Category: Lent

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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Palm Sunday

All Glory, Praise, and Honor

by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Liturgy of the Palms: Matthew 21:1-11 🌿 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a 🌿 Psalm 31:9-16 🌿 Philippians 2:5-11 🌿 Matthew 26:14-27:66

Palm Sunday continues to be one of the most sacred days leading to Easter – especially in Jerusalem. Crowds start their procession on the top of the Mount of Olives. The sacred city of peace can be seen in the distance, with the golden Dome of the Rock glistening in the sun. The world’s holiest city to the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – Palm Sunday exists as one of the holy days observed in Christianity.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Written about in the Gospels, we are told that if the people did not cry out to worship Him, even the stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Words often sung on Palm Sunday include: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

A Palm Sunday hymn that has been sung for 14 centuries to commemorate Palm Sunday is “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” by Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans. Theodulf spent the last two years of his life imprisoned for treason against the King of France, and thus his declaration of Christ as the “Redeemer King” remains all the more bold.

During medieval times, and we can imagine later celebrating Palm Sunday in Jerusalem during the Crusades, this hymn was used as the procession where priests and people would gather outside of city walls and march toward the gates. Much like Palm Sunday is celebrated today, people waved branches and flowers, singing the words “All glory, laud, and honor.” During medieval times the procession would follow a living representation of Jesus seated on a donkey; then, before the gates were opened, a children’s choir would sign in Latin the refrain – echoed by the crowd. At the completion of the procession, the group would enter the cathedral for mass. On this Palm Sunday, sing or read through this historic hymn as a prayer of praise.

Fifth Sunday

Is peace possible? Can dry bones come back to life?

by Kyle Cristofalo

Ezekiel 37:1-14 🌿 Psalm 130 🌿 Romans 8:6-11 🌿 John 11:1-45

During election season, if you turn on your TV or flip through your mail, you will often be greeted through a commercial or a campaign mailer with the message “Washington is broken.” Capitol Hill, specifically Congress, is not often viewed as a place where good things happen. After living in DC for almost a decade, I admit to being annoyed by the often-flippant caricature of a city that is more vibrant than outside politicians would lead us to believe. I cannot dispute that Congress is a challenge to navigate, especially for those of us seeking an end to the occupation and a future in Israel/Palestine where all people can flourish. If I’m being honest, I sometimes wonder if there is any point in trying to move Congress. Even the positive steps seem too little, too late.

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