Holy Week Shadows || Monday, April 6, 2020

Use this video to guide you through tonight’s devotion and/or use the liturgy below. To do this liturgy on your own, you will need an unadorned candle. Light the candle, then begin the liturgy. If you do not have a candle, you can simple follow along with the video or read the liturgy to yourself. The music at the end of this post is not included in the devotional video so as to abide by proper copyright usage.


Liturgy for Home Devotions

As we enter Holy Week, shadows lengthen. As we count down the days till the breaking dawn of resurrection morning, we pause to remember Christ’s passion and bear witness to the growing darkness around us.

As the shadows grow around us, may we have courage to never lose hope and to not be afraid of the dark.

May we with the Psalmist declare:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
(Psalm 27:1, Common English Bible)

Tonight we face the shadow of condemnation.

Reading: Luke 23:32-34

32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

Prayer

Forgiving Christ, 
when the world condemns us, when wrong is done to us, when we carry the weight of things that are too much to forgive, come along side us in the darkness, and give us the grace to be forgiven and forgiving.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
Words: Rosamond E. Herklots, 1966 (Mt. 6:12)
Music: Supplement to Kentucky Harmony, 1820
Arranged by Koine

Devotional || Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. the people cheered and shouted Hosanna, waving palm branches and placing them in the road as Jesus entered the city. The Psalm today is the prophecy of this entrance.

In the New Revised Standard Version, the Psalmist says, ”This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” And in verse 27-28, “The Lord is God, and has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God and I will extol you.”

We know that the crowds will turn against Jesus very soon after His triumphant entry, and that he will be tried and convicted and crucified before the end of the week. It is Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection that brings our salvation.

Jesus the Messiah is the way to enter into God’s presence. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, the reason that we can rejoice in every circumstance because we know that God is present with us  every day, on our good days and bad.

During this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, we can be assured that God is with us: with those at home in isolation or quarantine; with those on the frontlines – EMS and healthcare workers; those who are still working to serve the public- in grocery stores and pharmacies; with delivery drivers; with those who are ill in the hospitals or at home and can’t have family with them; and those who are mourning the loss of life, but can’t have a funeral service. We may not be able to be physically present with each other, yet we know that God is present with each one of us. God is present with all of us, bringing hope and comfort and love.

So, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever.


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Taesung-Kang, New Hampshire District Superintendent

O God of Creation,
You are indeed in our world.
From dawn to dusk; from mountain tops to beneath the sea; and from west to east.
When we gather in the sanctuary to sing to you songs of joyful salvation,
When we scatter to our own homes to offer our cry to you for help,
You are near us and surround us.
Have mercy on us, for in you we take refuge.
Help us to “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”

O God of Wisdom,
You are at work in our world.
Through the leaders of our world who make life-altering, community-shifting decisions for our nations,  
Through the hands of first responders, medical professionals, caregivers, and researchers, responsible for fighting the new coronavirus,
Through the hands of grocery store workers and delivery drivers,
Grant them your guidance, wisdom, and protection.
They are how we “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”

O God of Peace,
Who transcends all our understanding.
May your abiding peace and comfort come upon
Those who lost their loved ones,
Those who are infected with COVID-19, 
Those in quarantine,
Those at a higher risk of contracting the disease,
Those who lost their jobs and are facing financial crisis,
Those in undocumented communities,
Those who are adjusting to their new ways of life,
Give them your peace so that they may have no fear and their hearts may be at ease.
Help them to “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side”

O God of Comfort,
Who never grows weary.
Awaken us each morning with your hope and clothe us with your mercy,
And “open our understanding to your will.”
Give us your perspective and teach us how to pray.
Fill us with your comfort
So that we may share your comfort with the weary.

“Even if we are walking in darkness without a ray of light,
May we trust in the Lord and rely on our God.”
We trust God’s help is here.
God is indeed in our world.
“See, the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”

Devotional || Psalm 31:9-18

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

This Psalm of David (Psalm 31:9-18) was likely written during one of David’s escapes from Saul. Here he was, God’s chosen and anointed, running for his life. David was called to be the next king of Israel, yet he feared for his life as Saul tried to kill him. He was on the sidelines, rejected by everyone. People were afraid to associate with him because Saul might take his wrath out on them. He was depressed, sick and grieving.

Many of us are also feeling sidelined. We have been called to a type of work and now are sitting in isolation, afraid to be around others for fear that we will get sick or make someone else sick. Our jobs are gone. Volunteer opportunities are gone.

Isolation and loneliness cause depression. What do we do to keep busy when we can’t work? In my case, I am hearing calls for retired healthcare workers to come back to work to care for so many who are sick, yet my health prevents me from doing that. Others worked in restaurants and small businesses that are closed for the duration. Others are working in their homes without the camaraderie of the office. And yet we know that God is with us, bringing us comfort and hope that this will end soon, and we will be able to return to our in-person lives together.

The Psalm continues with David placing his hope in the Lord. Verse 14, But me, I trust you Lord. I affirm, you are my God. My future is in your hands. … Shine your face on your servant: save me by your faithful love! The next verses of the Psalm continue, Your overflowing goodness You have kept for those who live in awe of You, and You share your goodness with those who make You their sanctuary.

These times will end, we don’t know when, but God is with us, and will continue to be with us until we are back to our normal lives and beyond.


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Megan Stowe, Central Massachusetts District Superintendent

Be gracious to me, O God, for I am in distress:
      Financial resources are depleting, and grocery shelves are bare.
      Some jobs are closing, while others are forced to work in unsafe environments exposed to the virus.
     Children are out of school.
     Loved ones are ill and I cannot visit them at the hospital.
     Loved ones have died and we cannot schedule the funerals.
Be gracious to me, O God, for I am in distress:

But I trust in you, O God;
     The sun will continue to rise and set.
      Helpers will care for the most vulnerable: the elderly, the immunocompromised, the homeless, the undocumented and recent immigrants.
      You call us each your beloved child.
I trust in you, O God.

I say, “You are my God.”
       Even when we cannot worship together in the sanctuary.
       Even when we are not allowed out of our residences.
       Even when the world seems to ignore you.
You are my God.

Save me in your steadfast love (hesed*).
      Forgive my rebellious nature, forgive my trespasses.
       You have been with me at my best and you are with me at my worst.
       You are the God who hears and responds with hesed.
       I place all my confidence in your steadfast love.
Save me in your steadfast love.

*hesed: (Hebrew) that can be translated as mercy, compassion, steadfast love, faithfulness or grace.