Category: Lent

Prayers4Peace: Second Sunday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

Following Jesus, Together, Second Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Marian Boyle Rohloff

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

I remember reading history books about the arms races of the World Wars and Cold War era. No doubt, such races are still on the agendas of nations across the globe. A great investment of time, money, and other resources goes into such material races. Unfortunately, these races make for an anxious and tenuous peace at best and encourage the use of terrible violence at worst. What if instead, our time, resources, and energy could be directed toward a life-giving peace? 

The text from Hebrews 12:1-2 invites us to consider a different race and make a different investment. In faith, we are asked to run a race with perseverance, looking to Jesus. We look to one who refused to act in violence and, in doing so, showed us the type of race we are to run. By abiding by this, we are to run for the sake of the common good, considering the human cost that any war inflicts. We are to run away from an “us against them” mentality, instead turning our hearts to the needs of all people impacted by violence. We are to run towards justice and work to undo oppressions that break down our communities.    

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Prayers4Peace: First Sunday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

A Lenten Invitation, First Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Amy Winkle

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

The season of Lent conjures up many emotions in us. In Lent, we are called to name and acknowledge our sin, our pain, and the brokenness of our world. In so doing, we also acknowledge our need for a Savior. Recent years brought on a pandemic and social unrest, difficult personal moments for many, and wars playing out across the world; in all of this, our need for a Savior is all the more evident. However, the coming of Lent can feel like a piling on in a time that already feels heavy. It is easy to groan a bit on the inside and think unenthusiastically, “Oh good, Lent is here again.”

Yet, here it is again. The gift of Lent comes to us once more. Not as a burden, but as a gift. Still, how can we accept this gift when we feel like we are surrounded by pain – both inside of us and in our world – and when we witness the unimaginable pain and brokenness that reveals itself in war in the Middle East and around the world? How do we choose to participate, rather than saying, “it’s too much to engage”?

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Prayers4Peace: Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

“…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”, Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Pat Swanson

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

One of my professors in seminary taught us to read Scripture closely and ask good questions. In reading this passage from Hebrews, this question continued to surface for me:

What’s the point of a race anyway? 

It’s to successfully traverse the distance between two places. The goal is to close the distance. 

What a perfect metaphor! Is that not what God has done for us in becoming human? Choosing to share in our life, suffering, and even death? God closed the ultimate distance. Jesus is proof. Jesus becomes our example to run with the same love and with the same perseverance. 

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Easter Sunday

Hallelujah. He’s risen. Hallelujah!

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 🌿 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 🌿 Colossians 3:1-4 🌿 John 20:1-18

After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb… there they encountered an angel that said to the women:

Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead…” (Matthew 28:1-7)

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Holy Saturday

Practice: Imaginative Reading

by Rev. Aune Carlson

Job 14:1-14 🌿 Psalms 31:1-4, 15-16 🌿 1 Peter 4:1-8 🌿 Matthew 27:57-66

Choose one of the scriptures of today’s lectionary passages and engage in the practice of imaginative prayer.

Find a comfortable place with few distractions to sit. Still yourself and pray for God to meet you in your imagination; pray the Holy Spirit would guide your wonderings and prevent that which may call your attention away. Perhaps rest your hands, palms up, on your lap as a physical sign of openness.

As you read, do so intentionally, slowing to picture interactions or phrases visually. Imagine you are the director of a video clip. What is the geography surrounding you? What noises would you hear? Is it light or dark? What emotions arise as you sit with the scripture passage? Consider all the sights and sounds, emotions, tastes, and scents, and ask God to meet you there.

There is no need to get stuck in the details; if you’re not struck with an image or a sense of something, continue reading and ask the Spirit to pique your curiosity and spark your imagination. Consider how our brothers and sisters in the Middle East might encounter these scriptures today.

God, we thank you for your presence in our lives and for the gift of imagination. We believe you, we give thanks, and we ask you to meet us in our times of darkness and despair.

Good Friday

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 🌿Psalm 22 🌿 Hebrews 10:16-25 🌿 John 18:1-19:42

Any visitor to the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane on the base of the Mount of Olives knows the color of the church’s stained glass windows. A dark rich purple represents the robe Christ wore just before his death. The light inside the church looks dark and somber. Built to commemorate Christ’s betrayal, the garden and holy site are a good place to remember and reflect upon the crucifixion.

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Maundy Thursday

Recognizing and Honoring One Another’s Humanity

by Jennifer Maidrand

Isaiah 50:4-9a 🌿 Psalms 70 🌿 Hebrews 12:1-3 🌿 John 13:21-32

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. -John 13: 14 (NRSV)

In the Lenten season of the liturgical calendar, Maundy Thursday is a day to commemorate the last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples before his crucifixion. And it is a day, or evening, that is often commemorated with foot washing ceremonies. The act of washing the feet of those we are in community with is a practice that might be dear to some of us, off-putting to others, or perhaps for some, seemingly outdated.

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Wednesday- Holy Week

Never Alone

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Isaiah 50:4-9a 🌿 Psalms 70 🌿 Hebrews 12:1-3 🌿 John 13:21-32

As we wait upon the realization of God’s perfect peace, we can grow weary, worn, and wondering. As we wait for Easter Sunday, may we be heartened by the great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12, run with perseverance, and keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.”

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Tuesday – Holy Week

Sacred City to All

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Isaiah 49:1-7 🌿 Psalms 71:1-14 🌿 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 🌿 John 12:20-36

It is Tuesday of Holy Week, just a couple days from Palm Sunday. It is interesting how Palm Sunday is often described as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And yet, what was triumphant about this humble Jewish man riding down the Mount of Olives, across the Valley of Kidron, and into the Old City of Jerusalem? The people cried out adulations to him, but the praise of humankind was temporary and fleeting. For in the days hence, that very same crowd would turn their backs on Christ and instead release the convicted prisoner Barabas into freedom. How could Jesus ever be reconciled to his people after such betrayal?

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Monday – Holy Week

Practice: Praying a Blessing

by Rev. Aune Carlson

Isaiah 42:1-9 🌿 Psalms 36:5-11 🌿 Hebrews 9:11-15 🌿 John 12:1-11

Already, this year has been filled with conflict, death, despair, and destruction. Memphis, Moon Bay, Jerusalem, Jenin, Ukraine, Armenia, Brazil, and on and on. May the words of Psalms 36:5-11 remind us of God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, abundance, life, and light.

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