Lent – Year B

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Mar. 18

Read John 12:20-33

From William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

Here we are late in the Lenten season and the mood is becoming more intense.  The arrival of Greeks wishing to see Jesus may sound to us like just another event in Jesus’ journey.  But on second look it is much more than that.  The arrival of Greeks at the Passover festival was unusual and Jesus took it as a turning point in his ministry.  His response to the request to see him was not, “Sure, bring them over.”  It was, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

The arrival of the Greeks was a sign that the mission of Jesus was no longer to Judea and Samaria alone but was now to the whole creation. This was the moment for which he had come into the world.  It would require his death and resurrection, which he likened to a grain of wheat falling into the ground in order to bear much fruit.  Talk about love!

While those around him had trouble understanding what was happening, Jesus knew that God was driving out evil from the world and drawing all people to Jesus, himself.

This is a powerful prelude to the events of Holy Week and a sure sign that God’s activity is aimed at saving us and giving us abundant life.


Holy God, thank you for the events we celebrate in these days, which mark our lives with love, compassion and new from you. Amen.


Saturday, Mar. 17

Read Hebrews 5:5-10

From Steven Smith

S. Charleston, WV United Disciples of Christ Church

We typically do not think about Jesus learning, especially when we present ourselves as disciples at Jesus’ feet to learn from him.  We are told in verse 8 that Jesus learned.  He learned obedience through his suffering which made him perfect and therefore he was able to become our Eternal Salvation.  This theological position kind of flies in the face of the belief that Jesus’ coming was part of a divine predestined plan to save us for all eternity that Jesus knew about to the fullest extent when he came.

There have been times in my life when I have not stepped into what it was I believed God appointing me to be because I might suffer the embarrassment of failure or dare I say, suffer being inconvenienced.  Sometimes my excuse has been a sense of inadequacy when comparing myself to Jesus.  It is true, I am no Jesus and I would hope that there never comes a time in my life when I see the two of us on the same plain.  However, I find this passage encouraging.  It brings me joy and hope about myself and others to know that Jesus, our Eternal Salvation submitted himself to learning, growing and being formed in the faith through obedience.  If Jesus submitted himself to such things what makes anyone believe they can somehow skirt around it?

The Lenten season is about this very thing.  How will we emerge from this season having learned through our obedience in suffering?  We don’t have to worry about becoming the world’s Eternal Salvation, this has already been done through Jesus.   Wheew!


For what, O God, will I likely be perfected?

Show me for what I am being appointed. Amen.

Friday, Mar. 16

Read Psalm 51:1-12

From Earl Shaw

Minister of the Word, WV Region

Psalm 51 is, by any measure, one of the best-known and most often read penitential texts in the scriptures. In the first 12 verses, King David is repentant for having had a fling with the beautiful Bathsheba, resulting in the birth (and death) of their child conceived out of wedlock.  To add to David’s woes, in addition to his misdeed with Bathsheba he arranged to have Bathsheba’s husband Uriah placed at the front line of battle, where he was killed as part of David’s plan.

Now, when David is confronted by the prophet Nathan, informing him of God’s judgement against him because of his adultery and plotting of Uriah’s death, David is full of remorse and petitions God for mercy.  As part of his request, David admits, as should we all, that he was born a sinner, and now, after his own guilt ridden moral failure, asks for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

David asks God to “clean me, restore me, make me willing to obey you.”  And, if you will, I will teach others and they, too, will repent and return to you. “I will sing your forgiveness – oh, how I will praise you.” He asks that his sins be erased and that God “create in him a new, clean heart filled with clean thoughts and desires.”

God answers David’s requests and does just that.  He creates a new and different relationship between David and Bathsheba and honors their new life with a son, Solomon.

David found himself giving in to the temptations of his power in a world he controlled. Or, he thought he controlled.  Sometimes we find ourselves falling into the same trap.  As we go through these days of Lent, may we too be reminded that God is always with us and longs to hear our own pleas for repentance.


Teach us the joy of new life born of true repentance.  Amen.

Thursday, Mar. 15

Read Jeremiah 31:31-34               

From Charles Cochran

Charleroi, PA First Christian Church

When Jeremiah wrote in the Sixth Century BC, a time of brokenness and dispersal lay ahead, and there would be no avoiding it.

He looked ahead and he foresaw the coming Babylonian Exile. One day very soon, soldiers would break through the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. They would haul Israel’s best and brightest away into a distant land. The Old City would lie in ashes. Seemingly, Israel’s kingship would be forever toppled.

Yet on the other side of brokenness, our Lord promises healing. Even during a time like that – a time when things looked and felt as though they were coming apart at the seams – Jeremiah reminded Judah’s people of our Lord’s promise that through our relationships with him, all things will be made new and whole again.

Jeremiah anticipated that beyond that time of brokenness, our Lord would offer a new covenant rooted in Christ – that covenantal relationship which we celebrate every Sunday morning at the Lord’s Table.

This relationship lies at the core of our Lenten celebration. We tread steadily, steadfastly into the shadow of the cross. And beyond the shadow – beyond the cross – we find and claim the promises of the New Covenant.


Lord, thank you for your promise that beyond all brokenness, we may yet discover wholeness through our relationship with you. Amen.

Wednesday, Mar. 14

Read Lamentations 3:19-26

From David Chafin

Prayerscapes Editor

“It’s the same walk every day.”  Those words were the title of a sermon mentioned by the preacher at my dear friend’s funeral.  Rev. Dennis Sparks had preached this sermon several times, noting that every day he took the morning walk with the dog from the back of the farmhouse into the fields, and every day they followed the same paths.  Yet no two days were ever alike. Dennis offered numerous ways in which we tend to be creatures of habit, but the wonder of life is in the awareness which can shape new joy, form new dreams, and compel us to new service in the world.

The truth of the text is very clear here, for while “God’s steadfast love never ceases” and “God’s mercies never come to an end,” they really are “new every morning!”  It is the same walk every day, but it’s never the same experience, because of God’s faithfulness to renew us in it.  May we be aware, and may we be awakened to new joys, new service, and new love.


How marvelous are your gifts to us each new day, O God!

Morning by morning new mercies we see, and can only exclaim:

“Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

Tuesday, Mar. 13

Read John 6.16-27

From Jeffrey Hanlin

Clarksburg-Grafton, WV Parish

Here the writer John describes two different encounters with Jesus.  The first encounter describes the disciples out in a boat during a storm. Jesus comes on the scene and at first, they don’t recognize him and are afraid. The disciples let Jesus get in their boat and John tells us that immediately they reached safety at the shore.

In the second encounter the crowd is looking for and finds Jesus. They question him. “Rabbi, when did you get here?”. Jesus knew that they were looking to fill an emptiness that was not necessarily in their stomachs. And he tells the crowd to fill themselves instead with spiritual food. Food that will bring them eternal life.

These two encounters show us that Jesus is concerned with our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs. He wants us to trust him and allow him into our lives.  But he also wants us to seek that which brings us eternal life.

Every day we have opportunities to encounter Jesus. Seek him and you will find him.  Sometimes he comes to us in ways we aren’t expecting. Don’t miss him because you are too caught up in fear or worry or because you are expecting him to come to you in a certain way. As Easter approaches let us be renewed and ready to encounter Jesus.


Wonderful Lord, draw us closer to you

 as we journey through Lent and beyond. Amen.

Monday, Mar. 12

Read Psalm 89.1-18

From Jerry Griffin

Lititz, PA

This writing of Ethan the Ezrahite portrays his gift of praise and honor through music. In this portion of the Psalm he “sings” praise to God’s covenant with David.  Additionally, he gives honor to God’s power and character.

His words of affirmation provide a solid foundation for expressing humility as we  prepare to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice our Lord has given for us.  In our contemplative and meditative moments, we would be remiss if we did not heed Ezra’s proclamation of God’s endless love.  As a result of our knowledge and awareness of God’s gift through Scripture and hymnody, we know the outcome!  Ezra proclaims it.  It is ours to live.

On many occasions during my chaplaincy ministry, patients facing the unknown throes of illness and injury repeated favorite Scripture passages and stanzas of hymns proclaiming  praise for the power  of God.  The words of hope and strength turned their fears  into courage.  They realized they were not alone.

Ezra’s praise and adoration guide us.  “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk  in the light of your presence, O Lord.  (v. 15)  In the face of adversity we receive strength when, as Ezra says, “I will declare that your love stands firm forever…”  (v. 2a)


Our Lord and our God, guide me as I live as you have loved me.  Amen

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