Belmont University's Lent & Holy Week Devotional Guide 2012
May each day of reflecting upon God’s Word, and the words of these writers, lead us through Lent and towards a deeper unity with Christ.
BELMONT UNIVERSITY Lent and Holy Week Devotional Guide 2012 Lent 2012 The university community has often expressed its appreciation for the annual Advent Guide and the way it helps prepare everyone for Advent. 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 scripture, the brief devotional, and pray each day as you prepare your heart for Easter. We are truly grateful for all of the individuals who have helped make this first 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. We would like to offer a special word of gratitude to Alysia Green and the student workers in the Office of University Ministries for the physical creation of this guide – your efforts are greatly appreciated! May each day of reflecting upon God’s Word, and the words of these writers, lead us through Lent and towards a deeper unity with Christ. Grace and peace, Darrell D. Gwaltney Dr. Darrell Gwaltney Dean, School of Religion Guy M. Chmieleski Dr. Guy Chmieleski University Minister 2 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 Gospel passage for the day. Read the Epistle passage for the day. Prayers The following is a suggested guide for prayer during Lent. Pray for all Christians around the world and especially for those who endure persecution 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. As a closing prayer, read words O Come, O Come, Emmanuel appointed for the week. 3 Wednesday, Feb. 22 Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10 2 Corinthians 51:1-17 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 The texts for our meditation today juxtapose outward appearance and the inner substance of faith. When the renowned biblical scholar, Walter Brueggemann, was on the Belmont campus last fall, he proclaimed the prophetic literature of ancient Israel to be “literature for losers.” These writings arose out of Israel’s defeat and destruction and its struggles to make sense of that experience. In Isaiah 58:3 the prophetic poet utters the people’s questions: Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? These are people who are striking a righteous pose, but they are not receiving the expected reward. The response to these questions seems so obvious that we might think they can go unsaid, but apparently we need to hear them again: Look, you serve your own interests on your fast day, And oppress all your workers. When Jesus came along half a millennium later, he saw the same problem among his own followers, and he addressed this same conflict between outward piety and inner substance in Matthew 6: 1-6: Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them… So, whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you…. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door… We live in an age in which politicians, celebrities, and athletes pose and posture to demonstrate their religious faith. Making a public spectacle of one’s religious practice is considered a virtue by many. This is a very difficult temptation to avoid. Virtually everything we do in our lives has a goal of achievement attached to it. Even Christian institutions function on systems of performance, merit, and reward. These values are woven so seamlessly into our world that the construction and maintenance of a counter-narrative is a constant struggle. The Lenten season is our annual reminder that faithfulness is a losing proposition that does not draw attention to itself. The temptation to dwell permanently in the glory and victory of Easter must be torn away from us every year, lest we begin to think we have earned it. Mark McEntire Professor, School of Religion 4 Thursday, Feb. 23 Psalm 25:1-10 Daniel 9:1-141 John 1:3-10 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Daniel 9:3). As I turn my thoughts toward Easter and how God would have me prepare for this event I am reminded of a sports mission trip I led to Krakow, Poland in May of 1996. It was a Sunday morning, our team was participating in a worship service with a small congregation of Polish believers, and we were taking communion. I had stepped into the side aisle of the church to get some video footage. While scanning the congregation an elderly Polish woman captured my attention. She was alone, very old and worn, with a wrinkled face and head covered with a scarf, typical of the older Polish women I had seen throughout the trip. I stopped the camera, put it to my side and focused my eyes intently on the woman as she took the cup, drank from it, then buried her face in her hands and wept. I was moved to tears. She obviously had entered into an identity with her Christ on the cross unlike I had observed or experienced before. Following the service I literally ran to greet her, along with an interpreter. I said to her, “I observed you during communion. I watched you drink from the cup and weep. That touched me deeply.” She took my face in her wrinkled hands and caressed my face ever so gently as she responded with more tears, “I have lived through two world wars, lost all my family, and survived concentration camps. Jesus is my only hope. He died on that cross for me and the sins of my people. He took my place on that cross. Thank you for coming to share with my people about Jesus. Tell them ‘He is their only hope.’” We held one another and cried together. I felt connected to Christ and the cross unlike ever before. It was a visual picture for me of how one identifies with the cross and at the same time celebrates the risen Savior, our only Hope for life and life eternal. Since that encounter with my sister in Christ, an old Polish believer, I understand much better how to prepare myself for Easter through prayer, repentance, and identification with all the events linked to the Passion of Christ, culminating in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Hope for the World! Betty Wiseman Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Women’s Administrator 5 Friday, Feb. 24 Psalm 25:1-10 Daniel 9:15-25a 2 Timothy 4:1-5 â€œDo not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; According to Your love remember me, for You, Lord, are good.â€? Psalm 25:7 As we begin a new semester and enter into the season of Lent, we are reminded of our past, and we wonder what led us to this point in our lives. We remember the people, the places, and the decisions that have defined our journey thus far. Some will embrace their past, while others will wish to make this year nothing like the one that preceded it. Most people will likely fall somewhere in the middle, thankful for the blessings of the past while hopeful for an even brighter future. We are reminded in Psalm 25 that the past mistakes of our youth do not define our lives. In our Father we find forgiveness, and in Him our future is bright from now through eternity. Our Lord is good, and he is always on our side. As we consider how we want to live in this new year, we can confidently rejoice that if we keep our Father first in our plans, our year will have His blessing. And what else do we need, but the goodness of our Lord? Morgan Stafford Sophomore, Marketing Major 6 Saturday, Feb. 25 Psalm 25: 1-10 Psalm 32 Matthew 9:2-13 The Lenten Season is an invitation to contemplate my own limitations in light of how I live. My limitations serve to remind me, if I pay attention to them, of the people, things, or ideas to which I am attached. It is not in my nature to seek discomfort (read: change, suffer), so I need times such as Lent to bring my focus to those things which may be holding me back from new insight. In the readings today I find echoes of this theme of letting go, or releasing that to which I may be attached. In the Matthew passage, after Jesus forgives the sins of the paralyzed man, he asks the teachers of the law, who have just accused him of blasphemy for doing such, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (v. 5) I hear in Jesus’ words a strong suggestion to consider that there may be more than one way for God to accomplish what God desires to do; and, the commitment of the teachers to hold on to their way as the only way may very well keep them from seeing or experiencing it. To let go of what I am attached to is scary. If I do, I might not know what is going on or be able to predict (control) what I am to do. It leaves me vulnerable. I might even suffer. Lent is the season to remember that God not only asks me to move toward these places and times of discomfort, but that God joins me there to produce compassion and understanding beyond my own ability. One of the historic dynamics of Lent is giving something up, or “fasting,” so I might feel some sense of loss, even suffering to help me “let go” of my attachment. I am grateful for the trusting words of the Psalmist (25:4-6) as he releases his grip on his own way of doing things in asking, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me . . . .” The only way I know to be guided by another is to release my stronghold on doing it my way. So this Lenten season, I invite you to join me in contemplating the questions: “In what ways am I ‘holding on’ to avoid change, discomfort, or suffering? What might I let go of to move into new insight?” I wish you peace. Dane Anthony Adjunct Instructor, School of Religion 7 8 Monday, Feb. 27 Psalm 77 Job 4:1-21 Ephesians 2:1-10 Every week, while the community gathers at the altar of my church to receive communion, ministers also practice the sacrament of unction—the anointing of those who are not whole in body or spirit. I often visit these healing ministers with the same request: “Please help me to overcome my despair.” In the church’s ancient tradition, despair is one of the seven deadly sins—indeed it is the one the Church called unforgiveable. My sin of despair does not fall into the traditional form—in author Joyce Carol Oates’ description, the belief “that one is damned absolutely…a repudiation of the Christian Saviour and a challenge to God's infinite capacity for forgiveness.” Rather mine is a more worldly despair, a belief that the world is sunk—that we will not be able to fix what is broken, heal what is sick, or help G-d’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” As Richard Liantonio writes: “Despair (with its corresponding lack of vibrant hope) destroys the uplifting, forward-looking, revolutionary aspects of the Christian eschatology and replaces it with an insipid acceptance of what is.” There is a relishing of this despair that finds good company on all sides of the theological and political spectrum. We all wring our hands and lament the state of the world and affirm our own helplessness. We don’t seek hope—the kind of hope that change and healing require—but rather just confirmation of our views. Psalm 77 speaks to that despair. It speaks of the distress of one who feels the absence of G-d asking “Has his unfailing love vanished forever?” Yet the psalmist fights comfort, stating: “I refused to be consoled.” We too refuse to be consoled. But the psalmist does not stay focused on the present, on the seeming absence of G-d. Instead, he turns to memory—to history—and meditates on all G-d’s mighty deeds. In this broken world, the sin of despair is a mighty temptation. We would do well to follow the psalmist’s lead, to acknowledge our frustration at the ways in which G-d’s presence is not felt, but then to remember G-d’s great works, the way in which G-d cut a path through mighty waters though his footprints were not seen. These memories can allow us to replace despair with hope, and then to let that hope work through us to bring healing to the world. Kristine LaLonde Associate Professor of Honors 9 Tuesday, Feb. 28 Psalm 77 Job 5:8-27 1 Peter 3:8-18a When I think about Christ’s suffering for me, I tend to remove it from the realm of the uncomfortably real into a place where it can remain untouched and “pretty.” I can talk of Christ’s atoning sacrifice as a means of accomplishing my salvation, but it sits so much easier when I do not allow His suffering to become real to me. I have this view of a well-kept Christ who lived a neat and quiet life until just before he was crucified. I often forget that he truly was a man just like me. He suffered for me not only on the cross, but also throughout His entire life. He felt the pains of humanity: our sleepless nights, our grief, our endless ache to be understood, and our temptations to find fulfillment in something less than God Himself. He spent three decades inhabiting time, walking through His broken, sin-spoiled creation, and spending time with people who could never quite understand Him. He did this all so that He could sympathize with our weaknesses and our worries. 1 Peter 3:18a says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” He experienced all of this so He could rescue us and bring us back to our Creator. Although the verse says “Christ . . . suffered once,” Christ’s sufferings were not just a one-and-done kind of deal, but rather a lifetime of struggle experienced in order to understand us and save us in the most intimate way. He spent a lifetime not feeling at home, a lifetime of having to fight to commune with His Father, a lifetime full of the deaths of his friends and the deserting of his followers. Jesus suffered in the ultimate way for us on the cross, and let us focus our hearts on that reality! But this Lenten season, let us not also forget that He suffered daily for us. He experienced our proclivity towards failure and selfishness, all so that He could rescue us, so that He could bring us near to God again. The Spirit of our perfect Savior now enables us to draw near to God. God is not a God who looks down on us apathetically, but a God who deeply understands our own sufferings and weaknesses. Let us draw near and worship the One who suffered to save us. Daniel Warner Junior, Religion and the Arts Major 10 Wednesday, Feb. 29 Genesis 9:8-17 1 Peter 3:18-22 Psalm 25:1-10 Mark 1:9-15 I love the way early Christian writers so configured readings of Hebrew Bible stories: they become so powerful. Certainly we know the happy little story about God and the rainbow. The rainbow is a sure sign of God’s goodness in the world, of God’s promise to be with us even in a storm. Of course, as many of my own childhood Sunday school teachers forgot to make explicit, the rainbow is really God’s promise not to flood the world in a fit of anger and regret. But still, it’s nice to know God wants to continue in relationship with God’s people. What the New Testament writers—Peter, especially in this case—get so right, however, is that the rainbow doesn’t mean we won’t drown, or that we are immune from a deluge or a flood or that our lives are in any less peril. Rather, it’s the explicit promise—“that flesh shall not be cut off” by the water, but rather, shall remain connected to God’s own life and promises. This only makes sense because Jesus submits to baptism. Jesus’ baptism is one of those tricky, egg-shell kinds of topics. A couple of slips of the tongue with this one, and you could end up a heretic. But we know that baptism is a kind of death-bywater, a kind of drowning in a flooded pool that keeps us connected to God (it “saves us” according to Peter). It does this because Jesus himself undertakes it— undertakes it as a prefiguration of his own actual death and resurrection. Lent’s liturgical color is purple, but perhaps it should be a rainbow season. What season better reminds us of our baptism? What season better signals for us our dependence on God’s own character, God’s own covenant-making, God’s own authority over all creation? We fast and pray for forgiveness—not so that we might be better people, but so that we might become a rainbow people, reflecting the Light of the Son through the waters of our baptism in a way that calls all people into God’s Easter covenant. “We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt and into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.” Micah Weedman Associate University Minister 11 Thursday, Mar. 1 Psalm 22:23-31 Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18 Romans 3:21-31 For years I saw Lent as a social exercise to track the church’s observance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. In addition, it meant giving up something that represented one of life’s pleasures or conveniences—like eating chocolate, drinking Diet Coke, or parking in a high dollar spot near my office . . . again to track a seasonal tradition common to my friends and family. In a way, I would attempt to control and customize the meaning of Lent to represent something that worked well with my life and circumstances. Not only would I choose to “sacrifice” ceasing to consume something for which there are readily available substitutes, but I would also seek to gain the acceptance of friends and family through participating in what seemed like a tradition of “going without” for 40 days. When I later committed my life to Christ, Lent took on a whole new meaning. The 40-day sacrifice was more than a “going without” period. I started to contemplate a deeper significance and meaning in my life, often reflecting on Romans 3:23-25 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” My celebration of Lent became more focused on the gift of salvation— knowing that the Lord of all things came into this world to live among us, to overcome the temptation of the evil one, and to ultimately offer his own life as a sacrifice for my sin. This time would draw me to reflect on knowing that I am forgiven and counted righteous by faith in Him, not by my good works . . . and His Holy Spirit will guide how I conduct my life to abide in Him. Yes, I still find the “going without” for 40 days a useful exercise to help me reflect on the Lord refusing to give into temptation and His ultimate sacrifice. Even more, during this time I am reminded that I should approach every day like a day in Lent, more and more praising Him for His love, grace, and mercy that always sustains me. May I always put my faith and trust in Him. John Gonas Associate Professor of Finance 12 Friday, Mar. 2 Psalm 22:23-31 Genesis 16:1-6 Romans 4:1-12 I was a young adult when I came to really understand that the love of God is not something we earn through our good deeds or work, but something given by the grace of God. Some may think that God owes them His love for their work, but, to me, that is backwards. We should honor this love by glorifying God and following His commandments. Paul spoke to the Roman church about Abraham and how he was justified by God not because of work or deeds, but because he believed. 9 Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness. 10 In what way then was it credited—while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. 12 And he became the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised (Romans 4). Paul was trying to teach the young church to be inclusive, inviting and nondiscriminating against other believers in Christ. He wanted them to welcome believing Gentiles as fellow children of Abraham. The Christian faith that we profess today was made possible by Paul’s determination in Christ to break down the barriers of the Mosaic Law that kept the gentile world out of the church. We fast forward to 2012 and those barriers that once stood are attempting to rise again, but we have to always be mindful that Abraham is the father of all who believe. Like Paul, we too must break down any barriers that will prevent believers from being a part of the church. As you journey through this Lenten season of faith in your aim to develop a deeper relationship with God, ask yourself who is not welcome at your church and why? God, Your grace and love are open to everyone. Please help us to find ways to invite others to know You and grow into your likeness. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Benita Walker Executive Assistant for the Office of Spiritual Development 13 Saturday, Mar. 3 Psalm 22:23-31 Genesis 16:7-15 Mark 8:27-30 As I look back on my time in college, it seems that life is always busier than ever as Easter approaches. Finals are creeping up, projects are nearing strict deadlines, and the dawn of the excitement of summer is rising. In the midst of all of the to-do lists and homework, it becomes increasingly easy to forget the meaning of Easterâ€”a world-defining shift in time. I pray this year as Lent begins and we look forward to all the joy that Easter brings, that we would be intentional about the way we spend our time each day. I pray that we, as a community, would take a step back, willing and ready to reflect on the meaning and impact of the cross on each and every one of our lives. For our God has listened to our cries of help. He has not hidden his face from the afflicted one! (Psalm 22:24). The gift of grace is beyond something any of us can ever possibly comprehend. I am amazed that our God in Heaven would send his one and only son to save a world of people undeserving of His great love. As we daily grow closer to the Father, I pray that we would find a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what grace and the gift of Jesus is in our lives. I pray, too, that we would reflect on the beautiful journey that we have all had in life, molding us more and more into the men and women God created us to be. May we take all that we learn, reflect on, and pray during this season and use it for the glory of the King. I am thankful for a God who meets us where we are, and I encourage you to grow with him during this time. May we be the future generations who proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unbornâ€”for he indeed has done it (Psalm 22:31). Rachel McNabb Senior, Accounting Major 14 15 Monday, Mar. 5 Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 Genesis 21:1-7 Hebrews 1:8-12 On a Sunday soon after the first of the year, my family and I joined a local Haitian congregation for worship in the chapel at First Nazarene Church in East Nashville. Having traveled to Haiti several times in the past, our hope was to experience once again the passion and beauty of a Haitian worship service and connect with members of the local Haitian community. We were not disappointed as we were enthusiastically welcomed and enjoyed again the spontaneity and vibrancy of worship. The sermon (which was quietly translated for us by a young woman sitting nearby) focused on the birth of Isaac to an aged Abraham and Sarah, celebrating a long anticipated promise, fulfilled by God. The pastor encouraged his congregation, many of whom experienced great suffering before leaving their home country and continue to be very concerned for family they left behind, to exercise patience in waiting for the fulfillment of the promises of God. The sermon took on new meaning for us because since the spring of 2011, my wife Elizabeth and I have been medical foster parents to a young boy from Haiti who is in the United States for medical treatment. He is an orphan who was born one month after the earthquake in Haiti and has needed medical attention for a congenital leg condition and vision impairment. We call him “Kenbe” which in Creole (the language of Haiti) means, “to hold on.” Our hope is to adopt him as our son one day. However, adopting from Haiti is a lengthy and unpredictable process. So, we must be patient as we wait and pray for the chance to become his parents. Lent is a time for patient waiting that provides to Christ’s followers an opportunity for reflection and preparation before the joy of Easter Sunday. The story of Abraham and Sarah reminds us that long after one would expect a woman to be able to conceive and birth a child, God fulfilled a promise he made to them to make their descendants a great nation. Such a time of waiting tried their patience. While they were not always models of patience, God still used them to be a blessing to others. As we prepare ourselves during Lent, let us patiently await the fulfillment of the promises God has made to us. We can take comfort in knowing that because of the resurrection we celebrate on Easter, we have the hope that those promises will be fulfilled. Jason Rogers Vice President for Administration and University Counsel 16 Tuesday, Mar. 6 Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 Genesis 22:1-19 Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19 Years ago in a research class, the professor told us that research could be reduced to three questions: “What?” “So what?” and “Now what?” What happens when we interrogate today’s Scripture readings with these three questions? First, what? The readings seem to be about faith and about God’s provision. What is that faith and what did God provide? I have had personal encounters with people who have an animistic worldview. This means beliefs in spiritual powers residing in objects, fetishes or totems, which can be manipulated by various sacrifices and rituals to make events come about in favor of the supplicant. The faith these Scriptures refer to may have some superficial resemblance to this sort of animistic faith. It is a confidence in something beyond sensory perception. It is a confidence in something which will result in a future good for the supplicant. So far, there is an overlap in the “what?” of Biblical faith and faith in a pair of lucky dice or talisman one might mutter over for a favorable outcome in some event. In fact, confidence in an unseen yet coming good is essential in the defining of the “what” of Biblical faith. The difference between the faith in God described in these passages and a sort of superstitious faith in anything else is graphically demonstrated in the Scripture readings for today. It is not the exercise of some human capacity to have confidence in something beyond itself but the exercise of that capacity directed specifically and exclusively to God which defines the “what” of Biblical faith. The Hebrews passage tells us that this faith in God gives those who have it a vision of a future good which is worth having even if the future good is never realized in this life. It is the security that, as Abraham confidently said to Isaac and later memorialized with the same words, “God will and has provided.” Biblical faith is defined by its object: He in Whom our confidence and expectation of future good securely rest. Our faith rests securely in the Lamb God provided for our sins and the sins of the whole world. So what? Now what? When darkness seems to veil His Face I rest on His unchanging Grace In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil Ruby Dunlap Assistant Professor, School of Nursing 17 Wednesday, Mar. 7 Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 Jeremiah 30:12-22 John 12:36-43 I have never participated in Lent. The church I was raised in did not practice the tradition and my knowledge of Lent is still limited. The general theme I see amongst my friends who do participate in the Lenten season is a focus on discipline. I tried to give up coffee once and it was neither beneficial nor lasting, but I love the idea of reducing my self-absorption to focus more on Christ. I am not sure if this is to be done with less caffeine, but I am certain that this is something we must do habitually. Ideally, elevating Christ should be a discipline in our lives year round, but I love the intentionality of the Lenten season. The notion of the God of the universe disciplining me, His daughter, is terrifying. It makes me want to pull a Jonah and run; or worse, pull up a chair in front of the television. If God is calling us to discipline, or if God is disciplining us, our options are pretty limited. We could choose the chair and the sitcom, but He usually gets His way. We can bet He will draw us to Him. He loves us, after all. “The Lord disciplines those he loves . . . . No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:6, 11). “I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished . . . Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing . . . But I will restore your health and heal your wounds” (Jeremiah 30: 11-13, 17). I often get caught up in the idea that I can deal with my own wounds. I maximize my efficiency thinking I can earn my status with God. When that fails, I go to the television seeking distraction. I am in desperate need of His healing and I am certainly far too beat up by my sin to heal myself. Discipline is not God calling us to take our holiness into our own hands. It is not about amplifying our efforts to try to heal our own wounds. Our wounds are incurable. God is calling us to lay our filthy sin at His feet in humility to the Healer and the Almighty. Discipline is not easy. Less of me and more of You, O God. Kristen Wright Senior, Commercial Voice Major 18 Thursday, Mar. 8 Psalm 19 Exodus 19:9b-15 Acts 7:30-40 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10). Lent is a time when all nuance is gone and we are face to face with stark reality. Gone are the grays we like to live in to obscure how clear our choices are. Are we sure we are “out of darkness,” or have we grown comfortable with the things that overshadow us? Are we now living in “his wonderful light,” or do we kindle small fires of our own that barely keep us warm and only feebly illumine? Are we claiming to be part of “the people of God,” yet at the same time sinking back into the undifferentiated mass of those who truly are “not a people,” those whose highest aspirations are to live the American Dream of individualism and comfort while amusing ourselves to death? Lent is our chance, not to double-down on good intentions or good deeds, but to once again feel in our bones that we “have received mercy.” We can afford to be hard on ourselves at Lent, to own up to our sins of sloth or lust or greed or pride or anger, because we know we will not receive condemnation from Christ, but mercy! T.S. Eliot put it this way, “[The Church] tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget. She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.” This adamantine tenderness is deeply personal, for we each have a story to tell about how we have been “redeemed from the empty way of life” we used to live by “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pt 1:8-9). But we celebrate Lent together to remind ourselves that while our relationship to Jesus is personal, it is not private. For we are now “the people of God,” called by God from every ethnic group and nation and religious background. And as “God’s special possession,” we “declare the praises” of God to all those who do not yet know that the darkness is all ours, but the “mercy” and “wonderful light” is all Christ’s. Todd Lake Vice President for Spiritual Development 19 Friday, Mar. 9 Psalm 19 Exodus 19:9b-15 Acts 7:30-40 I always seem to have trouble with the metal detector at the airport. I forget to take off my belt, or I think that my watch can pass through without setting it off. More often than not, I am politely asked to step aside for a rather impolite pat down. It always frustrates me, especially when my schedule is tight. However, when I cool down and think about it, the security system in place is there for a reason. It helps ensure that the flight will be free of any internal resistance or attack. It would seem to me that Moses acts as a sort of “metal detector” to the people of Israel. God gave Moses instructions to prepare the people internally for His revealing at Sinai. We are encouraged to do the same internal preparation during Lent. Through prayer, repentance, and giving our time and resources to those in need, we leave the luggage of our lives for this special time. Though your schedule may be tight, take time to examine yourself and prepare your heart. Be intentional in this season by setting aside special time to focus on God through prayer and Scripture. Like a plane takes us to a new destination, pray that God will take you to a new destination in your spiritual life in this time. Psalms 19:14 says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” May this be the prayer of our heart during this very special and holy time of the year. Zach Hixson Freshmen, Biblical Studies Major 20 Saturday, Mar. 10 Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 Romans 4:13-25 Psalm 22:23-31 Mark 8:31-38 God’s love for His people is so gracious and so grand! Just like God rescued the Israelites out of Egypt, He rescues us from our afflictions. God did not require that the Israelites follow the law before he delivered them from slavery; He rescued them first and then gave them the law. While He gave Moses’ people the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, through Christ of the New Covenant He has changed our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. God has written the law on our hearts! We are unable to follow His perfect law, but by God’s grace, before we were even born, Christ bore the penalty of the law for us through his death on the cross. He paid the price for our sins! Like the slaves in Egypt who God set apart for Himself through the blood sprinkled on the doorposts, through the blood of Christ, we are a chosen people set apart for God. Join the Psalmist (119:97) in saying, “Oh, how I love your law!” What an awesome gift! What an awesome Savior! We can’t perfectly follow God’s law nor can we pay for our salvation—but Christ already did these things on our behalf. While we could never repay Christ for what He has done for us, living an obedient life that is glorifying to our heavenly Father, is the calling of Christians. Christians are the salt of the earth. Yet Jesus said when salt loses its saltiness it is of no use. We are the light of the world. Jesus said we should let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. We celebrate the resurrection of Christ on every Lord’s Day and on Easter, but there are things we can do every day that reflect God’s love to a fallen world. This might be volunteering to help those who are less fortunate at the Nashville Rescue Mission or at The Next Door. Or perhaps God is calling you to make financial sacrifices for those in need. Whatever your calling, all of us should follow the pattern of King David and make a sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps. 19:4). Bryce Sullivan Dean, College of Arts and Sciences 21 22 Monday, Mar. 12 I Kings 6:1-4, 21-22 Psalm 84 I Corinthians 3:10-23 When I was a kid, my Uncle Steve broke ground on a new house for his growing family. We all felt excited for him. I think he was the first person in our family to build anything new in quite some time. Being so financially strapped that we had to subsist on a diet rich in bologna and Beanie Weenies, my particular family unit couldn’t dream of building a new house, even if we’d wanted to; even still, we were overjoyed for Uncle Steve and Aunt Linda. There’s something about the kid in me that still gets a thrill at the sight of new buildings, of yellow-colored backhoes and earth-movers, heavy equipment and cranes. I’m always amazed at the way we humans can begin with an empty plot of ground as a canvas and wind up with a beautiful new building painted on the landscape. I never tire of seeing new construction going up—so long as the project isn’t going to be another strip mall or a housing development with a generic name like Windham Farms—no offense to anyone who lives in a place with a name like that; it’s just not my bag, so I hope you’ll forgive me. This past year at Belmont, I’ve watched the enormous hole in the bedrock next to McWhorter Hall begin to fill up and up, and now, like a very slow Jack-in-the-Box, a building is beginning to emerge from the ground, and I know that it too will be beautiful. As we move through this season of Lent, the lectionary readings today remind us that we are always involved in building spaces. The Psalmist intones, “How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” while in Kings, Solomon is concerned with building The Temple in Jerusalem. As we move to the Corinthians passage, Paul reminds us that Jesus Christ is the foundation on which we are to build anything we wish to last. In Lent, I want to suggest that we build a home for the Lord within our souls in a way that initially seems counterintuitive. Meister Eckhart, the German mystic, asserts, “God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by a process of subtraction.” I think the good Meister is onto something here—perhaps during Lent, the best space we can build for the Lord is not an edifice at all but rather a clearing, an empty uncluttered heart. Donovan McAbee Assistant Professor of Religion 23 Tuesday, Mar. 13 Psalm 84 2 Chronicles 29:1-11, 16-19 Hebrews 9:23-28 Today’s scripture passages all deal with the Dwelling Place of God and serve as fitting reminders for us as we prepare to journey toward and through the Passion of our Lord, His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection from the grave. In 2 Chronicles 29, we read about the young King Hezekiah who “did right in the sight of the Lord” (v.2, NASB) by starting his reign with the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem that had been desecrated during the reign of his father, King Ahaz. He told the priests to consecrate themselves and consecrate the house of the Lord, and to “carry the uncleanness out from the holy place” (v. 5). The priests did so and the Temple was restored as a place of worship and sacrifice. As we focus on preparing ourselves during this season, let’s not forget to consecrate the Temple that is our heart, removing the “uncleanness” that we’ve allowed to build up so that we may truly offer up praise to God and present ourselves as a “living sacrifice." In Hebrews 9, we see where Christ himself consecrates the Dwelling Place of God, preparing it for us by offering himself up as the ultimate sacrifice “to bear the sins of many” so that we could have “salvation without reference to sin” (v. 28). We can, and should, do all that we can to cleanse ourselves, but it is great to know that Christ is the one who truly prepares us to dwell with God. Finally, Psalm 84 beautifully reminds us of the Dwelling Place that we inherit as God’s children. Because Christ died and was resurrected from the dead, we are able to sing with the Psalmist, “How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts” (v. 1) and “a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside” (v. 10). My prayer today, and I hope each day, is that God reminds me of the need to constantly consecrate and cleanse myself, of the fact that He alone is the ultimate sacrifice, and that because of that sacrifice, we can dwell with Him forever. Tim Stewart Director of Service-Learning 24 Wednesday, Mar. 14 Psalm 84 Mark 11:15-19 Ezra 6:1-16 Read Psalm 84. I have loved this joyful, passionate psalm for years, but have never considered it in light of Lent, in light of Christ’s death and resurrection. As I ponder the context in which it was written, and contrast that with our lives post-crucifixion and resurrection, gratitude and conviction rise up in me. The Israelites made the pilgrimage to the house of the Lord a few times a year, where Yahweh dwelt. At this time, the temple had not yet been erected and they were journeying to Zion to the tabernacle. The journey was not easy or smooth, but there was jubilation as the people caravanned, anticipating the joy of being near God’s courts. David was longing for this in Psalm 84. When I consider the joy and comfort of this passage, the lovely dwelling place of God, the sun and shield that He is, the provision and glory of God, and the joy found in nearness to him, I am grateful. Jesus left the glorious dwelling of nearness and oneness with His Father to come to earth and dwell amongst the wicked, so that we could dwell in the courts of the Lord for eternity. His act of leaving His home to be made flesh, to walk on this earth for 33 years, and to be the atoning sacrifice—once and for all—gives us continual access to the altar of God. I am grateful for the cross. The temple veil that created a barrier between humans and the Holy of Holies was literally torn in two at the point of Christ’s crucifixion. This joyful dwelling in the courts of the Lord that happened with a priest interceding was transformed because of Good Friday. We are now able to approach God through Christ, every day, at every hour. Reading about the Psalmist’s longing also causes me to feel conviction. This psalm causes me to ask myself: Do I truly treasure dwelling near to God? Do I desire nearness to God? Does my “soul long and faint for the courts of the Lord?” Does my “heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God”? Would I rather be a “doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked”? As we consider the profound mystery of this season, may we be stirred towards gratitude and conviction. May our hearts sing for joy to the living God who blesses those who trust in Him. Julie Hunt Assistant Professor, Social Work 25 Thursday, Mar. 15 Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 Genesis 9:8-17 Ephesians 1:3-6 â€œO give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south" (Psalm 107: 1-3). We find the psalmist beginning this psalm calling all peoples to gather, from east and west, north and south. He calls them to speak out in praise of God who redeemed us all. We come together during the Lenten season from all points of the world preparing our hearts, through prayer, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial, to recognize and pay respect to the death and resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week. As a Church we become one during this Lenten season, giving thanks for the sacrifice of Godâ€™s son. We join together from all around to give praise and thanks for the steadfast love of our God. During this season we can prepare our hearts in a way that strengthens our relationship with the Lord. For many, Lent is a time to give up something in their life that may be separating them from God or distracting them in some way. In many ways we are putting our trust in God by giving up. We are able to recognize our distraction and focus on what the Spirit can do within us. Though every church may not recognize the Lenten season my hope for this Lenten season is that we take the time to allow the Spirit to work within us. At the very least we come together to prepare for and celebrate Easter. My hope is that we can become one church giving thanks and praise for Godâ€™s steadfast love. Noah Quinton Senior, Christian Leadership Major 26 Friday, Mar. 16 Numbers 21:4-9 Ephesians 2:1-10 Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 John 3:14-21 As I was studying and pondering these scriptures, I was reminded in my spirit of how God’s word is the fuel that powers and increases our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It never ceases to amaze me how our spiritual gas tank becomes low or empty when the slightest bit of adversity comes into our lives. In the Gospel of John, the third chapter, we read that Moses lifted up the snake of fiery copper in the desert so that the people of Israel had something tangible to "see and believe" in order to be healed. Similarly, God expects us to lift up the Son of Man so that anyone who looks upon him with trust and faith will gain eternal life. It is important to remember that God loved us so much that He gave his one and only Son, and whoever believes by trusting, clinging to and relying on him will have eternal life. If we look at Jesus’ earthly ministry we will find that He did not come to condemn or point his finger at us while we were wallowing in our sins. Instead, He came to forgive those sins and set us free. If our sins were tried in God’s court then only those who trust Him and believe in God’s redemption and saving grace would be acquitted. However, those who refuse His will and His way to perpetual life will be judged with an eternal death sentence. The old but famous hymn Amazing Grace states, “I once was blind, but now I see.” The disciple John extols the importance of living in the light and rebuking darkness. The light, the Son of Man, came into the world to open our blinded eyes and bring us out of the darkness of our sins. God sent His son into the world to redeem mankind. But often we are not willing to receive the light because we love the trappings of darkness more than practicing the necessary discipline of pleasing God. As we move forward toward Easter and the celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us be reminded that God willingly gave His only begotten son as an advocate for our sins in order that we may live in truth and have eternal life. May God richly bless all those who trust, embrace and yield to His light. Gary Hunter Telecommunications Services Manager 27 Saturday, Mar. 17 Exodus 20:1-17 I Corinthians 1:18-25 Psalm 19 John 2:13-22 I remember the first time I ever participated in Lent. I was in middle school and decided to give up chocolate. I was proud of the self-restraint I had, and the fact I accomplished my goal, and never cheated. Unfortunately, giving up chocolate was a sacrifice that met religious requirements but completely missed the point. Giving up chocolate did not cause me to pray more, seek God, or reflect upon the cross. I am reminded of John 2:13-22, when Jesus cleanses the Temple. At the Temple, people are trying to meet religious requirements, albeit the wrong way. “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!'" While Jesus knew the people needed the animals to make sacrifices he was upset by the lack of true worship. Needless to say people were not too happy about the change, “Then the Jews demanded of him, 'What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?' Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days'” (John 2:18-19). The actual building, and their unexamined rituals, blocked the worshippers from seeing who Jesus really was. They did not understand Jesus was speaking of his crucifixion and resurrection. There is no longer a need for sacrifice in the same way, a temple, or following rituals because Jesus has replaced all three. Hallelujah! As you continue through the season of Lent I hope you take the time to pray, seek God, and reflect upon the cross. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Amen. Jennifer Rutter Junior, Political Science Major 28 29 Monday, Mar. 19 Psalm 107:1-16 Exodus 15:22-27 Hebrews 3:1-6 There is almost nothing worse, it seems, than being so desperate for something, only to realize that when you’ve found it, it is not what you expected or needed at all. In Exodus 15, the Israelites have wandered through the desert for three days without water. Then, all of a sudden, it is there. Beautiful, refreshing, life giving water. Except it is not beautiful or refreshing or life giving at all. It is bitter. It is not fit to drink. Of course, the Israelites will not have this, so they cry out to Moses, who subsequently cries out to God. The situation is remedied when Moses throws a piece of wood into the water and there is a miraculous change in it—it is, in fact, beautiful, refreshing and life giving. As we approach Easter, we have hope that what we will receive will be all of those things the Israelites hoped their water would be. However, it is easy to be taken aback by the bitterness and disappointment of the Lenten season. Because in this season of Lent, we are called to look within ourselves at the filthy brokenness we find there. With the coming of Easter, we expect to be forgiven, restored and joyful; but we are stopped dead in our tracks, because there is business that must be attended to before that glorious time. That filthy brokenness within is what we find instead, and because of that, we find ourselves crying out to God in prayer, repentance and self-denial. It is bitter. This crying out to God, this throwing the wood into the water is a form of redemption. It is how we are reconciled. Once we have done that, once we have cried out to God, we experience the hope that is found in Hebrews 3—that “Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house,” and we are his house. Just as Moses was faithful to the Israelites, Jesus has been, and continues to be, faithful to us “if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” That dear friends, is beautiful. It is refreshing. It is the ultimate hope we have at the end of the long Lenten season. It is life giving. Sarah Garrett Junior, Christian Leadership Major 30 Tuesday, Mar. 20 Psalm 107:1-16 Numbers 20:1-13 1 Corinthians 10:6-13 Much of the story of humankind involves our rejection of God. From the rebellion of Adam and Eve against the Lord in the garden of Eden to the present time, we have fought against God and the good things God does for us. Just like the Israelites in the passage from Numbers 20, we have complained and not trusted in the Lord to provide for our needs. Fortunately for us, God had a plan! As it is written, the people “cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress” (Psalm 107:13). He provided Jesus, who, through his crucifixion and resurrection, paid the price for our sins and earned the salvation of our souls. The good Lord Almighty “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:4-6). As a result, Easter is a celebration of the reconciliation of God and humankind. “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south” (Psalm 107:2-3). We sing hymns with inspiring lyrics, such as “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” As part of our celebration, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” (Psalm 107:8). Despite its rough beginning, the human story has a happy ending. We are the ones “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Danny Biles Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science 31 Wednesday, Mar. 21 Psalm 107:1-16 Isaiah 60:15-22 John 8:12-20 “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). For me, the Lenten season serves as a great time of self reflection. It allows me a concentrated time to become more aware of my daily patterns. Those patterns which have become so engrained in my every day that they occur much like my breathing or blinking. They happen so frequently that they seem insignificant, yet these are the very patterns that become the canvas on which the rest of my life tends to be painted. When reflecting on my own canvas I always become aware of my state of gratitude. Sadly it is, more often than not, my lack of gratitude that becomes increasingly obvious to me. It is a pattern, however, that is not formed instantaneously. Instead my personal reflections reveal to me a systematic shifting of my own attention. Every day my focus moves in certain ways. I continually choose to see the things I do not have or the places I want to go instead of the realities of where I find myself. It’s in these very moments that I become oblivious to the goodness of God’s steadfast love in my present. I look around at my ‘lacking’ instead of the fullness of my ‘already having.' Because of this aspect of my own nature, gratitude only comes through intentionality. It is formed consciously in opportunities where I can give thanks. It is not easy for me. I am a goal-oriented person. I like to watch the horizon and think about attainable things. I like to have lists I can accomplish and actively pursue my passions. What I often find when I am reflective during seasons like Lent is that my gaze needs to be redirected. My patterns of ‘wanting’ and ‘needing’ require me to reconsider how I define these terms. I find a need to remove the things that interfere with my ability to live in a constant state of gratitude. The Lenten season gives me an opportunity to start with a fresh canvas. It challenges me to paint my life on the foundation of God’s unfailing love, His wonderful deeds for humanity, His satisfaction of the thirsty and filling of the hungry. When my attention is given to these things, I find a state of gratitude that is wonderfully fresh and challenging. It alters how I speak and spend my time. It allows me to treat others differently. It challenges me to live my life in a way that acknowledges the goodness of God’s enduring love and reflects my gratitude in the patterns of my everyday living. So this Lenten season let us pray that we become aware of what is interfering with our ability to live in gratitude. May we remove, if only for a while, the things that over time cause our attention to shift. May we find ourselves able to give thanks more readily. Christy Ridings Associate University Minister 32 Thursday, Mar. 22 Jeremiah 31:31-34 Hebrews 5:5-10 Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16 John 12:20-33 During the season of lent, and well into Holy Week, we are invited to remember the Suffering of the world—loneliness, hunger, illness, abuse. Some of this pain results from things we do to each other, some from things we do to ourselves, and some from sources we will never understand. Indeed, the breadth and depth of suffering in the world present an enduring mystery to all people of faith. In a universe created and sustained by a loving God, why do so many people hurt so much? Today’s scripture lessons do not answer that question, but they offer comfort and hope to those who suffer. First, we learn that we do not suffer alone. In Hebrews 5:7-8, and in Jesus’ own words in John 12:27, we see that Christ was deeply troubled by the suffering he endured during his life on Earth. Therefore, we can take comfort in the fact that God truly understands the pain that we often feel. Indeed, I believe that when any one of God’s children is suffering, God suffers with him or her. In times of deep sorrow, I often imagine God holding my hand, sharing my tears of grief, mourning with me the pain of our imperfect world. There is hope: redemption is coming! We can pray to God with the faith of David in Psalm 51 to be cleansed and made whole. Further, Christians all around the world anticipate together the coming of the Kingdom of God, when all suffering will cease and all will live in right relationship to one another and to God. Today’s passage in Jeremiah paints an inviting picture of this Kingdom, a time when no one will need to be taught to love God and each other, for the law of God will be written on all our hearts. When you find yourself, or a brother or sister, walking in one of the dark valleys of life, remember that Christ walks with you and have faith that the journey will end with wholeness and peace. As a closing prayer, I offer two stanzas from the hymn “O Christ, the Healer,” by Fred Pratt Green: O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health, to plead for friends. How can we fail to be restored, when reached by love that never ends? Grant that we all, made one in faith, in your community may find the wholeness that, enriching us, shall reach the whole of humankind. Andy Miller Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science 33 Friday, Mar. 23 Psalm 51:1-12 Exodus 30:1-10 Hebrews 4:14-5:4 In his Confessions, Augustine pleads for God to cure him of some particular pitfalls, and then follows his plea with the words, “but not yet.” Augustine is comfortable with his life and enjoys his sin too much. Psalm 51 makes me think of Augustine and of us all. As I read the words “whiter than snow,” in this psalm, my mind goes back to the old hymn by that same name. I recall sitting in the wooden pew of my church when I was a child, singing the words, but really not reflecting too much on their meaning: "Lord Jesus, I see Thou dost patiently wait: Come now and within me a new heart create. To those who have sought Thee, Thou never said, No: Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." As I have grown older, the pleading voice of Psalm 51 has taken on greater significance to me, as have the words of the old hymn. These thoughts are really not very comforting to me, but Lent is not supposed to be a season of comfort. During Lent, Christians reflect on the trials and temptations that Jesus faced. Experiencing the glorious victory of Easter is not possible without reflecting on the events that preceded it. Psalm 51 is a penitential psalm that reminds us that we are unworthy. I do not like this, because I do not like to feel unworthy. It is so much easier to view myself as being a fairly decent person. And, like Augustine, the thought of being like snow, of being purged, does not sound too appealing. In fact, it sounds painful. Maybe that is the point. Later in Confessions, Augustine gladly writes of taking on the yoke of God. He has come a long way since his earlier prayer. The yoke may sound unappealing to some, but I think Augustine and the psalmist had come to know something that is often elusive for us. The yoke brought Augustine an unprecedented kind of freedom. The gift and acceptance of grace in the face of unworthiness bring tremendous worth in return. To be washed and purged is grace; it is freedom. The psalmist, like Augustine, pleads to be in the presence of God and realizes that there is nothing to lose. The process may be painful, but Lent reminds us all that what is gained is hard to fathom. The theologian Paul Tillich wrote about accepting the fact that we are unacceptable, and yet, we are indeed accepted. This is possible because we are the most fortunate recipients of the grace and freedom of Christ. Sally Holt Associate Professor, School of Religion 34 Saturday, Mar. 24 Psalm 51:1-12 Habakkuk 3:2-13 John 12:1-11 John 12:1-11 provides us with a great example of one person’s very real, deep love for Jesus Christ and, in stark comparison, one apostle’s disingenuous objections to, in his mind, the extravagant use of expensive oil to wash Jesus’ feet. Six days before Passover, Jesus dined at a home in Bethany, a place he loved and visited even though he was exposing himself to the danger of those who opposed him in nearby Jerusalem. He was surrounded by close friends that he loved and who adored him. Lazarus, who Jesus had raised from the dead, was there. Martha served him and Mary washed his feet with costly ointment, then loosed her hair and wiped his feet with it, an act that, in that day and place, would be considered immodest for a woman. The apostle Judas Iscariot, who was soon to gain his fame by betraying Jesus, feigned indignation with the use of such costly oil that he said could have been sold and the money given to the poor. The scriptures immediately tell us that he cared not for the poor, and would have taken the money for himself with the opportunity to do so. As Easter Sunday and the period of Lent draw near, perhaps we can all take a hard look at the story and see where our faith is. As I think about my life, I am not nearly as close to Mary’s humble love of Jesus as I should be. Am I willing to expose that love in front of others without caring what anyone thinks? Am I willing to give away something of great value as basically a sacrifice to what God did for us by sending his Son to die for my sins? Am I too close to Judas, calculating the value of “things” before deciding what I can or can not do without? When Mary worshipped Jesus by anointing his feet, John 12:3 says the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. It is easy to assume that it was filled as well with an atmosphere of spiritual love. When we see friends display sacrificial love for Jesus, it often inspires us to take a much more serious look at our relationship with our Savior and exposes the places where we fall short. This season, why don’t we remember Mary’s love and the Easter story to help us renew our love for and faith in Jesus? Rick Byrd Men’s Head Basketball Coach 35 36 Monday, Mar. 26 Psalm 119:9-16 Isaiah 43:8-13 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 Originating in the early days of the Church, Lent has always been a time in which Christians rededicated and refocused themselves for the Easter season. By taking part in Lent, the Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. Similarly, Psalm 77 is written from a heart going through great difficultly. If there is one thing we can appreciate about the psalms of Asaph, it is that he is always straightforward and honest. Asaph writes down his emotions and helps us to relate to his circumstances. The first two verses describe how Asaph was seeking after the Lord in the midst of his turmoil. Any person who has ever endured trial, suffering, emotional pain, or any life difficulty relates to these words. Asaph is literally crying to God for help. The last clause of verse 2 especially describes the nature of the suffering as he writes, “My soul refuses to be comforted.” Nothing can be said to Asaph that will make him feel better. The ordeal is so great that there is no place to find comfort. Yet in order to endure his suffering, Asaph recounts the attributes and deeds of God. He says he will “ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” By focusing on God rather than himself, he is able to properly see his situation in perspective and endure his distress. I think the same can be true for us. First, we remember who God is. God is different than us. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, perfect in every way. In light of those truths, our limited sensibilities pale in comparison to God’s unlimited reality and understanding. Second, we remember what God has done. If we can remember what God has done, specifically in and through Jesus Christ on the cross, difficult circumstances look vastly different. God has worked great things as our Redeemer. He has delivered us from the slavery of sin and has purchased us from the death that was owed to us. So then, focusing on God’s character and work redeems our suffering and brokenness by allowing us to rest in God’s sovereign purposes. We will all go through difficult times and seasons “in the wilderness.” Yet as we remember who God is, it is in these low moments that we find God to be all we really need and treasure His relationship all the more. Larkin Briley Junior, Religion in the Arts Major 37 Tuesday, Mar. 27 Psalm 119:9-16 Isaiah 44:1-8 Acts 2:14-24 During the Lenten season we often hear about the significance of it being a time of preparation as we anticipate the celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the spiritual renewal that follows. Yes, the risen Savior has come and fulfilled His purpose on the earth, as well as in the lives of those who have accepted Him. Along with this acceptance, we have been given a great responsibility. We are encouraged to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. With such a great commandment, He grants us the grace to accomplish it. However, we know the world with its attractions, distractions and disturbances can cause us to sometimes miss the mark; for we know that all have sinned and fallen short of Godâ€™s glory. All sorts of things can find their way into our hearts and minds today, perhaps we are not taking full responsibility for our lives when we expose ourselves to a barrage of ungodly words, music or images. On the other hand, we can fill our hearts and minds with Godâ€™s Word and therefore, create a defense against some of the evil messages the world sends our way. The Lenten season should bring about awareness and a consciousness of how far away we are from perfection and/or holiness. This is the realization that David came to in Psalm 119:9-16 asking, "how can I purify my way?" As we examine our lives according to the perfect law of liberty, a moral, personal, and spiritual inventory should invoke such a question. It should also bring about a desire in us, as born again believers, to have a closer walk with our God. We should seek God with our whole heart with a focus on faithfulness, obedience, commitment, understanding and self control. As our source of life, eternally and abundantly, we can grow to live and depend upon His Word as a vital and necessary element in our hope, healing, restoration and salvation. The Bible teaches us that the Word of God is the power of God unto salvation. I am happy to recall how humbled and honored I felt when given the invitation to write a passage for this Lenten Devotional. I was reminded of my own personal relationship and devotion to the obedience to God and to His Word that leads me and guides me everyday. Amen Minister Lamont E. Maxwell Custodial Services 38 Wednesday, Mar. 28 Psalm 119:9-16 Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23 John 12:34-50 “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Ash Wednesday was a reminder that we all are mortal, that no matter what we do here on earth, eventually we physically die. So we’d better make our time here count—not in the world’s eyes, but in God’s eyes. The reading from the prophet Haggai sounds a similar note of remembering our history and identity, and then living our lives in light of that reflection. Haggai prophesied during a difficult period in Israel’s history. A small remnant of the nation had been allowed back to Jerusalem after the exile, and they were trying to rebuild the destroyed Temple with few people, fewer resources, and barely a shadow of its former glory. A daunting and discouraging task, but Haggai urges the people to remember their communal story: Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage . . . all you people of the land, says the LORD. Work, for I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you, do not fear (Haggai 2:3-5). The main point of this remembering, for Haggai, is not how great or glorious the earthly kingdom of Israel was in “the good old days,” but that God was with the people back then, and is still with them—with us—now and forever. Therefore, God says, work hard at my work, with the hope that I am faithful to my promise to be with you always and with your help to bring about a world of equality, justice and salvation for all people. What stories do you need to remember this Lent, and how should you live in light of them? Maybe it’s the story of how your grandparents came to the United States from another country, or the story of the first time you saw how someone less fortunate than you lived. Have you forgotten that their story is your story—that we’re all made out of the same gritty dust? Maybe you need a reminder that God made you unique and beloved, or a reminder that God made other people unique and beloved. What stories come to your mind? Remember, reflect and work for a better world; for God is working alongside us. Amanda C. Miller Assistant Professor, School of Religion 39 Thursday, Mar. 29 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Deuteronomy 16:1-8 Philippians 2:1-11 Deuteronomy 16:1-8 focuses on Passover. We are asked to remember when God led the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. This passage causes me to think about how I have been saved by God, and how I am continually renewed by Him. A dear friend of mine, now an Episcopal chaplain, told me the story of her journey to get to know God. My friend struggled to know Him because she wanted “proof” of their relationship. One of her friends told her that she had her back to the most beautiful sunset in the world—and that she just needed to turn around to see it. “Prove it,” my friend said. “If you just turn around, it will prove itself,” was the answer. I think of her story often and I realize that I need to keep turning around to see God’s beauty and grace—to see how God continually lifts me up and how he saves me in times of distress. Even more, I am reminded that I need to show my love to God by serving others. During Lent, remember that God is always ready for you to turn around and let the view prove itself. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). Annie Mitchell Director of University Marketing and Special Initiatives 40 Friday, Mar. 30 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Jeremiah 33:1-9 Philippians 2:12-18 Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, because His mercy endures forever (Psalm 118:1-2GWT). We have so much for which to be thankful! Many of us take for granted our lives, our faith, our families, our friends, our opportunities and several other gifts that God has so graciously given unto us. David, in Psalm 118, models well the epitome of the due appreciation for Godâ€™s presence in our lives. If I were to make a list of things for which we should be thankful to God, it would take forever. However, I would like to share a few things, for reflection, that come to mind. God so loved us that He sent His Son to Earth, as Savior, to take on our sin and to carry and be crucified on the cross with that sin, all in order to crush its power over us. He showers us with His love, His grace and His mercy daily, despite our falling short of His glory. He has created a very individualized, precise plan for every one of us as believers in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the one and only omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Lord of our lives. He has given us many privileges, like the opportunity to go to further our education in collegeâ€Ś and I could go on and on. Therefore, if there ever comes a point in time that you lose sight of how awesome God is, just reflect on where He has brought you and how He got you there. Personally, when I begin to think about everything that has happened in my life and where I can see how God orchestrated every little detail of my life, I become overwhelmed with joy, like David did in verses 21-23 of Psalm 118. Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, because His mercy endures forever. Jordan Wright Junior, Contemporary Music: Performance Voice Major 41 Saturday, Mar. 31 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Jeremiah 33:10-16 Mark 10:32-34, 46-52 In today’s reading from Mark, scripture invites us to follow along the road with Jesus and his disciples on their last trip together to Jerusalem. As they begin, Jesus tells his disciples that he will be condemned to die; worse, he will die in a humiliating, painful way. So how do the disciples respond? They begin arguing over who Jesus’ favorite is. This is a strange response after hearing of the gruesome death that awaited their beloved leader. We humans get a little confused sometimes thinking our gifts from God were earned, not given. As Jesus and his disciples continued on this fateful trip, they attracted a crowd that drew the attention of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus wanted to see. He told that to the disciples, twice. Then the impossible happened. Jesus said “come.” How did Bartimaeus respond? Unlike the debating disciples, he responded with his body, jumping up, shedding his cloak and coming to Jesus. When Bartimaeus shed his clothing, he stood “naked,” or public before God (Mark 10:50-51). He leaves his old life, his blindness, and enters a new life in which he totally commits to Jesus, traveling with the group going to Jerusalem. Today’s gospel asks us to consider what we may be blind to—maybe it’s the beauty of what happens in our daily lives, like the crocus that heralds spring. Maybe it’s the gift of simply being with a friend and recognizing it as a holy time. What do you need to see this Lent? For some, it may be seeing that each of us is a beloved child of God and that’s both the beginning and end of the story. A preacher friend of mind once said at the end of a long career “every sermon I ever preached was trying to say Jesus loves you.” I think Bartimaeus knew that Jesus loved him because of the way he acted. He jumped up and began a new way of living. Consider in what ways you are like the beggar who waits and then responds to the call with his whole being. Then consider in what ways you are like the disciples who are concerned with their ranking. Mostly, remember that all of those who travel to Jerusalem are also the beloved children of God, just like you. Robbie Pinter Professor, English Department 42 Sunday, April 1 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Isaiah 50:4-9a Philippians 2:5-11 Mark 11:1-11 or John 12 :12-16 Psalm 31:9-16 Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39 [40-47] Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD (Psalm 118:19-26). The psalmist prays, “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation” (v 21). Whatever the request was, God answered it by becoming the psalmist’s salvation. The request in question can actually be found two verses earlier: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.” The gates referred to are most likely the gates of the temple—the passageway into the presence of the Most Holy God. The psalmist is asking to be in the presence of God, and God answered the prayer by becoming his (or her) salvation. We too can ask God to be in His presence, and we will also find that He has already answered us. Hebrews 9:11-15 says that Christ has entered the Most Holy Place by his own blood, securing our eternal redemption. He became our mediator to God’s presence in a new covenant secured by his death. Now we can enter through the gates of righteousness and give thanks to the LORD because Jesus has become our salvation. Jesus is the passageway into the presence of the Most Holy God. He is the Gate of Righteousness. “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” This Palm Sunday, let us be thankful that Jesus passed through the gates of Jerusalem on his way to die and bear the punishment for our sins. Let us be thankful that God has shown us that the way to Him is through the Gate of Righteousness (John 14:6). And let us look forward to the day when we can “bless Him from the house of the LORD” and sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Robert O’Brien Junior, Religion in the Arts Major 43 Monday of Holy Week, April 2 Isaiah 42:1-9 Hebrews 9:11-15 Psalm 36:5-11 John 12:1-11 Throughout their history, the children of Israel have been a people perpetually in need of deliverance. Whether the captor was a hard-hearted Pharaoh or a controlling Roman government, scripture is full of instances where the people cried out to God for a Rescuer. Palestine, in the day of Jesus, was one such instance. The Jews were subservient to a harsh and oppressive political system. They were hostages in need of rescuing, but when Rescue came, they didn’t recognize it. They misunderstood what they were to be rescued from and for. Isaiah 42:1-9 is a beautiful foreshadow of that first Lent season leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection. Christ came on an under-cover rescue mission—God incarnate guised in the frailty of human form. This Messiah defied every expectation. Israel expected an earthly king who would overthrow the Romans and establish a Jewish state. They were looking for military prowess that would start a revolution in the streets and bring judgment upon their enemies. Isaiah says they were met instead with a quiet and gentle servant who indeed came to bring justice, but not as they supposed. He captured hearts instead of earthly kingdoms, and that not by force, for “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” In their cry for justice, they were asking for deliverance from the oppression around them. He brought Deliverance from themselves, from their own sinful nature. In their demand for justice, they had become blind to their own guilt. As the Jews commemorated the Passover feast and remembered the blood of the sacrificial lamb by which their forefathers had been spared, the Lamb of God hung on a cross, that by the spilling of His blood the ransom might be paid and the hostages set free. It was the greatest hostage exchange of all time. Redemption and forgiveness are not free, but we’re not the ones who paid for them. During this season of Lent, may we remember the price that was paid for our rescue. May we take up our lives and spend them in a manner reflective of the Ransom given in exchange for them. Meg McKechnie Junior, Nursing and International Missions Double-Major 44 Tuesday of Holy Week, April 3 Isaiah 49:1-7 I Corinthians 1:18-31 Psalm 71:1-14 John 12:20-36 As college students, we can sometimes feel as though we are pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, we are expected to sit under the teaching of our university, cocooned in words of wisdom and challenge, molding ourselves for our future vocations. On the other hand, we are uniquely poised to be reaching out toward the other, improving society and bringing our faith to the world. We are being formed and reformed, and yet simultaneously trying to form and reform the world outside our door. The Scripture readings for today speak to our condition, because they affirm this experience of two-part living. But to see this, we must back up and ask ourselves what these verses are saying in their widely different contexts. In Isaiah 49, the prophet tells his spiritual life story. He was called from the womb, named and chosen for the purpose of pointing the world to God. Isaiah’s story shows us first of all that God has a message of reconciliation for the world, and secondly that He wants to use us, his people, to tell them about it. Likewise, in today’s 1 Corinthians passage, the writer tells us that it pleases God to save the world through what we preach, the Good News of Christ. And in John 12, it is Jesus’ disciples who intercede for the Greeks (people of a nation hostile to Christ) who wish to see Jesus. In the season of Lent, we remember Jesus’ time of preparation before his ministry. Just as those forty days in the wilderness prepared him, we take these forty days to prepare ourselves for his death and resurrection. We lie in the hand of God, a seed inside its shell, a bird in its egg, as God grows us and sprouts us into the kind of people that see his death and resurrection as an invitation to change the world. Like our season of life demands daily, Lent is a time to receive preparation. But at the same time, Jesus invites us to take part in his story of redeeming the world through his love. Like the prophet Isaiah, we affect others because we have been affected by God. We are incubated, sanctified by His presence, polished arrows hidden in the quiver of the Holy. We receive and we give; we learn and we teach. Our opposite directions are one journey, the journey of Lent, the journey of the spiritual life. Jordan Yeager Junior, Christian Ethics and Biblical Languages Double Major 45 Wednesday of Holy Week, April 4 Isaiah 50:4-9a Hebrews 12:1-3 Psalm 70 John 13:21-32 Holy Week confronts us with the fullness of Christ’s humanity. After all, we Christians know the story well: this Friday, our Messiah will die, just as if He were any other man. In today’s Old Testament texts we may find images of Jesus’ experiences of the suffering, the fear, and the weakness that come along with being human. But it is not Isaiah’s description of violence that strikes me with my Savior’s mortality today; rather, it is the simple cry of the Psalmist: “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God!” (Ps. 70:5) God chose to be born into humanity in the form of Jesus. God did not choose to be born into safety and luxury, rather, our God chose to be born to a poor couple in a stable, to work hard for his food, to travel the dusty roads on sore feet, to be rejected, betrayed, abandoned, tortured and killed. God chose to be one with us without leaving out the bad parts, to feel the full array of human hardship on His own body, and continues to choose to be with us in our pain. Furthermore, God has felt the plight of the “least-of-these,” has made it God’s own plight, and cries out for help with them: “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me!” We can be sure that if God chooses to suffer with us, God also chooses to help us through our hard times. Thus we may hear Christ speaking not only in the Psalm, but in the words of Isaiah: “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word” (Is. 50:4). Perhaps that word is resurrection: the hope for new life and a better world. May we remember in both wonderful and horrible times that our God has chosen to walk this road with us. May we be sustained in the hope of the resurrection. And may we hear our Lord’s voice in the cries of the poor and needy and join God in sustaining them. Amen. Katherine Museus Graduate Assistant, University Ministries 46 Holy Thursday, April 5 Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 John 13:1-17, 31b-35 I remember attending Christian youth camps as a teenager and singing “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love.” Of course they will! Christians can love better than anyone, right? At that time I had the idealistic thought that my newfound Christian faith would solve every problem, dry every tear, and help me love every person. As time went by, I could see that Christians weren’t necessarily better at loving than anyone else. Some were great at it, but some struggled, and some Christians even betrayed and killed each other. And I struggle along with them. Perhaps you think I have lost hope, but in fact one of the Scriptures for today helps me have hope in the face of the struggle to love. In the Gospel of John we see Jesus making this statement: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Very idealistic. But wait, let’s look at what happens right before and right after Jesus’ call to love. We all learn that we need to look at Scripture in its context, and the context of Jesus’ “new commandment” to love one another is this: Judas has set out to betray Jesus just before this statement and Peter is told he will deny Jesus just after this statement. We have grown, perhaps unfairly, to expect Judas to be a terrible person, but Peter is one of Jesus’ closest friends. Peter loves Jesus, and yet turns around and denies Him. Jesus’ exhortation to love one another right beforehand makes Peter’s denial even more shocking. This is a perfect Scripture for Lent. One important practice during Lent is repentance, and Jesus’ exhortation to his disciples to love one another, seen in the context of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, is both a wonderful and terrible call to repentance. Ann Coble Adjunct Instructor, School of Religion 47 Good Friday, April 6 Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Psalm 22 This day is too painful. It is too dark. It is a day of silence. It is a day of sorrow. It is a day of endings. It is the day the Prince of Peace was beaten. It is the day the Word of Life was silenced. It is the day the Light of the World was extinguished. It is the day the Son of God cried out to his Father, â€œMy God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?â€? (Ps 22.1) It is the day darkness eclipsed light, silence smothered the word, sorrow washed over joy, and the one who was in the beginning came to the end. What else is there to say and what other words could be used to describe the day the Word made Flesh took on the sins of the world and died? Let there be silence on this day. Darrell Gwaltney Dean, School of Religion 48 Holy Saturday, April 7 Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42 1 Peter 4:1-8 Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 Waiting. We all do it. Every day we are forced to wait at some point, whether it is in the grocery store, the cafeteria, or the gas station. We live in a society that is constantly waiting for different things -- both good and bad. This effect is primarily due to the fact that we are always looking towards the future for something. This fact directly correlates with the stages of education for it seems like we are always being prepared for the next step. Pre-school is the step before kindergarten; elementary school is the step before junior high school, and so on. College probably presents the biggest preparation step, as it is the stepping-stone to the future, whatever it may hold. Being a college student is possibly one of the most exciting, frustrating, and exhausting times in our lives. As a result of this fact we, as students, are constantly battling with managing our independence, responsibilities, and all that comes with flying the coop. The most terrifying task college presents us with is deciding what we will do next. It is a waiting game to see what could be and what will be. Being the planner that I am, I have orchestrated the “ideal plan” for life after college. Although my parents have repeatedly told me that you can’t plan every detail out, somehow having the plan makes the future seem a little less daunting. Everything will change because it has too, which makes life into a sort of waiting game for us all. This waiting game is present in all aspects of our lives, because there is a time for everything. A time to learn, a time to teach, a time to be scared, a time to be confident; you name it and there is a time that God has planned for that event. Putting trust in God’s plan is essential for the waiting game. For if the Lord is “my rock and my fortress” then how can I ever be afraid for the future, for He is with me always (Psalm 31: 3). On this quiet, somber Holy Saturday, we also experience waiting. We wait for Easter. Easter is a time of year when Christians come together to celebrate and be refreshed in their faith. We get to remember the great sacrifice that God made for us in sending us his son. The waiting that accompanies Easter is one of joy, because Christ defeats death! The end is victory! But today is a day of waiting. Jesus, we wait on you. Whitney Black Junior, Public Relations Major 49 Easter Sunday, April 8 Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43 John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 Sometimes I try to imagine myself on that first Easter morning… Up – because I can’t sleep; tagging along at a distance behind the weary, grief-stricken women who were on their way to Jesus’ tomb. Feeling the gravity of the past couple of days and weeks, and feeling very confused by it all. Had I been duped? What the heck happened? Jesus did all that stuff—all those miracles… He seemed to be the real deal. I thought he was something special… Divine even. My mind groggily races. How would I move on? Waves of defeat, deep sadness and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness wash over me. I can’t seem to escape it. A dark moment for sure. My attention is redirected by some commotion over near the entry to Jesus’ tomb… What’s that they’re saying…?! The confusion compounds… This can’t be good. The stone’s been what!?! Rolled away… but how?! Who could have done this!?... Feelings of anger and dismay begin to well up inside me. I wonder if his body is OK – Wait, WHAT? His body is gone!?! The anger and dismay are quickly replaced by a burning desire for revenge – an eye for an eye – someone will pay for this! And then… an angel. ANGEL!?!? The angel said WHAT? And in an instant the world stops… He’s…ALIVE?! I can’t possibly be hearing what I think I’m hearing… He’s been… RAISED FROM THE DEAD?! But wait… where are you going? YES, yes this DOES change EVERYTHING! Wait for me! I’m coming too!!!! As we celebrate the Risen King this morning, let us be reminded again of the awesome sacrifice that has been made on our behalf – by Jesus, God’s one and only Son. He has defeated death! He has saved us from the bondage of sin! The victory has been won! We have been awarded anew lease on life – in Christ Jesus our Savior! And that really does change everything! Guy Chmieleski University Minister 50 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. To 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 Dr. Stephanie Crowder, New Testament Dr. Ben Curtis, Pastoral Care & Spiritual Formation Dr. Darrell Gwaltney, Dean Dr. Steve Guthrie, Theology 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 Ms. Amanda Miller, Greek & New Testament Dr. Steven Simpler, Theology Dr. Judy Skeen, Biblical Studies & Spiritual Formation Dr. Andy Watts, Christian Ethics 51 Belmont Universityâ€™s Mission Belmont University is a student-centered Christian community providing an academically challenging education that empowers men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith. The Office of University Ministriesâ€™ Mission To foster a culture of worship and spiritual formation at Belmont To cultivate lives of intentional service to God and to others through church and outreach To promote the integration of all University life including that academic, cocurricular and residential Ultimately, 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 Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in Neely Dining Hall. NEAR 48 A residence-hall based discipleship/spiritual formation 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 Belmont Catholic Community Campus Crusade for Christ Chadasha Gospel Choir Christian Artist Fellowship Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International Every Nation Campus Ministries Reformed University Fellowship Wesley Foundation 52 53 54