Lent – Year B


Mark 16:1-8

                When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

                They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”                When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

                But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

                So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

 

From Rev. Thaddaeus B. Allen

Regional Minister

Look! Look and see! Our Lord is risen from the dead! “He has been raised; he is not here.” This is the central message of the Church and a word to be shared with the world. We love and serve the Risen Christ, and all of life is witnessed through this truth and reality.

Look! Look and see! Life abounds and stones of the world’s placement are rolled away in Christ. Easter provides us the means to refocus on the big important things of life. Easter resets our priorities and our focus is only on God and the grace we all share in the Resurrection. Today we are given the power to roll away unnecessary stones that block us from receiving the abundant life that God provides.            Look! “He has been raised”. Christ is Risen dear ones! Live and rejoice and look and see all that God is doing in your life and in the world!

 

For life and life eternal we give great thanks. Amen and Amen!

 

————Please join us when Prayerscapes returns at Advent.  We are grateful to our colleagues who have brought these seasonal words of devotion and encouragement.  Please help us thank them!

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Mark 15:42-47

                When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

                Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.

                Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

 

From Rev. Dr. W. Darwin Collins

Vice-President, Christian Church Foundation

What would life be without those expectant events of life? Births, marriages, holidays, birthdays, new jobs, family visits, retirements…and for Joseph of Arimathea, and us, the coming of God’s kingdom.

These weeks and days of Lent are a time of waiting and expectancy of the celebration of our hope in the resurrection of Jesus, our Christ. We wait expectantly for that celebration and the renewal of our faith that resurrection is a truth, not just for Jesus, but us as well.

Yet, in his expectancy, Joseph gave us an excellent model of how to wait. He did some shopping (the linen), he prepared the grave, he recruited helpers to carry the body, and he made preparations to secure the tomb. The waiting period of expectancy is not idle time, but time of making preparations. Surely we experience that as we prepare to receive either a new child or family visitors and friends.

The whole of the Lenten season is dedicated to a preparation, not solely of our homes and churches for the Easter observance, but for our spirits to be renewed in our hope and expectation of our living Christ. Even on this final day of Lent…may we work to prepare in our expectancy!

 

Come Lord, Jesus, come! Amen!

————-

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund which helps to underwrite the cost of this and many of our Region’s ministries.  We urge you to support the Easter Offering for General Ministries, which will be received tomorrow at your local Disciples congregation.

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;

he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.

Just as there were many who were astonished at him

–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of mortals–

so he shall startle many nations;

kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which had not been told them they shall see,

and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised,

and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grave with the wicked

and his tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,

he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

From Rev. Kenneth Hardway, Pastor

First Christian Church, Wheeling

and Associate Regional Minister for Youth and Young Adults

Today is the day. Dark. Dreadful. Deserted. Alone. Is he afraid? From where will help come? Why is such a gruesome symbol of torture and death the central symbol of the faith?

Who knew this suffering servant would be Jesus? Kind and loving. Laughing and crying among the people. Bringing healing and wholeness. Why must the world continue to reject the very thing that will save it?

Yet God is on the cross. Christ became on this day the solidarity of God with all whom are lonely, deserted, afraid, and scorned. In Christ, on this day, God is one with all the innocent who are wrongly convicted, and the just who are persecuted. God bore the cross by the iniquitous hands of the powerful and the haughty, and now bears the mark of complete unity with those who are infirmed and afflicted.

Who among us hasn’t felt alone, afraid, scorned and accursed? Who among us hasn’t known the bruises begotten by the rod of unfaithfulness? Who among us hasn’t suffered by the perceived powers of death?

We will hear good news of newness of life resurrected. But today is not that day. Today is the day to examine the cross. What is in the suffering?

Today is the day we choose the cross of Christ. God stands with us in our suffering. We, too, stand with those who suffer. And in this solidarity, I know there is redemption somewhere. Today is not the day. But that day is coming.

 

Today is the day, O Christ.

Where will we meet you? How shall we stand with you?

May we find redemption in it. Amen.

John 13:1-17,31b-35

                Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.         And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

                Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

                Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

                Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

                Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

                Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

                After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

                “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

From Rev. Dr. William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

Our Holy Thursday gospel reading in Year B (this year) is from John – and, as we have come to expect from John, it is quite different from the accounts of the Last Supper that we find in the other three gospels. There is no institution of the Eucharist, no breaking of bread, no sharing of the chalice.

There is, however, the dramatic washing of the disciples’ feet which we do not find in the other gospels and the giving of a new commandment.

We – like the twelve – need to learn and relearn the lesson of the washing of feet. “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” What a dramatic invitation to care for one another in unified submission to Christ!

And then that new commandment (this is where we get the name “Maundy Thursday,” Maundy coming from the same root as command): “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you should love one another.”

And while this is not our usual, upper room take on Holy Thursday, it certainly illuminates the place of the holy supper in our life, an extravagant infusion of mutual love and care.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, when we gather at your table,

empower us to care for one another as you care for us,

to love one another as you love us. Amen.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

I love the LORD,

because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

Because he inclined his ear to me,

therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the LORD,

I will pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD

is the death of his faithful ones.

O LORD, I am your servant;

I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.

You have loosed my bonds.

I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice

and call on the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people,

in the courts of the house of the LORD,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD!

 

From Rev. William Flewelling

Proctor

In the midst of the week called Holy, the week remembering the passion of Jesus from the so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem to crucifixion on Friday and the numb Sabbath day before Easter arrives, we pause on Psalm 116 this Wednesday.  This turning day finds us, in a historical fashion, wondering what is going on.  We thought we knew last Sunday – but then a growing sense of disappointment has filled the week, for all we thought we knew is proving to be a mistake.  Sorting things out in the midst of confusion rarely proves successful; we miss too many hints and misjudge the ones we do, sort of, notice.  We are posed in this faith-relationship with God on a day in the midst of uncertainty.

Of course, the Psalm goes on to identify what is in mind – lift up the cup of salvation; pay upon our vows; offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving – all in the midst of Jerusalem.  But we come here to this question of “what” in an unsettled state.  Everything seems out of balance though we are not really in a state to acknowledge that fact: we really want to hold onto the certainties we had in mind when following the donkey into Jerusalem last Sunday.

What is it we can render to the Lord? – literally, what shall I return to Yahweh (of) all his benefits upon me?  Here, when nothing is going as we thought it ought to go, when all sorts of things feel like they are unraveling though we have been so sure of the real trajectory of the Lord all through our time of following him, what shall we return to the Lord?  Why, it is feeling like we aren’t really sure what it is we have, how we can spell out our benefits that have accrued upon us!

Not knowing where we are going, or how we will get there, what might be the sort of falling out of events to resolve this odd day – the third day from the entrance, we don’t know yet – playing history – of the supper tomorrow night, nor the Garden, the whirlwind collapse of our dreams and schemes, our finding our Lord the victim, offered in love for us and for God to wrench free what we don’t know is bound in pride and confusion.  We do come knowing that we are in the business of returning in the way of offering our love for him, for God, for God’s unfathomable love.  We will learn soon enough what it is we have to offer.

 

Receive, O God, the offering we are still discovering, the gift of ourselves, our love, our peace, our newly humble graces, our share in your sublime gift in the love of Jesus, our Lord.  Amen.

Psalm 71:1-12

In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,

my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from my birth;

it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all day long.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;

do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me,

and those who watch for my life consult together.

They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,

for there is no one to deliver.”

O God, do not be far from me;

O my God, make haste to help me!

 

From the hymns of Rev. David Chafin

Deputy Regional Minister

 

When all the world forsakes and flees, O Lord, stay nearby.

As we lift to you our pleas, Savior hear our cry.

Let no evil overtake us; Jesus, now do not forsake us.

In your image, Lord, remake us. To your flock stay nearby.

 

Behold with mercy gathered here the lambs of your arms.

Turn not away, but calm our fears, shelter us from harm,

That we may for those in need be the fountain and the seed,

and by our love may gently lead the wond’ring ones home to you.

Isaiah 42.1-9

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

                my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;

                a bruised reed he will not break,

                and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;

                                he will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow faint or be crushed

                until he has established justice in the earth;

                and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,           

                who created the heavens and stretched them out,

                who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

                who gives breath to the people upon it                 

                                and spirit to those who walk in it:

I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,

                I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

                I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,

                                to open the eyes that are blind,

                                to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

                                from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the LORD, that is my name;

                my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;    

          before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

 

From Prayerscapes 2011, by Rev. William Pollack, Pastor

First Christian Church, Princeton

The words of the Prophet should be music in our ears. We are told of the coming Servant who will make the world a better place by bringing justice, light and a newness of life for the people. We should rejoice at this news as we find ourselves in the midst of a world that often reflects the opposite of God’s plan. We also long for a new direction, light for the journey and seek the justice for our lives. Just let us not forget that, while we search, we are called to be the same for those who walk in darkness. This Lenten season, may we be the very things we are seeking to a world that is sought for by our Lord.

O God, may we rejoice in your call to live a servant life in the world.

As you supply us with all we need, may we offer the same blessings

to others whom you send our way. Amen.

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