Holy Week Shadows || Thursday, April 9, 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 continue through 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 despair.

Reading: Mark 15:33-34

33 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark.34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,”which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, 
you know what it is to feel that God is far away. You know what it is to call out for God’s presence. Come alongside us in the darkness, and help us call out for God.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Why Stand So Far Way, My God”

Holy Week Shadows || Wednesday, April 8, 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 bear witness to the growing darkness around us as we read of Jesus’ persecution, execution, and death.

Tonight we face the shadows, some of us alone. May we have courage, never lose hope, and 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 sorrow.

Reading: John 19:25-27

25 Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross.26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother,“Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Prayer

Loving Jesus, 
we carry the weight of the people we love, concern for their sorrows and suffering. Our care for them is deep, and sometimes there is not much we can do. Come alongside us in the darkness, and cradle the ones we love in your strong hands.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “What Wondrous Love is This”
Dan Cunningham, Guitar

Holy Week Shadows || Tuesday, April 7, 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 continue through 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 separation.

Reading: Luke 23:35-43

35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Prayer

Reconciling Christ, 
we are weighed down by sin and separation, a world that is not at peace, people who are not whole. You reached out to the thief, you welcomed him to God’s side. Come alongside us in the darkness, and bring grace and peace to everything that is broken.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Jesus, Remember Me”
Wouter Harbers, piano

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

Discussion Starter || Matthew 21:1-17 (18-46)

Read Matthew 21:1-17 (18-46) (CEB, NRSV, MSG, KJV, Compare).


Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to the waving of palm branches and shouts of hosanna (Save us!) is attested to in each of the four gospels.

Have you heard this story before? If so, when you think about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, what comes to mind?  What images do you think of?

On Palm Sunday, what traditions do you typically look forward to?

Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem is unique in at least two ways.  These adaptations (some might even claim contradictions with the other gospels) in Matthew’s story continue to move Matthew’s argument forward: Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.  Just as Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ birth is laced with prophecy, so is his entrance into Jerusalem.

On what does Jesus ride into Jerusalem?  Unlike kings and soldiers, Jesus rides on a donkey in Jerusalem.  Or was it a colt?  Or was it both?  In Matthew, Jesus rides on both a donkey and a colt.  While the logistics of this are hard for me to wrap my head around, Matthew’s Jesus rides both a donkey and her colt (or foal) into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the scriptures (see Zechariah 9:9).

His arrival “stirred up the city” (21:10).  The people were “hootin’ and hollerin’” around him, cutting down palm branches and laying them before Jesus.  The crowds caused such a raucous that people began to ask, “Who is this?”

In what ways do you celebrate (make a raucous about) the arrival of Jesus into your life?  Does your celebrating lead people to ask what or who you are celebrating?

Upon arriving in the city, Jesus entered the temple.  And, in a fit of furry (reminiscent of the prophets of old—Isaiah and Jeremiah), Jesus overturns tables, disrupts the commerce going on, and proclaims, “It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer.  But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks” (21:13).  This too aligns with the scriptures (see Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11).  With commerce stopped, Jesus welcomes the blind and lame into the temple (from which they were normally barred from entering) and he heals them.  So often we think of Jesus cleansing the temple as being about commerce.  It might be better understood as a removal of barriers to worship.  By cleansing the temple, Jesus makes God’s house that which it is supposed to be.  God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, declares: “My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples says the Lord God, who gather’s Israel’s outcasts.  I will gather still others to those I have already gathered” (Isaiah 56:7d-8).

Is there anything we do that keeps people from participating in God’s house?  How can we help make God’s house, a house of prayer for all?

Sunday, April 5, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg) or by calling 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.

All are welcome.

You can be view and download the bulletin for this service below. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

Tuesday, March 31 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view and download the bulletin below.

Sunday, March 29, 2020 || Discussion Starter

Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:1-14 (CEB, NRSV, MSG, KJV, Compare)


In 1999, Kenny Rogers released the song, “I Am the Greatest.”  It is about a boy who believes himself to be the greatest baseball player ever.  He tells himself over and over that he is the greatest.  He picks the ball up and pitches to himself, expecting to hit the ball out of his imaginary field.  He ends up striking himself out.  The song ends with:

Now it’s suppertime and his momma calls,
Little boy starts home with his bat and ball.
Says, “I am the greatest, that is a fact,
But even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!”
Says, “I am the greatest, that is understood,
But even I didn’t know I could pitch that good!”

from “I Am the Greatest” by Kenny Rogers

The little boy wanted to be the greatest, but his definition of what it meant to be great had to change.

In today’s reading, Jesus does much the same: he redefines greatness for the disciples.

How do you define greatness?  How is greatness defined in the culture around you?

Greatness is often defined by wealth, power, money or access to other resources.  These things very often define what it means to be secure and successful and powerful.  Jesus challenges this idea of greatness by pointing to a child and saying, “those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:4).

What does it mean to be humble?

In 1733, John Wesley published a small book entitled A Collection of Forms of Prayer, For Every Day in the Week.  The book offered daily morning and evening prayers and reflection questions about one’s spiritual and relational health.  The morning questions were consistent throughout the week.  The evening questions changed daily.  The questions for Tuesday evening related to humility.  Here are a few questions, written by Wesley, for you to consider as you seek to be the greatest in God’s kingdom by being humble:

  • Have I labored to conform all my thoughts, words, and actions to these fundamental maxims: “I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing?”
  • Have I ascribed to myself any part of any good which God did by my hand?
  • Have I desired the praise of [others]?
  • Have I taken pleasure in it?
  • Have I despised any one’s advice?

Sunday, March 29, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg) or by calling 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.

All are welcome.

The bulletin can be viewed and downloaded below. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.