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


Saturday: Epiphany 

Read Matthew 2:1-12

from Janet Hellner-Burris, Pittsburgh, PA Christian Church of Wilkinsburg

The parties are over.  Many of us are trying to shed the extra pounds of the holidays.  New Year’s Day resolutions have been made – and some broken.  Epiphany comes as a relief that the strain and stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s is over. Life can go back to normal, but should it?

The wise men went home another way not only to avoid encountering King Herod, whom they have been warned in a dream plans to kill the baby Jesus.  They go home another way because they encountered Jesus. They encountered the Holy One in our midst.  They gazed into the face of the Prince of Peace.  They held the hand of Emmanuel.  They witnessed the Word made flesh.  They were filled with the true gifts of Christmas: hope, peace, joy, love and eternal life. Because of this holy encounter, they fall down in worship and willingly offer the true King of the world the gold of the wealth of their time and money, the frankincense of their devotion to God in prayer and worship, and the myrrh of sacrifice – the sacrifice of ego, fear, bitterness, addiction, sin, self-centeredness, and all that must be laid down to follow Jesus.  They go home another way.  Changed forever.

How has this Christmas changed me?  What offerings to Jesus do I need to give today so that I can walk into this new year another way?

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to live this new year by another way.  Your Way. Teach me the wisdom of the Wise Men’s offerings. Show me what I need to lay down to follow you. O come, O come Emmanuel.  Amen.


Prayerscapes for Advent is published by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  WV and PA Disciples ministers have given themselves to this wonderful project, which ends for this season tomorrow.  Lenten Prayerscapes will be coming soon, so please share the word with others who would appreciate receiving them, and direct your friends to https://prayerscapes.wordpress.com.  They also will be published daily on our Facebook pages.

All of this is made possible because of your faithful support of Disciples Mission Fund, and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries.  Please consider how your gifts will help us continue our work, and encourage others toward generosity in this vital mission.

Read Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

During a workshop on prayer, I gave the participants an exercise on thanksgiving.  They were to make a list of everything they were thankful for on one of the worst days of their lives.  After ten minutes I asked the participants to share this experience of offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  A woman in the back of the room continued to write as the sharing began.  Finally, with a catch in her throat, she commented on her experience.  “My young adult son died three months ago of cancer.  It was a terrible time for us, but I realize through this exercise how much I had to be thankful for.  A nurse who was so kind.  Friends who stood with us.  My son’s freedom from a body of pain into eternal life.  I wrote three pages and I could still write more!”  She had found the hand of God through her sacrifice of thanksgiving.

St. Ignatius taught that the greatest sin is ingratitude.  Ingratitude shuts down our connection with God.  But when we give a sacrifice of thanksgiving, especially during painful times, God’s love can pour into us and give us what we truly need to become: “more than conquerors.”

Lord Jesus, forgive our sin of ingratitude.

Show us how to give a sacrifice of thanksgiving every day of our lives.

Janet Hellner-Burris

Christian Church of Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, PA

4th Sunday of Advent, Dec. 18              Read Matthew 11:2-11

from Janet Hellner-Burris, Christian Church of Wilkinsburg, PA:

There is a lot of going in the Christmas story.  Mary goes quickly to Elizabeth with the news of her pregnancy.  Mary and Joseph go on a dangerous 70-mile trip to Bethlehem.  The shepherds go to the manger in haste.  The Wise Men go on a perilous two-year journey across the desert.  Each going is for a telling – a telling about Jesus.


During December, our lives are full of going here and there to get it all done. Yet what is all our running around telling others about Jesus?  If someone audited how we use our time, energy and money during December, would they conclude that our going is about telling and being the good news of Jesus?


In our scripture, John the Baptist is sitting in a dark prison cell waiting for someone to go and tell him about Jesus.  Who in your life is sitting in darkness and in the prison of depression and despair, addiction and poverty, grief and loneliness?  Find a way to go to them to tell and be the good news of Jesus.

Jesus, we confess that much of our going in December does not honor you.  Forgive us and send us to those who need us to go, tell, and be your good news.  Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.