Belmont University's Lent & Holy Week Devotional Guide 2014
This is the Belmont University Lenten Devotional Guide for 2014.
LENT 2014 The university community has often expressed its appreciation for the annual Advent guide and the way it helps prepare everyone for Advent. Again this year, through an intentional partnership between the School of Religion and the Office of University Ministries, we have been able to create and offer a Lenten devotional guide to help our campus community prepare for Easter. In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This guide has instructions for daily devotions during this season. You are encouraged to read the scripture and the brief devotional, and to pray each day as you prepare your heart for Easter. We are truly grateful for all of the individuals who have helped to make this third annual Lent/Holy Week guide a reality for our campus community, as it was indeed a campus-wide collaboration that includes contributions from students, faculty and staff from across the campus, and even a few alumni. What a gift it is to be a part of this special community with you! May each day of reflecting upon God’s Word, and the written words of these writers, faithfully lead us through Lenten season and towards a deeper union with Christ and one another. Grace and peace through the Lenten season, GUY M. CHMIELESKI Dr. Guy Chmieleski, University Minister DARRELL D. GWALTNEY Dr. Darrell Gwaltney, Dean, School of Religion 1 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER Opening Prayer Comfort, comfort your people, O God! Speak peace to your people. Comfort those who sit in darkness and mourn, Forgive us our sins and end the conflict in our lives. Confession of Sin Reflect quietly before God, asking for forgiveness for all those things done and left undone, that are unpleasing to God. Remember, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Scripture Lessons Read the Psalms for the day. Read the Old Testament passage for the day. Read the Epistle passage for the day. Read the Gospel passage for the day. Prayers The following is a suggested guide for prayer during Lent. ray for all Christians around the world and especially for those who endure persecution P for their faith. Pray for our nation and all those in authority. Pray that Christ’s peace may cover the world. Pray for the end of conflict and war and the triumph of truth and justice. Pray for all those who engage in the educational ministry of the Church and especially for Belmont University. Pray for those who suffer and grieve. Pray for closer union with Christ—both in his suffering and ultimate victory. 2 ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5 Psalms 95, 32, 143 Amos 5:6-15 Hebrews 12:1-14 Luke 18:9-14 Lent is a time for both personal and societal repentance. We Christians have gotten good at the personal part. We can pray through the Ten Commandments, and it dawns on us that if Jesus is right in his heightened definition of “adultery” and “murder,” we all have much material for repentance. But when it comes to societal sin, the Church gets tongue-tied. We are afraid of being viewed as taking sides politically, or saying anything against The Free Market. It is true that societal sin is often intertwined with legislation and public policy or business practices that are part of how our world is assumed to function. Yet Lent is precisely the time that we let God expose our utterly unconvincing rationalizations. For individual sins, “it’s my personality” and “I’m only human” are favorite excuses that must give way during Lent. Fortunately for those of us who pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth,” we can let God do the same liberating work with our societal sins. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world and the last Superpower. Yet we have more people in prison, more children in poverty, more unequal school systems and more income disparity than almost any advanced democracy. We and our churches may be hesitant to confess our societal sins and work to remedy them, but God is not a bit hesitant to deal with politics or business. The Bible writers spent much of their time decrying corporate sins and pointedly addressing those who have their hands on the levers of power: kings, rulers, the wealthy and those with military might. In a democracy, we are the kings and rulers! Isaiah 58 lets us know that God is not content with our participation in a canned food drive here or a backpacks-for-poor-kids event there. God calls us to repent of our inaction on a societal level and “loose the chains of injustice… do away with the yoke of oppression.” If we can’t think of an injustice to fight or oppression to do away with, then this Lent is just the time to begin to pray that God would soften our hearts and open our eyes. We do not want it to be said of us as it was said of old, “They seem to be eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right.” TODD LAKE Vice President, Spiritual Development 3 THURSDAY, MARCH 6 Psalm 37:1-18 Habakkuk 3:1-18 Philippians 3:12-21 John 17:1-8 Trust in the Lord and do good. (Psalm 37:3) I’ve often wondered what the disciples felt like following the ascension. After Jesus was murdered, buried and miraculously resurrected, he spent 40 days laughing and eating and explaining the holes in his wrists and ankles. His friends must’ve been baffled when Jesus brought them to a mountain and told them he was leaving again. Again? They fell silent. Some wept. Others begged him to stay. A few grit their teeth and went home because, as it turns out, this Teacher wasn’t the kind they’d like to give their lives to. They looked to Jesus for a satisfactory explanation, but he just smirked and said, I will not leave you alone. I am sending my own fire and power and breath to live inside your bodies. You will bear my image. Trust me. Trust me. This same trust is required of us today. Trust in the Lord. Do not trust in your government or family or bank account or even your ability to understand the Lord— just trust in the Lord himself. Trust him with every bit of heart you can muster. This won’t be easy because you’ve probably been hurt by someone that once held your heart, but still the command remains: trust in the Lord. Trust him with your future. Trust him with your dreams. Trust him when it’s easy. Trust him when the entire world screams that he is untrustworthy. Trust him when it hurts. Trust him when he doesn’t make sense. God asks us to trust him preposterously— to believe in the outrageous. He’s already shown that the impossible is possible, after all. He defied reason, time, gravity and space by wrapping inexhaustible radiance in an eight pound baby. He gave himself up to be executed by the people whose heartbeats he sustained. He absorbed every ounce of the Father’s rage, swallowed Death, and cried out, It is finished! I have won. I have made the impossible possible. For you. For the world. Stake your eternity on this moment. I am who I say I am. Trust me. Trust me. What a wildly unpredictable solution hailing from a wildly unpredictable God. This is the One in whom you can trust, the One on whom you can lean. Trust him. Trust him. SAVANNAH ELLIS Religion & the Arts, Class of 2013 4 FRIDAY, MARCH 7 Psalms 31, 95 Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Philippians 4:1-9 John 17:9-19 It happens all the time. We find ourselves feeling like we are being pummeled by the world around us. Broken relationships, difficult family situations, struggling grades —the list goes on and on. It is so difficult to “rejoice in the Lord always,” as the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4, especially during trying times. King David says in Psalm 31:7, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.” David praised God even in the midst of hardships, because he knew that his God was greater than anything that would be thrown his way. Paul also understood this. As someone who faced the brink of death multiple times throughout his ministry, Paul was no stranger to pain and hardship. However, he still managed to rejoice in the Lord. Paul knew that true life is only found in Christ, and Christ is the only one worthy of our praise. During this Lenten Season, take time to be thankful for the joy that is found in knowing Christ Jesus. He will be with you through it all, and when it may seem like he isn’t, remember what Paul says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) HUNTER LEATH Music Business/Entrepreneurship, Class of 2016 5 SATURDAY, MARCH 8 Psalms 30, 32 Ezekiel 39:21-29 Philippians 4:10-20 John 17:20-26 As Christians around the world celebrate God’s redeeming gift of Jesus Christ, I too, often become more contemplative of God’s grace and mercy in my life. In the book of John, the 17th chapter, Jesus talks about praying not only for believers, but for those who will become believers for the purpose of unifying their heart and mind as one. He stated that the Father was in him and he in the Father. He wants all of us to be as unified and together as the Holy Trinity is in heaven and on earth. He wants us to be spiritually mature in this oneness so that we may witness to a lost world. God wants believers to share the good news of the gift of Jesus, the world’s redeemer with those who are lost and in bondage. I am currently listening to spiritual teachings discussing the “I AM” factor. These teachings use the power of positive reinforcement to grow our faith. Instead of saying I am tired, broken or sick, instead, we as believers should say, I am energized, wealthy or healthy. I am love, joy, peace and long-suffering. It is important to note that what we put after the “I AM,” we become. One of the most important lessons I learned from the “I AM” series is that I must look at every individual I encounter as if I am looking at myself. Jesus said God is in him and he in God, the same way Jesus is in us and we are in him. We are all connected in that oneness. So as we go through this season of Lent, let’s meditate and focus on seeing everyone around us as if they were us, and I am charging us to ponder this question: How would we treat ourselves? May God richly bless you and your family during this season. GARY HUNTER Telecommunications Manager 6 SUNDAY, MARCH 9 Psalm 32 Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matthew 4:1-11 Lent is a time when we think a lot about sin. Today, the first Sunday in Lent, all four of our readings focus on this topic. The Genesis reading tells the familiar story of Adam and Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and in Romans 5, Paul elaborates on the completion of this story in the life of Jesus. Matthew 4 narrates Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. And in Psalm 32, the psalmist sings of breaking our silence with God and laying bare our sins and transgressions (verses 1-5). But the hymn doesn’t stop there. It continues, joyfully, to sing of the blessing of God’s steadfast love that surrounds all who are willing to be so fully exposed in the divine presence (verses 6-10). The two-part arrangement of Psalm 32 is a good illustration of the two-part nature of Lent. We often focus primarily or exclusively on the first part, on our sin and on repentance and on what we need to “fix” about ourselves. But Lent is also about the wisdom, renewal and joy that come from confessing our shortcomings, and from seeking to live so that we ourselves reflect God’s steadfast love for us and all creation. In Romans 5:12-19, Paul writes repeatedly about the charisma (a freely, graciously and divinely given gift) offered by Jesus to the world and how that action by one person brings grace, justice and life to all (verses 15-17). For Lent this year, then, I have chosen a discipline not just to deny myself or “fix” something about myself, but a discipline that will participate in Jesus’ work of using my gifts to offer grace and life to the larger community. I am, I’ll admit, a little addicted to my daily iced mocha. Not the most healthy habit I know, and, at about $5 each, not the cheapest either! So I’m giving up my mocha at least every other day and taking that $5 and donating it to those in need. And that’s another part of my discipline—researching where to donate and how my money, time and talents can offer the most grace, justice and life to the world, as God calls me to do. So that’s my practice of confession and renewal this Lenten season. How about you? How will you participate in Christ’s crucifixion, and how will you join in his resurrection gift to the world? AMANDA C. MILLER Assistant Professor of Religion 7 MONDAY, MARCH 10 Psalms 41, 52 Deuteronomy 8:11-18 Hebrews 2:11-18 John 2:1-12 Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others! But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done. (Psalm 52:7-9a) Great provision of possessions in one’s life can sometimes create a sense of entitlement. Society glamorizes the notion that having more is better, and you as an individual, are better than those who have less. Social norms have fostered less opportunities to enhance the lives of others and compassion for our fellow man has dwindled. Believers are aware that the way to Christ is narrow as the rich young ruler found out. The ruler would not sell his possessions to follow Christ, therefore prohibiting his access to the throne. It is within our free will to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior; however, there are those who would rather focus their lives on acquiring “stuff” rather than having a right relationship with Christ. It is a sad commentary to know of the wealth of this nation, but also know there is a need for housing, food and education for so many. “If it had not been for the Lord on my side, Where would I be?” This statement does not call for us to become complacent. It is a mandate that we give God all the glory, honor and praise for what he has done in our lives. Honoring God means taking our time, talents and treasure to make a positive difference in the world. “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) I will exalt his holy name. I will be thankful for all he has done, is doing and will do! I will extend my hand to my brother and sister who need me. No rock will cry out in my place, I will stand in the gap. The wall will be built and his name will be magnified! JEFFERY T. BURGIN, JR. Associate Provost & Dean of Students 8 TUESDAY, MARCH 11 Psalm 45 Genesis 37:12-24 1 Corinthians 1:20-31 Mark 1:14-28 It’s easy for me to sit and think about all the times I’ve messed up. I could sit here all day and dwell in regret and shame for every harsh word I’ve ever said to somebody, every lie I’ve ever told, and every time I acted out selfishly. I could sit here and tell myself that because I’ve done all of those things, I don’t mean as much to God. I could sit here and tell myself that it is too late to go back and start over so I might as well keep on doing what I have been. Well, I’d be right about one thing—it is too late to go back, but what a wonder it is that we can put our faith into a future-focused God. A God who tells us in Psalm 45 to not dote on fathers and grandfathers, but on sons. To forget the old and look to God’s promises to us as new creations, and to never wish we could go back. Fact is, if we went back, and did everything right the second time, we wouldn’t need God to make it right for us. This season of Lent is in preparation of the death and resurrection of Christ. It should serve as a reminder that Jesus did not die for us because we had it all down. He died for us because God knew that we didn’t have it all down, and that there was no way we ever would. I encourage you today to read the promises God made to those who have been made new in him and remember that our sins were taken on someone else’s shoulders. Our sins don’t have to be conquered by us, because they’ve already been conquered by one greater. Our mistakes don’t have to be dwelled upon because they’ve already been forgotten. Don’t let your past keep you from the freedom of joy in the Lord. Look forward to his coming with the knowledge that you are made new and he has great plans. EMILY WEISBAND Songwriting Major, Class of 2014 9 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12 Psalm 119:49-72 Genesis 37:25-36 1 Corinthians 2:1-13 Mark 1:29-45 Verse nine of our Epistle lesson brings forth and highlights the scripture, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds.” When we hear this or similar scriptures we often look forward toward heaven. Since God has planned MORE than we can see or hear, we should be expecting something far different than anything we currently experience. After all, we CAN see and we CAN hear all that our world experience provides for us—but DO we? Belmont is full of beautiful music. Music that comes from our students. Music that comes from our faculty and staff. Music that comes from our guests. But are we listening to the music that comes from our hearts? Belmont is full of beautiful sites. Art that is created by our students. Art created by our faculty and staff. Art that comes from our guests and hired professionals (most especially our building contractors). But are we taking the time to see the art that comes from our actions and service? Belmont is blessed with wonderful minds. The minds of our students, growing and developing. The minds of our faculty and staff, encouraging and teaching. The minds of our guests, inspiring and stimulating. But how can God have a plan that has not even entered into this collection of great minds? The promise of Lent is that we are looking forward in the hope of seeing, even if it is just a glimpse, the majesty and might of our Lord, Jesus Christ as he overcomes the grave. The challenge of Lent is to prepare ourselves to overcome the worldly sights and sounds that limit us. Listening, always listening. Seeing, always seeking. Knowing, always knowing, that God’s plan for us is greater that we can imagine. May you know that God’s plan for you is greater than anything you can experience without God. Listen, see and know that every experience we have will be surpassed by the reality we experience as we continue our walk with him. DAVID SNEED Director of the GPS Program 10 THURSDAY, MARCH 13 Psalms 50, 59, 60 Gen. 39:1-23 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15 Mark 2:1-12 “The Queen has done nothing to tarnish the crown in all of her reign!” exclaimed Ronnie, a Scottish friend of mine. He was talking of the Queen of England, but as I was reading through scripture I thought how perfect it would be to hear that said of us when related to Christ’s crown. As Christians, we may never know how our actions affect the people around us. We are called to always reflect Christ in everything we do. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still mess things up or people will hold an uncalled-for grudge against us. Take the story of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph. He was honorable and committed to serving his master. He took great strides in making a good name for Potiphar while keeping his own reputation clean. Despite his best efforts, he was unjustly thrown in prison. Yet, “the LORD was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” (Gen 39: 23b) No matter if we are royalty or an “average Joe,” we are continuously representing Christ in our daily lives. With Christ as our example, we are to show the world we are different. He took our punishment from the Garden of Gethsemane all the way to the Cross without calling down all the Heavenly Angels to put an end to the torture. He could have, but instead he bore the punishment for you and me. There are moments when I want to tell people why I make the choices I make and show them I am a “good”Christian, but it is not about me during this season of Lent or ever. It is about Christ and how I, in my lowliness, help his crown shine. As with Joseph, if we keep our focus on the Father, then God promises redemption in the end! As the old hymn says, “Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!” KALA SANDERS, BSN Class of 2008 11 FRIDAY, MARCH 14 Psalms 40, 54 Genesis 40:1-23 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 Mark 2:13-22 As we move through the early stages of Lent, we have an opportunity to consider our 2014 Lenten practice to this point. Going forward, we can build on that practice or we can reimagine our experience of Lent. During Lent, I try to often ask the question “Why do I need Lent?” I will be asking it again during this second week of Lent. The words of Jesus help me to focus on the question’s meaning, as Jesus says “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” (Mark 2:17) Lent nudges me to reflect on my need for what Jesus offers through his example and his teaching. If I can approach Lent with my mind and heart open to the rich possibilities of newness in my spiritual life, maybe I have a better chance of living out the message that “the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16) Of course, that openness to something new leads to other questions and challenges. How will Lent make me new? We are cautioned in Mark 2:22 about putting “new wine into old wineskins”—how do I combine the new me with the old me? Part of my Lenten practice is to sit with these questions as I reflect on them, holding as gently as possible the paradox within the questions. Paul’s words (in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19) that invert our human notions of wisdom and foolishness provide encouragement for me to live in and through these tangled questions. In his song God’s Own Fool, Michael Card expresses the sentiment of Paul’s message to us: When we in our foolishness thought we were wise He played the fool and he opened our eyes When we in our weakness believed we were strong He became helpless to show we were wrong And so we follow God’s own fool For only the foolish can tell— Believe the unbelievable And come be a fool as well Why do I need Lent? Lent, if I let it, becomes an annual invitation to become another of God’s fools who believe the unbelievable. If I respond to the invitation, finding answers to my questions seems far less important than living my life among the questions themselves. MIKE PINTER Teaching Center Director and Professor of Mathematics 12 SATURDAY, MARCH 15 Psalm 55 Genesis 41:1-13 1 Corinthians 4:1-7 Mark 2:23-3:6 My life is a constant whirlwind of busyness, I’m sure as is yours. My days usually look something like this: class, coffee, meeting, class, read for next class, lunch, class, work, meeting, coffee, library, dinner, homework, write paper, etc. I’ve heard it said that if I think I’m busy now as a college student, just wait until adult life with kids, bills, deadlines and work. The fact of the matter is—life is busy. We thrive off of the hustle and bustle of life, fill our schedules to the brim, and then finally relax with Netflix in our dorm rooms long after midnight. Often times we don’t spend that sacred alone time with Christ, not because we forget to, but simply because we don’t think we have enough time to. We don’t build Sabbath into our weekly schedules. I love reading Mark 2:23-28 because we get a clear glimpse into the mind of Christ and his view on Sabbath. He says “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirement of the Sabbath.” We aren’t supposed to take rest or find Sabbath each week to simply check it off our long list of things we HAVE to do, but rather it should be a time where we slow down, focus more intently on God and allow him to give us rest. After all, the Sabbath was made to meet our needs. In my opinion, our needs are met when we do two things: love God and love people. When we spend time dwelling in the presence of Christ our thirsty hearts are filled up and satisfied. If we don’t do this each week, we walk around as empty vessels with no real purpose or direction, misguided by our own desires. Spending time with Christ allows our heartbeat to beat in perfect time with his. I think one of the coolest things about our God is that when his love is truly made perfect in us, all we can do is share that love. If Sabbath was really made for meeting the needs of people, then after our needs are met, shouldn’t we go out and help meet the needs of others. I encourage you to take time for Sabbath this week. Do this by first loving God, through meeting him, talking with him and dwelling in his presence; secondly, love his people by meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. MACKENZIE WILSON Public Relations, Class of 2015 13 SUNDAY, MARCH 16 Psalm 121 Genesis 12:1-4a Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 John 3:1-17 Sundays in Lent are way stations on our journey to the cross. They are a time to rest. Lent invites us to take up our cross, so that come Good Friday we can recognize our life and sins on the cross of Christ. It is a time for sorrow, sacrifice and resolve. I know from experience that 11 days into my Lenten journey, my resolve begins to waver. I am tired of my cross, sorrow and sin. I grow weary of my weak will. I entertain whispers of guilt, resentment and self-loathing. I call these the demons of Lent—the sirens of introspection. The Scriptures silence these demonic sirens through words of faith. Faith is the divine-human trust that brings life and steadfast love into the finite and broken spaces of human existence. In Genesis, Abraham trusted God’s promise to bless and give life. Abraham’s faith invites us to recognize God as the source of all life. With Abraham, we must endeavor to leave behind the security of the life we have known in search of the life that God has promised for us (Genesis 12). In the Psalms, David sings forth his faith that God is the ever-vigilant guardian of his people. The Psalmist is tender and uplifting. God watches over you, more faithfully than you can care for yourself. The priority of God’s love for us also lies at the root of Paul’s thorny polemics on faith. Our journey to God moves along paths of faith and trust, not works. When it comes to the concrete concerns of life—grades, family, sex, career and identity—do you trust in what you can care for, failing to remember God’s presence and love for you? “Works” lead us to forget God’s loving care for us, whereas faith remembers our trust in the care and love of God. Ask yourself this Lent, do your actions, words and prayers tap into the life-giving depths of God, who is the source of all life and love? This is the word of faith —God’s Word of Life and Love for his people. It is a gentle word that offers rest on our journey to the cross. MANUEL A. CRUZ Assistant Professor of Religion 14 MONDAY, MARCH 17 Psalm 121 Genesis 12:1-4a Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 John 3:1-17 Today’s reading is all about hunger: the famine of the Egyptians, the Psalmist’s desire for shelter, the crowds begging Christ for healing. In some way, we are all like them—our spiritual starvation, doubts and wounds metaphysically echo their bodily needs. We’re all born hungry, and even though our cravings may change over time, we never really outrun our desire for satisfaction. In our quest to feed our hunger, we often turn to success or acceptance. We pursue leadership, financial security and affirmation from others in an attempt to feel important, safe and loved. And of course, none of these things are necessarily bad, and some of them are quite good: we should all embrace love in life. But even at their best, these things are only temporary fixes for our hunger; they never truly satisfy our needs. Augustine famously wrote in the Confessions that “our heart is restless until it finds its rest” in God. In other words, our desire for satisfaction can never be entirely filled with anything we find in this world because deep down, what we’re really feeling is a yearning for home. In some way, all of our desires are fundamentally a desire for God. Often, we’re so busy filling our desires with everyday things that we don’t pause to recognize our hunger for what it really is: the beginning of God’s calling to us. It is no accident that Christ appointed the 12 apostles on the side of a barren mountain, or that Paul challenged the Corinthians to give up their attachment to wealth and status. In order for God to fill us with the things we fundamentally desire, we have to be willing to give up the things we think we need. That is why we fast during Lent: among other things, it helps us clear a heart-space to reorient ourselves to our own needs. It’s time we re-think our hunger. Our needs are not a negative force in our lives, but an invitation to accept God’s provision. After all, while Lent is a time to embrace sacrifice, those sacrifices ultimately prepare us for the coming abundance of the Resurrection—and that is one feast that is guaranteed to satisfy our hunger. JAYME M. YEO Assistant Professor of English 15 TUESDAY, MARCH 18 Psalms 61, 62 Genesis 42:1-17 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Mark 3:19b-35 Yes, my soul, find rest in God. (Psalm 61:5) I believe it is our great illusion that this life can be controlled, manipulated and managed. We often fill our days with worry and stress, because we realize our plans may not be aligning with what we want, or because we look at what we are doing in comparison with others. We are often given a greater awareness of this illusion in the midst of grief and heartache. This life that we have been striving to control for so long is not what we had envisioned, and it is in these times that we wake up. We realize how weak and broken we are. It is at this very point that we sense there may be something much more. During this season of Lent we look inward, examining our place in the grand scheme of things, and such introspection will undoubtedly reveal our humble place in it all. When we enter into the notion that we cannot live this life on our own, that we carry heavy burdens, and we are quick to stumble, then we make way for the beautiful presence of a loving God who so desires to hold our unique selves tightly in the palm of those all embracing hands. We become a tree with our roots firmly planted in faith and hope, because we know that no matter how hard the winds blow, we will not fall. Our roots have been cultivated in a timeless and unfailing love. We begin to live into the places of uncertainty, because we know we are comforted and loved all the days of our lives. God desires to sing sweet songs over us all, if only we would listen. In Christ, we find our home, we find our safety, and we find our rock. We are loved and we can rest. Here mourning our losses ultimately lets us claim our belovedness. Mourning opens us to a future we could not imagine on our own â€“ one that includes a dance. (Henry Nouwen) ELENA HARMON Social Work, Class of 2015 16 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 Psalm 72 Genesis 42:18-28 1 Corinthians 5:6-6:8 Mark 4:1-20 Opening the Bible, if we’re determined to let it speak to us, will often mean entertaining the prickly question of how we might go about being doers, actual players, in the movement of God’s good work in the world, as opposed to mere hearers, passive recipients, big talkers, or worse, fakers. What do we have to do to be true? Today’s readings wrestle with this question directly and indirectly but always with the demand of a certain lived ethic of social righteousness in sight Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king, likely Solomon, and it takes many an expected turn in its petitions that there would be abundant grain, gold, and that the king’s enemies would find themselves licking the dust. But in a subversive twist, it also places before the king a behavioral expectation that, when neglected, will render all conventional signs of kingly thriving negligible. A just king, as the prayer has it, is one who will defend the poor, deliver the needy when they call and redeem their lives from oppression and violence (12-14). While Solomon fell woefully short of this archetype, the biblical tradition preserved it, and the demand sits in front of us as we read and listen. The burden of listening well, what Jack Kerouac expressed in his hope that he might be “a great rememberer, redeeming life from darkness,” appears to be the pinch we’re right to feel in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. “Listen!” he begins his story about listening, and he goes on to insinuate that, when it comes to the movement he announces and invites all hearers into, most don’t and won’t (Mark 4:3-9). Anxieties, the lure of wealth and all manner of misdirected desire will all too often prevent the cultivation, within our lives, of God’s righteousness. Years later, the difficult work of actually living lives of “sincerity and truth” in the minute particulars of the everyday is chronicled further in Paul’s letter to the beleaguered and befuddled, trying-to-be-a-new-creation community of Corinth (6:8). Their status as alleged believers in the good news of God’s kingdom is generally belied by their practical conduct (lawsuits and bodily degradation) toward one another. But the demand, then and now, for the visible embodiment of God’s gracious love in the lives of those who claim, celebrate, confess and depend upon it remains the same, signaling still over the centuries. May we be revived and invigorated to undertake it ourselves, yet again, this Lenten season. DAVID DARK Assistant Professor, School of Religion 17 THURSDAY, MARCH 20 Psalms 70, 71 Genesis 42:29-38 1 Corinthians 6:12-30 Mark 4:21-34 In the midst of a difficult situation, it is difficult for us to shout for joy, sing praises or even talk to others about good news. Yet, the Psalmist, David, reminds us of the reason for Lent: we greatly needed not only a Savior from our earthly troubles but also connection to a righteousness that reaches the heavens. David asks God to save and rescue him, to deliver him from those who are against him and to restore his life again. What do you do, then, when your heart is overwhelmed? Who do you talk to about your problems today? David’s cries are consistent to the one who can accomplish a full deliverance. “Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress,” David petitions God. Rocks are solids of minerals and metals that are essential to human civilization. In Scripture, the rock is a shelter, a source of strength and life-giving water, the foundation of an altar and the church, the place of sacrifice, a stumbling block to the disobedient, salvation and Christ Himself. During moments of what we perceive to be hopelessness and despair, David reminds us that God consistently does great things. He restores life, increases honor and comforts. God alone can provide true fulfillment. God’s faithfulness in the past is a sure indication of his faithfulness in the future. God’s providence is sometimes difficult but always endures. My prayer to our Heavenly Father today is one of thanksgiving for him sending his only Son to be our rock for eternal life as well as a prayer of praise for his faithfulness. May this Lenten season inspire us to be like David by declaring his splendor and marvelous deeds all day long. JUANITA COUSINS Communications Specialist Master of Business Administration, Class of 2013 18 FRIDAY, MARCH 21 Psalm 69 Genesis 43:1-15 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Mark 4:35-41 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ (Mark 4:39-40) There are two things that really stand out to me in these verses: Jesus’ awesome power, and the doubt and lack of faith from the disciples. Leading up to this point in time Jesus had already performed many miracles with the disciples present. Here Jesus makes it clear that he is Lord not only over his Church, but also over all of creation. I think about the storms that I must face in my life, and how each one brings fear and doubt into my life. Yet in the aftermath of those storms, I have a greater trust in Jesus, much as the disciples did, because he always leads me through it and displays his sovereignty in my life. Too often, as Christians, we want and are content with settling for a comfortable faith in our lives. We hope to not endure any hardships or storms, and are happy with an easy lifestyle. But I think that God calls us to something more than living a comfortable lifestyle, I think he often calls many of us to an uncomfortable lifestyle. One where we are no longer in control of the boat, so to speak, and he is in complete control of our lives. He leads us into deeper waters, where we are forced to rely wholeheartedly upon him. And I think that if we allow this in our lives, we will come to better understand how great God is and how his power is made perfect in our weakness. MARK FINE Music Business, Class of 2017 19 SATURDAY, MARCH 22 Psalms 75, 76 Genesis 43:16-34 1 Corinthians 7:10-24 Mark 5:1-20 Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he has had compassion on you. (Mark 5:19) As I consider the many great things that Christ has done, I marvel at how so many blessings were tide to his sacrifice. He sacrificed the comfort of his home in heaven, the splendor of his majesty and ultimately his life. This done that we might have an opportunity to be reconciled to God. The nature of reconciliation, being returned to relationship, means that once again, we have access to blessing/benefits that were once denied. When I consider the man healed of the many demons referenced in Mark 5, I wonder of the many ailments from which he was set free. How were they connected, how were they evidenced in his daily life, how were some buried so deep that they lived in his subconscious simply directing his way of being? Now that Jesus is present we, like that man, have been set free from many intangible things that would hold us in our current state. We are commanded to GO and tell. Go home, meaning move from where you are to a different place, a place with which you are familiar; a place where you have pre-established relationships; a place where you can influence perspectives and ways of thinking. Once we arrive, how do we tell of the many great things that he has done? If we had ten thousand tongues we could not tell it all. Father, grant us many opportunities to speak and the courage and boldness with which to do so. Grant us that we might begin to understand compassion so deep that you gave your son to die so that we might be redeemed back to you. How we marvel at what we are able to comprehend. You are the all wise God, full of grace, wisdom and glory. Amen. ANGIE BRYANT Director of Fitness & Recreation 20 SUNDAY, MARCH 23 Psalm 95 Exodus 17:1-7 Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4) When you think about it, our lives are filled with a series of progressions. We learn to crawl before we learn to walk. We graduate from the bottle to solid food. We learn our multiplication tables before we attempt to tackle algebra. We spend time dating before we even consider marriage. There are things that must come before others can. These steps serve as a foundation upon which the next steps can be built. I am reminded by this passage in Romans of the importance of progression. We would never conceive of the notion that suffering alone leads to hope. When we find ourselves in the midst of suffering —the last thing we usually feel is hopeful! It is, however, the progression of suffering—to perseverance—to character that leads to hope. Each of these experiences is necessary to allow space for the next. They are intricately woven together—each dependent on the former as a foundation for existence. But it is so easy to get lost in the progression. When the process of suffering to hope takes longer than we want it to, we are often blinded to the ways we are being transformed along the way. We become stuck at some point. The Lenten season is also a progression. As we prepare for Holy Week, there are some foundations that must be in place. Our reflection and self denial are important steps that allow space for the full acknowledgement of the Cross. We cannot expect to simply be prepared any more than we can journey directly from suffering to hope. Lent is filled with intricately woven expressions upon which the celebration of Easter morning is built upon. We journey through them with the understanding that they are necessary. An Easter without the Lenten progression is simply an arranged marriage. It is a celebration without the crucial progression of relationship and a commitment without full disclosure. We must embrace those things that happen along the journey that give significance to the destination of sacrifice. As we find ourselves in the midst of the Lenten season, may we fully embrace each step as a necessary one in our own preparation. Father, help us to persevere and allow space for the fullness of the Cross. Help us to not get lost in the progression of this season but to permit each step to serve as a foundation for the next. Amen CHRISTY RIDINGS Associate University Minister & Director of Spiritual Formation 21 MONDAY, MARCH 24 – Psalm 80 Genesis 44:18-34 1 Corinthians 7:25-31 Mark 5:21-43 Annunciation of the Lord We live in an age where we take on so many responsibilities. I often find myself wishing there were more hours in each day just to get everything accomplished. Outside of the demands of our jobs or of being students inside the classroom, ours is a campus with a prevalence of faculty, staff and students who participate in committee-work, as well as clubs and organizations. When the workday ends, it is then time to think about our commitments in our church or local community. All the while, we have to keep in mind our families and the needs of the people that depend on us. As gratifying as it may be to provide and meet the needs of other people, it can be quite burdensome to think about the ramifications of not following through. Failure to meet each of our responsibilities is simply not an option. In today’s Old Testament passage, Joseph has told Judah and his brothers that if they do not deliver, “you will not see my face again.” Joseph had been put in charge of the whole land of Egypt, and not seeing his face meant that Judah would not be able to purchase food and grain for his family during the period of the seven-year drought. Judah reached a point of such desperation because of all of the responsibilities that he had taken on and all of the people who’s very lives, freedom and well-being depended on him and the promises that he’d made. His situation became so dire that he even offered himself as a slave. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:19) Rather than attempting to figure out how your body can manage to get by without food or sleep, why not refocus your attention on seeking the face of Christ? It is when we seek the Lord’s face that he restores us and that we are truly saved. Judah knew that “seeing his face” or making an audience with Joseph would result in the types of provisions he would need to sustain his family. Likewise, during this Lenten season, and every day of our busy lives, let us not forget to seek the Lord God Almighty above all else, and provision will indeed come. STEVEN MARTIN Admissions Counselor, Enrollment Services 22 TUESDAY, MARCH 25 Psalm 78:1-39 Genesis 45:1-15 1 Corinthians 7:32-40 Mark 6:1-13 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. (Psalm 78:4) It can be easy to compartmentalize aspects of Christian witness when working in a Christian community. Knowing you are among the like-minded, you might feel more comfortable telling a coworker you will pray for them or mentioning something from the sermon you heard over the weekend. Do you think twice before having a similar conversation with an individual if you are not familiar with his/her beliefs? Sharing your faith should not come from a place of vulnerability but of strength. Just consider what God has offered us through the sacrifice of his son: absolution of our sins and eternal life. God’s gift has made us into these amazing new creations, so how can we not glorify him every day, regardless of where we are or who we’re with. And Psalm 78 warns us what happens when we don’t share about our faith: the children of Israel forgot what the Lord had done for them and were made to wander the desert for generations. The Lord still loved them and provided for them, but their hardship was not what Moses had hoped for his people when he lead them through the miraculously parted Red Sea. Lent is a time to turn introspectively to our own hearts, so running out and shouting the gospel from the mountaintop isn’t typically considered an activity of the season. But telling people the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord doesn’t have to be an all-out mission trip. As you continue with your Lenten activities, consider just how much your faith is a part of what makes you who you are. Just by acknowledging his influence as you go about your life, you may find yourself in some very interesting conversations. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave. (Mark 6:11) ALISON MCCOMMONS Executive Assistant to University Counsel 23 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 Psalm 119:97-120 Genesis 45:16-28 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Mark 6:13-29 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (I Corinthians 8:1) Here at Belmont University, we all have at least one thing in common —we study, teach and work in an institution of higher learning. As Belmont students, faculty and staff we are particularly mindful of the place of learning in our lives. In fact, I daresay that we take pride in our learning. We are told that learning leads to knowledge—and, after all, isn’t that what college is primarily about—gaining knowledge! Indeed, gaining knowledge is a noble endeavor! And yet, the Apostle Paul, who was one of the most learned people of his day, warned about a danger related to acquiring knowledge— that it can puff up people! It can needlessly inflate our egos. Some of the congregants in the Corinthian church had taken to wearing their perceived knowledge as a status symbol. Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (I Corinthians 8:1) Paul was reminding these new converts to the Christian faith to focus on loving each other rather than trying to outdo each other through boasting of superior knowledge. He continues this theme a few chapters later in I Corinthians when he writes “If I …understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:2) Many think of the season of Lent as a time when we give up something in order to focus on Jesus. For me, I feel I must give up my pride of “knowing things;” i.e. I must give up the pride of knowledge and instead focus on Jesus’ self-giving love. The season of Lent is an intentional period in the Christian year when we are called to ponder our lives in relation to the life of Jesus and his self-giving love for others. Although he is described in scripture as one who had great learning and one who spoke with authority, Jesus never flaunted his knowledge. Instead he simply went about loving and helping others. In the many ways Jesus is depicted in scripture, none is more frequent or profound than the image of love. ERNEST HEARD Director of Library Services 24 THURSDAY, MARCH 27 Psalms 42, 43 Genesis 46:1-7, 28-34 1 Corinthians 9:1-15 Mark 6:30-46 Vision: we are all looking ahead and anticipating something. At home, we’re anticipating perfect birthday parties, the family vacation, having more children. In the Cates home we’re even thinking about Christmas next year. In our work at Belmont, we try to imagine and prepare for the future. Whether we do it sure footed or not, we are always walking toward something. Taking time to look ahead, prepare and be intentional can make the arrival even sweeter. The 40 days leading to Easter is that time for me. To reflect, envision and prepare for the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. As I think of Jesus and the plan that was set in motion; the vision was clear. He knew his purpose and where he was headed. Hebrews 12 says, “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross. I picture ‘the joy set before him’ as the vision of the restored church, the restored bride of Christ.” Jesus had great anticipation for his bride in that moment. Like Christ, in this season we have the anticipation of celebrating the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, the love and vision he had for us to be restored. In my experience, the more clear the vision, with more certainty and confidence you walk the journey. What does it look like this Lenten season for us to be ever looking forward to the sacrifice Jesus made for us and looking forward to the day he will return for us, his bride. And of this we can be certain: John 6:40 For this is my Father’s will and his purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in (and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on) him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up (from the dead) at the last day. SARAH CATES University Advancement | Office of Development Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business 25 FRIDAY, MARCH 28 Psalm 88 Genesis 47:1-26 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 Mark 6:47-56 When I read Mark 6:47-56, what strikes me the most is not the fact that Jesus walked on water. It’s not the fact that the wind and waves were compelled to peace by his mere will. It’s not even the almost comical astonishment of the disciples, who after casting out demons, healing the sick, and impossibly feeding the crowds by the commission of Jesus, still didn’t get what was going on. What strikes me the most is that when he saw the disciples struggling, Jesus did not stay on the mountain. He came to them and said to them, “It’s okay! You are not alone.” He did not solve their problem from outside the storm; he entered into it with them. Concerning Jesus, our Great High Priest, the author of Hebrews says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are.” (Heb. 4:15) Jesus knows what it’s like to go through the storm. He shares our brokenness. You can hear it in the words of Psalm 88. It is not only the Sons of Korah crying out, “Why do you hide your face from me?” but also the Son of God screaming from the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” How incredible is it that God chooses not to pluck us from our suffering, but to enter it with us? How wonderful that he whose name is above all other names would also take the name “Man of Sorrows.” He loved us enough to share in our brokenness. He loved us enough to come down from the mountain, into our storm, and bring peace into the tempestuous existence of our lives. Just as he shared in our lives, we are also invited to share in his. Just as Jesus brought healing out of his own brokenness on the cross, by his power, so we are ambassadors of this healing to others. In remembrance of him, we share our own brokenness with others as we share in the broken body of Christ. This is the beauty of the gospel. We may not walk across water to do it, but by Christ’s power in us, we too can enter the storms of others to bring peace and say, “It’s okay! You are not alone.” ROBERT O’BRIEN Religion and the Arts, Class of 2013 26 SATURDAY, MARCH 29 Psalms 87, 90 Genesis 47:27-48:7 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Mark 7:1-23 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) It is a miracle that you are reading this Lenten Guide right now. There are legions of distractions that seek to waste your time, to placate your mind and tell you lies. In order to read this book, you had to resist the temptation to look at porn, surf Pinterest, play another game of “Call of Duty” or binge watch Downton Abbey. I assume this is somewhere in your quiet time. It’s a miracle that you have a quiet time. God is doing amazing work in you. You might not identify with the temptations listed above, but there is certainly noise in your life that could have distracted you from the discipline of reading God’s Word. We are human. We don’t don’t seek God by default. He finds us, his still small voice speaking over the noise. Rejoice that your temptations have all been felt by others. You need not shoulder the weight of your sin alone. Confess it to Christ, confess it to your brothers and invite healing. Rejoice that Christ suffered every temptation and beat it. The man Jesus Christ never gave into temptation, in order that you could not be condemned for all of the countless times that you gave into yours. Read that again. Not only do you have the power by the Holy Spirit to flee from future temptation, but God does not condemn you for the times that you have sinned in the past. In Jesus, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. In Jesus, we are renewed. As temptation strikes you, pray. Do not seek to resist temptation to impress others with your worldly self-discipline, but instead to glorify God. It is only by his grace that you will ever resist the siren’s song of sin. You can’t do it. But Jesus did it for you. Amen. KIRKWOOD BULLIS Commercial Music, Class of 2008 27 SUNDAY, MARCH 30 Psalm 23 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41 I’m not very good at Lent. A great deal of this has to do with my personality: I don’t like pain, I don’t like sacrifice, and so a season in which I am to reflect on the pain of Jesus’ life and death by giving up things I love is a season that is not for me. Give me Christmas or Epiphany any day; like most Episcopalians, I love a good party. Of course, part of the reason I don’t do Lent very well is because I don’t always pay attention to what it is actually about. In the Episcopal liturgical tradition, during Lent, the worship service itself becomes a fast: we stop saying “Alleluia,” and our music gets more and more sparse, and in the final moments of Good Friday, the entire worship space itself is stripped down to nothing and the congregation leaves in silence and darkness. It’s in this moment each year that I’m reminded of what fasting—a fast that, in all likelihood, I’ve long abandoned—is about. Fasting during Lent is not about depriving myself for the sake of purity. It’s not about using my own discomfort for the sake of fully grasping Jesus’ sacrifice. Rather, it’s about learning how to see. Or, perhaps, realizing that our blindness is part of what makes God’s grace visible to us. Seeing, in today’s passage, has a lot to do with knowing and what we know. Samuel finally saw with God’s eyes when David was brought in from the field. The author of Ephesians exhorts his audience to pay attention to what happens in the light—by which he means that light of God in Jesus. Jesus himself spends an entire chapter opening the eyes of a blind man, only to confront the blindness of those around him. His conclusion, after healing so publicly one who was blind, is startling: when we realize we are blind, then we are capable of recognizing God’s holiness. When we think we can see, then we are truly blind. This, I suspect, is what Lent is about: about recognizing our blindness. Sometimes we, like the disciples, get caught up asking why we are blind—is it because we are bad people, or is it our parents’ fault? But Jesus’ call in Lent is beyond that. It’s a call to recognize that our blindness is actually the stage on which God’s goodness plays its role. This, surely, is what fasting is truly about—not about giving up things that are bad for me, but rather about adopting a practice that lets me truly understand the way my blindness will be overtaken by the light of God’s Easter love. MICAH WEEDMAN Associate University Minister & Director of Outreach 28 MONDAY, MARCH 31 Psalm 89:1-18 Genesis 49:1-28 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 Mark 7:24-37 Realizing it’s for you and not about you. Last November a young newlywed published a blog post1 that stirred controversy around a subject that had already seen significant debate in 2013. The blogger titled his post and argued: “Marriage isn’t for you.” We live in a world that encourages us to ask, “What’s in it for me?” about most experiences and relationships. We often outline the expectations and conditions in the form of a contract. From education and employment to friendships and marriage, we tend to insist on contractual, quid pro quo relationships. When others fail to uphold their end of the deal, we have the right to walk away and even seek compensation for damages. The Holy Bible shares the story of our Creator’s love and pursuit of us—his desire for us to enter into an abundant relationship with him. From the opening pages of Genesis that depict the original intent for creation to the rest of Scripture, we can observe God’s recovery plan as it unfolds. Today’s readings from the Old Testament and Psalms remind us of God’s unfailing love for his chosen people. Beginning as a celebration of God’s covenant with David, Psalm 89 becomes a lamentation of the failure of his descendants to remain faithful. Throughout scripture, we are reminded of God’s promise that he will never break the covenant he made. The plan for redemption—the purpose of God’s covenant—culminates in the Gospel with Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection on which we meditate this season. Today, consider God’s tireless pursuit of us through the ultimate demonstration of mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. This embodies a covenant—not a contractual—relationship. The only thing we must do to be saved is to believe what he has already done for us. When we enter the covenant relationship with Christ—frequently illustrated throughout Scripture in marital terms—we can trust that God will fulfill his promise to us as well. When we realize redemption was initiated for us, the resulting relationship is no longer about us. As today’s readings from the New Testament illustrate, our experience of God’s grace is transforming. Eyes and ears are opened. Impediments are healed. Perspectives are changed. Our new freedoms in Christ are accompanied by new responsibilities, which focus our attention on others and—most importantly—to doing everything to the glory of God. KEVIN S. TROWBRIDGE Assistant Professor of Public Relations 1 Smith, S. A. (2013 November 2). Marriage isn’t for you. Retrieved from http://sethadamsmith.com/2013/11/02/marriage-isnt-for-you/. 29 TUESDAY, APRIL 1 Psalms 97, 99, 100 Genesis 49:29-50:14 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Mark 8:1-10 …it is he who made us, and we are his… (Psalm 100:3) My toes felt each point of the granite as I looked out over the Black Hills from my rocky perch. I was in awe of the Creator of the contours, the ponderosa pines, the vast plains in the distance and the colors in the sky. In this same moment, a light breeze blew and I felt held. I felt known and known intimately. When I read Psalm 97 and Psalm 100 together, I am reminded of this moment because I am reminded of both the majesty and the intimacy of our God. Throughout my life I have recurrently felt God’s presence in the wind that blows and the breeze that whispers. In the fury of the gusts there is the paradox of a deafening silence. In the gentleness of the breeze, there is the reassurance of the faithfulness that continues through the generations. The importance of the knowledge that “it is he who made us, and we are his” becomes even greater during the Lenten season. As we look to the cross and we reflect on the sacrifice that has been made, it is important to remember that it was made for us. Personally. Individually. Intimately. In order to accept the gift we are offered, we need to first realize that we are taken, chosen and loved by the God who created us. When we do this, we allow Jesus’ sacrifice to carry the weight and the life-changing consequences that it is meant to possess. April is here! As spring begins to warm our bones, let us get outside to enjoy the majesty of Creation, and feel the breeze that contains the love that redeems us. BRETT WISSE International Business, Class of 2016 30 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2 Psalms 101, 109 Genesis 50:15-26 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Mark 8:11-26 Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? —“Signs” by The Five Man Electrical Band In the passage from the Gospel or Mark, we’re given three distinctly different images. In the first, the Pharisees want a sign from heaven to test Christ (11-12). In the second, the apostles are in a boat with Jesus and they have forgotten to bring bread and all they have to share is one loaf. They begin to complain among themselves and Jesus says to them, “‘Though you have eyes you do not see and though you have ears you do not hear? And you do not remember? When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ They replied to him, ‘12.’ And when I broke seven loaves among the four thousand, how many large baskets for fragments did you take up? They said, ‘Seven.’ And he said to them, ‘How is it that you do not yet understand?’” (18-21) In the final passage, Jesus heals the blind man at Bethsaida and tells him to go to his home and if he must enter the village to tell no one of his healing. For some, Lent is a period of desolation and longing. The Christ we believe in and have faith in is himself tested and horribly killed. As followers of him, we know that we will also be tested and tried and to this day we still seek signs. The crucifix, the cross with the body of Christ hung on it, is a constant reminder of his love and grace. God’s plan is mightier than our own and we must submit to him, yet we still seek a sign… And the sign said, “Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray.” But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn’t have a penny to pay So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ‘bout me. I’m alive and doin’ fine.” Wooo! Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Sign, Sign, Sign BETH WOODARD Associate Professor of Healthcare Management and Management 31 THURSDAY, APRIL 3 Psalm 69 Exodus 1:6-22 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Mark 8:27-9:1 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck… I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. (Psalm 69:1-2) There are times in life when everything seems to fall apart, and the waters rush over us like a monsoon. Sometimes life circumstances hit us so hard that we are crippled and left in the uncertainty with nothing to do but cry out for help, hoping that someone hears our desperate cries. The beautiful thing is that as Christians we have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us, listening to our every cry, comforting us and guiding us as we try to navigate our way out of the pain. Our God is not just a passive participant in our suffering: rather, he actively participates in it. He is there with us every step of the way, in the best and the worst. He never stops loving us even when we are in the pits of despair. A wise friend once told me that there is no pit of hell so great that our God is not greater still. This is something we need to be reminded of constantly. It is easy to wallow in our own suffering and forget that we have a God who is right there beside us. Even when we find ourselves entirely crippled by the circumstances that life throws us, we have the assurance that the living, breathing God is inside us, offering us unconditional love and support. We are able to have this intimate relationship with God because of what Christ did on the cross. He endured terrible punishment because of our sin. He suffered so that we might live. He understands our suffering because he Himself suffered for us. While on this earth, he was tempted, teased and tormented. He endured physical, emotional and spiritual hardship. Because of this, in our faith there is an emphasis on this idea of suffering. In Mark 8:34 Jesus says to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” That is no easy task by any means. Following Christ involves pain, but at the same time we are assured that the living, breathing God provides us joy and hope and stands beside us through it all. This Lenten season as we remember Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection and the lives we live because of that, let us not forget that our God is our partaker in pain. TREY HAYMAN Christian Leadership and Psychology, Class of 2014 32 FRIDAY, APRIL 4 Psalm 107:1-32 Exodus 2:1-22 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3 Mark 9:2-13 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people! (Psalm 107:8 NET) He delivered them from the enemy. He delivered them from their troubles. He satisfied them. He fed the hungry. He delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness. He released them from their bondage. He healed them. He saved them from the storm. He brought them to a safe place. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people! (Psalm 107:31 NET) When was a time he delivered you from an enemy? When was a time he saved you from your troubles? When was a time he provided for you in a tangible way? When was a time he brought you out of darkness, saved you from your bondage, healed you from hurt? When was a time he calmed the storm around you and brought you to safety? We know that God has taken care of us, provided for us, intervened and saved us in general ways, but we often fail to identify the specific moments and details. Take some time today to identify the ways he has cared for you this year. Write them down. Reflect upon them. Share them with someone and most importantly, take time to thank the Lord for all the ways he has lavished his love upon you. Give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for YOU. HANNA EASLEY Coordinator of Student Enrichment 33 SATURDAY, APRIL 5 Psalms 102, 108 Exodus 2:23-3:15 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Mark 9:14-29 As I write this, it’s the Christmas season and I’m listening to Christmas music. And yet, I am thinking about the Lenten season. There is something that stands out to me about both of them: anticipation. During the Christmas season, we anticipate the coming of the newborn king. During Lent, we anticipate his finished work on the cross. People alive during both of these times would have been anticipating these events for a very, very long time based on the prophecies that had been written about them long before. I’m sure they grew tired and impatient at times, and struggled to continue to believe the Messiah was coming. However, the Lord sustained them and gave them the faith to continue to hope and to wait, and to recognize him when he came. If you’ve ever been in a season of anticipation or waiting, it can often feel tiring to continue to hope. It can grow discouraging—if you’re relying on your flesh or something else to sustain you. I know if I am waiting on anything, I’m prone to try and distract myself with something instead of turning to the Lord to continue to fill me with hope by his Holy Spirit. Only he can sustain us in times of anticipation and waiting. Left to ourselves, we will worry, become afraid and try to figure out the possible outcomes and scenarios our seasons of waiting and anticipation will produce. In him, we are filled with hope and excitement for the future, as he continues to remind us that he only has good things awaiting us. I think this is part of why it can be so spiritually beneficial to fast or give something up during Lent and at other times in the year, among other reasons—we find more in his presence than in anything else we thought had been sustaining us. Times of uncertainty cease to worry us, because we experience every treasure in him, not in other things we had been holding on to. As a result, we can learn to see the future and all of its mystery as a grand adventure with him, full of beautiful surprises, instead of some daunting puzzle. We know we have his presence— and we have experienced him to be more than enough when other things are taken away. Seasons of anticipation become full of excitement and hope—not worry and fear. RACHEL HARMON Entrepreneurship, Class of 2014 34 SUNDAY, APRIL 6 Psalm 130 Ezekiel 37:1-14 Romans 8:6-11 John 11:1-45 The vision of Ezekiel in 37:1-14 has gained some popularity, but this seems primarily to be caused by the strange and evocative image of reanimated bodies, not a careful examination of the text and its function in the book of Ezekiel. The skeletons in Ezekiel’s valley are those of a defeated Israelite army. When Ezekiel manages to follow God’s instructions and get these bodies reassembled, his vision comes to an end, with the soldiers simply standing again in the valley where they died. They do nothing and say nothing and exist only in an undifferentiated crowd. It is difficult for us to imagine our way past death. Even our best efforts seem as awkward as Ezekiel’s, producing ghouls, ghosts and zombies. They are either disembodied or dispirited, failing to combine the two aspects of our identities as we typically understand them. Ezekiel manages to bring these two together in his vision to produce a fuller existence, but he fails on the point of essence. His reanimated soldiers have nothing to do, other than stand. Some observers have attributed the current popularity of zombies to the modern struggle to find identity and purpose in a world so big and full of people. We are anxious about being lost in a staggering crowd. The story of Ezekiel in the valley of bones may feel good, if I can put myself in the role of Ezekiel the preacher and commander of the wind, but the little sermon that follows in 37:11-14 demands that Ezekiel’s audience put themselves in the place of the revived soldiers, and this makes me uneasy. The divine promise in verse 14 is the necessary end to this text, because it is only partly finished: I will put my spirit within you and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil. The people in Ezekiel’s audience may feel the divine spirit moving through their nostrils, but they are not on their own soil. They are exiled in a foreign land. They have found themselves waiting to die, but Ezekiel’s vision partially reverses this status by imaging these soldiers who are un-dying to wait. This may be what the season of Lent helps us to do. One way to think about the idea of resurrection might be waiting to un-die, but an active life in this season might move us toward a sense of un-dying to wait, experiencing a sense of renewed life now, even if we are not quite sure what to do with it. MARK McENTIRE Professor, School of Religion 35 MONDAY, APRIL 7 Psalm 31 Exodus 4:10-31 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 Mark 9:30-41 First, let’s just admit that it is HARD to be selfless. We will always be stuck in our own body and can never be anyone else. So, doesn’t it seem natural to look out for number one? We have to protect, maintain and further ourselves to be the best version possible. And yet, if we have chosen to follow Jesus, we live with the charge to be selfless and put God and others before ourselves. In Mark 9:35, Jesus said to his leading men, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Our societal common knowledge tells us that we are supposed to be nice to each other and treat people with respect. But when a crowd becomes a riot, wouldn’t you agree that we almost immediately think of our own well-being? Jesus was calling his followers, and he calls you and me, to the opposite of our errant nature away from the idol of self. The key to being selfless is to acknowledge to God and ourselves daily that we are incapable of doing so without the Holy Spirit. This is why prayer, pursuing community and meditating on the Bible are so vital to our success. David expresses this clearly in Psalm 31. In the very first verse, he exclaims that he takes his refuge in the Lord, not in himself. He continues on in verse two to proclaim that God is his rock of strength and his fortress. Compared to his contemporaries, this was opposite of what everyone else was doing. The others’ goal was to claim themselves as God and be worshipped by their kingdoms or clans. They sought wealth, power and pleasure. They were fanatical about becoming immortal characters in life’s story. David continues on in verse three that God’s namesake is what he is concerned about. David points his life direction down the path that will honor God’s name, not his own. It would be a lie to say that David executed this perfectly. Verses 11-13 show how many people sought to kill David and slandered his name because of things he had done. Later in his life, he would also go on to commit even more grievous evils that caused major repercussions. And yet, David always came back asking God’s mercy and boldly progressed in God’s loving kindness. David’s confession and acceptance of God’s forgiveness, as well as his ability to move on, reveal how to shed the idol of self. Without it we are stuck, unable to evolve into the selfless, capable people God desires us to be. ALYSIA GREEN University Ministries Assistant 36 TUESDAY, APRIL 8 Psalms 121, 122, 123 Exodus 5:1-6:1 1 Corinthians 14:20-40 Mark 9:42-50 We live in a world dominated by sight. We’re drawn to flashy advertisements in magazines, take pictures on vacation to convince our friends we’re happy, and spend hundreds on products and clothes that help those around us see us for who we want to be. Our eyes are drawn to many places—the latest news story, the new car we can’t afford, the neighbor who seems to have it all together. We’re looking everywhere—everywhere but up. The Psalmist in Psalm 121 writes: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” So often we are caught up in the hustle and bustle of creation that we lose sight of our Creator. It’s in times of trial when we decide to shift our perspective—to look upward instead of around us for our sense of fulfillment. The Psalmist then says in Psalm 123 that “as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord, until he has mercy upon us.” The Psalmist was convinced that if he kept his eyes focused on the Lord and didn’t shift his gaze that he would receive mercy. When I was younger, I did gymnastics. One of my biggest fears was walking across the balance beam. I was terrified of falling, and after the first few unsuccessful attempts I had resolved that I would never make it across. After another fall, my instructor knelt down and said to me: “The next time you walk across, keep your eyes focused on me. Don’t look down, don’t look around you. Look straight at me.” As I tried the beam again, I focused on her face, awaiting me at the end of the long and narrow stretch. My feet wavered and I felt like I was going to fall, but with a single focal point, I was able to find my center of balance, and walk all the way to the end. Our God is waiting for us at the end of our balance beams. Although there will be things that demand we shift our gaze, keeping our eyes focused on him will lead to a kind of peace only our God can provide. It’s a life-changing shift in perspective. JEN MORELAN Social Entrepreneurship, Class of 2016 37 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9 Psalm 119:145-176 Exodus 7:8-24 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6 Mark 10:1-16 The scripture readings for today are an interesting and intense juxtaposition of conviction, instruction, judgment, rebuke and inspiration. A theme throughout them all is a warning against pride. Pride is that invisible force that crops up so naturally and so pervasively, that we often do not even identify it. And yet pride is insidious in our lives. As C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began… For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” With a power this great and this deceptively invisible we must be alert to it and aggressively seek to combat it daily. The Corinthians’ egos were getting in the way of their spiritual progress. They were arguing over which of the teachers they followed—which brand of Christianity they claimed. In I Corinthians 3:1-6, we read that Paul rebuked them, setting them straight with a reminder that he and Apollos, the men about whom they were arguing, were servants assigned by God. Furthermore, they acknowledged God as the Source of their good work. Paul admonished their outrageous immaturity and stated that he was reverting to feeding them “milk” rather than “solid foods” due to their juvenile faith. Their pride was causing them to be out of step with the humble calling of Christianity. Before we judge the Corinthians too quickly and look down our noses at them, we must think about what this sounds like in our lives. Even in our Christian circles we hear: “I worship at this church; or I am part of this denomination; or we have this style of music at our church, or this kind; or I read books written by this author, oh, you read those books?” And in all of this, we are missing the point, and are creating divisions and barriers between each other. Lewis’ assertion that pride eats up the possibility of love is poignantly accurate. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus rebuked his disciples who tried to shoo away the children who were being brought to him. Instead, he welcomed and blessed them. He went on to declare, “Whoever does not enter the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” This child-like innocence and humility is, fundamentally, the approach to which Christ calls us. JULIE HUNT Assistant Professor of Social Work 38 THURSDAY, APRIL 10 Psalms 131, 132, 133 Exodus 7:25-8:19 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 Mark 10:17-31 There are two main sites in current-day Jerusalem associated with the burial place of Christ. Each provides an entirely different atmosphere: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a dimly lit place of solemnity and filled all hours of the day with the prayerful, and the Garden Tomb, a calming and open area full of flowers and the occasional sound of a children’s choir emanating from a chapel nearby. The guide at the latter site, a soft-spoken gentleman with whiting hair, will tell you that while Jesus may indeed have been placed in the tomb at this site of an old olive press, the most important thing to remember is that you will not find the body of Christ there. He is risen; rejoice! To the right of the tomb is a small overlook bringing into view one of the city gates and a parking lot adjacent to a skull-like cliff face. He will add that the image one often envisions of three crosses on a high hill is most probably out of place—and more likely Christ was crucified in that very lot, or somewhere much like it, now covered in concrete. Criminals were often crucified along the main road leading to the city’s entrance to serve as a warning to all who pass by and reminder of government power, their crosses erected nearly at eye level with the people. Mark 10 gives account of a scenario between Jesus and a wealthy man wishing to earn eternal life. The episode ends with the man turning away because Jesus’ reply required more of him than he expected—that he must give up all his possessions—and his disciples thereafter provoked to ask not how can a rich person be saved, but “who then can be saved” at all? Jesus response to them provides an unthinkable solution: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” During Lent, we remember how everything about Jesus Christ subverts expectation. Whatever one’s former assumptions about achieving salvation and success, about the ways the world works, there is more to discover and know. The activity of Christ we celebrate at Easter unearths a great paradox in this way: Jesus turns the systems and principalities of this world on their head and meets us at eye level to reveal an unconditional promise of hope through which to view our lives: of resurrection for what seems like death, joy despite an occasion to weep, and victory instead of shame and defeat. Death has lost its power. Separation is revealed as the illusion it is. We are given not what we suppose we deserve, but better. Christ comes and lifts a veil: for us to realize our perspectives have limits, that eternal life is not conditioned upon perceiving all the “right” answers or perfecting right action, but lies in the mystery of how limitless is the love and faithfulness of God. MARY ELIZABETH VANCE Religion & the Arts, Class of 2014 39 FRIDAY, APRIL 11 Psalm 22 Exodus 9:13-35 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 Mark 10:32-45 It is what we all love to read, watch, monitor, talk about and analyze. At some point we are all captivated by the literary trend of the protagonist with their literal back to the wall. There is something we love about watching a beaten and bloodied Rocky Balboa that is nothing short of near death. Then, in the final round of the bout, he musters a sudden amount of supernatural inner strength, gets up off the mat and miraculously overcomes certain defeat to reach victory and all the glory that goes with it! We are endeared to this character, until of course, the character is us. We loathe the times of our lives that God allows us to be taken to a point of helplessness and utter dependence upon him. Throughout his word God allows his beloved to be exposed to suffering, including his own son. He promises us in 2 Corinthians, however, that we are “struck down, but not destroyed.” I find it incredibly difficult to cling to this promise in the face of personal adversity, how about you? Why is it that God provides so many examples throughout his Word of ultimate provision and deliverance, yet I find it so difficult to trust him to bring me or my loved ones through trials. As Christ followers, we should live with an acute, constant awareness of what he dealt with at the Last Supper, Gethsemene, and Golgotha, but we can never forget about the empty tomb. It is his ultimate example of resolution. One of the difficult realities of our faith is that there is no guarantee that it will all be made well in our time on earth. Not every relationship will have restoration, not every cancer cell will be cured, not every goal will be achieved. Not every story of our lives will end with amazing “come from behind victory.” Thankfully, we do have the assurance that he will use our circumstances for his ultimate purpose and that all will be victorious in eternity. MARK PRICE Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach 40 SATURDAY, APRIL 12 Psalms 137, 144 Exodus 10:21-11:8 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 Mark 10:46-52 It is so easy to get lost in this world. Sometimes we get lost in finding our purpose or our identity. Sometimes we get lost in the weight of our shame or guilt. Other times we simply get lost in the chaos of life around us. I want to ask God when it will all stop. He so clearly answers me, “Remember the cross.” Yes, remember the cross. There is no other way to escape the power of sin if we don’t remember the power of the cross. Christ took it all so that we could have it all. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” We want to be renewed day by day and this can only be done if we fix our eyes on Jesus. To sit still and reflect upon who Jesus is and what he did for us. If we remind ourselves of this we won’t be reminded of our shame. And if we remind ourselves of this we won’t be the same. We will be a new creation, freed of sin and victorious over Satan. Reach down your hand from high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners. (Psalm 144:7) During this time of Lent I want us all to become more desperate for Jesus. To cry out for his helping hand and just like the Psalm says, he will deliver us. He will deliver us and give us a new day. A new day that is full of joy, hope, redemption and grace. I would love to see each day as a gift from the Lord. To be refreshed and reminded that Christ gave me today, and I can have a fresh start. MACKENZIE BAKER Christian Leadership, Class of 2015 41 PALM SUNDAY, APRIL 13 Psalm 31:9-16 Isaiah 50:4-9a Philippians 2:5-11 Matthew 26:14-27:66 “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19:28-40) This is Jesus’s response to the Pharisees in the Gospel of Luke when they admonish him, asking him to order his disciples to stop what they are doing. The disciples are loudly praising Jesus by quoting from the Psalms as Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph. They know that Jesus is the Messiah and that his presence with them fulfills what is written in earlier religious texts. Stones can’t shout though, so this response just doesn’t make sense. Is Jesus trying to tell the Pharisees that the purposes of God cannot be thwarted and that God’s triumph will be complete? Or, is Jesus proclaiming that all creation recognizes him as Messiah, and that all creation rejoices in his coming? The response is an interesting one at the very least. There are places in the world where stones ring or sing. Such stone formations exist in Pennsylvania and Montana and in locations in both England and Australia. When the stones are struck with a hammer, they produce a ringing sound. They are called lithophonic stones, and they can be used in musical instruments. The stones that ring are “alive” and those that do not produce a sound are “dead” stones. There are places in the world, then, places where wondrous things exist, and where Jesus’ response to the Pharisees might make a bit more sense. Just as thinking about these singing stones fills me with a sense of wonder, these brief words of Jesus may be approached in a number of ways, ways that also produce a response of wonder. And, the singing stones provide one way. If we can accept a natural formation that produces something miraculous, something outside our realm of experience and expectation, can we also have faith to accept the miracle of Jesus? The crucifixion of Jesus doesn’t make sense. How could the Son of God enter Jerusalem in triumph one day and be rejected and killed just days later? It is not the ending that his disciples would have envisioned and it isn’t the one for which the reader hopes. Thankfully, the death of Jesus is not the final ending. During this Lenten season, we focus not only on his death, but also on the promise of his resurrection. The rejection and killing of Jesus in Luke’s gospel though, leaves the reader bewildered. How can one come to terms with this Messiah and his fate? Franciscan priest and author Richard Rohr offers some perspective on this in his writings. He believes that we can find our greatest strength in our moments of greatest weakness. This is another puzzling thought, but it is embodied for us in Jesus and in his actions during the Passion Week. Maybe when we really see clearly, what appears not to make sense is what brings us the best and purest form of truth. Some stones can shout and sing, even if we do not fully recognize this quality most of the time. Jesus reconciles the world through suffering and death that is very real and very human, and in this weakness and destruction, triumph is realized through resurrection and love. This is what it means to be a singing stone, a stone that is “alive” and recognizes that truth, even if just beyond our grasp, is still there. SALLY HOLT Associate Professor of Religion 42 MONDAY of HOLY WEEK, APRIL 14 Psalm 36:5-11 Isaiah 42:1-9 Hebrews 9:11-15 John 12:1-11 This world can be a cold, hard place to exist. A quick glance at the day’s headlines, your Facebook or Twitter feed, or even a passing conversation with a friend in the caf, can reveal a world of pain, strife, struggle, death and devastation. It’s enough to make you want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up tight and pray for Jesus to come back now. And while this may be warranted, I don’t believe it’s what God wants for us. I don’t believe that’s why Jesus came to earth as a man—and lived among us. I don’t believe it’s why Jesus died on a cross—and made a way for us to be right with God. I don’t believe it’s why God sent God’s Spirit to live within those who believe. Nor do I believe it’s why God invites us to be a part of his redemptive work in this world. As followers of Jesus, I believe God wants us to become comfortable with all of the pain in the world—not such that it fails to affect us—but so that we can better understand the depths to which God cares for his creation and desires to move us into meaningful, restorative action. It seems that we have a tendency to spend too much time focused on, and even obsessing over, things that aren’t very important. We can allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by things that are outside of our control. And we can even lose sight of whose we are and what we’ve been created for. But what if we changed all of that? What if we looked to God, with greater consistency and intentionality, and asked God for “eyes to see and ears to hear” this world—and everyone within it—as he does? What if we asked God to give us a clear vision for our life—and our role in this world—and then chose to chase that vision with reckless abandon? What if, in this season of preparation, we opened ourselves up to God and really surrendered all? What if? Lord Jesus, forgive us for ways we have set aside you and your call on our lives. Renew our passion to be about Your Kingdom work. We want to be a part of the solution—and not a part of the problems we see. Align us with your Spirit and ways of working in the world—such that we become agents of truth, justice, grace, mercy and love—and are found to be willing tools of The Most High God in helping to bring about your Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. GUY CHMIELESKI University Minister 43 TUESDAY of HOLY WEEK, APRIL 15 Psalm 71:1-14 Isaiah 49:1-7 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 John 12:20-36 When I was in college, being old and fragile were the last things on my mind. I was more concerned with my upcoming volleyball tournament or when my next paper was due. Even today aging is not at the forefront of my mind. How, then, are young and thriving students to read Psalm 71, a psalm traditionally viewed as a plea for help from the elderly? When reading the text we see multiple references to anguish, wickedness and enemies. Such language can suggest a more universal approach to reading this psalm, seeing that pain and injustice infect people throughout all stages of life. Therefore the idea of old age presented in Psalm 71 can be used as a metaphor for any instance in which life is lost whether it is through disease, malnutrition, war, or a miscarriage. Historical analysis can also help younger readers relate better to Psalm 71. Scholars date the writing of the Psalms to the period when the Israelites were under Persian rule and still experiencing the pains from the Babylonian exile. The Israelites lived in perpetual fear of the unknown during this time, while also coping with continuous threats to their survival from the ruling Persian Empire. Such a history provides readers with the opportunity to relate their own experiences of death with the speaker of Psalm 71. Despite our age, we know Godâ€™s grace inclines God to save us. Psalm 71 illustrates God as our refuge and liberator. Therefore we know as children of God that God will hear our prayers. Just as the speaker was faithful and persistent in his or her prayers, so too should we be faithful when we encounter hardships involving death. We must be invigorated by the fact that the ultimate sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ is what allows us to live and see loved ones once again. SARAH JENNINGS University Ministries Graduate Assistant 44 WEDNESDAY of HOLY WEEK, APRIL 16 Psalm 70 Isaiah 50:4-9a Hebrews 12:1-3 John 13:21-32 I did a quick “drive-by” of Hebrews 12:1-3 to see what would stand out most to me at first glance. My heart felt the most weight in the three words, “looking to Jesus.” Think about it: looking to Jesus. Such a powerful combination of letters. I let those words soak into me for a moment and then went back and re-read the passage with more focus. I encourage you to pause here for a moment and do the same. I wonder if you will notice that the passage begins with the word “therefore” and if you will take the time to read the recap of legendary faith-filled stories referenced from chapter 11. We are, as scripture tells us, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. This cloud consists of the legacy of those who came before us and lived their lives “looking to Jesus.” The legacy includes stories of Sarah, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, David and many more. They were able to do incredible things for the kingdom of God by relying on his strength above their own. The scriptures assure us that these men and women were not successful because their names have gone down in history, but because their actions spoke of their faith. The message here is not to lose heart during difficult times, rather, focus your attention upon the One who can save and follow faithfully the path that he has set before you. ELLE SANDERS Music Therapy, Class of 2015 45 MAUNDY THURSDAY, APRIL 17 Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 John 13:1-17, 31b-35 A New Commandment for a New Community Maundy Thursday (commandment Thursday) was a term I didn’t hear often until I was a member of a church that had services during “Holy Week.” On Palm Sunday we heard sermons of Jesus who came riding on a donkey, “the humble servant” and received a palm branch during the service. Wednesday night we were reminded of why we gathered for “Holy Week,” Thursday night was what I considered a powerful service—a foot washing. On Friday at noon, seven young ministers would share mini sermons on Jesus’ seven last words. The bishop would undress the altar the lights would be turned off… until sunrise service on Sunday morning. Jesus shared a commandment with his disciples after he washed their feet. He said: …”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Why was this considered a new command? The disciples heard a form of this commandment from the writings of Moses. (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus in the Upper Room, after the one who betrayed him left, got up from the table in humility and washed the feet of his disciples. With the betrayer gone those gathered were in common-union. These men knew the “Levitical” law had to do with slander, vengeance in your heart toward your fellowcountry man and holding a grudge. Jesus is now speaking of a greater, transformational love. Jesus demonstrates this transformation by his sacrificial love at Calvary, shedding his blood to cover our inadequacies. After the resurrection, Christ said he was sending the Holy Spirit to live in us. It is the Spirit who enables us to forgive each other and love each other as he loved us. We become a citizen of a “new community” when we become a child of God. Paul says our citizenship is in Heaven. During our church foot washing service I spoke of earlier, we took communion as many do on Maundy Thursday. The difference for me was that we were challenged to reconcile with anyone with whom we had problems and asked permission to wash their feet. Everyday we have an opportunity to walk in humility by forgiving those who offend us, bridling our tongue and not showing vengeance, we may demonstrate Christ’s love for one another. These things we do in remembrance of him. RENÉ ROCHESTER Director, Bridges to Belmont 46 GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 18 Psalm 22 Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Hebrews 10:16-25 or 4:14-16, 5:7-9 John 18:1-19:42 God’s goodness is proclaimed on Good Friday, the day that Jesus paid the ultimate price for each of us. Today, we have the benefit of seeing the crucifixion through the lens of Easter, but in my humanness and during this time of personal grief, as I hear the words Good Friday, I wonder if Mary and the disciples felt that it was a good day as Jesus hung on the cross with a crown of thorns on his head and nails in his hands. As Jesus took his last breath, I wonder if those who surrounded him were questioning if their lives would ever be the same, if the sun would rise again, or if life would be worth living without Jesus —son, friend, confidante. At the moment of Jesus’ death, Mary and those in the inner-circle were grief-stricken and probably not thinking that in three short days Jesus would rise from the tomb so that all who believed in him, by faith, would have eternal life. Before the joy of the morning on the day of resurrection, they were overcome with grief and mourning. In Psalm 22, David writes of great suffering that leads to great joy. David questions and Jesus echoes as he is facing death, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Many of us have experienced pain and suffering in our lives that caused us to cry out to God and ask this question. During the season of Lent, as we reflect upon the death and resurrection of Christ, we are reminded that Christ is faithful and gives us strength to endure all circumstances. We must hold steady to the hope that we have through the sacrificial death of Christ. His pain, suffering, humiliation and death give way to deliverance from our sins and allow us peace with God. During our time here, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:23-24, for we know that, “…weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Glory be to God that his power is made perfect in our weakness, and peace that passes all understanding is possible to Christians through faith because of the day of crucifixion—A truly Good Friday. PAULA GILL Vice President, Office of Institutional Effectiveness 47 HOLY SATURDAY, APRIL 19 Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 1 Peter 4:1-8 John 19:38-42 Friday has come and gone. Jesus has hung on the cross. He has spoken his final words, breathed his last. His side has been pierced by the soldiers, his death officially confirmed. What kind of world do those who crucified him wake up to on Saturday morning? Perhaps those in power breathe a sigh of relief—that nuisance of a man whose teachings and actions threatened to disrupt the balance of power has been crushed by the very system of power he sought to disrupt. Perhaps they are glad that the tables in the temple will not be overturned. Perhaps they have a sense of guilt at the bloody business of maintaining their power. Perhaps they don’t give him another thought. And what about the soldiers who committed the beatings and the execution? Was Friday just another day at work for them? Just taking orders from those above their pay grade? Isn’t that just the way things are? What was Saturday like for them? And what about his mother? His siblings and friends? Those men and women who left home and family, jobs and land behind to follow him? They’d put their hands to the plow and had no intentions of looking back. What do they do now? How could this be? How do the grieving comfort the grieving? This Lenten journey we’re on is a wandering; it’s a homelessness of the soul. Stranded between the death of Jesus and the hope of resurrection, today we remember those times in our lives when God seems absent to us. No matter how hard we knock, the door isn’t opened; no matter how loud we ask, the answer is silence. Who are we as people of faith when the object of our faith is nowhere to be seen? The experience of God’s absence leaves us shaken. Like those friends of Jesus on Saturday, in these times when God feels absent, our questions lose their answers, and our answers lose their meaning. Like the writer of Lamentations, the bitterness of these times is stronger because we know the sweetness of communion. And like Lamentations, in these times, because we know our Maker, we must in faith affirm that, all appearances to the contrary, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” Stranded between death and resurrection, we can trust that after the dark night of the soul comes a morning that will be new. DONAVAN MCABEE Assistant Professor, Religion and the Arts 48 EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 20 Psalm 114 Romans 6:3-11 Matthew 28:1-10 Mark 16:1-8 One in three people in the United States under the age of 30 has no affiliation with religion. For the general population, one in five people has no affiliation. More and more it is socially acceptable to dismiss religion as a significant part of our identities. The culture in which we live feels swallowed up in secularism. Yet, even those who want to dismiss religion, or matters of faith, will often agree that our world is oddly broken. Small things like poverty and the greed that feeds its engine of suffering seem commonplace around the world. Persistent things like cancer and violence stand cloaked in the corners of our lives waiting to grab us as we shuffle past. The list of broken things in our world falls off the table and onto the floor, expressed in the myriad ways humanity falls in upon itself and magnifies its own mortality through ignorance and the abuse of power. The world is broken. Our Scriptures for today remind us what happens when people make plans for their own lives. When we do what we want with our lives we have the marvelous capacity to add to the brokenness in the world. Today is Easter Sunday. This is the day God reminds us that nothing will stand in the way of God’s desire to remake a broken world. God made it perfect and human beings broke it out of selfish choices. The story of Scripture reflects God’s repeated attempts to reach humanity and heal our brokenness. After rejection upon rejection, God came in the flesh to live among us in Jesus. We then killed Jesus as our final act of selfishness and self-determination. Even then God did not give up. On Easter Sunday we celebrate God’s unwavering hope in fixing a broken world. People can believe or not, but God remains at work repairing and renewing the brokenness in our lives and in our world. On this day, God conquered the greatest brokenness of life. God defeated death. Easter reminds us that nothing escapes God’s redemption and recreation. Even the sting of death has disappeared in the faith of the unyielding love of God. God will raise us all to a new life. Now live, embracing God healing all the broken things in your life and making them new! Happy Easter! DARRELL GWALTNEY Dean, School of Religion H. Franklin Pascall Chair of Biblical Studies and Preaching 49 SCHOOL of RELIGION VISION The School of Religion seeks to be a premier academic community that nurtures a living faith in God, reflects critically on its discipline, develops skills for Christian ministry and distinguishes itself through its emphases on contemplative spirituality and social justice. PURPOSE The purpose of the School of Religion is to provide student-centered, academically challenging religion classes to the diverse student body of Belmont University and to provide a foundation of religious studies for students preparing for congregational ministry and advanced theological studies. GOALS • To provide all Belmont students with a solid foundation in biblical and theological studies. • T o teach courses for religion majors and minors in the following areas: biblical languages, biblical studies, religion and society, theological and historical studies, practical studies, seminars and special studies. To offer professional education courses in practical ministry. • To offer continuing education opportunities to ministers and laity. • To integrate contemplative spirituality and social justice into the curricular and co-curricular program. SCHOOL OF RELIGION FACULTY AND STAFF Dr. Marty Bell, Church History Dr. Robert Byrd, Greek & New Testament, Emeritus Dr. Manuel Cruz, Theology Dr. Ben Curtis, Pastoral Care & Spiritual Formation Dr. David Dark, Religion and the Arts Dr. Darrell Gwaltney, Dean Dr. Steve Guthrie, Theology & Religion and the Arts Dr. Sally Holt, Christian Ethics Ms. Debbie Jacobs, Assistant to the Dean Dr. Donovan McAbee, Religion and the Arts Dr. Mark McEntire, Hebrew & Old Testament Dr. Amanda Miller, Greek & New Testament Dr. Steven Simpler, Theology Dr. Judy Skeen, Biblical Studies & Spiritual Formation Dr. Andy Watts, Christian Ethics 50 UNIVERSITY MINISTRIES MISSION We exist to… • Foster a culture of worship and spiritual formation at Belmont. • Cultivate lives of intentional service to God and to others through church and outreach. • Promote the integration of all University life including academic, co-curricular and residential. • U ltimately, University Ministries equips students to engage and to transform the world by loving God and loving people. WAYS YOU CAN BE INVOLVED WORSHIP Join us for Chapel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. in Neely Dining Hall. NEAR 48 A residence-hall based discipleship ministry that is designed to engage first-year students in on-campus community. You can connect to intentional Christian community through your Spiritual Life Assistant. OUTREACH Into.nashville: a popular convo-credit based out reach program that takes students into Nashville for education, service and reflection that happens on various Saturdays throughout the year. Immersions: Fall and Spring break trips to national destinations to be immersed in service, culture and love of neighbor FAITH DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS Baptist Campus Ministries, Belmont Catholic Community, Belmont Wesley Fellowship, Chadasha, Christian Law Society, Christian Pharmacy Fellowship International, CRU, Men’s & Women’s Communities, Navigators, Nurses Christian Fellowship, Reformed University Fellowship, UKirk Belmont OFFICE OF UNIVERSITY MINISTRIES STAFF DR. GUY CHMIELESKI, University Minister ALYSIA GREEN, University Ministries Assistant CHRISTY RIDINGS, Associate University Minister and Director of Spiritual Formation MICAH WEEDMAN, Associate University Minister and Director of Outreach 51 NOTES 52