February 17, 2010 – Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 –
Blow the trumpet. Sound a fast. Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Tear your hearts, not your garments.
Isaiah 58:1-12 –
Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard on high. This is the fast I choose: loose the bonds of injustice, set the oppressed free, share your bread with the hungry, invite the homeless poor into your house.
Psalm 51:1-17 –
Indeed I am guilty, a sinner from my mother’s womb. Wash me thoroughly and I shall be clean.
2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10 –
Be reconciled to God. Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! We have endured many afflictions. Dying yet alive. Punished yet not killed. Sorrowful yet rejoicing. Poor yet rich!
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 –
Don’t practice your piety before others ostentatiously, so that you can be seen. Direct your fasting to God. Your reward is in heaven.
February 21, 2010 – Lent 1C
– You shall share your first fruits with the Levites (priests) and aliens as a response to God’s awesome acts of salvation, for you were once sojourners in Egypt.
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
– Eagles’ Wings. Lest you strike your foot against a stone, which the devil quotes to Jesus in the wilderness, in the gospel, below.
– Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jew and Greek. There is no distinction. But they can’t call upon him if they haven’t heard. Blessed are those who bring good news.
– Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness. The devil quotes Scripture (Ps. 91).
Reports are due tomorrow.
· 2/19-20. DIANA BUTLER BASS speaks at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church: CHRISTIANITY FOR THE REST OF US.
This is the book we gave out last year.
Summer College-student Intern?
Maddie Schneider, a high school senior at Living Word, Katy is looking for a church where she might do a summer internship. She is discerning the call to become a pastor, and would like some experience working with other congregations to discover more about this commitment before going to seminary. Call her at 281-395-8216 if you have a spot.
3 days until Ash Wednesday.
The story of the Prodigal Son comes up Lent 4C, March 14, 2010, the only time it appears in the three-year lectionary. Most assume this story is about forgiveness. Timothy Keller, in his book The Prodigal God, says the story is ultimately about the self-righteous moral disease of the older brother. At the very least, this easy read will enhance your preaching, reminding you of the cultural context most of us know, but sometimes forget. However, the publisher (Dutton) also offers a study guide, so this book could make an excellent small group study in Lent (or early Fall) when the story surfaces in the lectionary. Now would be the time to order the book, recruit leaders for as many groups as you’d like to have.
By means of a diversion, we can avoid our own company twenty-four hours a day. (Pascal)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert. (Luke 4)
In his book The Power of Pause,
Terry Hershey tells a story about the son of a rabbi who goes out into the woods every day after school. The worried rabbi asks his son about it. “No need to worry, dad. I go to the woods to talk with God.” Relieved, the rabbi replies, “As a rabbi’s son you should know that God is the same everywhere.” “Yes,” the son replies, “God is the same everywhere, but I am not.”
We need the wilderness, the place of quiet. Without it we are lost. Yes, we need the place of productivity, but equally we need the place of reflection, or we are doomed to become ceaseless automatons lost in a flurry of unfocused activity.
After his baptism, Jesus begins his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting. There is no other way to start. How else does one know where to begin? What must be done? We must first discern the voice of God, which means turning off the noise of the world, the noise in our heads. It means learning to listen, as Ann Weems puts it, for the rustle of angels’ wings.
Lenten repose is a challenge for church leaders on two counts. First, Lent seems busier than ever. There is less time for reflection, not more. We add a midweek service with the added planning, recruiting and sermon prep. Many have big plans for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, the biggest Sunday morning of the year. Some have baptismal preparation, new member sessions and First Communion classes.
Somehow in the midst of this we must still find time. Where will the extra sermons come from if not from time to listen to God? How can we model a balanced spiritually-centered life if we become children of hell driven by overzealous schedules? Having kids has helped somewhat. Spring Break inevitably falls in the middle of Lent. The kids are off from school. We have to take advantage of this. So, in the midst of the busiest season of the year, I learned to drop everything and just walk away. We go to the beach or visit family. A trip to the zoo. A day in the woods. We just… have to. Or we will lose our center.
The second challenge is timeless, universal. In the wilderness we will most certainly, nearly always, encounter God. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. God is faithful. God shows up. But to be honest we have to admit: We will most certainly, nearly always, also encounter Satan. “So I find it to be a general rule,” Paul says, paraphrased, “that when I’m wanting to do good, evil lies close at hand.”
At every turn it seems we are tempted to set aside God’s agenda for our own. Many minds greater than mine have parsed the Temptation texts over the millennia. Jesus seems to be tempted three times, by three things that are not at all in themselves bad. He’s not tempted to commit murder or genocide. He’s tempted with three things: wealth, power and safety.
WEALTH: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Nothing wrong with bread right? Jesus teaches his disciples to pray “give us this day our daily bread. Bread is necessary for life. Luther says bread is, “Everything that nourishes our body and meets its needs, such as: Food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, yard, fields, cattle, money, possessions, a devout spouse, devout children, devout employees, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and other things like these.” So what’s wrong with Jesus wanting these things? Absolutely nothing, unless their support supplants his primary mission. The temptation is to make our life about the constant pursuit of more. If you follow Jesus, there will come a time when you are tempted to forget your God-given mission to follow the god of the belly. Jesus teaches, “Don’t worry about your life: what you will eat or drink, or what you will wear. Trust God, who clothes the fields and feeds the birds. Seek first God’s kingdom, and let everything else work itself out.”
POWER: “All the kingdoms of this world I will give to you if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus has been called to a ministry among the people that will eventually require him to lay down his life. The devil tempts Jesus to trade his calling, his destiny, his integrity for POWER. Think of what you could do with political power. You could feed people, make a difference. But Jesus accomplishes his mission without holding political office. If we chase power, political or ecclesiastical, we will miss what God can do with our powerlessness. God says, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” It was not in Jesus’ political or military power that made a difference. It was his love and serving and dying for us. Let us be a servant church.
SAFETY: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, after all, doesn’t the Bible say, God’s angels will take care of you?” Safety is not a bad thing. But if staying safe becomes the highest good, we will never risk anything. There would be no cross. We may think ships are safest in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. Life is dangerous. None of us are going to get out of it alive. Don’t trade in your mission to cling to safety.
The wilderness is necessary. It is a place of reflection and healing. But it is also a place of temptation and testing. Expect to have your calling and mission questioned. “Why give your life to this silly religious business? The church is just a petulant club of judgmental moralists. Leave this behind. Go make some bread. Live the high life. Eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Forget your cross. Are you some kind of masochist? Why sacrifice for others? Why be a servant? Why servitude at all? Go for the gusto. Don’t worry about the poor. Didn’t Jesus say the poor will always be with you? You can’t save the world. Live your life.”
Perhaps one of the reasons we fear the wilderness experience is because we know that we will encounter voices of doubt, fear, and temptation, as well as the voices of faith, hope and love. So Lent and the desert are not without risks. The wilderness is wild. But the alternative is closing our hearts to the spiritual, being left to go on our own strength.
So, welcome to Lent. Empty yourself, in whatever ways you can. Change your routine. Listen. Fast. Pray. Give. Trust. Knowing that your fasting doesn’t make you a better person, right before God, of special merit, but rather it simply clears away the clutter so that we can see and hear God more clearly.
God cannot fill what is already full. (Mother Teresa)
שלומ سلام Peace,
Michael Rinehart, bishop
The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
12707 I-45 North Frwy, Suite 580
Houston, TX 77060-1239
Lent – Year C
Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. – Joel 2
February 17 – Ash Wednesday: Dust. Ashes. Mortality. Repentance. Fasting. Don’t show off your piety.
February 21 – Lent 1C: First fruits for the Levite and alien. Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
February 28 – Lent 2C: Abram’s call. Faith reckoned as righteousness. Jesus laments for Jerusalem.
March 7 – Lent 3C: Repent, for there is only so much time left for the fig tree to bear fruit.
March 14 – Lent 4C: Lost sheep. Lost sons.
March 21 – Lent 5C: I am about to do a new thing… Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.
March 28 – Palm/Passion Sunday: Jesus entry into Jerusalem as an anti-triumph.
The Prodigal God – A Lenten Series Suggestion
The story of the Prodigal Son comes up this year. It only appears in a Lukan year, and it only appears Lent 4C (March 14, 2010). Most readers and preachers assume this story is about forgiveness. Timothy Keller, in his book The Prodigal God, says the story is ultimately about the self-righteous moral disease of the older brother. At the very least, this easy read will enhance your preaching, reminding you of the cultural context most of us know, but sometimes forget. However, the publisher (Dutton) also offers a study guide, so this book could make an excellent small group study in Lent (or early Fall) when the story surfaces in the lectionary.
February 28, 2010 – Lent 2C
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 –
Abram believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Righteousness by faith.
– The Lord is my light and my salvation. He will hide me in his tent and set me upon a high rock.
Philippians 3:17 – 4:1
– I press on toward the goal: the heavenly call of God in Christ. Enemies of the cross: their god is the belly. Their end is destruction.
– Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her young under her wings.
March 7, 2010 – Lent 3C
– Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Return to the Lord… for he will abundantly pardon. Psalm 63:1-8
– O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
– The results of idolatry and immorality are devastating. So do not fall. No test has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God will strengthen you for your testing.
– Those Galileans slaughtered by Pilate, were they any worse sinners than anyone else? No. How about those who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them? No. But unless you repent, you will also perish. Jesus likens his ministry to a man who allows his gardener to tend a fruitless fig tree for one year. If it doesn’t bear fruit, it will be destroyed. Prediction of the fall of Jerusalem?
March 14, 2010 – Lent 4C
— After the Israelites cross the Jordan, the disgrace of Egypt is over, the manna stops and the people eat the bounty of the land.
— I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
– We once saw Christ from a human standpoint, but no longer. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. God reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. So we are ambassadors for Christ. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Suggestion: Prodigal God by Timothy Keller as a Lenten theme, sermon prep, or small group study.
March 21, 2010 –Lent 5C
– Rivers in the desert: I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Psalm 126
– When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. 4
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
– How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Philippians 3:4b-14
– I more than any have reason to be confident in the flesh (my own works-righteousness) but I regard them all as rubbish in order to gain Christ, and know him as Lord, a righteousness based on faith, not works. And so I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call
of God in Christ Jesus.
– Mary anoints Jesus feet with costly nard and wipes them with her hair. Judas objects. And the much maligned: You always have the poor with you, but not me.
March 28, 2010 – Passion/Palm Sunday
Sovereign God, you have established your rule in the human heart through the servanthood of Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep us in the joyful procession of those who with their tongues confess Jesus as Lord and with their lives praise him as Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
– Processional Gospel with Palms. The Triumpal Entry into Jerusalem. An anti-triumph, in contrast to the Roman triumphal marches after a conquering victory. Isaiah 50:4-9a
– Game face: I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting… therefore I have set my face like flint…
– In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
– Christ hymn: Have this mind, that was in Christ, who didn’t count on his equality with God, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, and becoming obedient, even to death on a cross.
Luke 22:14 – 23:56 or Luke 23:1-49
– Passover dinner and arrest. Shortened version begins with Jesus before Pilate: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Longer version includes the burial by Joseph of Arimathea
The Three Days
April 1, 2010 – MAUNDY THURSDAY
Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
– Passover. Yahweh to Moses and Aaron: This month shall be the beginning of months for you. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
– What shall I give the Lord for his benefit to me? I will lift the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
– Paul’s Eucharistic theology: I passed on to you what I received: The words of institution.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
– Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. A new commandment I give you: Love one another.
April 2, 2010 – GOOD FRIDAY
Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself. Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
– Suffering servant: Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
– My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
– Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins. By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. This is the covenant: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.
or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
– For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
John 18:1 – 19:42
– Jesus’ arrest, trail and crucifixion, all the way to his burial by Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus.
April 1, 2010 – EASTER VIGIL
Eternal giver of life and light, this holy night shines with the radiance of the risen Christ. Renew your church with the Spirit given us in baptism, that we may worship you in sincerity and truth and may shine as a light in the world, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Hebrew Bible Readings:
– We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
– Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
April 4, 2010 – RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD
God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
– Peter’s sermon: We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear…
or Acts 10:34-43
– Peter’s sermon: We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear…
– Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
or Luke 24:1-12
– Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women with them find the stone rolled away, encounter an angel, and run to tell the apostles.
April 11, 2010 – Easter 2C
– Peter to the high priest: The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’
or Psalm 150 Revelation 1:4-8
– The opening of John’s apocalypse: Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
– Doubting Thomas.
Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
Hymn: It would seem, given the second lesson, that we must sing Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending.
– Breakfast with Jesus. Jesus forgives Peter.
‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Note: This weekend is Synod Assembly in New Orleans. Good day for a Lay Sunday. Some resources will be available.
Prayers: Synod Assembly
April 25, 2010 – St. Mark, Evangelist
May 2, 2010 – Easter 5C
– Peter’s report to the church at Jerusalem on why he ate with the uncircumcised. His vision. Psalm 148 Revelation 21:1-6
– New heaven. New Earth. New Jerusalem. Wipe tears from every eye. Death will be no more. John 13:31-35
– Little children, I am with you only a little longer. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
May 9, 2010 – Easter 6C
– Paul has a vision during the night: A man from Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’
– Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5
– And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… No temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb… Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2
through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Prayers: This is Mother’s Day! May 8 the new Episcopal bishop of New Orleans is consecrated.
Thursday, May 13, 2010 – ASCENSION OF OUR LORD (May also be celebrated on Sunday, May 16)
– As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
or Psalm 93 Ephesians 1:15-23
– God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
–Whilehe was blessing them [at Bethany], he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
May 16, 2010 – Easter 7C (Or, some congregations celebrate Ascension on this day.)
Pentecost and the Time after Pentecost
or Acts 2:1-21
John 14:8-17, (25-27)
–In my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. 15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.
– Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ…
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
that has been given to us.
John 16:12-15 –
When the Spirit
of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… He will glorify me,
because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15
All that the Father
has is mine.
June 6 – Pentecost 2C
Galatians 1:11-24 –
Paul’s gospel is not of human origin. Paul was set apart before he was born, then called by God’s grace, to proclaim Christ among the Gentiles.
Prayers: Lutherhill dedicates its new buildings on Saturday, June 5. Pray for Lutherhill’s ministries for people of all ages.
June 13, 2010 – Pentecost 3C