollar bill, a hardy handshake, a huge infectious smile, and always and I mean always, laughter! He met people where they were and as best he could, he seemed to always show them some level of generosity. I remember so many times people asking my dad, “Doug, how can I ever repay you?” Well, isn’t that what we’re supposed to say after someone shows us kindness? Isn’t that what the Psalmist is saying? But it seems more than just idle words. Could it be that his words are driven from a grateful and overwhelmingly thankful heart? The Psalmist doesn’t ask, “How can I repay you?” He said, “I will.”

 

Father, I thank you for your generosity,

and “I will,” by the power and equipping of the Holy Spirit,

to honor you with the whole of my life. Amen!

Holy Monday, Mar. 26

Read Isaiah 42.1-9

From John Crist

Pittsburgh, PA

Holy Week!  The most sacred week

Of the church year.

The climax of a powerful ministry,

Proclaiming God’s Compassionate

Love and Enduring Presence.

 

Isaiah proclaims the Lord’s Servant

Not with fanfare,

But in gentleness and peace.

 

“I, the Lord, have called you

in righteousness.”

(One called in and for

A right relationship with God.)

 

“A covenant for the people,”

“A light to the Gentiles”

The Suffering Servant approaches fulfillment,

Chastising the hypocrites,

Mocking the false leaders.

 

Alone, rejected, fellowship is sought

With his intimates.

A transforming meal:

Body becomes bread;

Blood becomes wine.

 

The cross awaits,

A cruel symbol of a cruel justice

Lifted high for all to see.

 

He does not cry out

But in reverence recites

A Psalm of old,

A Psalm of hope!

 

“My God, my God,

Why have you forsaken me?”

Isaiah knew: “Here is my servant,

Whom I uphold, my Chosen one

In whom I delight.”

Palm/Passion Sunday, Mar. 25

Read Mark 11:1-11

From Heather M. Simpson

Uniontown, PA Central Christian Church

What a grand day of celebration!  Here our teacher and healer from Galilee is, for one moment in his journey, hailed by the crowds around Jerusalem as the coming king promised to them.  He is known as Messiah, and the shouts, the sights of palm branches and cloaks being thrown into the streets to line his path, the uproar of “Hosannah! Hosannah! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!” Is heard loud and clear. This is to be a defining moment, if not for Jesus, for those who have struggled so long under the rule of Rome. The people are expressing joyously their hopes!

We see this excitement building in our churches also.  Although purple is the color that transforms worship spaces for Lent, we also hold back on the “Alleluias” that are shouted out on Easter; yet you can sense something is coming.  Something great! Maybe not a remembered ancient kingdom, but a promise yet unfulfilled is building hope within God’s people.  Our Messiah will be seen and known and acclaimed very soon among us, as the one who conquers death and brings new life.

We who know the story realize that there’s much to be experienced between these great days of joy and proclamation.  Plots and betrayals, denials, and desertion are yet to be faced by the one who is held up high by the cheering crowds this morning.  We find ourselves quietly walking with him out of the Temple and into the depth of Holy Week. We come down from this spectacular moment and deal with the story of our salvation in its most intense moments.  So we thank God this day for a blessed moment to take in the glory of the triumphal entry, and to breathe in the hope for the promises yet unfilled that is building within us as his followers.

 

God, help us to be swept into the glorious moments you offer us,

that we may be refreshed and strengthened for the struggles ahead,

confident that beyond it all is the ultimate joy

of resurrection and life eternal. Amen.

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