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Lent \/ Easter Reader 2009

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, TODAY’S NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society®. Used by permission of International Bible Society®. All rights reserved worldwide.


spring reader 2009 Managing Editor: John David (J.D.) Walt Scripture and Saints Editor: Brian Rhea, Cheri Cowell, Erin Crisp Staff Editor: Melissa Nipper Production Manager: Amanda Esenbock-Stamper Graphic Designer and Illustrator: Stephanie Wright

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Wednesday, February 25 the fast of ashes Opening Prayer Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 217) Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 Blow the ram’s-horn in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everybody in the country tremble, for the Day of Yahweh is coming, yes, it is near. Day of darkness and gloom, Day of cloud and blackness. Like the dawn, across the mountains spreads a vast and mighty people, such as has never been before, such as will never be again to the remotest ages. ‘But now—declares Yahweh— come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Tear your hearts and not your clothes, and come back to Yahweh your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and he relents about inflicting disaster. Who knows if he will not come back, relent and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a libation to be presented to Yahweh your God? Blow the ram’s-horn in Zion! Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together, summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even infants at the breast! Call the bridegroom from his bedroom and the bride from her bower! Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, stand weeping between portico and altar, saying, ‘Spare your people, Yahweh! Do not expose your heritage to the contempt, to the sarcasm of the nations! Why give the peoples cause to say, “Where is their God?” NJB Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 3


Prayer of Response Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all people: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father. For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 331)

Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him: Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Watch Read the next two pages on fasting and visit asburyreader.com to watch the short film introducing the season of Lent.

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story immersion practice: fasting Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2 Some say fasting leads us to the wilderness. Others claim fasting is the wilderness itself. Regardless, fasting can take us to a place of God-awareness leading to self-awareness. Fasting ignites a furnace of transformation, raising our prayer life by an exponential factor. Fasting is difficult, a place of struggling with God and self. It pushes all our buttons and reveals all our weaknesses. Progress is hard to measure and often only discernable in hindsight. The key is one’s orientation with the practice.

Fasting must not be reduced to, “what I’m giving up for Lent.” Fasting leads to the secret place of feasting on “every word that comes from the mouth of God,” and the public place of kingdom righteousness in the streets. “I have food that you know nothing about,” says Jesus to his disciples. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” True fasting locates us “in Christ” in the wilderness where he trains us in his unique way of “loving mercy, doing justly and walking humbly with God.” (see Micah 6:8) The practice of fasting narrates us into the story in a profoundly experiential way. As Jesus journeyed from the blessing of baptism to the challenges of the wilderness so do we. Throughout centuries of Christian pilgrimage, the season of Lent has come to be associated with a time of intense self-examination, confession and repentance. Across ages of Christian Tradition, Lent has become synonymous with one practice: fasting. A practice of self denial, fasting cultivates appetite for God by denying appetite for things of the world. A form of voluntary poverty, fasting identifies us with the poor and marginal, revealing our misplaced treasure and rerouting the longing of our hearts. The Triune God has created all things and called them good. He bids us to receive his good gifts with thanksgiving. But he also calls us to fast and to practice self-control. Christians have honored this two-fold truth by celebrating alternating seasons of fasting and feasting in the Church year. The fifty-day feast of Easter is preceded by the forty-day fast of Lent. But fasting is often ignored in our Western culture. Here are some suggestions—not rules—for different ways to fast. Fasting is both taking something out of our lives, and replacing it with something else. Find ways for God to more fully saturate your life; partake more fully of the means of grace. Fasting is both a personal and a corporate discipline; find accountability in community.

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practical guidance for fasting • Disobey your thirst. One purpose of fasting is to teach us self-control. “People are slaves to whatever masters them” (2 Peter 2:19). Intentionally abstaining from our cravings demonstrates that Jesus, not our stomach, is our true Lord. It also identifies with the billions throughout the world who are unable to satisfy their every desire. • Fast on Wednesday and Friday. From the first century, Christians have set these days apart for fasting. John Wesley desired the Methodists to keep these fasts each week. At minimum, try and fast for a 24 hour period once per week. Try eating the evening meal on Tuesday and not eating again until the evening meal on Wednesday. Drink water or juice through the day. • Fast from food. Total abstention from food (and sometimes drink) is the primary Biblical model of fasting. • Fast from meat. Throughout history, meat has been the food of the wealthy. The Church has traditionally suggested abstaining from this delicacy during periods of fasting. Sometimes fasting from dairy products has also been encouraged. • Fast from dessert. Rich and sweet desserts are rare in the world; only in Western culture are they commonplace. • Fast from coffee, soda, etc. Examine how much of your diet is given to unnecessary trifles. Prove in your actions, “God, I love you more than coffee.” • Fast from entertainment. Most entertainment is not by nature evil, but it is superfluous. • Are you addicted to a certain television show? • Do you need that new DVD or CD? • Do you spend more time watching movies than in prayer? • How central are computer games to your lifestyle? • Is internet social networking taking the place of face to face community? • Attend the Eucharist regularly. Let the body and blood of Christ replace your breakfast or lunch. Feast on him. • Let the money you may save fasting from food or entertainment be given to the poor. This is the kind of fast God delights in (Isa. 58:7). • Spend more time in prayer and Bible study. Feast on the Word of God. • Spend time with family or friends that is centered around prayer or service rather than entertainment. Spend a weekend at a homeless shelter rather than at the movies. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5). But a rhythm of fasting and feasting will enrich us spiritually and enable us to encounter God more fully. Forsaking goods for a period of time makes them all the more significant during times of feasting.

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Thursday, February 26 Opening Prayer O Almighty God, who pours out on all desiring it the spirit of grace and supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 833). Jeremiah 5:20-31 “Tell the house of Jacob this, put out this bulletin in Judah: Listen to this, you scatterbrains, airheads, With eyes that see but don’t really look, and ears that hear but don’t really listen. Why don’t you honor me? Why aren’t you in awe before me? Yes, me, who made the shorelines to contain the ocean waters. I drew a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. Waves roll in but cannot get through; breakers crash but that’s the end of them. But this people—what a people! Uncontrollable, unnameable runaways. It never occurs to them to say, ‘How can we honor our GOD with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?’ Of course you don’t! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this. Your sins keep my blessings at a distance. “My people are infiltrated by wicked men, unscrupulous men on the hunt. They set traps for the unsuspecting. Their victims are innocent men and women. Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain, like a hunter’s bag full of birds. Pretentious and powerful and rich, hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat. Worse, they have no conscience. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. They stand for nothing, stand up for no one, throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor. Do you think I’ll stand by and do nothing about this?” GOD’s Decree. “Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures against a people like this? “Unspeakable! Sickening! What’s happened in this country? Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 7


Prophets preach lies and priests hire on as their assistants. And my people love it. They eat it up! But what will you do when it’s time to pick up the pieces?” The Message

God’s lament—a pained desire for holiness, righteousness, commitment. When God looks at us, what does he see? Does he rejoice—or weep? Lent is a time for us to ask those questions, to examine ourselves, to set things right. In fasting and self-denial we open ourselves to hear; we force ourselves into a posture of attention, not as a once-a-year exercise but as a lifelong period of examination and checkup. The way of the cross is too difficult, and drifting into the wide road too easy; we need a periodic checkup, a regular examination—we need Lent. In Lent we hear again the story of our salvation, the great acts of God, looking particularly to the cross. That is the way of life Christ calls us to. Do we remember what we signed up for? Are we still on course? Do we still trust him? Do we reflect the cruciform life?

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Friday, February 27 Opening Prayer My prayers must meet a brazen heaven And fail or scatter all away. Unclean and seeming unforgiven My prayers I scarcely call to pray. I cannot buoy my heart above; Above it cannot entrance win. I reckon precedents of love, But feel the long success of sin. My heaven is brass, and iron my earth: Yea iron is mingled with my clay, So harden’d is it in this dearth Which praying fails to do away. Nor tears, nor tears this clay uncouth Could mould, if any tears there were. A warfare of my lips in truth, Battling with God, is now my prayer. —Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Jeremiah 20:7-18 O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, 8 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, Watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him And take our revenge on him.” But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers. Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! Cursed be the man who brought the news To my father, saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!” And made him very happy. But let that man be like the cities Which the LORD overthrew without relenting, And let him hear an outcry in the morning And a shout of alarm at noon; Because he did not kill me before birth, So that my mother would have been my grave, And her womb ever pregnant. Why did I ever come forth from the womb To look on trouble and sorrow, So that my days have been spent in shame? NASB

Saturday, February 28 Opening Prayer What would You speak to us this day, Almighty God? What would Your heart delight to whisper? Attune our hearts to hear; fasten our attentions; direct our scatteredness toward the surpassing integrity that is You. By Your grace, to You, O Lord, we lift up our souls. Psalm 25 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 9


or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your unfailing love and compassion, which you have shown from long ages past. Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O LORD.

practicing the story Copy on a separate piece of paper the bolded segment of Psalm 25 OR if you like, tear out the page. Carry it with you every day through this season, meditate on the words, commit it to memory. Pray it in the morning as you put on your shoes. Pray it at noon over the lunch meal. Pray it at night as you go to bed.

The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees. For the honor of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the Promised Land. Friendship with the LORD is reserved for those who fear him. With them he shares the secrets of his covenant. My eyes are always looking to the LORD for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies. Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. See how many enemies I have, and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for I trust in you. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you. O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles. NLT

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Hester Ann Rogers (1756-1794), one of the early Methodist leaders, finally surrendered to God after grace’s long tug-of-war. On that night of nights, she records, “I went to bed, but could not sleep: and at four in the morning rose again, that I might wrestle with the Lord. I prayed, but it seemed in vain. I walked to and fro, groaning for mercy, then fell again on my knees: but the heavens appeared as brass, and hope seemed almost sunk into despair: when suddenly the Lord spake these words to my heart:” Prayer of Response “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Lord, I know this is thy word, and I can depend on it. But what is faith? O show me how to believe: show me what is the gospel faith, or I am yet undone. I desire not deliverance except in thy own way: I desire no happiness, but thy favor. What shall I do? O teach me, O help me, or I am lost!” “Cast all thy care upon him, for he careth for thee.” Lord, dost thou care for me? and is this faith, to cast all my care, even all my sins, (for I have no other care,) upon thee? May I? Dost thou bid me? a poor hell-deserving sinner; a sinner against light, arid conviction, and repeated vows; can such love dwell in thee? Is it not too easy a way? May I, even I, be saved, if I only cast my soul on Jesus? My burden of sin, my load of guilt, my every crime? What, saved from all this guilt; saved into the favor of God! the holy God! and become his child; and that now, this moment! O it is too great, it cannot, surely it cannot be! “Fear not, only believe! Only believe!” Lord Jesus, I will, I do believe; I now venture my whole salvation upon thee as God! I put my guilty soul into thy hands, thy blood is sufficient! I cast my soul upon thee for time and eternity. “Then,” she writes, “did he appear to my salvation.”

story immersion practice: sabbath keeping The period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday makes up a total of 46 days. Forty days of fasting with six “little Easters” (i.e. Sundays) mixed in. The days of Lent do not include the weekly Sundays as it is considered improper to fast on the Lord’s Day. In this spirit, we invite you to break your fasting and enter into feasting. We encourage our community of readers to try “keeping Sabbath” in this fashion. Here are a few helpful ideas to consider: • Begin your Sabbath on Saturday night (evening meal or at retiring). • Start with a ritual entry. (Light a special candle and say a simple prayer welcoming the Lord of the Sabbath to order this day.) • Include others as much as possible (family and friends). • Focus on ceasing from work (i.e. any form of to-do list). • Give yourself to resting. • Feast on that which you fasted. (This also offers a check to self-righteous fasting, which focuses on the fast itself rather than its focus.) • Embrace others for the joy of who they are. • Remember and rehearse the resurrection though keeping the spirit and timbre of a season of repentance. • Close the day 24 hours later with a ritual ending (i.e. blow out the candle with prayer of thanksgiving).

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jesus, full of the holy spirit, returned from the jordan and was led by the spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

he ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. l U K E 4 : 1 - 2 , f ro m f E B rUa ry 2 5

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Sunday, March 1 f i rst s u n d ay o f l e n t Worship the Lord by breaking your fast and taking part in the ever present weekly feast of his Resurrection. “Turn totally to the Lord. Turn your back on the wretched world; then you will find deep rest… Christ will come to you with comfort when you prepare your heart for him.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 218) Mark 1:9-15 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” TNIV

It was in order to teach us that Jesus both did and underwent all things. He endures even being led practicing into the wilderness, and wrestling against the devil, the story so that each of us who are baptized—who after our Read these words aloud baptism must endure greater temptations—may as though spoken by the not be troubled thinking this was unexpected. mouth of God to you: “You Instead, we must continue to nobly endure it all; it’s are my son/ daughter; my the natural course of things. beloved. With you I am well Yes, of course—for you didn’t take up arms to be pleased.” Then respond to idle, but to fight! For these reasons God does not God with these words: “You hinder temptations as they come on: (1), to teach are my Father (or Abba), my you how strong you have indeed become; (2), to beloved. With you I am well keep you modest, not thinking your gifts make you pleased.” Rehearse this way extra-special; (3), to prove to that wicked devil, of speaking God’s Word every who thinks he might draw you back, that you have morning in the shower as a indeed forsaken and abandoned him; (4), that you way of becoming more deeply may be made even stronger, and better tempered immersed in your own baptism. than steel; and (5), that you may obtain a clear demonstration of the treasures you’re entrusted with. For, indeed, the devil wouldn’t bother assailing you except that he’s seen you brought to greater honor by God… And look where the Spirit leads Him, when He had taken Him—not into a city or a marketplace, but into a wilderness… For then especially does the devil attack, when he sees people left alone, by themselves… When he sees us with others and banded together, he Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 13


loses his confidence and makes no attack. And so we have the greatest need, on this account, to be flocking together continually, that we may not be open to the devil’s attacks. —St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on Matthew 13.1

Watch Check out asburyreader.com and the short film posted today for an enhanced teaching on this practice.

Monday, March 2 You are here:

Journey to the Passover begins. Enter into the story of Jesus as he walks his final days on Earth. Opening Prayer O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 816)

Mark 14:1-2 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” NRSV

practicing the story Read and consider the two verses above as they mark the beginning of the most important journey of Jesus’ life on Earth. For the purpose of becoming a part of this narrative, re-frame this scene in a modern context. For example, it was two days before what important modern holiday, and what would be today’s equivalent of chief priests and scribes? Write your new version of this scene.

Share your modernized version on asburyreader.com in the comments section of the blog for March 2. 14 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Jeremiah 18:18-23 Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah—for instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, and let us not heed any of his words.” Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say! Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. Therefore give their children over to famine; hurl them out to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to catch me, and laid snares for my feet. Yet you, O LORD, know all their plotting to kill me. Do not forgive their iniquity, do not blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be tripped up before you; deal with them while you are angry. NRSV

story immersion practice: personal and corporate lament Lent easily morphs into a season of introspective examination, a life improvement quest for personal holiness. While this is commendable, it is not enough. We must be brought to the place of confrontation where we recognize that our sin always costs other people. Throughout this Lenten season readers will note a series of readings of a different sort. They may seem not to fit at first glance. They give a glimpse of the devastating impact of how personal sin becomes corporate and even national brokenness. The unredeemed wild in the hearts and minds of countless individuals led to an unwitting collectivism that became the wilderness of cruel slavery and heartless discrimination. It led to the complete exile and near genocide of another race of human beings. Be watchful as the painful lament of African Americans and Native North Americans tracks out in the pages ahead. It’s one thing to express sorrow for one’s own sins, but why the sins of history? For starters, they warrant our lament as their effects continue in our own day. But note: unless the pattern is interrupted, these same sins of history will become our destiny. Only the names will change because we are they. Lament connects the dots. People who persist in unhealed brokenness inevitably break others. Personal sin, no matter how hidden, always leads to social brokenness. Secret sins of pornographic indulgence invariably fuel the exploitation of men, women and children around the globe. The vanity of high fashion at low prices carelessly contributes to child-slaves laboring in oppressive sweat shops halfway across the world. Private patterns of gluttonous consumption rend the fabric of Creation, wreaking environmental havoc on the planet. Sin always lacks originality. Honest lament holds the promise of breaking the cycle. As we connect the dots between our personal sin and the brokenness in the World, true lament is born. As we shall soon see, our personal, private sins Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 15


will chase the very Son of God to the cross and bury him in the ground. We must learn the language of lament if we are to follow in the footsteps of the man of sorrows. The lamentations summed up in Christ certainly involve our individual pain, but they also—and perhaps especially—include our corporate suffering. Plots are laid in secret, plots to destroy the godly. The plots are nothing new, and they have not ceased. In 1829, David Walker articulated the lamentations of his people, suffering, he said, as no people had suffered before; and they, too, had plots laid against them. “Yes, I have known small collections of coloured people to have convened together, for no other purpose than to worship God Almighty, in spirit and in truth, to the best of their knowledge; when tyrants, calling themselves patrols, would also convene and wait almost in breathless silence for the poor coloured people to commence singing and praying to the Lord our God, as soon as they had commenced, the wretches would burst in upon them and drag them out and commence beating them as they would rattle-snakes—many of whom, they would beat so unmercifully, that they would hardly be able to crawl for weeks and sometimes for months. Yet the American ministers send out missionaries to convert the heathen, while they keep us and our children sunk at their feet in the most abject ignorance and wretchedness that ever a people was afflicted with since the world began. Will the Lord suffer this people to proceed much longer? Will he not stop them in their career? —David Walker (1796?-1830), Appeal, article III.

Tuesday, March 3 Opening Prayer Oh! thou great and good Spirit, have mercy upon me, a poor Indian, for the Sake of Jesus Christ thy Son… —conversion prayer of Kahkewaquonaby/Peter Jones (1802-1856) Mark 14:3-9 Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.” The Message Psalm 42:1-5 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I’m thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, “Will I ever make it— arrive and drink in God’s presence?” I’m on a diet of tears— tears for breakfast, tears for supper. 16 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, “Where is this God of yours?” These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving— celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. The Message

practicing the story The passages you have just read are full of sensory images. Choose a portion of text to read a second or third time, circle the sensory words and bring them to life in your imagination. Rest with the scene you’ve created in your mind for a few minutes. Engage with the colors, smells, sounds, textures and flavors of this place. Invite God to make a part of this story particularly vivid for you today. Jot down words or phrases that come to mind as you meditate on this scene.

“Why are you downcast, my soul?” “Have mercy upon me!” The cries of the despairing heart do find answer, though not always immediately. When Kahkewaquonaby began to plea the above prayer at a Methodist camp meeting in 1823, he found relief delayed: “When I first began to pray my heart was soft and tender, and I shed many tears, but strange to say, sometime after my heart got as hard as a stone. I tried to look up, but the heavens seemed like brass. I then began to say to myself there is no mercy for a poor Indian.” Hadn’t he sought the Great Spirit all his life, but never received his vision? Could he really believe this Jesus Christ “had died for Indians as well as for white people?” But finally he surrendered— and received a vision. And as it was for the woman who poured out her perfume, Jesus became everything: That very instant my burden was removed, joy unspeakable filled my heart, and I could say, “Abba, Father.” The love of God being now shed abroad in my heart, I loved Him intensely, and praised him in the midst of the people. Every thing now appeared in a new light, and all the works of God seemed to unite with me in uttering the praises of the Lord. The people, the trees of the woods, the gentle winds, the warbling notes of the birds, and the approaching sun, all declared the power and goodness of the Great Spirit. —Kahkewaquonaby

Wednesday, March 4 Opening Prayer from Psalm 42:6-11 O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime; Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 17


And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. NASB Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time. NASB

“Who was one of the twelve.” These are painful words to hear. But, perhaps, just as painful are the words “chief priests.” The corruption of religion must have been, for our Lord Jesus, a greater sorrow than we often realize; it leaps up in his cleansing of the Temple, and lashes out in the strong denunciations of the Pharisees. And now the chief priests themselves pay blood money for what is barely less than assassination. Such religious immorality has grieved God throughout human history. How much better would it be if the whites would act like a civilized people and, instead of giving my brethren of the woods “rum!” in exchange for their furs, give them food and clothing for themselves and their children. If this course were pursued, I believe that God would bless both the whites and natives threefold. I am bold to aver that the minds of the natives were turned against the Gospel and soured toward the whites because some of the missionaries have joined the unholy brethren in speculations to the advantage of themselves, regardless of the rights, feelings, and interests of the untutored sons of the forest. If a good missionary goes among them, and preaches the pure doctrine of the Gospel, he must necessarily tell them that they must “love God and their neighbor as themselves—to love men, deal justly, and walk humbly.” They would naturally reply, “Your doctrine is very good, but the whole course of your conduct is decidedly at variance with your profession—we think the whites need fully as much religious instruction as we do.” —William Apess (1798-?), A Son of the Forest ch. 6 Watch Watch the short film posted on asburyreader.com called My Story: Fighting Discouragement.

Following Jesus.

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Thursday, March 5 Opening Prayer What kind of God are you? They ask where they should prepare the supper, and you have arrangements well in hand; you’ve got something up your sleeve. It’s not going to take you by surprise, is it? And if this is how well-prepared you are, then maybe you can handle our lives, too. O Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, have mercy on us! Mark 14:12-16 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (the day the Passover lambs were sacrificed), Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover supper?” So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem to make the arrangements. “As you go into the city,” he told them, “a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is the place; go ahead and prepare our supper there.” So the two disciples went on ahead into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover supper there. NLT Psalm 43:1-5 O God, take up my cause! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars. For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in darkness, oppressed by my enemies? Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! NLT

Bendito seáis vos, Señor, que no sólo no quisisteis en manos de otra criatura el juzgarme, y que ni aun en la mía lo pusisteis, sino que lo reservasteis a la vuestra, y me librasteis a mí de mí y de la sentencia que yo mismo me daría—que, forazada de mi propio conocimiento, no pudiera ser menos que de condenación—, y vos la reservasteis a vuestra misericordia proque me amáis más de lo que yo me puedo amar. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 19


Blessed are you, O Lord, for you have not chosen to put my judgment in others’ hands, nor even in mine, but have reserved that for your own, and you’ve freed me from me, and from needing to sit in judgment on myself (which judgment, forced from my own intellect, could be nothing less than condemnation)—but you have reserved me to your mercy, because you love me more than I can love myself. —Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695), A prayer within her defense of her right, even as a woman, to debate theology.

Friday, March 6 You are here

Opening Prayer from Psalm 22:19-21 But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! Mark 14:17-21 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” NRSV The betrayal is at hand; the sorrow encages him. “It is one of the twelve,” he tells them. “One dipping bread into the bowl with me.” Intimacy gives way to infidelity. “Surely, not I?” Lord Jesus, have mercy on us! BR Psalm 22:1-18 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 20 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled; I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me; they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots. NRSV

Saturday, March 7 Opening Prayer from Psalm 22:19-31 Yahweh, do not hold aloof! My strength, come quickly to my help, rescue my soul from the sword, the one life I have from the grasp of the dog! Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 21


Save me from the lion’s mouth, my poor life from the wild bulls’ horns! Prayer of Commitment I shall proclaim your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly: ‘You who fear Yahweh, praise him! All the race of Jacob, honour him! Revere him, all the race of Israel!’ For he has not despised nor disregarded the poverty of the poor, has not turned away his face, but has listened to the cry for help. Of you is my praise in the thronged assembly, I will perform my vows before all who fear him. The poor will eat and be filled, those who seek Yahweh will praise him, ‘May your heart live for ever.’ Hymn of Praise The whole wide world will remember and return to Yahweh, all the families of nations bow down before him. For to Yahweh, ruler of the nations, belongs kingly power! All who prosper on earth will bow before him, all who go down to the dust will do reverence before him. And those who are dead, their descendants will serve him, will proclaim his name to generations still to come; and these will tell of his saving justice to a people yet unborn: he has fulfilled it. NJB

On Tuesday afternoon I attended one of Mrs. [Phoebe] Palmer’s meetings in her house. Dr. [Nathan] Bangs, and about forty others, were present. These meetings are held for the special purpose of promoting holiness of heart. Several rose and declared that the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all sin. Among those who spoke was a sailor, who said that the Lord had enabled him to enjoy this blessing on board his ship. My own soul was greatly blessed. Glory be to God for what I enjoy! My soul is happy. Of a truth God is love. I know that the precious blood of my dear Saviour cleanseth my poor heart from all sin. Join with me in praising God for what he hath done for my soul. My heart is full of Jesus. Little did I think when I came to this bustling city that I was going to obtain such a baptism from above. Continue to pray for me, that I may retain this simple power to believe what God has promised in his holy word. —Kahkewaquonaby (1802-1856), a letter to his wife Eliza during his 1853

tour of New York City

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in the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. then he said,

take, this is my

body.

taking the chalice, he gave it to them, thanking god, and they all drank from it. he said,

this is my

blood,

god’s new covenant, poured out for many people.

m a r K 14 , f ro m m a rC H 9

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Sunday, March 8 s e c o n d s u n d ay o f l e n t Honor the Sabbath by ceasing from fasting today. “Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible.” —Thomas á Kempis

Lord, help me to cease striving for all things visible today; guide me to strive only for You. Opening Prayer O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 218) Mark 8:27-38 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Those who would be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul? Or what can you give in exchange for your soul? If any of you are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” TNIV We hear the call; he reveals the standard. “Deny yourselves…” “Take up your cross…” “If any are ashamed…” “Lose your life…” “Follow me…” In stark terms he calls us to follow. He bids us embrace suffering and death if we would find true life. This is no health-and-wealth-gospel, no quick-fix, no self-made religion. This is death. What will we decide?

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Prayer of Response Lord, I am a repenting sinner, and thou knowest I have laid down my weapons of rebellion. If I perish, I will perish at thy feet. Only show me thy will, and here I am. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Lord, I will forsake all, and follow thee: I will joyfully bear thy cross; only give me thyself! —conversion prayer of Hester Ann Rogers (1756-1794)

Monday, March 9 Opening Prayer O Lord Jesus Christ, who in a wonderful Sacrament has left unto us a memorial of your passion: Grant us, we beseech you, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of your redemption; who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 834) Mark 14:22-25 In the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. Then he said, Take, this is my body. Taking the chalice, he gave it to them, thanking God, and they all drank from it. He said, This is my blood, God’s new covenant, Poured out for many people. “I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God.” The Message

In this expressive bread I see The wheat by man cut down for me, And beat, and bruised, and ground: The heavy plagues, and pains, and blows, Which Jesus suffered from His foes, Are in this emblem found. The bread dried up and burnt with fire Presents the Father’s vengeful ire, Which my Redeemer bore: Into His bones the fire He sent, Till all the flaming darts were spent, And Justice asked no more. Why hast Thou, Lord, forsook Thine own? Alas! What evil hath He done, The spotless Lamb of God? Cut off, not for Himself, but me, He bears my sins on yonder tree, And pays my debt in blood. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 25


Seized by the rage of sinful man I see Him bound, and bruised and slain ‘Tis done, the Martyr dies! His life to ransom ours is given, An……d lo! the fiercest fire of heaven Consumes the Sacrifice. He suffers both from man and God, He bears the universal load Of guilt and misery; He suffers to reverse our doom; And lo! my Lord is here become The Bread of Life to me. —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #2

practicing the story Poetry meets melody. Try your hand at singing this rich poem from the Wesleys. Make up a simple melody. Choose a line that seems significant and repeat it as a chorus periodically. Make it simple enough to sing throughout your day today. You can’t go wrong with an audience of one.

Tuesday, March 10 Opening Prayer O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people; in the multitude of your mercies, look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help; for you are gracious, O lover of souls, and to you we give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 395). Mark 14:26-28 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. “All of you will desert me,” Jesus told them. “For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” NLT Zechariah 13:7-9 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner, says the LORD Almighty. Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs. Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die, says the LORD. But a third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” NLT

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“All of you will desert me,” he tells them. “But after I am raised I will meet you.” Incredible words; the deserted God offers restoration even before the sin takes place. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” From the ashes of betrayal rises the hope of forgiveness. “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure.” “These are my people.” Such is the grace of our God. Out of desertion he brings restoration; out of lamentation he brings you; out of oppression and dishonor he brings glory and triumph. In our own day we see this; nearly two hundred years ago, David Walker predicted the African peoples, broken and oppressed by European colonialism, would one day convert the world—and as the Church has shifted South, and those once oppressed by white “Christians” offer Christ to all nations, we see the transforming vindications of God.

It is my solemn belief, that if ever the world becomes Christianized, (which must certainly take place before long), it will be through the means, under God of the Blacks, who are now held in wretchedness, and degradation, by the white Christians of the world, who before they learn to do justice to us before our Maker—and be reconciled to us, and reconcile us to them, and by that means have clear consciences before God and man.—Send out Missionaries to convert the Heathens, many of whom after they cease to worship gods, which neither see nor hear, become ten times more the children of Hell, then ever they were, why what is the reason? Why the reason is obvious, they must learn to do justice at home, before they go into distant lands, to display their charity, Christianity, and benevolence; when they learn to do justice, God will accept their offering, (no man may think that I am against Missionaries for I am not, my object is to see justice done at home, before we go to convert the Heathens.) —David Walker (1796?-1830), Appeal article I.

Wednesday, March 11 Opening Prayer Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you:” Regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 395) Mark 14:29-31 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. TNIV

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“How easy it is to set ourselves apart! “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Are we so selfconfident? So convinced of our own superiority? So assured that somehow we’re “different,” somehow we’re “better,” and God will notice how wonderful we are? Maybe we “worship” better; maybe we’re more “intimate with God;” maybe we’re more “disciplined.” We won’t become a statistic; something in us is better than those who fall away or drift into sin or burn out. Peter, in his failure, learned better; will we? BR

What are you saying, Peter? The prophet said, “The sheep shall be scattered;” Christ himself confirmed this saying, and now you say, “No”? Isn’t what happened earlier enough, when you said, “This won’t happen to You,” and your mouth was stopped? For this reason, then, He suffers Peter to fall: to teach him thereby to believe Christ in all things, and to account what He declares more trustworthy than one’s own conscience. And the other disciples also reaped no small benefit from Peter’s denial, having come to know human weakness and God’s truth. For when He foretells anything, we must no longer be subtle, nor exalt ourselves above everyone else. —St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on Matthew 82.3

Thursday, March 12 You are here

p

practicing the story On this journey to the cross, Jesus encounters grief. Journey with Him today. Read the gospel text below, then read it again. Upon second reading, insert yourself into the story. Become Peter, James or John. Become a bird in the branches of the olive trees, or become the tree where Jesus leans as he prays. Rewrite this scene from your new perspective for the purpose of living this story with Jesus.

Share your version with our community in the comments section of asburyreader.com.

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Opening Prayer We are silenced, Lord Jesus, by your grief. Our prayers stick in our throats when we glimpse what you endured for us. We would seek to keep watch with you, although we know our weakness. But you, too, know what it is for a soul to be crushed with grief to the point of death, and we are awed at your identity with us. Amen. Mark 14:32-36 And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be filled with horror and deep distress. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” NLT

Friday, March 13 Prayer for Illumination My flesh is weak, Lord God. My attempts at fasting only prove this over and over again. But somehow your power is made perfect in weakness. Take me in my weariness, and open my heart to hear your voice! Mark 14:37-42 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” NASB “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” “Are you still sleeping and resting?” His disappointment is keen, his loneliness profound. They are only confirming what will soon take place: while he prays, they sleep; when he is arrested, they scatter and desert. BR Watch Watch the short film, “Stuck in a moment you can’t get out of,” posted today on

asburyreader.com.

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A Prayer of Commitment: “I Will Arise” Weary and weak,—accept my weariness; Weary and weak and downcast in my soul, With hope growing less and less, And with the goal Distant and dim,—accept my sore distress. I thought to reach the goal so long ago, At the outset of the race I dreamed of rest, Not knowing what now I know Of breathless haste, Of long-drawn straining effort across the waste. One only thing I knew, Thy love of me; One only thing I know, Thy sacred same Love of me full and free, A craving flame Of selfless love of me which burns in Thee. How can I think of Thee, and yet grow chill; Of Thee, and yet grow cold and nigh to death? Re-energize my will, Rebuild my faith; I will arise and run, Thou giving me breath.

practicing the story Reading poetry is like savoring your favorite meal. One bite at a time, one line at a time, let each image and thought simmer slowly. Only pause or stop where you see punctuation, not at the end of each line, but read the entire piece slowly with all of your senses engaged. Try jotting down whatever thoughts, images, memories or ideas the words of the poet arouse in the space below.

I will arise, repenting and in pain; I will arise, and smite upon my breast And turn to Thee again; Thou choosest best, Lead me along the road Thou makest plain. Lead me a little way, and carry me A little way, and hearken to my sighs, And store my tears with Thee, And deign replies To feeble prayers;—O Lord, I will arise. —Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, March 14 Opening Prayer Almighty, Speaking God, you descended in cloud and lightning to declare your covenant to Israel. Inscribe again your Voice on our heart, in the power of your word and Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and that same Spirit reigns for ever, one God. Amen. At a certain time, a cloud descended upon Mount Sinai, one of the mountains in the eastern part of the world— It thundered— it lightened— the earth trembled and shook— and the Almighty God, the Great Spirit, spoke with an audible voice these words, and afterwards wrote them on tables of stone: 30 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Exodus 20:1-17 GOD spoke all these words: I am GOD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am GOD, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments. No using the name of GOD, your God, in curses or silly banter. GOD won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to GOD, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days GOD made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore GOD blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that GOD, your God, is giving you. No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbor. No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s. The Message “Now you have all broken these commands, for they were as much designed for you, as for those to whom they were first given. And the Great Spirit is offended with you for having done the things you ought not, and having left undone things which you ought to have done. But he is willing to pardon your sins, and forgive all your transgressions, if you do sincerely repent. To assure you of his good will and kindness to the human race, he has sent his Son from heaven, to seek and save that which is lost. You are all in a lost and miserable condition, and unless you repent, you must perish; that is be miserable for ever.

practicing the story Reflect on this question: How does repentance get beneath behavior and into the disposition of heart and soul? Broken behavior is most often symptomatic of a wounded soul.

—Rev. Kahkewaquonaby/Peter Jones (1802-1856) to the Lake Simcoe Ojibwas in 1827, (as recorded by Rev. Thaddeus Osgood)

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“lifted up from the earth.” we are tempted to find, in such language, a method or formula to “draw all people.” we warp his words into something we can do— sing, dance, praise and thus “lift him high.” but there is no mistake what he means; “he said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” it is not in the safety of musical worship services that all will be drawn to jesus, but in the agony of

it’s not something we can do, some formula we can master; crucifixion.

it’s something he did. only by the cross will all be drawn to him. and so he does not bid us, “exalt me in song,” but, “deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me.”

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Sunday, March 15 t h i r d s u n d ay i n l e n t

Are you ready to change the rhythm of your week? “If Sabbath is to do its gracious work in us it must become a life rhythm.” —J.D. Walt Lord, give today a new beat. I release my noise to You; I submit to You, I and trust you to fill my soul with your song. Opening Prayer: Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 218) John 2:13-22 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people 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 courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then responded to him, “What 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.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. TNIV Prayer of Commitment: Lord Jesus Christ, are there tables in our lives that need overturning? Have we made worship into a market? Are we more interested in sheep and cattle and getting-it-right than in you? Pull out your whip; scatter our coinage, and set us right again. Amen.

Monday, March 16 Opening Prayer from Micah 7:1-7 Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat; there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger. The faithful have disappeared from the land, and there is no one left who is upright… Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 33


Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. NRSV Micah’s despair ends with a note of hope; “but as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation.” But our Lord was the God of our salvation, and cannot say the same. All abandoned him; all fled away. In the end he even cried out, “My God, my God— why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 14:43-50 And immediately, as he said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders. Judas had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him the kiss of greeting. Then you can take him away under guard.” As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Teacher!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss. Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But someone pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous criminal, that you come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.” Meanwhile, all his disciples deserted him and ran away. NLT Psalm 55:12-15 It is not enemies who taunt me— I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me— I could hide from them. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend, with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng. Let death come upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol; for evil is in their homes and in their hearts. NRSV

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Tuesday, March 17 Opening Prayer from Psalm 55:4-7 My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest.” Mark 14:50-52 Meanwhile, all his disciples deserted him and ran away. There was a young man following along behind, clothed only in a linen nightshirt. When the mob tried to grab him, they tore off his clothes, but he escaped and ran away naked. NLT

What legacy will we leave behind? Will we go with Jesus to the end, or will we leave

our clothes in the hands of his tormentors, fleeing to our naked safety? How will we make our end? “As death loomed closer for Kahkewaquonaby (1802-1856), he offered words of departure for his friends and coworkers—words of commitment and conviction, rather than fear and abandonment: “Tell my friends of England that I die triumphing in the blood of a crucified Redeemer.” “I am going home—going to my Father’s house above; all is well, meet me there.” “God bless you; be faithful unto death, and you shall receive a crown of glory.” “If I had my life to live over again, I would wish to live as I have in the service of God.” As her husband died, his wife Eliza thought she sensed the departure of his spirit: As I tried to trace its progress, methought I heard shouts of victory resound through the vaults of New Jerusalem, as the redeemed Indian bands hailed with a fresh song of triumph the Benefactor of their race, the friend of suffering humanity; and the adorable Saviour who had prepared for him a seat in glory, purchased with his own precious blood, bid him welcome with the plaudit, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Wednesday, March 18 Opening Prayer from Psalm 64:1-6 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; Preserve my life from dread of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity, Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 35


Who have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed bitter speech as their arrow, To shoot from concealment at the blameless; Suddenly they shoot at them, and do not fear. They hold fast to themselves an evil purpose; They talk of laying snares secretly; They say, “Who can see them?” They devise injustices, saying, “We are ready with a well-conceived plot”; For the inward thought and the heart of a person are deep. NASB (amended)

Mark 14:53-59 They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. NASB The injustices of this world are too many; the suffering is too great for us to handle. When we recall human history, when we look around us now, when we finally listen to the cries of the oppressed, we can only whimper in despair. But the God we serve knows injustice firsthand; the God we worship has himself endured it. Jesu, regard the plaintive cry, The groaning of Thy prisoners here; Thy blood to every soul apply, The heart of every mourner cheer, The tokens of Thy passion show, And meet us in Thy ways below. Th’ atonement Thou for all hast made O that we all might now receive! Assure us now the debt is paid, And Thou hast died that all may live, Thy death for all, for us reveal, And let Thy blood my pardon seal. — Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #79

Watch Visit asburyreader.com for a short video: “On Loss and Lament?” posted today.

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Thursday, March 19 You are here

Prayer for Illumination Almighty God, too often we are blinded by our own understandings of religion. Too often we use our faith for self-serving ends. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, but you search our hearts and know our thoughts and examine us thoroughly. Enlighten our hearts, we pray, and purify our motives, that we truly serve and worship you. Amen. Mark 14:60-64 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” Jesus made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed God?” Jesus said, “I am, and you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” And they all condemned him to death. NLT Zephaniah 3:1-5 Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the LORD; it has not drawn near to its God. The officials within it are roaring lions; its judges are evening wolves that leave nothing until the morning. Its prophets are reckless, faithless persons; its priests have profaned what is sacred, they have done violence to the law. The LORD within it is righteous; he does no wrong. Every morning he renders his judgment, each dawn without fail; but the unjust knows no shame. NRSV

practicing the story And we all condemned him to death. Find a secluded space that is quiet. Shout these words as loudly as you can: “Crucify him!” Repeat several times. Now imagine doing this in the public square.

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Hear the lies; note the injustice. The so-called righteous condemn the Righteous One. He stands in their midst, but they seek his execution. The pious people, the followers of God, the clergy, are murdering God. And why should we dare think we’re any different? Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. BR

Friday, March 20 Prayer of Illumination Open our hearts, Spirit of God, to be and do whatever you call us to: to hear what we don’t want to hear, and see what we don’t to see, and do what we don’t want to do, whenever such is your will. Amen. Mark 14:65 Some of them started spitting at his face, hitting him and saying, ‘Play the prophet!’ And the attendants struck him too. NJB Jeremiah 9:17-22 Yahweh Sabaoth says this, ‘Prepare to call for the mourning women! Send for those who are best at it! Let them lose no time in raising the lament over us! Let our eyes rain tears, our eyelids run with weeping! A lament makes itself heard in Zion, “What ruin is ours, what utter shame! For we must leave the country, our homes have been knocked down!” ‘Now listen, you women, to Yahweh’s word, let your ears take in the word his own mouth speaks. Teach your daughters how to wail and teach one another this dirge, ‘Death has climbed in at our windows, and made its way into our palaces; it has cut down the children in the street, the young people in the squares— Speak! Yahweh declares this— human corpses are strewn like dung in the open field, like sheaves left by the reaper, with no one to gather them.’ NJB

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Isaiah 53:5 …he was being wounded for our rebellions, crushed because of our guilt; the punishment reconciling us fell on him, and we have been healed by his bruises. NJB

Do we know the sorrow of the downtrodden? Do we know the agony of abuse? He was beaten; he was struck; he was abused. Our high priest sympathizes— ”suffers-with”—our weaknesses and agonies in ways we would have never thought possible, but this is the greatness of our salvation. And such radical suffering on the part of our God must elicit response. If this is who God is, everything about us must change. Will we suffer-with, or will we abuse? Will we take up our cross, or pound in the nails? There are only two roles; the bystanders aid abuse. Does our hand show the scar or hold the hammer? BR “My grandmother, who had been out among the whites, returned in a state of intoxication and, without any provocation whatever on my part, began to belabor me most unmercifully with a club…She continued beating me, by which means one of my arms was broken in three different places. I was then only four years of age and consequently could not take care of or defend myself—and I was equally unable to seek safety in flight. But my uncle… succeeded in rescuing me and thus saved my life, for had he not come at the time he did, I would most certainly have been killed… In view of this treatment, I presume that the reader will exclaim, “What savages your grandparents were to treat unoffending, helpless children in this cruel manner.” But this cruel and unnatural conduct was the effect of some cause. I attribute it in a great measure to the whites, inasmuch as they introduced among my countrymen that bane of comfort and happiness, ardent spirits—seduced them into a love of it and, when under its unhappy influence, wronged them out of their lawful possessions—that land, where reposed the ashes of their sires; and not only so, but they committed violence of the most revolting kind upon the persons of the female portion of the tribe… The consequence was that they were scattered abroad. Now many of them were seen reeling about intoxicated with liquor, neglecting to provide for themselves and families, who before were assiduously engaged in supplying the necessities of those depending on them for support. —William Apess (1798-?), A Son of the Forest ch. 1

Saturday, March 21 Opening Prayer Almighty God, we Your people have constantly rebelled against You, constantly grumbled, constantly turned within ourselves seeking our own salvation. But You, in Your great mercy, constantly pursue us, constantly forgive us, and constantly work great wonders to bring about our salvation. Continue to transform us into true children of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord and the sanctifying Spirit. Amen.

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Numbers 21:4-9 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food, no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.” So GOD sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against GOD and you. Pray to GOD; ask him to take these snakes from us.” Moses prayed for the people. GOD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.” So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived. The Message Psalm 107:17-22 Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin; You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead. Then you called out to GOD in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death. So thank GOD for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! The Message

practicing the story Recall a desperate situation where you called out to God and he got you out in the nick of time. Refresh your gratitude today.

Do we think his mercy through the snake is wondrous? It is only the foretaste, the type, of a yet greater mercy whose wonders we can’t begin to fathom. BR

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oh! thou alpha and omega! the beginning and the end, enthroned thou art, in heaven above, surrounded by angels there. DaV i D Wa l K E r , f ro m m a rC H 2 6

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Sunday, March 22 fo u rt h s u n d ay o f l e n t Sabbath Keeping “If you are a Christian in your heart, put the nurture of your spirit above everything else. When you look after your heart diligently, you will find keeping silence about others easy.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 219)

John 3:13-21 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of man; as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be judged; but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the Name of God’s only Son. And the judgement is this: though the light has come into the world people have preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up; but whoever does the truth comes out into the light, so that what he is doing may plainly appear as done in God.’ NJB 42 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009

practicing the story This may seem strange, but give it a try anyway. Find a piece of bread and bring it back to wherever you are right now. Eat the bread and make observations. Take note of every observation—taste, texture, feel, smell, thought, memory, idea. Meditate on the idea of Jesus Christ as the bread. Rehearse this phrase: “The Bread of Life is in me.” What are the implications of this for you today?


John 6:32-33 In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. NJB

Monday, March 23 Opening Prayer Almighty God, you know the frailty within us. You know the weakness of our flesh. You know that people are like grass, scorched by the sun, carried away by the wind. But we, with grand delusions and pretensions to deity, forget our weakness. Remind us who we are, we pray. Forgive our blasphemous self-sufficiency. But, mostly, in the light of our weakness may we comprehend your strength. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. Mark 14:66-72 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. TNIV

Peter, who could insist so loudly—Peter, who could be so forthright—Peter now undergoes the greatest test, and fails. “All else may fall away, but I never will.” And, indeed, he went farther then the other men (for the women went as far as the cross!)—but now even Peter falls away. There is no surety in human beings; only in God can we place unshakeable confidence. BR Myself unholy, from myself unholy To the sweet living of my friends I look— Eye-greeting doves bright-counter to the rook, Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 43


Fresh brooks to salt sand-teasing waters shoaly:— And they are purer, but alas! not solely The unquestion’d readings of a blotless book. And so my trust, confused, struck, and shook Yields to the sultry siege of melancholy. He has a sin of mine, he its near brother; Knowing them well I can but see the fall. This fault in one I found, that in another: And so, though each have one while I have all, No better serves me now, save best; no other Save Christ: to Christ I look, on Christ I call. —Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Tuesday, March 24 You are here

Prayer for Illumination We behold you, Lord Jesus, judged by the unjust; enlighten our hearts to comprehend the injustices of this world and to hear the voices of the voiceless. Create an awareness in us today: an awareness of the many ways in which our own personal sin contributes to all that is despicable in the world. Fill us with a holy anger to release captives, exalt the oppressed, and proclaim good news to the poor. Amen. Mark 15:1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. TNIV Psalm 58 Is this any way to run a country? Is there an honest politician in the house? Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil, behind closed doors you make deals with demons. The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle; their first words out of the womb are lies. Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison, drips from their forked tongues— Deaf to threats, deaf to charm, decades of wax built up in their ears. God, smash their teeth to bits, leave them toothless tigers. 44 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Let their lives be buckets of water spilled, all that’s left, a damp stain in the sand. Let them be trampled grass worn smooth by the traffic. Let them dissolve into snail slime, be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight. Before what they cook up is half-done, God, throw it out with the garbage! The righteous will call up their friends when they see the wicked get their reward, Serve up their blood in goblets as they toast one another, Everyone cheering, “It’s worth it to play by the rules! God’s handing out trophies and tending the earth!” The Message It is easy to recoil in horror at this Psalm. The righteous washing their feet in the wickeds’ blood—the image is too grisly for refined people. But perhaps the “refined” have suffered too little, for the oppressed can comprehend this desire. And it is only, having experienced the anger and hatred of this Psalm, that we can truly understand the radical nature of a Messiah who cries out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Refined sentiments cheapen such grace. BR

Wednesday, March 25 Prayer for Illumination Even in your silence, Lord Jesus Christ, may we hear your voice. Mark 15:2-5 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say.” Then the leading priests accused him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to say something? What about all these charges against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. Habakkuk 1:12-15 O LORD my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—is your plan in all of this to wipe us out? Surely not! O LORD our Rock, you have decreed the rise of these Babylonians to punish and correct us for our terrible sins. You are perfectly just in this. But will you, who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up? Should you be silent while the wicked destroy people who are more righteous than they? Are we but fish to be caught and killed? Are we but creeping things that have no leader to defend them from their enemies? Must we be strung up on their hooks and dragged out in their nets while they rejoice? Is this how it will end? Is this the best Justice can do? “Surely not!” But there are times when Jesus says nothing, to our surprise as much as Pilate’s, and only when time has passed can we see the great salvation of our God. BR

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“But, sir, I cannot but bless God for the glorious anticipation of a not very distant period, when these things which now help to degrade us still no more be practiced among the sons of Africa,—for, though this, and perhaps another, generation may not experience the promised blessings of Heaven, yet, the dejected, degraded, and now enslaved children of Africa will have, in spite of all their enemies, to take their stand among the nations of the earth. And, sir, I verily believe that God has something in reserve for us, which, when he shall have poured it our upon us, will repay us for all our suffering and miseries. —David Walker (1796?-1830), speech to the Massachusetts General Colored Association, December 1828

Thursday, March 26 Prayer for Illumination Let us feel the wounds of the world, Lord God, that we might glimpse the wounds you bear for all creation. Mark 15:6-11 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. NASB

Habakkuk 1:2-4 How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted. NASB

Injustice mounts—where is the resolution? Barabbas instead? So it has been throughout human history—”I cry to You, ‘Violence!’, yet You do not save!” What kind of God are You, when Barabbas goes free? When oppression continues? Will you yet hear?

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“See the hundreds and thousands of us that are thrown into the seas by Christians, and murdered by them in other ways. They cram us into their vessel holds in chains and in handcuffs—men, women and children, all together! O! save us, we pray thee, thou God of Heaven and of earth, from the devouring hands of the white Christians! Oh! thou Alpha and Omega! The beginning and the end, Enthroned thou art, in Heaven above, Surrounded by Angels there. From whence thou seest the miseries To which we are subject; The whites have murdered us, O God! And kept us ignorant of thee. Not satisfied with this, my Lord! They throw us in the seas: Be pleased, we pray, for Jesus’ sake, To save us from their grasp. We believe that, for thy glory’s sake, Thou wilt deliver us; But that thou may’st effect these things, Thy glory must be sought. —David Walker (1796?-1830), Appeal, article IV

Friday, March 27 Opening Prayer Enlighten our heart, Holy Spirit, to see Jesus more fully, and to hear, through his suffering, the lamentations of all people. Amen. Lamentations 4:15-20 “Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them; “Away! Away! Do not touch!” So they became fugitives and wanderers; it was said among the nations, “They shall stay here no longer.” The LORD himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders. Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; we were watching eagerly for a nation that could not save. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 47


They dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; our end drew near; our days were numbered; for our end had come. Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. The LORD’s anointed, the breath of our life, was taken in their pits— the one of whom we said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.” NRSV Mark 15:12-15 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. NRSV

practicing the story Read Mark 15:12-15 again, replacing “them” with “me” and “they” with “I” as you read the section again. Consider, what causes you to rebel?

“And thus I saw our Lord Jesus languoring a long time. For his deity gave strength to his humanity for love to suffer more than all mortals might suffer: I mean not only more pain than all mortals might suffer, but also that He suffered more pain for our salvation than all mortals who ever were from the first beginning unto the last day might tell or fully think. This is so, contrasting the worthiness of the highest most worshipful King with the most shameful, despised, painful death. For He that is highest and worthiest was most fully made-nought and most utterly despised. —St. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416?), Revelations of Divine Love ch. 20.

Saturday, March 28 Injustice has been always with us, and God has always hated it. Long ago Yahweh’s word came through Jeremiah, denouncing King Jehoiakim for his unrighteous exploitation of his builders. But injustice, exploitation and oppression have certainly not ended there. “He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy,” the LORD said of Josiah; “Is not that what it means to know Me?” 48 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


The lamentations of the oppressed come before his throne, ever since Abel’s blood cried out from the ground. BR Jeremiah 22:13-19 “Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness And his upper rooms without justice, Who uses his neighbor’s services without pay And does not give him his wages, Who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house With spacious upper rooms, And cut out its windows, Paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.’ “Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Declares the LORD. “But your eyes and your heart Are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, And on shedding innocent blood And on practicing oppression and extortion.” Therefore thus says the LORD in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, “They will not lament for him: ‘Alas, my brother!’ or, ‘Alas, sister!’ They will not lament for him: ‘Alas for the master!’ or, ‘Alas for his splendor!’ He will be buried with a donkey’s burial, Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” NASB

“…But we feel that there is a wrong, a serious wrong, affectingly cruel in its influences, which has long been depressing the hearts of the most devotedly pious woman. And this wrong is inflicted by pious men, many of whom, we presume, imagine that they are doing God service in putting a seal upon lips which God has commanded to speak. —Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874),

Promise of the Father ch. 1

“I thought it disgraceful to be called an Indian; it was considered a slur upon an oppressed and scattered nation, and I have often been led to inquire where the whites received this word, which they so often threw as an opprobrious epithet at the sons of the forest. I could not find it in the Bible and therefore concluded that it was a word imported for the special purpose of degrading us. —William Apess (1798-?), A Son of the Forest ch. 2 “I call upon the professing Christians…to show me a page of history, either sacred or profane, on which a verse can be found, which maintains, that the Egyptians heaped the insupportable insult upon the children of Israel, by telling them that they were not of the Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 49


human family. Can the whites deny this charge? Have they not, after having reduced us to the deplorable condition of slaves under their feet, held us up as descending originally from the tribes of Monkeys or Orang-Outangs? O! my God! I appeal to every man of feeling—is not this insupportable? Is it not heaping the most gross insult upon our miseries, because they have got us under their feet and we cannot help ourselves? Oh! pity us we pray thee, Lord Jesus, Master. —David Walker (1796?-1830) Appeal, article I Prayer of Intercession Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

your sketches, verse, poem here:

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our god is in the business of turning lament to joy. he doesn’t do so on a schedule; we can’t predict it or demand it or otherwise force his hand. his thoughts surpass ours.

but he does, indeed, delight in shedding abroad his love in our hearts, and our only response can be procliaiming his praises to the nations. t H o U G H t s , s K E t C H E s , P o E t ry:

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Sunday, March 29 f i f t h s u n d ay o f l e n t Sabbath Keeping “Turn your back on comforts that inflate your ego. The person who loves God despises everything inferior to Him, because he alone lives forever. He alone stands great, active in his creation, bringing comfort to your spirit and true love to your heart.” —Thomas á Kempis.

practicing the story • Read Jesus’ reply in John 12, but this time, read it very slowly, gently. Listen constantly for a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” • Take the word or phrase and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be frustrated by distractions at this point. Instead, explore them in relation to the word or phrase. Allow this inner pondering to invite you into dialogue with God. • Speak to God. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Experience God by using the word or phrase he has given you as a means of blessing and/or transforming the thoughts that your reflection has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart. • Rest in God’s embrace. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.

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Opening Prayer Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 219) Prayer for Illumination Holy Spirit of God, we would see Jesus. Purge from us all hindrances, all sins, all distractions, that we might behold our crucified Savior; and in the vision, we pray, may your sanctifying and empowering presence transform us to become like him. Amen. John 12:20-33 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not


mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. TNIV

Monday, March 30 Prayer for Illumination Come, Thou everlasting Spirit, Bring to every thankful mind All the Savior’s dying merit, All His sufferings for mankind: True Recorder of His passion, Now the living faith impart, Now reveal His great salvation, Preach His gospel to our heart. —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #16 vs. 1

Mark 15:16-18 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” NASB 1 Peter 2:21-25 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth, and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. NASB

When we see all he did for us, our perspective must shift. When we see the crown of thorns, our complaints must pass away. Yes, we suffer—but he suffered more, on our behalf, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. BR “I have of late felt very poorly in body; and have had a degree of dullness hanging on my spirit: but I fly to the Lord; I wrestle with him. And O! how he opens his heaven of love afresh in my soul, by giving me unspeakable views of what Jesus suffered in the body for me! and the love and sympathy he still feels to every suffering member. I have felt of late a deepening of the graces of faith, resignation, and entire dependence on God. —Hester Ann Rogers (1756-

1794), Journal entry from the final months of her life

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Tuesday, March 31 Opening Prayer 1. In an accepted time of love To Thee, O Jesus, we draw near; Wilt Thou not the veil remove, And meet Thy mournful followers here, Who humbly at Thy altar lie, And wait to find Thee passing by? Mark 15:19-20 They struck his head with a reed and spat on him; and they went down on their knees to do him homage. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple and dressed him in his own clothes. They led him out to crucify him. NJB Prayer for Illumination 2. Thou bidd’st us call Thy death to mind; But Thou must give the solemn power: Come then, Thou Savior of mankind, Bring back that last tremendous hour, And stand in all Thy wounds confest, And wrap us in Thy bloody vest. Lamentations 3:43-63 You have enveloped us in anger, pursuing us, slaughtering without pity. You have wrapped yourself in a cloud too thick for prayer to pierce. You have reduced us to rubbish and refuse among the nations. Our enemies open their mouths in chorus against us. Terror and pitfall have been our lot, ravage and ruin. My eyes dissolve in torrents of tears at the ruin of my beloved people. My eyes will weep ceaselessly, without relief, until Yahweh looks down and sees from heaven. My eyes have grown sore over all the daughters of my city. Unprovoked, my enemies hunted me down like a bird. They shut me finally in a pit, they closed me in with a stone. The waters rose over my head; I thought, ‘I am lost!’ Yahweh, I called on your name from the deep pit. You heard my voice, do not close your ear to my prayer, to my cry. You are near when I call to you. You said, ‘Do not be afraid!’ Lord, you defended my cause, you have redeemed my life. Yahweh, you have seen the wrong done to me, grant me redress. You have seen their vindictiveness, all their plots against me. 54 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


You have heard their insults, Yahweh, all their plots against me, the whispering and murmuring of my enemies against me all day long. Look, whether they sit or stand, I am their refrain. NJB Prayer of Response: 3. With reverential faith we claim Our share in Thy great sacrifice: Come, O Thou all-atoning Lamb, Revive us by Thy dying cries, Apply to all Thy healing blood, And sprinkle me, my Lord, my God! —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #25

Wednesday, April 1 You are here

Prayer for Illumination Come, Thou Witness of His dying, Come, Remembrancer Divine, Let us feel Thy power applying Christ to every soul and mine. Let us groan Thine inward groaning, Look on Him we pierced, and grieve, All receive the grace atoning, All the sprinkled blood receive. —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #16 vs. 2

Mark 15:20b-21 Then they led him away to be crucified. A man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the country just then, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon is the father of Alexander and Rufus.) NLT Do you see him climbing the hill? The world looks on, jeering, while his few remaining followers weep. None go with him; he alone must meet this fate.

He stumbles, and falls, and Simon is forced in to help God up the hill.

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Isaiah 53:1-4 Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! NLT

practicing the story Consider the bold text above. In the illustration of Jesus, write your sorrows and weaknesses on the cross. We all share responsibility for Jesus’ suffering. Write your own lament for the sorrows that Jesus chose to carry for you.

Share your lament at asburyreader.com Bearing His Cross Up Thy Hill of Sorrows Thou all alone, Jesus, man’s Redeemer, Climbing to a Throne Thro’ the world triumphant, Thro’ the Church in pain, Which think to look upon Thee No more again. Upon my hill of sorrows I, Lord, with Thee, Cheered, upheld, yea, carried, If a need should be: Cheered, upheld, yea, carried, Never left alone, Carried in Thy heart of hearts, To a throne. —Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

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Thursday, April 2 Opening Prayer 1. Prince of Life, for sinners slain, Grant us fellowship with Thee; Fain we would partake Thy pain, Share Thy mortal agony: Give us now the dreadful power, Now bring back Thy dying hour. Mark 15:22-24a And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. Then they crucified him. NLT Prayer for Illumination 2. Place us near th’ accursed wood Where Thou didst Thy life resign, Near as once Thy mother stood; Partners of the pangs Divine, Bid us feel her sacred smart, Feel the sword that pierced her heart.

practicing the story “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” —Berthold Auerbach For the next week, read the texts while listening to the musical compositions posted on asburyreader.com. In the margins each day, jot down words, phrases and images of lament evoked by the music and text.

Isaiah 53:5-10 But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in his hands. Response of Praise 3. Surely now the prayer He hears; Faith presents the Crucified! Lo! the wounded Lamb appears: Pierced his feet, His hands, His side, Hangs our Hope on yonder tree, Hangs, and bleeds to death for me! —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #22 Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 57


p

story immersion practice: practicing the passion We come to the final week. Prepare to enter into the Passion, not as a reader or a spectator but as a companion. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:10) In baptism we symbolize what is true in fact but not yet in reality. Baptism symbolizes death and resurrection; “buried with Christ and raised with Christ.” Every time we make the journey through the passion and to the cross and onward to the Resurrection, the reality deepens in us. Crucifixion is a slow dying. So deep are our self-oriented patterns, so sophisticated are our self-protective strategies, so ingrained are our narcissistic tendencies, so powerful is our appetite for self-actualization, so deceptive is the hidden nature of our pride. The more we strive to cease these ways the more powerful they seem to grow. But the closer we follow Jesus in this pilgrimage of Passion the more these patterns are subverted, losing their foothold, going down to death. In following Jesus, the old goes and the new comes. Herein lives the meaning of “becoming like him in his death.” Along this way we may humbly declare, “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”

Friday, April 3 Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us your peace! Mark 15:24-25 Then they crucified him, and shared out his clothing, casting lots to decide what each should get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. NLT Lamentations 5:1-22 Yahweh, remember what has happened to us; consider, and see our degradation. Our heritage has passed to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We are orphans, we are fatherless; our mothers are like widows. We have to buy our own water to drink, our own wood we can get only at a price. The yoke is on our necks; we are persecuted; exhausted we are, allowed no rest. We made a pact with Egypt, with Assyria, to have plenty of food. Our ancestors sinned; they are no more, and we bear the weight of their guilt. 58 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Slaves rule us; there is no one to rescue us from their clutches. At peril of our lives we earn our bread, by risking the sword of the desert. Our skin is as hot as an oven, from the scorch of famine. The women in Zion have been raped, the young girls in the towns of Judah. Princes have been hanged by their hands; the face of the old has won no respect. Youths have been put to the mill, boys stagger under loads of wood. The elders have deserted the gateway; the young have given up their music. Joy has vanished from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our heads. Alas that ever we sinned! This is why our hearts are sick; this is why our eyes are dim: because Mount Zion is desolate; jackals roam to and fro on it. Yet you, Yahweh, rule from eternity; your throne endures from age to age. Why do you never remember us? Why do you abandon us so long? Make us come back to you, Yahweh, and we will come back. Restore us as we were before! Unless you have utterly rejected us, in an anger which knows no limit. NJB

Hearts of stone, relent, relent, Break, by Jesu’s cross subdued; See His body mangled, rent, Cover’d with a gore of blood! Sinful soul, what hast thou done? Murder’d God’s eternal Son! Yes, our sins have done the deed, Drove the nails that fix Him here, Crown’d with thorns His sacred head, Pierced Him with a soldier’s spear, Made His soul a sacrifice; For a sinful world He dies. Shall we let Him die in vain, Still to death pursue our God? Open tear His wounds again, Trample on His precious blood? No; with all our sins we part: Saviour, take my broken heart! —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #23 asbury theological seminary : : 59


Saturday, April 4 Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer from Jeremiah 12:1-13, 17 You will be in the right, O LORD, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and bring forth fruit; you are near in their mouths yet far from their hearts. But you, O LORD, know me; You see me and test me—my heart is with you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, “He is blind to our ways.” God’s Response If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan? For even your kinsfolk and your own family, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you. I have forsaken my house, I have abandoned my heritage; I have given the beloved of my heart into the hands of her enemies. My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me— therefore I hate her. Is the hyena greedy for my heritage at my command? Are the birds of prey all around her? Go, assemble all the wild animals; bring them to devour her.

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Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard, they have trampled down my portion, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it a desolation; desolate, it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, but no one lays it to heart. Upon all the bare heights in the desert spoilers have come; for the sword of the LORD devours from one end of the land to the other; no one shall be safe. They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns, they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the LORD. NRSV

“Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just. Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must Disappointment all I endeavour end? Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend, How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend, Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain, Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes. Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain. — Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

“Why do sinners’ ways prosper?” Even when we see him on the cross, our hearts still repeat the questions, cry the laments, demand justice. But the day will come when all such questions pass away, when all will admit that justice reigns, when every wrong will be righted.

The cross has made it possible.

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they nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. the charge against him—

along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left.

was printed on a poster.

m a r K 15 , f ro m a P r i l 6

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Sunday, April 5 pa l m s u n d ay Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Sabbath Keeping “Loving mere created things results in deceit and instability. Loving Jesus results in faith and stability. Attach yourself to creatures only to fall when they fall; Attach yourself to Christ only to stand firm consistently.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer: Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 219) Mark 11:1-11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go to the village facing you, and as you enter it you will at once find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, “What are you doing?” say, “The Master needs it and will send it back here at once.” They went off and found a colt tethered near a door in the open street. As they untied it, some men standing there said, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They gave the answer Jesus had told them, and the men let them go. Then they took the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on its back, and he mounted it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others greenery which they had cut in the fields. And those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of David our father! Hosanna in the highest heavens!’ He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had surveyed it all, as it was late by now, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. NJB

But joy suddenly turns to sorrow; exaltation to defeat, hosannas to “Crucify him!” Within the very liturgy of Palm Sunday the tension is evident; traditionally, it is the only day with two Gospel readings—the enervating triumphal entry, and the tragic narrative of crucifixion. Palms turn to passion. It is the way God has designed it, for he “did not count equality with God something to be grasped.” BR Psalm 31:9-16 Take pity on me, Yahweh, for I am in trouble. Vexation is gnawing away my eyes, my soul deep within me. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 63


For my life is worn out with sorrow, and my years with sighs. My strength gives way under my misery, and my bones are all wasted away. The sheer number of my enemies makes me contemptible, loathsome to my neighbours, and my friends shrink from me in horror. When people see me in the street they take to their heels. I have no more place in their hearts than a corpse, or something lost. All I hear is slander —terror wherever I turn— as they plot together against me, scheming to take my life. But my trust is in you, Yahweh; I say, ‘You are my God,’ every moment of my life is in your hands, rescue me from the clutches of my foes who pursue me; let your face shine on your servant, save me in your faithful love. NJB Philippians 2:5-11 Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NJB 64 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Monday, April 6 h o ly w e e k You are here

Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 220) Mark 15:25-27 They nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—THE KING OF THE JEWS—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. The Message “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world”—there he hangs, between two thieves, nailed up at nine in the morning. The only charge laid against him is his very identity—emblazoned there for all to see, “The King of the Jews.” Behold him there; he dies for us.

“Brother Hill was then speaking from this passage of Scripture—Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. He spoke feelingly of his sufferings upon the cross—of the precious blood that flowed like a purifying river from his side—of his sustaining the accumulated weight of the sins of the whole world and dying to satisfy the demands of that justice which could only be appeased by an infinite atonement. I felt convinced that Christ died for all mankind—that age, sect, color, country, or situation made no difference. I felt an assurance that I was included in the plan of redemption with all my brethren. No one can conceive with what joy I hailed this “new” doctrine, as it was called. It removed every excuse, and I freely believed that all I had to do was to look in faith upon the Lamb of God that made himself a free-will offering for my unregenerate and wicked soul upon the cross. My spirits were depressed—my crimes were arrayed before me, and no tongue can tell the anguish I felt. — William Apess (1798-?), A Son of the Forest ch. 3

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Tuesday, April 7 h o ly w e e k Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 220) Mark15:29-30 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” TNIV Lamentations 2:15-16 All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the Daughter of Jerusalem: “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, “We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.” NIV Expiring in the sinner’s place, Crushed with the universal load He hangs!—adown His mournful face See trickling fast the tears and blood! The blood that purges all our stains, It starts in rivers from his veins. A fountain gushes from His side, Open’d that all may enter in, That all may feel the death applied, The death of God, the death of sin, The death by which our foes are killed, The death by which our souls are healed. —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #24

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Wednesday, April 8 h o ly w e e k Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 220) Mark 15:31-33 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the two criminals who were being crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. NLT “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” “Come down; if we see it, we’ll believe!” Still they cry, still he hangs there, still his face draws tight in sorrow. But the sorrow lies most in his love for these mockers, these crucifiers, this fallen human race he came to redeem. Good Friday Lord Jesus Christ, grown faint upon the Cross, A sorrow beyond sorrow in Thy look, The unutterable craving for my soul; Thy love of me sufficed To load upon Thee and make good my loss In face of darkened heaven and earth that shook:— In face of earth and heaven, take Thou my whole Heart, O Lord Jesus Christ.

—Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Thursday, April 9 m a u n dy t h u rs d ay Listen Visit asburyreader.com and download the Holy Week Soundtrack. Listen while you read. Opening Prayer Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 67


Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 221)

Body and blood— the essence of life poured out, spilled out, dripped away. He hangs on the cross, the words at that Last Supper made tangibly, violently actual, offering himself as the new covenant’s sacrifice. And as the Son of God is made sin for us, he can find no solace, not even in God. Mark 15:33-36 When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling on Elijah.’ Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink saying, ‘Wait! And see if Elijah will come to take him down.’ NJB Lamentations 3:1-20 I am the man familiar with misery under the rod of his fury. He has led and guided me into darkness, not light. Against none but me does he turn his hand, again and again, all day. He has wasted my flesh and skin away, has broken my bones. He has besieged me and made hardship a circlet round my head. He has forced me to dwell where all is dark, like those long-dead in their everlasting home. He has walled me in so that I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains; even when I shout for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has closed my way with blocks of stone, he has obstructed my paths. For me he is a lurking bear, a lion in hiding. Heading me off, he has torn me apart, leaving me shattered. He has bent his bow and used me as a target for his arrows. He has shot deep into me with shafts from his quiver. I have become a joke to all my own people, their refrain all day long. He has given me my fill of bitterness, he has made me drunk with wormwood. He has broken my teeth with gravel, he has fed me on ashes. I have been deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is and thought, ‘My lasting hope in Yahweh is lost.’ Bring to mind my misery and anguish; it is wormwood and gall! My heart dwells on this continually and sinks within me. NJB 68 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Friday, April 10 g o o d f r i d ay Opening Prayer Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 221) Psalm 88 O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

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From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. NIV Mark 15:37-41 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. TNIV Prayer of Response Come, Holy Ghost, set to Thy seal, Thine inward witness give, To all our waiting souls reveal The death by which we live. Spectators of the pangs Divine O that we now may be, Discerning in the sacred sign His passion on the tree! Give us to hear the dreadful sound Which told His mortal pain, Tore up the graves, and shook the ground, And rent the rocks in twain. Repeat the Savior’s dying cry In every heart, so loud That every heart may now reply, “This was the Son of God!” —Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #7

practicing the story Throughout the week you have been listening to music and collecting words, phrases and images in the margins. Today, gather your thoughts from the week and write a lament. It doesn’t have to follow any certain format or style. Just express your sorrow in whatever way most resonates with you.

Consider sharing your thoughts with others in the comments section of the Reader blog.

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Saturday, April 11 h o ly s at u r d ay Opening Prayer O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 221) Mark 15:42-47 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. NRSV

It is finished; he is dead.

The body is secured, the funeral arrangements made, the stone rolled against the door. But the women are watching, noting the place, hinting that more will follow. We know a routine embalmment will become something much more; we know that when darkness falls the fire is lighted and the Easter Vigil begins. But let us not be too hasty to leave this place of mourning; the Son of God, mystery of mysteries, is encased within a rock, and it all is so because of us.

Ah, give me, Lord, my sins to mourn, My sins which have Thy body torn; Give me with broken heart to see Thy last tremendous agony, To weep o’er an expiring God, And mix my sorrows with Thy blood. O could I gain the mountain’s height, And look upon that piteous sight! O that with Salem’s daughters I Might stand and see my Savior die, Smite on my breast, and inly mourn, But never from Thy cross return! — Charles and John Wesley, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #6

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“On Pascha�

1

this is the one who comes from heaven onto the earth for us suffering ones, and wraps himself in the suffering one through a virgin womb and comes as a human. he accepted the suffering 2

of us suffering ones, through suffering in a body which could suffer, and set free the flesh from suffering. through the spirit which cannot die He slew the human-slayer death.

He is the one led like a lamb and slaughtered like a sheep; he ransomed us from the worship of the world as from the land of Egypt, and he set us free from the slavery of the devil as from the hand of Pharoah, and sealed our souls with his own spirit, and the members of our body with his blood.

the devil e and, as Moses did to Pharoah, made less, as n lawlessness and made injustice child grieve. This is the one who struck dow delivered us from slavery to freedom, Moses did in Egypt. This is the one who life, from tyranny into an eternal from darkness into light, from death into od, and a people everlasting for himself. Kingdom, and made us a new priestho

3 This is the one who clad death in sham

4

This is the Pascha of our salvation: this is the one who in many people endured many things. This is the one who was murdered in Abel, tied up in Isaac, exiled in Jacob,

sold in Joseph, exposed in Moses, slaughtered in the lamb, hunted down in David, dishonored in the prophets.

5 This is the one made flesh in

a virgin, who was hanged on a tree, who was buried in the earth, who was raised from the dead, who was exa lted to the heights of heaven. 6

7

and buried at night; who was not broken on the tree, who was not undone in the earth, who rose from the dead and resurrected humankind from the grave below.

This is the lamb slain, this is the speechless lamb, this is the one born of Mary the fair ewe, this is the one taken from the flock, and led to slaughter. Who was sacrificed in the evening,

r! O mystifying murde e! tic us inj ng O mystifyi d by his ure sc ob is r The maste body exposed, y of a and is not held worth view. m fro him d veil to shiel at lights turned away, gre e th n so For this rea rned to darkness; and the day was tu ded on the tree, to hid the one denu dy of the Lord obscuring not the bo but human eyes.

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8

for when the people did not tremble, the

earth shook. when the people did not fear, the heavens were afraid. when the people did not rend their garments, the angel rent his own. when the people did not lament, the lord thundered from heaven, and the most high gave voice.


9

“Who takes issue with me? Let him stand before me. I set free the condemned. I gave life to the dead. I raise up the entombed. Who will contradict me? 10

“It is I,”

says the christ,

“i am he who destroys death and triumphs over the enemy, and crushes hades, and binds the strong man, and bears humanity off to the heavenly heights.” 10

“It is I,” says the Christ,

“So come all families of people, adulterated with sin, and receive forgiveness of sins. For I am your freedom.

I am the Passover of salvation, I am the Lamb slaughtered for you, I am your ransom, I am your life, I am your light, I am your salvation, I am your resurrection, I am your Kings. I shall raise you up by my right hand, I will lead you to the heights of heaven, There shall I show you the everlasting Father.”

11

he it is who made the heaven and the earth, and formed humanity in the beginning, who was proclaimed through the law and the prophets, who took flesh from a virgin, who was hung on a tree, who

was buried in earth, who was raised from the dead, and ascended to the heights of heaven, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who has the power to save all things, through whom the Father acted from the beginning and forever.

12

This is the alpha and omega, this is the beginning and the end, the ineffable beginning and the incomprehensible end. This is the Christ, this is the King, this is Jesus, this is the commander, this is the Lord, this is he who

rose from the dead,

this is he who sits at the right hand of the father, he bears the father and is borne by him.

nd the a y r o l g the to him be Amen. . r e v e r o f might y) nd Centur sardis (2 of o it el -m

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Welcome to life. He is risen indeed! More than a Sunday, Easter is a season, a festal celebration. The tide of resurrection rises for 40 days as Jesus appears to his followers and teaches them about his kingdom. These are days of honest doubt and disbelief slowly giving way to daring faith. Then he mysteriously disappears, ascending into the clouds with an angelic entourage. The tide of resurrection seems to recede as the band of followers retreats back behind closed doors. These reluctant friends of the Bridegroom obediently wait in the city for the fulfillment of yet another impossible promise: the sending of the Holy Spirit. Ten days later, the Spirit comes, powerfully infusing the substance of divinity into meek and fragile jars of clay; the now apostolic followers of Jesus, newly baptized by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let us take care not to rush to Pentecost. Easter mysteriously unfolds an essential season of slow rising, of ascending the mountain with bold empowerment and yet tentative. We slowly rise up from fasting to feasting, from introspective examination to audacious activism, from repentance to reconciliation, from the lament of death to the dancing declaration of Life everlasting. The 50 days of Easter afford us the grace-filled opportunity to reapprentice ourselves to the risen Rabbi of Galilee. These are days of learning the practices of resurrection. Together we will run the course from doubt to declaration; from fear to faith. There is so much to look forward to!

write your new song here:

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Sunday, April 12 e a st e r s u n d ay Sabbath Keeping “Want to know happiness? Invest time joyfully for God; Shake off all outside hindrances.”­ —Thomas á Kempis Lord, let this Sabbath time be joyfully invested for You. Let me not be hindered by my own agenda. Amen. Opening Prayer Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 222) Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. NRSV

All ye that seek the Lord who died, Your GOD for sinners crucified, Prevent the earliest dawn, and come To worship at his sacred tomb. Bring the sweet spices of your sighs, Your contrite hearts, and streaming eyes, Your sad complaints, and humble fears; Come, and embalm Him with your tears. While thus ye love your souls t’ employ, Your sorrow shall be turn’d to Joy: Now, let all your grief be o’er! Believe; and ye shall weep no more. An earthquake hath the cavern shook, And burst the door, and rent the rock, Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 75


The Lord hath sent his angel down, And he hath roll’d away the stone. As snow behold his garment white, His countenance as lightning bright: He sits, and waves a flaming sword, And waits upon his rising Lord. The third auspicious morn is come, And calls your Saviour from the tomb, The bands of death are torn away, The yawning tomb gives back its prey. Could neither seal nor stone secure, Nor men, nor devils make it sure? The seal is broke, the stone cast by, And all the pow’rs of darkness fly. The body breathes, and lifts his head, The keepers sink, and fall as dead; The dead restor’d to life appear, The living quake, and die for fear. No power a band of soldiers have To keep one body in its grave: Surely it no dead body was That could the Roman eagles chase. The Lord of Life is ris’n indeed, To death deliver’d in your stead; His rise proclaims your sins forgiven, And shows the living way to heaven. Haste then, ye souls that first believe, Who dare the Gospel-Word receive, Your faith with joyful hearts confess, Be bold, be JESUS’ witnesses. Go tell the followers of your Lord Their JESUS is to life restor’d; He lives, that they his life may find; He lives, to quicken all mankind. —Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, Hymns for our Lord’s Resurrection, #1

story immersion practice: affirmation of faith From the start, the people of God have practiced creedal affirmations of faith. From “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God; the Lord is one,” (Deuteronomy 6:4) to “Jesus is Lord,” (Romans 10:9) faith is a declaratory reality. Easter opens up a 50-day feast of celebration, seven weeks of slow but steady, unstoppable rising faith. They are days of declaring the ever-new reality of The Resurrection. For new believers, then as now, affirming faith comes naturally. For not so new believers, The Resurrection can become old news. Whether new or old, 76 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


affirmation can be an antidote. In the coming week, we will engage in a private practice of affirming faith. Our models are 1 Corinthians 15 and the ancient writing you have just read entitled, “On Pascha.” These are public declarations, and yet they must be rehearsed in private. As you spend time with the Lord this week, practice declaring these words out loud. These words, spoken in the power of the Spirit, announce the new creation to the old world, freighting the power of re-creation. Affirming faith is a tried and true way the Spirit brands the new creation on our minds and hearts, bringing resurrection life into our very bodies.

Monday, April 13 easter week Opening Prayer Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 222-223)

practicing the story Read the first two stanzas of “On Pascha” on 72-73. Choose a section that seems significant to you; read those lines aloud today so that your ears may hear.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. NRSV “Because of the great, infinite love which God has for all humankind, he makes no distinction in love between the blessed soul of Christ and the lowliest of the souls that are to be saved… We should highly rejoice that God dwells in our soul and still more highly should we rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is made to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling place of our soul is God who was never made.” —Mother Julian of Norwich, 1342-1416,

from ‘Early Christian Prayers’

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Tuesday, April 14 easter week

practicing the story Read stanzas three and four of “On Pascha.' Reflect on the progression of the story presented. Draw something that could represent the movement of the story as you’ve read it so far. Use color if you can.

Opening Prayer O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 223) 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. NRSV

We either believe what God said, or we don’t. We either believe that Christ rose from the dead as he said, or we don’t. We either have certainty that our sins are forgiven, or we don’t. And we either believe that because of Christ’s resurrection we, too, will have life after death, or we don’t.

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A Better Resurrection I have no wit, no words, no tears; My heart within me like a stone Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears; Look right, look left, I dwell alone; I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief No everlasting hills I see; My life is in the falling leaf: O Jesus, quicken me. My life is like a faded leaf, My harvest dwindled to a husk: Truly my life is void and brief And tedious in the barren dusk; My life is like a frozen thing, No bud nor greenness can I see: Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring; O Jesus, rise in me. My life is like a broken bowl, A broken bowl that cannot hold One drop of water for my soul Or cordial in the searching cold; Cast in the fire the perish’d thing; Melt and remould it, till it be A royal cup for Him, my King: O Jesus, drink of me. —Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

practicing the story The 50 days of Easter give us a time to freshly acclimate to the ever new reality of resurrection. It’s a story we must constantly rehearse in which we hear the news with our own ears and we pass on through the declaration of our words and lives. Copy 1 Cor. 15:3-5 on a durable piece of paper. Carry it with you each day over the next six weeks. Meditate on it frequently. Commit it to memory. Make it a mantra of sorts. “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

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Wednesday, April 15 easter week Opening Prayer O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 223) 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 practicing But in fact Christ has been raised from the the story dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the Read stanzas five and six resurrection of the dead has also come through a from “On Pascha.” Choose a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be significant line to carry with made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: you throughout your day. Let Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who it be your prayer as you walk, belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he wait, sit or rise. hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. NRSV

It may seem in our disorderly and disfigured world that God has lost control, turned his back, or disengaged. When evil runs rampant, and we’re left with no explanation for the terrible sufferings we encounter, it is difficult to choose Life. But what choice do we have? Death? In choosing Life, we place our trust in the final victory when, at last, every knee will bow. For now God invites you and me to carry His banner, a banner that reads: Our God Reigns! CC

Thursday, April 16 easter week

practicing the story Read the remainder of “On Pascha.” As an expression of gratitude, write, draw or sing a response to the Christ who is your ransom, your life, your light, your salvation and your resurrection. 80 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Opening Prayer Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. Amen. —Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380, From ‘The Catholic Encyclopedia’

1 Corinthians 15:29-34 Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. NRSV Psalm 126 When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, We were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, Our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, And we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, Like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears Will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, Carrying seed to sow, Will return with songs of joy, Carrying sheaves with him. NIV Prayer of Intercession Grant us, Lord, to know in weakness the strength of thy incarnation; in pain the triumph of thy passion; in poverty the riches of thy Godhead; in reproach the satisfaction of thy sympathy; in loneliness the comfort of thy continual presence; in difficulty the efficacy of thy intercession; in perplexity the guidance of thy wisdom; and by thy glorious death and resurrection bring us at last to the joy of seeing thee face to face.

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practicing the story Our faith hinges on the historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. Paul says if Jesus is not raised from the dead then we of all people are most to be pitied. He shows us how his entire life has been staked on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Are you risking anything on the reality of the resurrection? Is there some faith decision or action you have made with your money, your vocation, your family or friends that would not make any sense apart from the resurrection? Reflect and jot down some notes about it. If not, ask Jesus for faith to rise up in you in the form of courage.

Friday, April 17 easter week You are here

Opening Prayer Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 224) 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God 82 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. NIV What an incredible gift! To know that it was through a human body God chose to enter the world; it was through a human body that he chose to suffer and die for that world; it is through a gloriously risen body that he brings us the promise of new heavenly bodies when we join him forevermore. Think about what implications this has for those with broken bodies, bodies with missing parts, bodies that no longer function? What does this say to those whose bodies are racked with pain, that bear the scars of abuse or torture, the unformed waiting to be born? What does this mean for you? Prayer of Intercession Creator and Savior, we thank you for your generosity in granting us the riches of your glory in eternity. Since you have guided us back into your ways, O Lord, we will never go astray again, but go straight ahead until we reach our eternal rest in that promised land of blessedness. ­—Francis de Sales, 1567-1622

Saturday, April 18 Opening Prayer We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 224) 1 Corinthians 1:50-58 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? asbury theological seminary : : 83


Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. NIV Precious Blood, Ocean of divine mercy: Flow upon us! Precious Blood, Most pure offering: Procure us every grace! Precious Blood, Hope and refuge of sinners: Atone for us! Precious Blood, Delight of holy souls: Draw us! Amen. —Saint Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380

story immersion practice The 50 day celebration of Easter fosters a slow rising faith in the unbelievable miracle and incomprehensible implications of resurrection. The disciples began by affirming the impossible. Next comes remembering. Resurrection changes everything. Now they remember everything Jesus said and did in light of this new super-charged reality. In the coming week we invite you to move from affirmation of faith to remembering God’s faithfulness. Invite the Holy Spirit to awaken your memory to recount stories of faith where the risen Christ met you on your life’s journey. Invoke the Spirit in the gift of memory. “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come,” sang the hymn writer (see 1 Samuel 7:12-14). Resurrection faith deepens as we remember with particularity the story the Spirit chronicles in our own lives and families.

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then jesus told him, “because you have seen me, you have

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.� believed;

J o H n 2 0 , f ro m a P r i l 19

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Sunday, April 19 s e c o n d s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “Listen to what God says to you: I am your salvation. I am your peace. I am your life. Stay with me to find peace.” —Thomas á Kempis

Lord, on this day that I set apart for you, shepherd me into peace. Opening Prayer Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 224) John 20:19-31 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life his name. TNIV 86 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009

practicing the story This week we will be searching our memories and identifying past times of doubt and reassurance. Start a list of instances when God has shown Himself to you. When has he overcome your disbelief—in the minutia and the magnificent? Make notes about those memories.


Monday, April 20 You are here

practicing the story

Opening Prayer Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —Gelasian Sacramentary, Fifth

Remember a time when you have seen, heard, touched, testified, proclaimed or been witness to the work of God. Remember, how you know Him with a knowledge that is deeper than mere information, and declare as Thomas did, “My Lord and my God!”

Century Collect, (GS, 5th Century) trans. Henry Bradshaw

1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. TNIV Seen, heard, touched; testify, proclaim, witness, all imply a personal knowledge. A knowledge that is deeper than mere information, more penetrating than mere awareness, and more intimate than life itself. This deep, penetrating, intimate knowledge of the very Word of Life propels us to share with others what we know. Have you seen, heard, and touched? Are you compelled to testify, proclaim and witness so that others may have what you have? Prayer of Intercession O consuming fire, Spirit of love, descend within us and reproduce in us, as it were, an incarnation of the Word, that each of us might be another humanity wherein he renews his mystery. — Elizabeth of the Trinity, 1880-1906

Tuesday, April 21 Opening Prayer Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear, than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy, forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, save through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen. — Gelasian Sacramentary, Fifth Century Collect

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1 John 1:5-2:2 This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world. NLT We like the dark. It may be scary, in its shadows lurks the unknown, but we like it there. We feel safe there for we are not fully known in the shadows— or so we think. In the light all of our shortcomings and failures are clearly seen not only by everyone else, but also by God and by ourselves. We can fool others, who are also hiding in the dark, hoping with us that no one will notice our sin-soaked lives, but we cannot fool God. God has seen us, sent his Son to redeem us, and has clothed us with his righteousness. He is calling us from the darkness out into the light. It is difficult for us to stand there, naked in the sunlight, but we must learn how to see ourselves the way he does— washed clean, as white as snow. Prayer of Intercession Kindle, O Lord, in our hearts, we pray, the flame of that love which never ceases, that it may burn in us and give light to others. May we shine forever in your temple, set on fire with that eternal light of yours, which puts to flight the darkness of this world; in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Wednesday, April 22 Prayer for Illumination I beg you, most loving Savior, to reveal yourself to us, that knowing you we may desire you, that desiring you we may love you, that loving you we may ever hold you in our thoughts. Amen. — St. Columbanus, 543-615 1 John 2:3-11 Here’s how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments. If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. My dear friends, I’m not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you’ve known it from day one. It’s always been implicit in the Message you’ve 88 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you—the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing! Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness. The Message True love casts out fear, light chases away darkness, and authenticity cancels hypocrisy. The world waits—filled with fear, sitting in darkness, waiting for a genuine, authentic love.

practicing the story Remember times of darkness in your life. Remember doubts and shaky faith. How did God reassure you or gently nudge you back to Him? Remember his message, “Stop doubting and believe.” In response to Him, calling upon all that you’ve remembered this week, complete this thought, “I do believe because...”

This is the world Jesus came to save, the world he willingly shed his blood for, a world he asks us to go into…. casting out fear, chasing away the darkness, and living as authentic reflections of the One who sent us. Prayer of Response Fill us, we pray, with thy light and life, that we may show forth thy wondrous glory. Grant that thy love may so fill our lives that we may count nothing too small to do for thee, nothing too much to give and nothing too hard to bear. — Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556

Thursday, April 23 Prayer of Illumination All mighty God, we fall prostrate before you, for even kneeling in your presence is more than what we deserve. And yet, you call us to stand; to stand boldly before you as your chosen ones. So here we stand; not because of who we are but because of who you are. Illumine us, fill us, and then send us out to do your bidding. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we pray. Amen. 1 John 2:12-14 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have overcome the evil one. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 89


I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. TNIV

Who Is Like You Who is like you, Jesus, sweet Jesus? You are the light of those who are spiritually lost. You are the life of those who are spiritually dead. You are the liberation of those who are imprisoned by guilt. You are the glory of those who hate themselves. You are the guardian of those who are paralyzed by fear. You are the guide of those who are bewildered by falsehood. You are the peace of those who are in turmoil. You are the prince of those who yearn to be led. You are the priest of those who seek the truth. —Johann Freylinghausen, 1670-1739, “Spiritual Songbook.” Trans. Peter C. Erb in Pietists: Selected Writings (London, 1983)

Friday, April 24 Opening Prayer Let us make our way together, Lord; wherever you go I must go; and through whatever you pass, there too I will pass. Amen. —Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582 1 John 2:15-17 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. The Message

practicing the story There are difficulties that accompany turning away from the world’s goods. As a final practice of remembering this week, record times when God has met you in that difficulty. Share with someone your thankfulness for God’s provision, protection, love and faithfulness. Though God is always with us moving forward, often our faith is most strengthened by looking back.

Every time we turn around someone is asking the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” This is a good question, but often those asking are looking for an easier, less painful way to do what they know God has already made clear in God’s Word. Why do we worry so much about the big decisions in life and spend so little time on the little day-in-and-day-out decisions? Could it be that the character we build in making little choices God’s way develops the habits that turn mountains to difficult to surmount into molehills easily traversed? CC 90 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


“Fix thou our steps, O Lord, that we stagger not at the uneven motions of the world, but steadily go on to our glorious home; neither censuring our journey by the weather we meet with, nor turning out of the way for anything that befalls us. The winds are often rough, and our own weight presses us downwards. Reach forth, O Lord, thy hand, thy saving hand, and speedily deliver us. Teach us, O Lord, to use this transitory life as pilgrims returning to their beloved home; that we may take what our journey requires, and not think of settling in a foreign country. — John Wesley, 1703-1791, (also attributed to John Austin, a persecuted 17th century

English Roman Catholic)

Saturday, April 25 Prayer for Illumination Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready my God, Thy will to see, Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine! —Clara Scott, Open my Eyes (1895)

Luke 24:13-35 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 91


They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. TNIV

O Thou who this mysterious bread didst in Emmaus break, return, herewith our souls to feed and to thy followers speak. Unseal the volume of thy grace, apply the gospel word; open our eyes to see thy face, our hearts to know the Lord. Of thee communing still, we mourn till thou the veil remove; talk with us, and our hearts shall burn with flames of fervent love. Enkindle now the heavenly zeal, and make thy mercy known, and give our pardoned souls to feel that God and love are one. — Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, Hymns on the Lord’s Supper #29

story immersion practice: practicing resurrection Secret service—hidden­—when you give—let us love one another— love is from God— secrecy tests love. Often times, faith grows best in secret. Remember Jesus’ teaching about giving, prayer and fasting? (see Matthew 6) In each instance he tells us to “do it in secret,” unto our Father. He promises that when the Father sees what is done in secret he will reward you. There’s something about keeping our good works secret that clarifies our faith. We are not seeking recognition; to be thought well of. We are not seeking to create a debt that another feels obliged to repay. When good is done in secret, we are signing our faith to God. This is how faith begins to work its way out in love. The 50 days of Easter provide a wonderful opportunity to practice resurrection in this way.

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let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. G a l at i a n s 6 , f ro m m ay 1

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Sunday, April 26 t h i r d s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “The primary spiritual law: Rest in the Lord Always; for He Himself is the saints’ everlasting rest.” —Thomas á Kempis

Lord, quiet my mind, and bring me to a place of rest today. Opening Prayer O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 224-225) Luke 24:36-49 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why do you doubt who I am? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!” As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his feet. Still they stood there doubting, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: `There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” NLT

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you—for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart… don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love… Receive Communion often, very often… there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing… The Guest of our soul knows our misery; He comes to find an empty tent within us—that is all He asks.” —St Teresa of Lisieux, 1873-1897

Monday, April 27 Opening Prayer Lord Jesus, merciful and patient, grant us grace, I beseech thee, ever to teach in a teachable spirit; learning along with those we teach, and learning from them whenever thou so pleasest. Word of God, speak to us, what thou wilt. Wisdom of God, instruct us, instruct by us, if and whom thou wilt. Eternal truth, reveal thyself to us, reveal thyself by us, in whatever measure thou wilt; that we and they may all be taught by God. Amen. — Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

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1 John 2:18-29 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. TNIV O merciful Lord Jesus, forget not me, as I have forgotten thee. —Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

Tuesday, April 28 You are here

Opening Prayer O King of Glory, righteous Lord, who ascended in triumph over the heavens, leave us not like orphans, but send us the Spirit of truth promised by the Father. Alleluia. — Gelasian Sacramentary, Fifth Century Collect

practicing the story It is love and love alone that should move us, yet our motives in doing good, are often clouded by selfish ambition or pride. In testing our motives, secrecy is our ally. Find a way to love someone secretly today. Commit your act of kindness in such a way that the person on the receiving end will never identify you as the giver.

1 John 3:1-7 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 95


Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. TNIV “Dear Lord, it seems that you are so madly in love with your creation that you could not live without us. So you created us; and then, when we turned away from you, you redeemed us. Yet you are God, and so have no need of us. Your greatness is made no greater by our creation; your power is made no stronger by our redemption. You have no duty to care for us, no debt to repay us. It is love, and love alone which moves you. Amen.” —Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380

Wednesday, April 29 Opening Prayer from 1 John 3:7-12 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Those who are born of God will not continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Those who do not do what is right are not God’s children; nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. TNIV “But now, Lord, I do believe; this moment thou dost save. Yea, Lord, my soul is delivered of her burden. I am emptied of all; I am at thy feet, a helpless, worthless worm: but I take hold of thee as my fullness! Every thing that I want, thou art; Thou art wisdom, strength, love, holiness: yes, and thou art mine! I am conquered and subdued by love. Thy love sinks me into nothing; it overflows my soul. Oh, my Jesus, thou art all in all! In thee I behold and feel all the fullness of the Godhead mine. I am now one with God; the intercourse is open; sin, inbred sin, no longer hinders the close communion, and God is all my own!” —Hester Ann Rogers, 1756-

1791 from The Experience of Hester Ann Rogers

Thursday, April 30 Opening Prayer O Lord, our Lord, you have decided that all people, whatever their color or race, are equal before you; break down the hatred between us, especially hatred due to national differences. We ask you to help those in whose hands are the various governments of the world. Reconcile them to one another, so that each may respect the rights of the other. We ask all of this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. —Author Unknown (Zambian) Prayer of Illumination Spirit of the living Christ, come upon us in the glory of your risen power; Spirit of the living Christ, come upon us in all the humility of your wondrous love; Spirit of the living Christ, 96 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


come upon us that new life may course within our veins, new love bind us together in one family, a new vision of the Kingdom of God spur us on to serve you with fearless passion. Psalm 133 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. TNIV Pray not for Arab or Jew, for Palestinian or Israeli, but pray rather for yourselves, that you may not divide them in your prayers but keep them both together in your hearts. — A Palestinian

Christian

Friday, May 1 1 John 3:13-17 So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time. The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together. This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. The Message Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world; Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now. —Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582 Galatians 6:9-10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

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Saturday, May 2 Opening Prayer Lord of power and might, who art the author of all good things; graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (GS, 5th Century) 1 John 3:18-24 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who keep his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. TNIV Prayer of Commitment O my God, let me walk in the way of love, which knoweth not how to seek self in anything whatsoever. Let me love thee for thyself, and nothing else but in and for thee. Let me love nothing instead of thee, for to give all for love is a most sweet bargain. Let thy love work in me and by me, and let me love thee as thou wouldst be loved by me. —Dame Gertrude More, 1606-1633 from ‘The Inner Life and Writings of Dame Gertrude More’

practicing the story Sometimes, who we choose to act lovingly toward reveals more about our motives than we realize. “Let us do good to all people,” reminds us who to love, and “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,” tells us how to love. Today, choose someone you would be least likely to love, and find a way to show him or her kindness. Commit your act of kindness in secret.

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story immersion practice Love is a common word to us. We know that to be loving we must be like Christ. We know that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others. And often it is our love for God that enables us to love others, but our love for others must be a love that moves out into the meanness of the world. It should not be accompanied by agendas and requirements. Love that moves out into the world is freely given and it is unending. It means loving people who disagree with us, loving people who sit in that other section of the church sanctuary, and loving people when we feel offended, belittled, mistreated, disregarded or forgotten. Love that moves out into the world recognizes the similarities of humankind, the fact that we are of a same kind, and God sees us all as His children. This week you’ll notice several opportunities to practice the story by praying for and making peace with those who are different or difficult to love


jesus said to them, “bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” simon peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not

jesus said to them, “come and have breakfast.” torn.

J o H n 2 1 , f ro m m ay 5

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Sunday, May 3 fo u rt h s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “Want to know happiness? Sense the pulses of the divine whisper; refuse the many whisperings of the world.” —Thomas á Kempis Lord, the rhythm of my days changes today as I break the routine of daily life to sense your divine whisper. You are so good. Thank you for the ways you speak to my spirit. Opening Prayer O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 225) John 10:11-18 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. NASB

Other sheep of other flocks… who are they? The outsiders, the outcast, the forgotten? Could they be the ones lost to violence, poverty and oppression at the hands of the powerful and secure? Might they be those who worship God by some other name? Are they those who if they came to our church on Sunday would be condemned by our judgments? Who are they? Only the Shepherd knows. He knows them by name, calls to them and promises they will hear His voice. They are His sheep and we, together, will be one flock. Have we made room in our sheep pen for all of God’s sheep?

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Monday, May 4 You are here

Opening Prayer Gentle Shepherd, lead us, guide us to drink the living water of your word, to sit in the stillness of your presence, and to find rest for our weary souls in the nourishment of your banqueting table, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen. Psalm 23 GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life. The Message

“O my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action. — Elizabeth of the Trinity, 1880-1906, Prayer to the Trinity

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Tuesday, May 5 John 21:1-14 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. NASB

Come and have breakfast, come dine with me. Come… come… come… Come then, thou Prophet of the Lord, Thou great Interpreter Divine, Explain thine own Transmitted Word; To Teach, and to Inspire is Thine, Thou only canst Thyself reveal, Open the Book, and loose the Seal. Whate’er the ancient Prophets spoke Concerning Thee, O Christ, make known, Sole Subject of the Sacred Book, Thou fillest all, and Thou alone; Yet there our Lord we cannot see, Unless thy Spirit lends the Key. Now, Jesu, now the Veil remove, The Folly of our Darken’d Heart, Unfold the Wonders of thy Love, 102 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


The Knowledge of Thyself impart; Our Ear, our inmost Soul we bow; Speak, Lord; thy Servants hearken now. Make not as Thou wou’dst farther go, Our Friend, and Counselor, and Guide, But stay, the Path of Life to shew, Still with our Souls vouchsafe t’ abide, Constrain’d by thy own Mercy stay, Nor leave us at our Close of Day. Come in, with thy Disciples sit, Nor suffer us to ask in vain, Nourish us, Lord, with Living Meat, Our Souls with Heavenly Bread sustain; Break to us now the Mystic Bread, And bid us on thy Body feed.

practicing the story The love of Jesus on earth was a love that was constantly touching others. He did not wait on the shore quietly but called to his friends, “Children…” in the midst of their work. If we are to be like Jesus, we are to touch others’ lives in friendship. Who can you call out to in friendship today? Who can you invite to spend time with you on the shore?

Honor the Means Ordain’d by Thee, The great Unbloody Sacrifice, The deep Tremendous Mystery; Thyself in our inlighten’d Eyes Now in the Broken Bread make known, And shew us Thou art all our own. —Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, Hymns for our Lord’s Resurrection, #6

Wednesday, May 6 Prayer of Illumination Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within Thy wounds hide me. Separated from Thee let me never be. From the malignant enemy, defend me. At the hour of death, call me. And close to Thee bid me. That with Thy saints I may be Praising Thee, forever and ever. Amen. —Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556, Soul of Christ (Anima Christi) Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 103


Psalm 22:22-31 Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. Here in this great gathering for worship I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers. Down-and-outers sit at GOD’s table and eat their fill. Everyone on the hunt for God is here, praising him. “Live it up, from head to toe. Don’t ever quit!” From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to GOD. Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him. GOD has taken charge; from now on he has the last word. All the power-mongers are before him —worshiping! All the poor and powerless, too —worshiping! Along with those who never got it together —worshiping! Our children and their children will get in on this As the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news— that God does what he says. The Message May we worship God this day in such a way, in what we do, in what we say, in the little ways and the big, that the imprint of our praise will be felt throughout all generations, until every knee is bowed and every tongue is confessing our Lord Jesus Christ, He who is worthy to be praised!

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Thursday, May 7 “Ah me! You cause them to cry in order to hear their voices! Your truth told us to cry out, and we should be answered; to knock, and it would be opened to us; to beg, and it would be given to us. Oh! Eternal Father, Your servants do cry out to Your mercy; do You then reply. ­—St. Catherine of Genoa, 1447-1510, Treatise of Prayer 1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. NASB Hildegard wrote to the laity as well as to clerics and religious. In the early 1150s she tells a countess that simply thinking about doing good was not enough: “The person who does good works sees God, but the one who has a mere thought about good works is like a mirror in which an image is reflected, but the image is not really there. So rise up and begin good works and bring them to perfection, and God will receive you. But you will respond: “I have a husband, and I am of the secular world. What is this you are calling me to?” But in response I say that you should have mercy and benevolence and virtue (which tramples pride underfoot). And, also, you should stretch out your hand to the weak and to those prostrated with troubles, and you should be lenient to those who sin against you…, and you should not slay God in the face, that is, begrudge the happiness God gave to others, lest you fall because of envy. Then, you will live. —Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179, The letters of Hildegard of Bingen, Trans. Joseph L. Baird & Rodd K. Ehrman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994)

Friday, May 8 1 John 4:7-16a Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 105


Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. NASB

O love eternal, my soul needs and chooses you eternally! Ah, come Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with your love! To love­—or to die! To die—and to love! To die to all other love in order to live in Jesus’ love, so that we may not die eternally. But that we may live in your eternal love, O Savior of our souls, we eternally sing, “Live, Jesus! Jesus, I love! Live, Jesus, whom I love! Jesus, I love, Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen —Francis de Sales, 1567-1622, Treatise on the Love of God

Saturday, May 9 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he told them, “Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, they will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another!” Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, “When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.NLT

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Do we hear his warnings? Or do we just assume he’s speaking to someone else? Perhaps we need to listen again; Kingdoms do not come painlessly.BR For they assumed they were being told of vengeance falling on others, hearing of what was to be brought upon Jerusalem, as if they were to be free from this tribulation; they were dreaming only of good things for themselves, and looking for these to come upon them right away. Because of this, He again foretells to them calamitous things, making them earnest, and commanding them to keep watch for two reasons: that they not be seduced by the lies of those who would deceive them, nor to be overcome by the violent catastrophes that should overtake them. —St. John Chrysostom (347-407), from Homily 75 on Matthew

your sketches, verse, poem here:

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lord,

be a

bright ame before me, guiding star above me, be a

be a

smooth path below me, be a kindly shepherd behind me, today and forever more. amen. s t. C o l U m B a n U s , f r o m m a y 1 5

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Sunday, May 10 f i f t h s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “First keep yourself at peace, then you can make peace among others. A peaceable person does more good than one very well educated… Peaceable persons do not cultivate a critical attitude about others. But a good, peaceable person interprets everything to the good.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer from Psalm 24 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory. Selah. Prayer of Response O love, I can no longer be silent, and yet I cannot speak as I desire of thy sweet and gentle operation, for I am filled with love which inspires me with the wish to speak but deprives me of the power. Within myself I speak with the heart and with the mind, but when I would pronounce the words, something checks me, and I find myself betrayed by this poor tongue. I would be silent but I cannot, for still the instinct for speech urges me on. If I could utter that love of which my heart is full, I think that every other heart would be inflamed, however remote from love it might be. —St. Catherine of Genoa, 1447-1510

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Monday, May 11 Opening Prayer Almighty God, whose glory the heavens are telling, the earth his power, and the sea his might, and whose greatness all feeling and thinking creatures everywhere herald; to you belongs glory, honor, might, greatness and magnificence now and forever, to the ages of ages, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —The Divine Liturgy of St. James Isaiah 12 In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” TNIV

practicing the story At some point today (or right now if you are able) go outside for no other purpose than to meet with God. Take some deep breaths of the air he has given. Smell something, touch a leaf, rub the bark of a tree or caress a new spring blossom. Taste the goodness of His creation. God has given us life to enjoy, so take some time to watch the miracle of growing things. Our opening prayer for today asserts that the heavens tell of his glory, the earth tells of his power and the sea his might. From what you experience in creation today, what is he telling you?

If God is our strength and our salvation, then so, too, He should be our song, our life-song. From the wells of Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are strengthened. And through the blood of Christ, and the working out of our salvation in the Holy Spirit, we are given a song to sing. Our life-song is to be an unending praise-song for the great things God has done so that all will know and that He will be known to all… May our life-songs be a symphony of praise to Thee, our Lord and our Redeemer. CC “You made me for yourself, O Lord, so that I might rejoice forever in the immensity of your glory. When shall I be worthy of that glory? When shall I praise you as I ought? I offer you, my Creator, all my desires and hopes; give me your blessings so that I may put them into practice, through Jesus Christ your Son who shed his blood for me on the cross. —Francis de Sales, 15671622

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Tuesday, May 12 You are here

Opening Prayer Ah, blessed Lord, I wish I knew how I might best love you and please you, and that my love were as sweet to you as your love is to me. Amen. —Margery Kempe, 1373-1432 Prayer of Illumination Father of all mankind, make the roofs of our houses wide enough for all opinions, oil the door of our houses so it easily opens to friends and strangers, and set such a table in our houses that our whole families may speak kindly and freely around it. Amen. —Author Unknown (Hawaii) 1 John 5:1-8 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. TNIV

Wednesday, May 13 Opening Prayer God Speaks to the Soul And God said to the soul: I desired you before the world began. I desire you now, As you desire me. And where the desires of two come together There love is perfected. —Mechthild of Magdeburg, 1210-1282 from The Catholic Encyclopedia

1 John 5:9-13 If we take human testimony at face value, how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 111


This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. The Message

Again it came, “Only believe.” “Lord Jesus,” said I, “I will, I do believe; I now venture my whole salvation upon thee as God! I put my guilty soul into thy hands, thy blood is sufficient! I cast my soul upon thee for time and eternity.” Then did he appear to my salvation. In that moment my fetters were broken; my bands were loosed; and my soul set at liberty. The love of God was shed abroad in my heart practicing and I rejoiced with joy unspeakable. Now, if I had the story possessed ten thousand souls I could have ventured them all with my Jesus. I would have given them all Feast on every tender morsel to him! I felt a thousand precious promises all my of this phrase: “But because of own; more than a thousand scriptures to confirm his great love for us, God, who my evidence—such as, “He that believeth shall be is rich in mercy, made us alive saved: shall not perish; is not condemned; hath with Christ even when we were everlasting life; is passed from death unto life; shall dead in transgressions—it is never die; there is no condemnation to them that by grace you have been saved.” are in Christ Jesus,” etc, etc. I could now call Jesus Lord, by the Holy Ghost, and the Father, my Father. My sins were gone, my soul was happy; and I longed to depart and be with Jesus. I was truly a new creature, and seemed to be in a new world! I could do nothing but love and praise my God; and could not refrain continually repeating, Thou art my Father! O God, thou art my God! while tears of joy ran down my cheeks. —Hester Ann Rogers, 1756-1791, The Experience of Hester Ann Rogers

Ephesians 2:1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

Thursday, May 14 Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (GS, 5th Century) 1 John 5:14-21 And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours. For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who 112 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal. We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles. The Message Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. Let me at Thy throne of mercy Find a sweet relief, Kneeling there in deep contrition; Help my unbelief. Trusting only in Thy merit, Would I seek Thy face; Heal my wounded, broken spirit, Save me by Thy grace. Thou the Spring of all my comfort, More than life to me, Whom have I on earth beside Thee? Whom in Heav’n but Thee? —Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915

practicing the story Find a quiet spot where you know you will not be interrupted. In the silence, close your eyes and picture a tomb—a cave with a large stone in front. Outside, there are flowers planted, the stone has been painted white and all looks to be in order. Inside, it is dark and musty. There are cobwebs in the corners, dirt that crunches under your feet and the sounds of water dripping somewhere deep within the cave. You are inside the cave, calmly looking around. You know this place well because it is you. The stone door rolls to the side and sunshine pours in from the tomb entrance. The contrast of the light streaming into the dark space is almost too much at first. You shield your eyes, but as your eyes begin to adjust, you notice that the light reveals some things that were previously hidden. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring those things into focus. Maybe it is a word written in the dust or a picture drawn on the wall. Respond appropriately. The word or picture may prompt you to repentance or praise, but in either case, communicate with God about what you see and how you feel.

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Friday, May 15 Opening Prayer Lord, be a bright flame before me, be a guiding star above me, be a smooth path below me, be a kindly shepherd behind me, today and forever more. Amen. —St. Columbanus, 543-615

Psalm 95 O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed. O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.” NRSV

Our risen Lord Jesus has conquered death; he has defeated his enemies and procured our salvation. But the Story is not over; we await, in this season of feasting, his ascension and coronation as our High King, and his sending of the Spirit. As we approach the Feast of his Ascension, let us marvel at his fulfillment of ancient hopes and expectations. Because yhwh is indeed king— and, through incarnation, in ways we never could have anticipated. Praise Our Creator Praise our Creator and Savior eternal, Him who redeemed us from death and the grave; Sing of His greatness, O hail and adore Him, Strong to deliver, and mighty to save. Praise Him, praise Him, Glory in the highest unto Him ascribing; 114 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Praise Him, praise Him, Blessed be His Name, our Lord and King! Praise our Creator and gracious defender, Rock where in safety we still may abide; He is our Shepherd, how gently He leads us, Where in the valley the cool waters glide. Praise our Creator, the fountain of goodness, Now in His grandeur exalted above; Rest in His mercy and trust in His promise, Ever to keep us, upheld by His love. —Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915, Praise Our Creator, 1895

Saturday, May 16 No creature has meaning without the Word of God. God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible. The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word flashes out in every creature. This is how the spirit is in the flesh The Word is indivisible from God. — Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179

Psalm 96 O sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him; Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; Bring an offering, and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in holy splendor; Tremble before him, all the earth. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 115


Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; Let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy Before the Lord; for he is coming, For he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with his truth. NRSV Prayer of Response We cannot dance, O Lord, unless you lead us. If it is your will, we can leap with joy. But you must show us how to dance and sing by dancing and singing yourself! With you we will leap towards love, and from love we will leap to truth, and from truth we will leap to joy, and then we shall leap beyond all human senses. There we will remain and dance for evermore. ­—Mechtild of Magdeburg, 1210-1280

story immersion practice The next two weeks unveil the on-ramp to Pentecost and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The time has come to freshly welcome THE MYSTERY to a deeper place of abiding in me and in you. And what is this mystery? Paul said it best: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Maxie Dunnam developed a practice using the J.B. Phillips Translation of the Bible. Inserting his name at the beginning he daily affirms the secret and so immerses himself the mystery of the indwelling Christ. His practice looks like this: “Maxie the secret is simply this: Christ in you, yes Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.” Try this by inserting your name. Affirm it aloud two or three times a day every day through Pentecost.

your sketches, verse, poem here:

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o

sing to

the lord a new song,

for he has done marvelous things. P sa l m 9 8 , f ro m m ay 19

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Sunday, May 17 s i x t h s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “Let people seek this and that; Let them get praise a thousand thousand times; But keep your own ego out of the way, recalling that God alone is your pleasure and honor. Your only wish then? Whether in life or death, point to God’s glory.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 225) John 15:9-17 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. “But remember the root command: Love one another.” The Message Prayer of Response O God, Father, moment by moment you hold us in being; on you we depend. O God, eternal Son, friend and brother beside us, in you we trust. O God, Holy Spirit, life and love within us, from you we live. O God, beyond us, God beside us, God within us; Father, Son, and Holy spirit, three persons in one God, you are ever to be worshipped and adored. Amen.

Monday, May 18 “The mystery of God hugs you in its all-encompassing arms.” —Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179 Psalm 97 The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; Let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, And consumes his adversaries on every side. 118 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


His lightnings light up the world; The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, Before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; And all the peoples behold his glory. All worshipers of images are put to shame, Those who make their boast in worthless idols; All gods bow down before him. Zion hears and is glad, And the towns of Judah rejoice, Because of your judgments, O God. For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. The Lord loves those who hate evil; He guards the lives of his faithful; He rescues them from the hand of the wicked. Light dawns for the righteous, And joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, And give thanks to his holy name! NRSV “For a man regards some deeds as well done and some as evil, and our Lord does not regard them so, for everything which exists in nature is of God’s creation, so that everything which is done has the property of being God’s doing. —Julian of Norwich, 1342-1416, Early Christian Prayers, trans. Walter Mitchell

Tuesday, May 19 You are here

O burning mountain, O chosen sun, O perfect moon, O fathomless well, O unattainable height, O clearness beyond measure, O wisdom without end, O mercy without limit, O strength beyond resistance, O crown of all majesty, The humblest being you created sings your praise. —Mechtild of Magdeburg, 1210-1280

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Psalm 98 O sing to the Lord a new song, For he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The Lord has made known his victory; He has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love And faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn Make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; The world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; Let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, For he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. NRSV Prayer of Response O sweet and loving God, When I stay asleep too long, Oblivious to all your many blessings, Then, please, wake me up, And sing to me your joyful song. It is a song without noise or notes. It is a song of love beyond words, Of faith beyond the power of human telling. I can hear it in my soul, When you awaken me to your presence. —Mechthild of Magdeburg, 1210-1280

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practicing the story How has Christ been evident in you or in someone you know this week? This is an exercise in gratitude and recognition of the ways that God chooses to remain among his people, so write a short letter to God thanking him for the ways he has used _____ to _____.


Wednesday, May 20 Opening Prayer O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of our redemption, grant that, as we joyfully receive thine only-begotten Son as our redeemer, we may also see him without fear when he cometh as our judge; even our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth, one God, world without end. Amen. (GS, 5th Century) Psalm 99 The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy. NRSV Prayer of Confession O my crucified God, behold me at Your feet; do not cast me out, now that I appear before You as a sinner. I have offended You exceedingly in the past, my Jesus, but it shall be so no longer. Before You, O Lord, I place all my sins; I have now considered Your own sufferings and see how great is the worth of that Precious Blood that flows from Your veins. O my God, at this hour close Your eyes to my want of merit, and since You have been pleased to die for my sins, grant me forgiveness for them all, that I may no longer feel the burden of my sins, for this burden, Dear Jesus, oppresses me beyond measure. Assist me, my Jesus, for I desire to become good whatsoever it may cost; take away, destroy, utterly root out all that You find in me contrary to Your holy will. At the same time, I pray You, Lord Jesus, to enlighten me that I may be able to walk in Your holy light. Amen. —Saint Gemma Galgani, 1878-1903

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Thursday, May 21 feast of the ascension Opening Prayer Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP 226) Luke 24:44-53 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: `There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God. NLT He rises, and they worship him. He rises, and they are filled with great joy. His ascension is his coronation. The universe stares in amazement as he takes his throne; the angels peer to look into these things, for our humanity is taken into the Godhead. And all we can do, in the midst of such wonder, is spend all our time in praising God. CC GOD is gone up on high With a Triumphant Noise, The Clarions of the Sky Proclaim th’ Angelic Joys! Join all on Earth, rejoice, and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King. GOD in the Flesh below, For us He reigns above: Let all the Nations know Our JESU’s Conquering Love! Join all on Earth, rejoice and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King. All Power to our great LORD Is by His Father given, By Angel-Hosts ador’d He reigns supreme in Heaven: Join all on Earth, rejoice, and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King. 122 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


High on his Holy Seat He bears the righteous Sway, His foes beneath his Feet Shall sink, and die away: Join all on Earth, rejoice, and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King.

practicing the story Take some time today and look up into the clouds. Ponder the reality of our risen Lord ascending into the clouds. Imagine this: At any second, he could appear through those same clouds in his return to the Earth. Raise expectancy. Never look at the clouds the same again.

His Foes and ours are One, Satan, the World, and Sin; But He shall tread them down, And bring His Kingdom in: Join all on Earth, rejoice, and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King. Till all the Earth renewed In Righteousness Divine With all the Hosts of GOD In one great Chorus join, Join all on Earth, rejoice, and sing, Glory ascribe to Glory’s King. —Charles Wesley, Hymns for Ascension-Day #2

Friday, May 22 Opening Prayer Glory to the Father, who has woven garments of glory for the resurrection; worship to the Son, who was clothed in them at his rising; thanksgiving to the Spirit, who keeps them for all the Saints; one nature in three, to God be praise. Amen. —Author Unknown (Syrian) Ephesians 1:15-23 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for Christians everywhere, I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence. NLT Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 123


The BreastPlate of St. Patrick I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism, through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension, through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom. I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels, in hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets, in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors, in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men. I arise today, through the strength of Heaven: light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire, speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea, stability of Earth, firmness of Rock. I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to secure me: against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd. I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils): against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of heathenry, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of women [any witch] and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul. Christ to protect me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, 124 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Saturday, May 23 Opening Prayer from John 17: 1-8 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. You put him in charge of everything human So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, The one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth By completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, The very splendor I had in your presence Before there was a world. I spelled out your character in detail To the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; Then you gave them to me, And they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, For the message you gave me, I gave them; And they took it, and were convinced That I came from you. They believed that you sent me. The Message Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 125


You are here

story immersion practice: waiting In his final words to his disciples, Jesus instructed them to wait in the city “until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.� The disciples returned to the upper room and entered into a period of unceasing prayer. They waited patiently and yet actively. In this final week of EasterTide, set yourself apart with others for a season of heightened prayer. Break with your normal pattern. Try to gather others and initiate an unbroken prayer vigil through the week, taking turns keeping watch. Prepare for Pentecost by praying for a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, a renewed awakening of soul, a newness of life in Christ. Practice waiting before the Lord in silence and with simple petitions.

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lord you are my lover, the object of my desire; you are like a stream flowing through my body,

a sun shining on my face. let me be your reflection. amen. m E C H t i l D o f m aG D E BU rG , f ro m m ay 25

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Sunday, May 24 s e v e n t h s u n d ay o f e a st e r Sabbath Keeping “Want to know happiness? Listen to the Lord speak and accept His words of encouragement.” —Thomas á Kempis Opening Prayer O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP 226) John 17:9-19 My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. And all of them, since they are mine, belong to you; and you have given them back to me, so they are my glory! Now I am departing the world; I am leaving them behind and coming to you. Holy Father, keep them and care for them—all those you have given me—so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I have kept them safe. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. “And now I am coming to you. I have told them many things while I was with them so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They are not part of this world any more than I am. Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth. As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself entirely to you so they also might be entirely yours. NLT

Monday, May 25 Opening Prayer Lord you are my lover, the object of my desire; you are like a stream flowing through my body, a sun shining on my face. Let me be your reflection. Amen. —Mechtild of Magdeburg, 1210-1280 John 17:20-26 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” TNIV

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Prayer of Confession Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed that all your children might be one in you; we pray for the restoration of visible unity to your church. Forgive the pride and the lack of love, which have driven us apart. Take away our narrow-mindedness, our bitterness, our prejudice. May we never consider as normal the disunity, which is a scandal to the world and an offence to your love. Teach us to recognize the gifts of your grace in all those who call upon you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —Author Unknown (French Reformed)

Tuesday, May 26 Opening Prayer O flame of the Holy Spirit, you pierce the very substance of my soul and cauterize it with your heat. You love me so much, that you have put into my heart the hope and the knowledge of eternal life. Earlier my prayers never reached your ears, because my love was so weak and impure; so although I yearned for you, and begged you to warm my cold heart, you could not hear me. But now you have chosen to come to me, and my love burns with such passion that I know you hear my every prayer. I pray what you want me to pray; I desire what you want me to desire; I do what you want me to do. You have freed me to be your slave. Amen. —John of the Cross, 1542-1591, The Complete Works of Saint John of the Crossi He has ascended, but promised the Spirit. Jesus sits on the throne, but will send us the Spirit. And when the Spirit comes, dwelling within us, our humanity must be transformed. As Paul exulted throughout this eighth chapter of Romans, “the Spirit lives in you;” and if so, then everything is different. We approach Pentecost marveling at the transforming work of our God who indwells us. Romans 8:1-11 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in human flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. TNIV

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Wednesday, May 27 Opening Prayer Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful., and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit, Lord, and they shall be created., and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of your faithful; grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in your consolation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Romans 8:12-17 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. TNIV Adopted O what a blessing, how can I express it? Out of the fullness of rapture I sing, Now by the Father received and adopted, I am a child and an heir of a King. I am adopted, O wonderful love, Heir to a heritage purchased above; Tell it, my soul, and joyfully sing, I am a child and an heir of a King. O what a Father, how tenderly gracious, O what a Savior to make me His care; Tho’ I have slighted, rejected, and grieved Him, Still He permits me His kingdom to share. O the unsearchable riches He giveth, Riches increasing from day unto day; Treasures in value all others excelling, Treasures that never will rust nor decay. When I have finished the work He appoints me, When I have ended my journey below, Then to my Father and Jesus my Savior, Home to a beautiful palace I go. —Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915

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Thursday, May 28 Opening Prayer Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me, Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me, Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. —Daniel Iverson, 1926

Romans 8:18-25 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. NLT

Friday, May 29 Romans 8:26-30 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory. NLT The Narrative of Sojourner Truth “I am pleading for my people, a poor downtrodden race Who dwell in freedom’s boasted land with no abiding place I am pleading that my people may have their rights restored, For they have long been toiling, and yet had no reward They are forced the crops to culture, but not for them they yield, Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 131


Although both late and early, they labor in the field. While I bear upon my body, the scores of many a gash, I’m pleading for my people who groan beneath the lash. I’m pleading for the mothers who gaze in wild despair Upon the hated auction block, and see their children there. I feel for those in bondage—well may I feel for them. I know how fiendish hearts can be that sell their fellow men. Yet those oppressors steeped in guilt—I still would have them live; For I have learned of Jesus, to suffer and forgive! I want no carnal weapons, no machinery of death. For I love to not hear the sound of war’s tempestuous breath. I do not ask you to engage in death and bloody strife. I do not dare insult my God by asking for their life. But while your kindest sympathies to foreign lands do roam, I ask you to remember your own oppressed at home. I plead with you to sympathize with signs and groans and scars, And note how base the tyranny beneath the stripes and stars. —Sojourner Truth, 1797-1883, Printed in The New York Globe by author in 1878 and reprinted in her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Saturday, May 30 Opening Prayer Let nothing disquiet you, nothing distress you, all things are fading; Long-suffering procures all things; one to Him belongs desires nothing For God alone does satisfy. Amen. —St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582

Romans 8:31-39 What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through 132 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. NLT

Sunday, May 31 p e n t e c o st s u n d ay Opening Prayer Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 227) Acts 2:1-21 On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them, and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Godly Jews from many nations were living in Jerusalem at that time. When they heard this sound, they came running to see what it was all about, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were beside themselves with wonder. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking the languages of the lands where we were born! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya toward Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabians. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. But others in the crowd were mocking. “They’re drunk, that’s all!” they said. Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. Some of you are saying these people are drunk. It isn’t true! It’s much too early for that. People don’t get drunk by nine o’clock in the morning. No, what you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God said, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they will prophesy. Continued on next page asbury theological seminary : : 133


And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon will turn bloodred, before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ NLT “How can this be?” French: Comment peut-il etre? Spanish: Como puede ser? Chinese: Zhe mo ke hen? Swahili: Inawezekana aje? Kinyarwanda: Bishoboka bite? German: Wie ist das möglich? Swedish: Hur kommer det då?

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. —St. Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380

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asbury theological seminary Asbury Seminary is a Christ-centered graduate school in the Wesleyan holiness tradition. Our faculty, staff and students come from a variety of denominations and cultures and we offer a number of degree options in three campus locations We believe each person has a purpose. We believe we are a community called... On the Kentucky campus, Asbury offers a variety of degrees, including the master of arts, master of divinity, master of theology, doctor of missiology, doctor of ministry and doctor of philosophy in intercultural studies, evangelism and biblical studies. The Florida campus is accredited to offer the master of divinity and the master of arts in Christian ministry, counseling and pastoral counseling degrees. The extended learning program allows students to earn one-half of the master of arts or two-thirds of the master of divinity degree online. Total current enrollment is approximately 1,700 students, representing 86 denominations and 42 countries.

abbreviations

BCP NASB NIV NJB NLT NRSV TNIV The Message

The Book of Common Prayer New American Standard Bible New International Version New Jerusalem Bible New Living Translation New Revised Standard Version Today’s New International Version The Message by Eugene Peterson

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selected biographies William Apess (1798-?), a member of the Pequot tribe, was born in Colrain, Mass. Abandoned by his parents, he spent much of his childhood as an indentured servant. In his youth, he converted to Christ at a Methodist meeting, but through persecution and unhealthy friendships fell again into sin. After several years of wandering, in 1818 he recommitted his life and was baptized. He sensed a call into ministry, but, apparently through racial prejudice, his candidacy was rejected in the Methodist Episcopal church. He was soon ordained in the Protestant Methodist church, and was appointed as a preacher to the Pequot. His ministry thrived among them, and he sought to contextualize the Gospel within their culture. In 1833 he came to the town of Mashpee, Massachusetts’ last surviving Indian town, and catalyzed their unrest into an assertion of rights and declaration of selfgovernment; after various persecutions, these were granted in 1834. After this, by 1838, Apess entirely disappears from history. His published works, however, have been gathered together in On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, a Pequot, ed. Barry O’Connell. His work A Son of the Forest is apparently the first published autobiography by a Native American. March 8, 24; April 1, 15 St. John Chrysostom (347-407), born in Antioch into a comfortable family, was headed toward wealth and fame as a lawyer when God called him into ministry. He radically identified with the poor, living an ascetic life of devotion. Made bishop of Constantinople, and thus pastor to the emperor’s family and the nobility, John refused to compromise either his integrity or his message; he consistently rebuked the sins of gluttony, avarice and oppression, making many enemies—especially among the ambitious clergy. Through ecclesial jealousy and political power plays, he spent the last years of his life in exile. Because of John’s eloquence as a preacher, history granted him the title “Golden-mouthed.” March 5, 15 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695), born Juana Ramírez de Asbaje near what is now Mexico City, was a poet, playwright and essayist. She entered the convent in 1669. At the request of the Bishop of Puebla, she recorded her thoughts on a theological dispute; the bishop published it without her permission, and it circulated widely. But when her work was hotly criticized as insolent and disrespectful, the bishop wrote her a reprimanding letter attacking her right, as a woman, to debate theology. She responded with her most famous work, La Respuesta de la poetisa a la muy ilustre Sor Filotea de la Cruz in 1691, the first defense of a woman’s right to write, teach and study written in the Western Hemisphere. She died in a plague in 1695 while nursing her sister nuns. March 9 Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) was born in England to an Anglican family. Converting to Roman Catholicism in 1866, he later became a Jesuit priest and served various posts throughout Great Britain. Hopkins had burned the early poems of his youth, reluctant to indulge in such personal satisfactions, but with the permission of his superiors later resumed writing. He rarely sought publication, however, being convinced that literary fame was not compatible with his vocation. Twenty-nine years after his death, in 1918, his poems were finally released and his poetic genius recognized. March 3, 27; April 8 St. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416?), an English anchoress, received a series of 16 revelations on May 8, 1373. Having spent several years meditating on them, she recorded them. Few details are known of her life. March 31 Kahkewaquonaby, “Sacred Feathers” (1802-1856), with the English name Rev. Peter Jones, was a member of the Anishinabeg tribe (Ojibwa) living in present-day Ontario. The son of an Anishinabe chief’s daughter and a white surveyor, Kahkewaquonaby spent his 136 : : lent \/ easter reader 2009


life spanning two cultures, trying to defend his people’s rights before the hostile colonial government. At a camp meeting in 1823, Kahkewaquonaby encountered Jesus. He soon became a Methodist evangelist to his people and other Ojibwa tribes, converting many. Kahkewaquonaby helped his people adjust to colonialism, saving them from both annihilation and assimilation. Donald B. Smith wrote the authoritative work on his life, Sacred Feathers: The Revered Peter Jones (Kahkewaqunoaby) and the Mississauga Indians. March 7, 11, 18, 21 Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) was one of the most influential evangelists and theologians in the Holiness Movement. Her work The Promise of the Father humbly and persuasively argued for the rights of women to preach. April 1 Hester Ann Rogers (1756-1794) was an important English Methodist leader. Her father, an Anglican clergyman, died when she was 9. She strayed into worldly amusements, but continued to sense God’s grace at work in her life. Influenced by Methodists around her, she was powerfully converted when she was 18 and became a class leader several years later. In 1784, she and her husband James were sent to Dublin to preach among the Irish; James credited her with converting 2,000 people. Her autobiography of her conversion, The Experience of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, was very influential within the Methodist movement. She died in childbirth at the age of 38. March 4, 12; April 3 David Walker (1796?-1830) was born in North Carolina. Although his father was a slave, his mother was not, and so he was born free. Little is known of his life; he spent some time in Charleston, S.C., and his final years in Boston, Mass. It was there that he wrote his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in particular, and very expressly, to those of The United States of America. This incendiary tract urged America’s people of color to unite in revolution against their white oppressors. Despite its violence, Walker’s Appeal evidences a deep Christian piety and confidence that God will finally work justice for his people. March 6, 14, 29, 30; April 1 Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was born in London into an Italian-English family. A devout Anglican, much of her poetry radiates her deep love of God and creation. Rossetti is widely acclaimed as a major literary figure; some have considered her poem “Goblin Market” one of the best pieces in the English language. Rossetti also published a commentary on Revelation before succumbing to breast cancer in 1894. March 17, 26; April 5, 12 Charles and John Wesley’s Hymns on the Lord’s Supper (1745) is a collection of 166 hymns on the Eucharist. It is the definitive statement of the Wesleys’ sacramentality. March 13, 22; April 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 14, 15

bibliography Quotations from Thomas á Kempis come from The Imitation of Christ, translated by Dr. Don Demaray, professor emeritus, Asbury Theological Seminary, and are used with permission from Dorset Press. Inside back cover, “The Valley of Vision,” is the original work of Arthur Bennett, editor of the volume entitled, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975) pp. xxiv.

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contributing editors and artists Cheri Cowell, is a MATS student at Asbury on the campus in Orlando, Fla., where she and her husband, Randy, live. She is a Christian author and retreat speaker with her new book, Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, recently released from Beacon Hill Press. For information on the book or to inquire about her speaking ministry, visit DirectionAndDiscernment.com Erin Crisp is the coordinator for spouse and family ministries at Asbury Theological Seminary. She has been a part of the seminary community since 2006. Her background is as an English teacher and literacy coach. She contributed to the interactive sections of the Reader. She is wife to Eric, an Asbury Seminary M.Div. student, and mom to three lively little boys. Rob Raborn began Asbury Theological Seminary in 2006 to study counseling. He began creating comics for his alma mater, the University of Central Florida, in 2004. Since then he has authored a weekly advice column and the comic strip “Real Life for Real” for the seminary community. Rob is married to Katherine, who is lovely, winsome and wise. Brian Rhea served as our editor for the first several editions of the Reader in our Common Text Project. In addition to organizing the texts and selecting the readings, he aptly interlaces some of his own devotional commentary throughout this edition. Those writings are signified by his initials, “BR.” Brian and his wife Jan graduated from Asbury Seminary in 2006 and 2007. They currently serve in an associate pastor capacity in Haddonfield, NJ, and have a daughter and two cats.  Stephanie Wright is a graphic designer for Asbury Seminary’s office of communications. She moved to Lexington, Ky. in 2007 with her husband, Greg.

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to him be the glory and the might forever. amen.

-melito of sardis (2nd century)

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