Lenten Devotional 2020 Princeton Theological Seminary
Station 1 Jesus is condemned The artwork for this devotional was all created by MDiv/MACEF student, Michael Cuppett. These pieces follow the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross, but are inspired by iconic images from 2013-2018. We hope they help guide you through this lenten season.
Dear Reader, In this season of Lent, we invite you to journey together. As we journey, it is our prayer that these scriptures and reflections will enable each of us to travel deeper into our hearts and souls. Our theme for our 2020 Lenten Devotional is finding comfort and hope in difficult seasons, which is fitting for Lent. It seems especially fitting as we navigate this challenging and complex world. This year, each contributor was invited to select a passage of scripture that has brought comfort and hope in a tender time. We are most grateful for the students, family members, administrators, faculty, trustees, and staff members who have shared their written reflections and art work. I am deeply grateful for Jenna Reed and Michaela Silvis, our 2020 Lenten Devotional Co-Coordinators. I am ever thankful for their creative spirits, wonderful gifts, and faithful work that have woven this book together. I am also deeply grateful for the commitment of our content editors, Beth Douglass and Brooke Foster. Additional words of thanks go to the Communications/External Relations and IT offices who have worked with us to make our Devotional available in print and electronically. As you travel this Lenten journey, we invite you to keep your Bible close at hand. You will find a scripture passage for each day. Passages are taken from the NRSV translation unless otherwise noted. Grace and peace as you journey through this Lenten Season,
Jan Ammon Minister of the Chapel
February 26, 2020 Ash Wednesday
Psalm 51:1-17 “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
In the congregation where I served in Manhattan, our Ash Wednesday service was one in which we renewed our baptismal vows. Everyone was then invited to come forward to the front of the sanctuary. With a generous amount of water, the pastors made the sign of the cross on open palms as we spoke the words, “Remember your baptism, you are a child of God.” One Ash Wednesday, an elderly woman came and extended her well-worn hands; but, what truly caught my attention was the deep distress in her face. After I made the sign of the cross, she paused for a very long time looking at her wet palms. She then rubbed the water from the sign of the cross all over her face, like she might do when washing at the end of a long, difficult day. After, she simply turned and walked away. Though she never spoke a word, in those moments, Psalm 51 took on life and breath right before me. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sins.” (Psalm 51:2) This Lent, may we open our weary hands and worn-out hearts to the Spirit so that we may receive God’s gift of restoration and grace.
Jan Ammon, Minister of the Chapel
February 27, 2020
“Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” When I was fourteen, my family moved from our California home to French Canada. I often found myself alone and struggled to find my place in the midst of a new language, culture, and climate. While admittedly a small trial in hindsight, this move away from everything I knew and loved hurtled me headlong into a wrestling match with God. Like the injured Jacob, I felt like I was wrestling with one whose name I did not know, and at whose hands I found myself injured. I questioned God’s goodness, not understanding why God had brought me into this lonely space. Finding solace in this passage, I admired Jacob’s resolve in clinging to God, despite the pain and the unknowns. I identified with Jacob, who, rather than admitting defeat and parting ways with God, chooses instead to cling tightly and demand a blessing, which God readily gives. I then held tightly to God’s promises—especially those from Psalm 22 and Jeremiah 29—which, since then, I have seen fulfilled in my lifetime and again. May we always be assured of God’s goodness and desire to bless us, even when we do not understand what God is doing or why.
Briana Wong, PhD Candidate
February 28, 2020
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.’ Also said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” It was the second Sunday of August, and I received several pieces of sad news from family and friends. The year had been one of grieving losses and seeking God’s healing hand upon those who were being challenged with illnesses. I recalled driving one day and just shedding tears for all those I love dearly and were going through a challenging season. I shed tears for those I would not see again, who left special imprints in my heart and soul. One piece of news received was from a dear soul sister. We met in seminary, our spirits truly connected, and we knew God had made us to be soul sisters. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yet, there is one important thing that I learned from her, God bestowed a spirit of perseverance upon her, and fear would not prevail. Revelations 21:5 was revealed to her husband as they prayed upon the news, “See, I am making all things new.” The imagery of shedding began to probe her and I too began to ponder on this. The questions began to rise, “What am I to shed?” What am I to shed that interferes with trusting God’s truth and promises? The temptation to be consumed in our grief, diagnosis, and seasons of uncertainty, is real. Yet God invites us to shed what hinders us from experiencing the redemptive love that is revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God is making all things new. We can find hope in this promise. As Jesus, prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
Jennie Lee Salas, Associate Director of Field Education Office
February 29, 2020
“...take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” There is a Jewish prayer sung during Passover that is called Dayenu, Hebrew for “it would have been enough.” The prayer functions as a liturgical remembrance of Israel’s collective history. “If the only thing the LORD had done,” the prayer goes, “was bring us out of Egypt, it would have been enough. If the only thing the LORD had done was split the red sea, it would have been enough.” The prayer goes on until Israel’s history has been sung in gratitude. And of course, the beauty of this prayer is that the LORD has done so much more than these things. He has brought us out of Egypt. He has given us his Son and, through his Son, the inbreaking of a new kingdom. He has given us family and friends, fall leaves and spring rains, poetry and music and dance. If all that God had done was give us homes we did not build and vineyards we did not plant and cisterns we did not dig, it would have been enough. As it is, God has given us so much that the more we pause in gratitude, the more we can think of an infinite number of “it would have been enoughs.” Life can be painful; grief is unavoidable. We are haunted by yesterday and anxious about tomorrow. Yet the practice of gratitude—of realizing that everything is more than enough because we don’t deserve anything—is a profound comfort. Indeed, we are small, far smaller than we know. Thanks be to God.
Rachel Rim, MDiv Middler Writing on behalf of the Asian Association at PTS (AAPTS)
Station 2 Jesus carries his cross
March 1, 2020
“...do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” In the book Letter’s to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life, Dr. Dan Gottlieb describes suffering as feeling like you are “alone in a dark tunnel.” Often people’s instinct is to stand outside the tunnel and try to tell you how to get out. Dr. Gottlieb explains that what we need most is for someone to come into the tunnel and simply “sit in the darkness with us.” I have been in the dark tunnel Dr. Gottlieb refers to and, perhaps, at some point in our lives we have all been there. When I have found myself in the darkness, I have been blessed to somehow feel God with me in the tunnel, sad, too, about my suffering, yet always there. I pray that each of us will somehow feel that presence when we need it most. I hope we can remember the words from Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
Jaime Zamparelli, Vice President for Advancement
March 2, 2020
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” You may on occasion see me weep in Chapel, but never so much as when we sing together, “Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow me, and I will give you rest.” I assure you, these are tears of joy – joy in knowing that no matter how difficult the season, I am not alone. Even as I recount the many times of sorrow, loss, and darkness that have come through the seasons of my life, I am reminded that God is with me and I have nothing to fear or be sad about. Instead, the fear and sadness are replaced by joy, love, hope, and, above all, gratitude for the freely given grace of our Lord and Savior. No matter how distracted we may become by the less good and pleasant things of the world, we can always find rest in the knowledge that we are forever held in the arms of our mighty creator. Even when we think cannot carry ourselves, our faith in God provides us strength to power forward. And that, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is cause to weep with joy.
Beth DeMauro, Director of Communication and Marketing
March 3, 2020
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” I struggle with the idea of motherhood. I had a difficult relationship with my own mother as she raised me, and I have a complicated relationship with her now as an adult. When I was young and married early, I dreaded the inevitable question of my next steps as Woman: “When are you going to have a child? Or worse, at the slightest hint of illness, “Wait, are you pregnant!?” Once, for a few weeks, I was, but no sooner had I learned of my impending motherhood than I learned that it wasn’t going to happen. The pregnancy wasn’t viable, and within a year, I knew that the marriage wasn’t either. Years have passed now, and I still don’t know if I will mother a child. But I often turn to this short psalm in times of distress, grief, and confusion. In those moments, I trust that I am both mother and child—capable of holding and comforting the cries of my soul, while entrusting my soul wholly to the One who gave me my life and gives me my breath. O Princeton Seminary, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.
Megan DeWald, Assistant Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry
March 4, 2020
“O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.” During one 24-hour period, my neighbor died of cancer, leaving behind a wife and three children; and good friends birthed their first 2 children – twins – with all in their family happy and healthy. Both of these events are “too great and too marvelous” for me to understand – the broken heart of loss; and the overflowing heart that glows with joy. But also, during that same 24-hour period, the rest of us went to work, went to the gym, did the same old schoolwork, housework, busywork. In between the mountaintop experience of the twins’ birth, and the valley of the death of a good man, the rest of us went about our business. In between the pain that is ‘too great,’ and the joy that is ‘too marvelous,’ the rest of us shared our communal life, our common tasks, did the best we could, for as many as we could. Maybe tomorrow it will be our turn to bear the sorrow or bask in the joy. But for today, we are called to two things: to calm and quiet our souls, and to hope in God. We don’t have to be the best, the brightest, the loudest, the most intense. We do not need to occupy ourselves with the most lofty of ideas. We need to live our lives, to the glory of God, with calmness of spirit. And we need to put our hope in the Lord, who has promised to be with us in both joy and sorrow.
Catherine Cook Davis, Associate Dean of Student Life
March 5, 2020
“Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” This is my favorite verse because of a story about September 11, 2001 told in the Broadway musical Come From Away. They might not speak the same language, but people begin to communicate with each other using a Bible with the same number system. A Newfoundlander flips in the Bible to Philippians 4:6 so he can reassure fellow passengers from another country that there is no need for them to be afraid.
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
This verse resonates with me because even though it is easy to feel secluded and alone, these words act a constant reminder that we always have support from God and our faith. Its sheer simplicity makes it accessible to all people, and it is a message of hope for now and always.
Micah Shelley, age 14 & Emilyanne Shelley, age 16 (respectively) Children of PhD Student, Austin Crenshaw Shelley
March 6, 2020
“Then the LORD said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” I walked out of the counseling office terrified and relieved in equal measure. Social anxiety? How did I not see this before? Was this a sign that I could finally go home? I clearly wasn’t meant to be in seminary, and certainly not in ministry! Later that night, I searched for plane tickets, praying for a way out. But then I remembered Moses’s cry at the burning bush: “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Although I will never know the depth of Moses’s experience in body, mind, and spirit, in that moment I keenly understood his hopelessness, his surety that he wasn’t enough. Yet God continues to call from the bush, promising to speak through Moses not in spite of his slowness of speech and slowness of tongue, but because of it: “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak” (Exodus 4:12). Even – no, especially – when we’re convinced that we’re not enough, God continues to speak from the bush, inviting us to join in God’s redemptive and liberating work in the world, reminding us that we are enough just as we are. “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” Thanks be to God!
Hannah Hawkinson, MDiv Senior
March 7, 2020
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...“ When I was a young girl, I was a gymnast. I loved the feeling of stretching my body to its limits, flying through the air, and mastering challenging skills. But I was terrible at the uneven bars. I struggled to mount the bars with the simplest of moves; every skill felt labored. Instead of gliding across the bars with ease, I keenly felt the resistance of my own body. The more I struggled against the bar, the harder it became. One day my coach told me that the reason everything was so hard is that I was “muscling” it through. Instead of leaning into the momentum of my swing, I was relying on my muscles to lift me over the bar. It’s a metaphor that has proven fruitful for me not primarily in gymnastics (sadly), but surely in life. Calling us God’s own, God promises to go with us. Yet, when the waters rise, we have a tendency to default to our own strength. But just as the waters swell, can we trust God enough to let go and flow in the Spirit? What are you “muscling” through this season, and how can you let God guide you to freedom?
Erin Raffety, Lecturer, Practical Theology
Station 3 Jesus falls for the first time
March 8, 2020
“‘I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.’ Then he hugged the children and blessed them.“ [CEB] Do you ever wonder if Jesus played? I mean like full on running around and being chased by children. Sometimes I miss the sense of wonder and the playful spaces that children force us into. Children experience the world deeply and unapologetically. I remember worrying if there would be enough dirt in the ground for our castles or enough time in the afternoon to get home before the porch light turned on. I also remember the despair of when our family pet died and the sadness of when a friend made fun of an art piece I had worked hard on. Childhood is sprinkled with emotions, yet somewhere along the way we lose our sense of playfulness and wonder as we tradition into the expectations of adulthood. These parts of childhood we lose are the very ones that bring us joy. Dress like an adult. Act like an adult. Hide your feelings ... like an adult. What if Jesus was so harsh on the disciples because Jesus knows of the life we miss out on when we forget to play like children? What if playing together builds trust, and deep relationships? What if by loss of play, we lose the opportunity to have strong partnerships when tough times find us? What if Jesus isn’t giving us a warning for later, but rather a caution that we might be missing the kin-dom breaking through right in front of us? What might happen to our faith if we too encountered Jesus, and one another, with the playfulness of a child?
Ashley Hamel, MDiv/MACEF, Year 4 Moderator of the Student Government Association (SGA)
Book of Esther
March 9, 2020 Purim
The Masoretic Text
The Jewish festival of Purim that begins at sundown on March 9 celebrates God’s salvation of Jews living in the Persian Empire. Just as God acted in the past, so God continues to protect all God’s people in the present. There are many modes to recognize, recall, and find comfort in God’s salvific acts. The book of Esther is unusual in that it is laced through with humor: Esther chosen as queen of the Persian Empire through a beauty pageant. There are sexual innuendos, humor around Esther’s lack of religious ritual knowledge, and unanticipated reversals of fortune. The comical story has given rise to celebratory, boisterous customs. As we see in Esther 9:22, costumes are worn and the mandated feasting, merrymaking, and exchange of gifts includes a particularly tasty type of cookie meant to recall Haman. The synagogue recitation of the text is done in dramatic voices: the demure Esther, the sinister Haman, and the regal King Ahasuerus. The shared humor, antics, and delicious cookies foster communal bonds and unite the participants in recognizing and joyously celebrating God’s continuing care in our times of need. There are introspective and penitent seasons and holidays in the Jewish calendar, but not Purim.
Elizabeth (Liz) Bloch-Smith, Adjunct Faculty
March 10, 2020
“Afterward the Israelites shall return and seek the LORD their God... they shall come in awe to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea is not an especially comforting book of the Bible. Its overarching message is to indict Israel for its faithlessness and to pronounce the judgment and punishment that the people are rightly experiencing as a result. Hosea finds almost nothing salvageable in Israel and instead sees the only remedy as to start over at the beginning and to take Israel back to the wilderness where it first came to know its God, a process that will require profound difficulty, pain, and loss. Times of pain are inevitable. Especially difficult are times when the hardships we face are due to our own failures or shortcomings, when we may feel as though we a responsible for our sufferings. Many suffer due to the actions of others, through no fault of their own, and the Bible has much to say about God’s vindication of the righteous sufferer. These verses in Hosea—among the few hopeful verses in the book—provide the assurance that even in those situations in which we suffer due to our own faithlessness, God will work through our times of hardship to bring us back to a place of restoration and flourishing.
Heath D. Dewrell, Assistant Professor of Old Testament
March 11, 2020
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children...” I can’t forget the moment I quit school. After struggling with studying and relationships, I found myself totally unable to keep striving there any longer. Yet since school had been the source of my future and my significance, I saw all I was being blown away with the wind of my weakness. This is how I ended up knocking my dad’s door in the middle of the night, after many sleepless nights suffering from the anxiety of knowing I was insignificant and feeling unjustified. Before, I had rarely sought emotional support from my dad. I thought my being weak would cause him shame. But at this point, I realized that I was nothing and I had nothing, so I simply became a vulnerable child and told him that I couldn’t sleep. Without any hesitation or contempt, he immediately got up and prayed for God’s sympathetic mercy to fall on me. Now, through my dad, I see this is who our Father God is. God already knows that we’re like flowers. We flourish for a short time but soon are gone with wind. Yet we’re still beloved flowers to our Father. There’s no shame of being weak in front his steadfast love. It extends from everlasting to everlasting, not only, but especially, when we are nothing.
Danbi Jung, MA(TS), Year 1 International Student, South Korea
March 12, 2020
“I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” [NIV] Why I Sing I’ve sung and I’ve sung, Hoping someone hears my song. I’ve painted and I’ve painted, Hoping someone Just Gets the picture. And here the scripture tells me God has been there all along. God knows why this caged bird sings. God knows why I long for home. Lord, your hands have kept this sparrow. Your love has made my way From the rising of the sun To the ending of the day. In your love I will take comfort. In your love I will take my peace. I can sing because I serve a God that watches over me.
Rev. Nicholas K. Young, MDiv/MSW Candidate, Associate Pastor of UMCNB Moderator of the Association of Black Seminarians (ABS)
March 13, 2020
“The Lord your God is with you, mighty to save. God will take great joy in you; ...will quiet you with love; ...will rejoice over you with singing.” [paraphrase] Mennonite faith deeply shaped both of my parents. So did the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 70s. This meant I grew up hybrid, learning the Mennonite emphases of peace, community, mutual aid, and simplicity on one hand, and the intimate personalism of the Jesus movement on the other. At home, we spoke of and prayed to an immanent God who listens and responds to our prayers and who invites an all-encompassing discipleship. At 18, I left for college where the community exercised tremendous restraint when talking of God’s action. Discipleship in that community retained the Mennonite hallmarks of peace, social justice, and community, but did so while focusing overwhelmingly on human responsibility. The summer after my sophomore year, I sat in the midst of a tension. I sensed that the dynamic and personal God of my childhood was being called into question. Could we even speak of God’s action, of God’s presence? In the midst of this, I discovered Zephaniah 3:17. It contained the promise of a God who is present—a God who saves and who rejoices over God’s people, quiets them with love, and sings over them with joy. What an image! For years, this verse has been for me its own song of comfort. I sing it and try to remember: Faith invites my song, but it begins with and is sustained by God’s. Amen.
Nate Stucky, Director of the Farminary
March 14, 2020
Mark 15:33-34 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
That was my assigned text for my first sermon in preaching class, our Lord’s cry of dereliction from the cross. It was a gift. Jesus felt abandoned by God on the cross, and with that we can identify. We have each felt abandoned, and sometimes even by God. Yet though Jesus felt abandoned by God, it was to God that he turned in his darkest hour. Despite his anguish, he remained faithful to God. It is that faith, Jesus’ unwavering faith in God, in which we trust. After all, it is not our faith that saves us, but Jesus’ faith. That’s why we pray and do all things in his name. So, in my darkest hours, I too will trust in God. I will trust in God because Jesus did and his faith has made all the difference – for the world, for you, and for me. God does not rescue us from every trial or tribulation, but God sees us through them. Even if I feel abandoned, God is with me, not showing me a way out, but a way through to new and resurrected life. Praise be to God!
Dr. Mark P. Thomas, Trustee
Station 4 Jesus meets his mother, Mary
March 15, 2020
Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
To strain beneath the anvil within, to live and move and breathe as if the heart is still whole when it has long been torn in two is to learn the limit of language. It is to remember the word “heartbreak” falls short of naming the broken soul.
What remains to be saved of a spirit crushed? Of a heart rent as a garment? Nothing more than scraps, crumbs of the beloved loaf once whole.
To fill the tank with gasoline, to take out the trash, to calm the crying child with “How long, O Lord” sighs — These are acts of faith, desperate acts of faith, necessary acts of faith when the light grows dim and the cold sets in.
tended, feed the hungry, mend the torn, bear the load, break the chains, send the beloved headlong into the breach attuned to the rhythm of the life-giving pulse of a brokenhearted God.
Yet even these, fallen, gathered,
For broken hearts that give us compassion for your people, O God, we give you thanks. Bind to our lament the promise of your nearness, that even in our deepest sorrow, our hearts may match the cadence of yours. Amen.
Austin Crenshaw Shelley, PhD Student
March 16, 2020
“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” I imagine a Creator pulling together pieces of two different beings. Making them so perfect and complete; molding each by hand. Then something blurs and everything is thrown into chaos. In the commotion, the two complete beings collide and blend together. When they collide the colors swirl together. Enveloping each other in their beauty and breath. They start to dance together, but they get out of step. They are moving to two different songs. Two different rhythms, beats, paces. Fighting each other, trying to pull apart into who they were meant to be, but they can’t. They are stuck. Nothing feels right, these two people were never meant to become one. They were perfect before, they were complete before. Now they feel foreign in their own bodies, unsure of who they are. Unsure of who they will be. Suddenly, everything slows down. The swirling parts of the people settle into each other. What is left is a messy, mixed-up, confused child. But, she can finally see the Creator, looking back at her. She stares at the Creator, fear in her eyes. But the Creator looks back with hope.
Michaela Silvis, MDiv/MACEF, Year 2 Lenten Devotional Co-Coordinator
March 17, 2020
Luke 19:41 “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it.”
Jesus was riding a colt. He was approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives towards the city of Jerusalem. People overflowed with praise to God, and the sound of a victorious joy could be heard from afar. Yet, when he got near and saw the city; suddenly, he cried…yes, he did. The celebration was over. He was overwhelmed by strong emotions, and he just couldn’t contain himself. It was too much. His pastoral heart and love for all the city inhabitants were manifested with tears of deep anguish. He longed for peace for the city, but the future presented a devastating picture. The city was on a collision course towards a future of calamity. More than fifty percent of the world population lives in cities. The city growth runs parallel with high population density and inadequate housing, complex forms of poverty, some of the worst cases of human suffering, and it also has significant adverse affects on the environment. The city needs our attention. When was the last time you wept for the city?
Samuel Marquez, MDiv Junior
March 18, 2020
“At three o’clock Jesus creid out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” This moment in the gospel of Mark gives me great hope. Having followed the call of God, now in the moment of his greatest need, in the moment that could have been the glorification of his mission… Jesus experiences silence. Absence. Abandonment. Heartbreak. Despair. This is not how I thought it would go, God. Where are you? I thought this was what you wanted? Why do I not feel you with me? Why am I alone in this? I followed you, God. I left everything behind. I put my life into this, God. Into your hands. This is too much, God. This is killing me, God. How can you leave me in this alone, God? I have hope that these feelings are still within the boundaries of faithful Christian life because they’re within the boundaries of the life of Jesus Christ, Immanuel. We don’t need to run from them. We don’t need to hide. Sometimes all we can do is cry out — along with Jesus — “My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?”
Rory Chambers, MDiv Senior
March 19, 2020
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to quote this verse at a person who is in mourning. My friends didn’t get the memo and somehow, I was bombarded with it over the course of a few days. Ironically, I suppose, even a blunder like that might have been ‘worked for good.’ This verse gave me permission to believe that death is a hideous thing—that we are not built to take it in stride when relationships end too abruptly and too permanently—while also believing that the hideous things are not useless to God. It became a new lens through which I would see grieving people, and I’d be transfixed by the hundred different ways in which hurt, regret, and confusion were accompanied by strength, hope, and love. Looking through that lens, I didn’t need to have answers to the big questions of why? or why now? to see God bringing all sorts of beautiful things to life in the wake of death. Through that lens, I could see a God who hates our pain, but a God who is with us in our sorrow and who will use even that sorrow for the good of those who love God.
Liezl Bosch, MA(TS), Year 1 International Student, Germany
March 20, 2020
2 Samuel 13
“O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” Inside this text of terror, Tamar’s story is one of survival, agency, and witness. Tamar survives the sexual violence that happens to her and remains in the city for the rest of her days. Tamar shows immense agency in her saying no to Amnon, in her negotiation in which she tries to make reason out of chaos, and in choosing to publicly mourn this injustice and dehumanization that she has survived. She witnesses to the powers of injustice, oppression, violence, and hate through her own very personal public mourning and lament. This text of terror gives me a lot of hope as a survivor of sexual violence. I am not alone. We are not alone. God cares about all of us. God cares about our survival, agency, and witness, as we can see through the inclusion of this passage in our Bible. I pray that we continue to look at texts of terror as individuals and as a community to remember that terrible things happen and yet we are still full, beloved children of God. God is always with us. Thank God for that. Amen.
Mary Hayes, MDiv Middler Writing on behalf of The Center for Theology, Women, and Gender
March 21, 2020
“I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron...” [KJV] If given a chance to go back in time, I have to admit, as selfish as it sounds, I would want to go back and meet Jay-Paul Hinds—yes, me—about twenty-four years ago. Back then, I was in the midst of my teenage years, a junior in high school, and I couldn’t get straight…literally. I was suffering from scoliosis. And this was no common case of the affliction, mind you. The doctor told me I had a severe curvature of the spine. I was crooked. It was a horrific time in my life. My nights filled with pain. My days filled with shame. My mind and soul filled with despair. The scoliosis had spread to my selfhood. And what made things really bad was that as time went on it was not getting any better. Instead, it got worse. Could anything get me off this crooked path? Of course, I prayed. Prayed fervently. Hoping that through such prayer I would be granted an audience with the God of Exodus 15:26. The healing God. But there was no answer. And crooked I remained. Looking back, I would tell my younger self one thing, and nothing else: It may appear as though your crooked path will never be healed, but know this: God is with you and those just like you. The crooked ones.
Jay-Paul M. Hinds, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology
Station 5 Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
March 22, 2020
1 Corinthians 9:7
“Who serves as a soldier at their own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?” Here’s a challenge: This lent, give up hope. We are always so ready to give up all kinds of things, if only hope promises us some kind of reward – “Avoid these 5 foods to lose body fat,” “7 habits to kill to save the planet,” “9 things successful people don’t do”… Hope seduces us into giving up. Give up something in order to gain something else. If the prize is eternal life, what would it not be worth giving up? And, what can we make of all the lives we are ready to sacrifice for a better society? The Lenten practice of “giving up” does not promise a reward, even if it is very difficult for us not to turn it into a rewarding practice. What were you secretly still hoping to gain? Be honest – would you continue to discipline yourself if you had no hope to gain something from it? Would you continue to pray if no one (including you) would be saved? But then think about this: What would you continue to do, even if there was no hope? What remains if we give up hope? Despair – or Faith and Love? Only resignation, or true freedom? Passivity or empowerment to action? Selfishness or selflessness? Give up hope. And we might be able to give up giving up. Resurrection is not what we hope for; resurrection happens after the end of hope. All is not lost, if we give up hope.
Hanna Reichel, Associate Professor of Reformed Theology
March 23, 2020
“And the Lord said, ‘...I tell you, [God] will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” What does it mean for Jesus to use a marginalized widow having a very hard time of things, to exemplify what it means to always pray without giving up? She is between a rock and a hard place, trapped betwixt an opponent on one hand and an unjust judge on the other. Yet, for Jesus, she exemplifies a paragon of prayer. Not a priest or scribe, but a widow. For those of us who have ever felt as if we’ve had our backs against the wall, between said rock and hard place, we can be confident that even when situations are hopelessly stacked against us or the people whom we love, we learn from the widow that it is our voice, the Genesis-1:3-Imago Dei-ish creative expression, which can topple the sternest of oppositions. When we speak up, praying with passion and persistence, we wield tools of great power. The odds seem hopelessly stacked against the widow, and against us. But we still have our voices. So pray with your voice—whether that comes out through your vocal cords, or signing with your hands, writing with a pen, acting in a play, participating in a march, or however you express yourself. During this Lenten season, pray and don’t give up.
Kevin Vandiver, PhD Student Co-Moderator of Koinonia
March 24, 2020
â€œSo let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.â€? Weariness can creep up on us in our pursuits to do what is right in both secular and sacred tasks. I have often found myself discouraged, lost, and weary in my attempts to do good in my church and community. It is easy to start a new mission project or Sunday school curriculum with zeal, but it can be difficult to keep that enthusiasm when attendance dwindles and the sign-up list sits half full. It is natural to find ourselves disheartened, discouraged and even hopeless when our idea of success is not seen. However, we must endure in our pursuits to do what is right and fight for the good of all people. For we know that our suffering is short term, but the results of our labors will be bountiful. Galatians 6:9 encourages believers to continue to work for what is right because we will see the fruits of our labor if we do not give up! At the right time, we will be able to see how God worked through the disappointments, failures, and stagnant numbers. When we persevere through the difficult seasons, discouraging yields, and barren fields, we will reap the harvest that God provides.
Lilly Shear, MDiv Junior
March 25, 2020
“By the rivers of Babylon - there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.On the willows there we hung our harps.” Babylon was a historic site, the most famous city in ancient Mesopotamia. For some, it was a place of splendor and of power; for others, it represented separation, subjugation and slavery. Pain comes jumping off the page as we move through the text of Psalm 137. A major reason for the people’s pain was their forced removal Jerusalem, which had been not only their capital but also their spiritual center. The people of Israel were also humiliated by their captors, who required them to sing familial and historical songs for the entertainment of these oppressors. But hope can still come through our songs even in the midst of pain and suffering. The hymn reminds us, “I love the Lord, who heard my cry And chased my grief away. Oh, let my heart no more despair While I have breath to pray.”
John E. White, Dean of Student Life
March 26, 2020
1 Corinthians 13
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Making decisions has always been difficult for me. I think this is because I’m concerned about making the “best” decision; I don’t want to miss out on something great because I’ve chosen poorly. This has often led me to overthinking. Ironically, I miss out on life and unintentionally ignore the stirrings of the Spirit as I obsess over what the “best life” would be. In the Spring of 2017, I was living and working in New Orleans through a PC(USA) volunteer program. My time there was coming to an end and I was trying to decide between moving to Tacoma, WA to live in a L’Arche home and starting at Princeton Seminary. It was a time of transition in many ways, and things felt chaotic. I was in the process of coming out as queer and in a new relationship. I was discerning my call to ministry and what my next steps were going to be. During that time, I remember a walk with a dear pastor. As we walked, talked, and I poured out my confusion, he quoted 1 Corinthians 13:12, saying, “Riley, you see in a mirror dimly. We all do. I’m not sure we can know for sure what the ‘right’ decision is. There is only the decision we make.” There is only the decision we make. These words, along with the following quote from Cheryl Strayed have come to shape my ideas around vocation and choice: “I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” As I near the end of my time here, I am reminded of these words. As I search for a job and housing and make more transitions, I am reminded to be humble before God. Guided by the Spirit, I will make decisions. And God will work regardless of what I choose.
Riley Pickett, MDiv Senior Co-Moderator of BGLASS
March 27, 2020
“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Four and a half years ago, God used this passage to call me to a church in Atlanta. Three years later, God used this same passage to call me back to Princeton. In both seasons, I found myself in the belly of the whale waiting to be spit out onto a beach, and God said, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth – do you not perceive it?” Despite my fixation on the former things, God was doing a new thing within and around me. When a friend of mine gave birth, her son’s toes latched onto her ribs, refusing to let go. It was his final attempt to stay in the womb – to cling to what he knew. Maybe that’s what a life of faith involves – a tug of war between God and us, as we hold onto comfort and familiarity, and God urges us to break free; to let go and leap into the arms of a God who will never let us go. So may we remember the God who knit us in our mother’s womb as we loosen our toe-hold on those ribs, surrendering to God’s all-surpassing, all-consuming peace. Amen.
Reverend Ann Henley Nicholson, MDiv ‘14 Director of Alumni Relations
March 28, 2020
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
“Remember when you said to me . . .” On a trip back to my hometown in Texas, I ran into a former youth group member. He recalled an interaction we had shared and thanked me for helping him get back on the right track. I didn’t think much of our conversation at the time, but something that was said triggered a series of events. A seed was planted and God made it grow. When I look back at my own life, there are so many people that were placed in my path that changed me. Most often it was a word of encouragement or a genuine smile. During my time as a student, a professor left a comment on a midterm paper that made me feel welcome and worthy. The words weren’t magic nor were they said with the intent for life-changing consequences, but they resonated within me and the One who created me, changed me through that seed that was planted. Every interaction is a chance to plant a seed. Even if we never witness the growth of that seed, it’s great to be on God’s landscaping crew.
Trey Gillette, Media Support Specialist
Station 6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
March 29, 2020
“...but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” Quite often my prayers are prompted by puzzles. Sometimes I pray for understanding, sometimes for humility before mystery. Here’s an example. On the night of his arrest, Jesus tells his disciples all that he has heard from his Father, and, by virtue of the telling, releases them from slavery’s bondage and initiates them into friendship’s liberty. The change in status, from slave to friend, is affected by the knowledge transferred in the telling, and it is made manifest in the obedience of the newly-made friends. They will act in accord with the demands of their new normative status when they obey Jesus, their new friend. The scene is odd, disorienting, and not because it includes command and obedience among friends. Pick the right examples – domestic errands (“buy some milk on your way home”); warnings (“drive safe, the roads are slick”); back rubs (“lower, over, ahhh, that’s the spot”); or first dates (“stop, not yet!”) – and the authority to command and the obligation to obey become ordinary features of our friendships. No, the scene disorients because revelation liberates the slave and creates the friend. How does this happen, this epistemic alchemy? What does the friend know that the slave does not? Why does this knowledge liberate? And how does it create a friend? When, later that evening, Peter betrays his new friend (John 18:15-18; 25-27), the problem appears to be an avoidance of love not a failure of knowledge. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). You see the puzzle. And so, we pray. Gracious God, grant us an understanding that liberates, a liberty that obeys, a love that clings to you, and a heart that opens to mystery. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
John Bowlin, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and Christian Ethics
March 30, 2020
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness...to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Lent has always been a season of waiting – waiting in hope of the resurrected Jesus. Yet what happens in that waiting period can often be just as important. The desert provides an image of being transformed in the expectation of the living God. It is in the desert that we interrogate ourselves, separate ourselves briefly from the world, and make meaning of our previous and current experiences. It is where John the Baptist discovers and hones his calling to proclaim the salvific promise of the Son of man. Seminary, for me, has very much been this desert of contemplation. It is here I have been learning to deconstruct and reconstruct my orientation to the world, down to the fundamental question of who I am. Seminary is a desert that has forced me to consider every part of myself and how it fits into the greater narrative of the world and the Church. Fortunately, like the expecting, the desert does not last forever. Eventually there is a re-entry into the world, a return to the everyday, and even though we find ourselves exhausted from all the discovery, we find ourselves ready to embrace the cross with our newly found selves.
Jules Muya, MDiv Senior & Rutgers MSW Candidate
March 31, 2020
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“...because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” [NIV] It can be so difficult to live in this world and not lose heart. Every shooting, every accidental tragedy, every disappointing human interaction, every act of discrimination, every personal plan that goes wrong; we ask ourselves, “Will it ever end? Is it possible for humans to feel pure joy on this Earth?” I have been reminded recently that if I only focus my attention on the brokenness in the world, then pain is all I am going to see. I had lost the ability to hope because I was unable to recognize God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of the personal and global tragedies I witnessed every day. So, I started looking. At first, I could only pick out moments that I felt happy, but then it grew deeper: a conversation with a friend that felt sacred, a few moments of peace while I listened to the birds carrying on a musical conversation outside my window, a hymn in Chapel that seemed to reach my soul. “While outwardly [I] am wasting away, inwardly God is renewing [my] soul day by day.” Sometimes I simply forget to recognize it. Where have you noticed God’s presence in your day?
Kelsey Holderman, MDiv/MACEF, Year 4
April 1, 2020
“She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. he began to weaken, and his strength left him.” Samson, a warrior of God. A man with strength more than you could ever imagine. From his long hair to his strong wits, this person is probably my favorite character in the Bible. I was about seven years old when I was first taught this story in Sunday school. I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by the idea that I could be a strong young woman who can do anything. When Delilah cut Samson’s hair off, he felt powerless. “Having to put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and his strength left him” Judges 16:19. That’s how I felt when my dad passed away. I felt as if I were powerless too. For a long time I fell into a grief so deep that I thought I wouldn’t be able to get out of it. I thought there was nothing to help – just emptiness. Then I remembered that when Samson prayed, God restored his power. God restored my strength with the power of music. I felt encouraged and I began to feel better. Music restored me. Find what restores you.
Leyla Sosa, age 14 Daughter of Lisette Gonzalez Sosa, MDiv Junior
April 2, 2020
“So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” [NIV] Giving Hope and Forgiveness to the “Undeserving” Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” “If it is integral to people’s belief that they should destroy you, what do you say to them; or rather more realistically, what do you do with them?” -Adam Phillips In a world where news media is replete with scenes of hopelessness and lack of comfort for the less privileged, believers in Christ are expected to give hope and comfort to people whose lived experience is characterized by hurts and betrayal, and who might have been the source of hopelessness for others. People may not always return our kindness. But we are responsible for how we respond. The Golden Rule, as spelled out in today’s passage, calls us to treat others as we want to be treated. Simply put, our conscience convicts us that when we treat others in ways we do not want to be treated, we sin! However, it does not mean we should not speak out against systemic injustices. Lord, please grant us grace to give hope and comfort to others despite our hurts.
Yelebephee Alice Wildberforce, ThM, Education & Formation International Student, Nigeria
April 3, 2020
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” I’ve spent the past two and a half years trying to walk away from the calling God has placed on my life. I feel like God pulled a fast one on me. “Surprise!” God said. “You’re a youth minister.” That is not what I signed up for. So I understand why the crowd rejects Jesus in this story. Out of nowhere, Jesus drops this bomb: “Eat me and drink my blood.” Nobody signed up for that, Jesus! That’s a big ask. Jesus forces them to choose between doing something impossible or walking away. I’m sympathetic to the ones who walked. But I’m encouraged by Peter. Peter is probably just as confused as the crowd. Yet he discerns that when it comes to following Jesus or walking away, Jesus is the answer. If we want to live there is nowhere else to go but to Jesus. He calls us to Himself and asks us to do the impossible, but He also gives us what we need to do it: Himself. He sustains us with His life as we press forward into ours. I preached on this text the summer before my Middler year, not anticipating that I would still be clinging to it. During that year, I was working at a church that was draining my energy, passion for ministry, and desire for relationships. I began to doubt my call. I felt like the crowd – skeptical about what was being asked of me and ready to walk away. As the year went on, Peter’s response to Jesus repeatedly came to mind. Peter’s willingness to stay close to Jesus became an image of hope for me. I’ve since realized that God’s calling often feels like being asked to do something impossible. Yet underneath what seems impossible is an invitation for us to simply stay close to Jesus and to be sustained by his life. If we accept that invitation, we learn to trust the One who calls us and we are empowered by God’s Spirit to press forward into abundant life.
Nii Addo Abrahams, MDiv Senior Vice Moderator of the Student Government Association (SGA)
April 4, 2020
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff - they comfort me.” [NEB] The promise of Psalm 23, that God is with us, was difficult to believe when I received a diagnosis of tongue cancer this summer. Will you be with me, God? If you are with me, what does that mean? While discussing my diagnosis with my spiritual director, she burst out, “I just see the light of Christ surrounding you!” A week later, when telling a PTS friend about my cancer, she saw the same thing and described it in almost the same words. After surgery, the hospital chaplain commented on the “aura of light all around me.” These women could literally see God with me. Their testimony was a gift and offered assurance that God was truly with me. So what? Clearly, God’s presence did not mean everything would be “okay.” If that were true, I wouldn’t have cancer. I concluded that God-with-me simply meant that no matter what happened during treatment, even if I died in surgery, I would not be alone, I would not be abandoned, I would still matter and be loved. This was enough and surprisingly comforting. How is God with you in the hard times and how does it matter?
Leah Anderson, Student Spouse
Station 7 Jesus falls a second time
2 Timothy 1:7
April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday
â€œFor God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.â€? [KJV] I like this translation because of the last two words: sound mind. Other translations speak of discipline or self-discipline. Yet when your mind is unsteady and clouded with unproductive thoughts, feelings of hopelessness creep in, and self-discipline seems so distant. Feelings of despair often begin in the mind. Sometimes those feelings find their genesis in the body. Yet if they begin in the body, they take up residence in our minds, and lead us spiraling downward into depression and ultimately a lack of hope. This scripture can fortify us in those moments, restoring hope. Anything that looks like fear, powerlessness, or lack of love does not have its rooting in the Spirit of God and should be rejected out of hand. I often return to this scripture in moments of great despair. It has become a heart song for times when I am struggling and need to be reminded of the ways that God has blessed me. The chapter goes on to remind us of the power that was in Christ: the power to conquer death, hell, and the grave. If the living, risen savior can conquer death, surely Christ living in us can restore us to hope.
Yedea Walker, Pastoral Resident for the Chapel Office
Station 8 Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
April 6, 2020
The Storm Cloud When I woke this morning, my mind had taken me to a storm cloud My past grabbed hold of me to remind me just how a bird feels in the claws of a cat I tried to sing away storm cry out louder than thunder but what good is my little voice against the torrential rains It could not soothe my shaking body Or dry the reservoirs of doubt behind my eyes. On the backs of my memories I climb into these depths. Not from above but below. Not from transcendence but incarnation. Not by the high sky but by the little ants that tickle the earth wise old trees that shake with laughter jolly birds squealing at the sight of daybreak to find the beautiful refusing to quit seeing when our eyes have squeezed shut Ah! All is delight; and yet all is groaning.
Rachel Douglass, MDiv Senior Vice Moderator of The Arts Collective
Station 9 Jesus falls a third time
April 7, 2020
“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” [paraphrase] On Epiphany Sunday we distribute Star Gifts in the congregation I serve – a paper star with a word written on it. Folks are encouraged to receive the word as a gift, pondering the significance that word might have for them, how God might speak to them through the simple message of a word. The word I received one year was ‘comfort.’ As I pondered my Star Gift I realized that while I am often the one offering comfort through my pastoral work, there were many times when I was on the receiving end of the comfort equation. We all move through shadow times when the light of life seems very dim: when our faith is shaky, when the suffering is great, when the answers don’t come, when the future is uncertain, when the stresses of life don’t let up. It’s in those times when our light is dim that the community becomes the light for us. We are light one for another – that’s a reality of being in a covenant community. Through the gift of one another we truly do not walk in darkness. We DO have the light of life. Who is the light of life for you? For whom are you the light of life?
Deborah McKinley, Pastor, East Craftsbury Presbyterian Church Member of the PTS Board of Trustees, MDiv ‘82
Station 10 Jesus is stripped
April 8, 2020
“As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.” It happens three times: at the third, seventh, and ninth stations of the cross. Crushed beneath the weight of the patibulum as it bears down upon his shredded flesh, Jesus stumbles and falls. Though the scene is not included in the Scriptures, I can see it my mind and feel it in my bones. Especially today as the rain pours down and I lay here in bed – body and mind rebelling, unwilling to do what I want them to do, need them to do. Too broken to serve. And I wonder, “Is this how Jesus felt?” In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (NASB). Yet here he lays, his bloodied face ground into the dust as people on the sidelines jeer and mock. The King who would redeem the world, unable to follow his own command and take up his own cross. And in this moment, I feel close to him – not in his godhood, but in his humanity. It is the work of one incapable of accomplishing the simplest of able-bodied tasks, who will free the world from the curse of sin and death. Maybe in God’s economy, there is no such thing as being “too broken.”
Anna C. Gheen, MDiv/MACEF, Year 4 Co-Moderator of the Association of Disabled Seminarians & Allies
Station 11 Jesus is nailed to the cross
April 9, 2020 Maunday Thursday
“Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen.” The hymnwriter William Cowper seemed to have been wrestling down Psalm 77 when he wrote: God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform he plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. And then there is the ubiquitous poem, “Footprints,” often quoted to those questioning God’s purpose or presence. One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord ... But what if God doesn’t walk on the beach? What if God’s feet are planted in the stormy sea? No footprints to trace. We cannot make sense of the pain, the seeming lack of divine plan or purpose. The psalmist eventually gets out of their funk by rehearsing God’s faithful acts of yore. But even as the fog lifts, concealing clouds remain. William Cowper continues: God’s purposes will ripen fast unfolding every hour the bud may leave a bitter taste but sweet will be the flower. The storm has been brewing and, in Holy Week, it has come to a head. We may not be able to trace God’s footsteps, but we trust in the inscrutable providence of our faithful and gracious Savior.
Martin Tel, Director of Music for the Chapel Office
Station 12 Jesus dies on the cross
April 10, 2020 Good Friday
“But I, O LORD, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O LORD, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me?” Often described as a psalm of unrelenting darkness, Psalm 88 is the only lament psalm that does not include a confession of trust or a vow to praise. It’s probably not your first pick for a passage of comfort and hope—but I have found this psalm to be an expression of extraordinary faith. The psalmist feels abandoned, yet still cries out to the God of their salvation at night (v. 1), in the morning (v. 13), and indeed every day (v. 9). They refuse to be silenced. Utter darkness and despair does not prevent their troubled soul (v. 3) from offering their prayers to God and asking God to listen (v. 2). There are times on the journey of faith when we may feel cast off by God. But hope is not lost. Perhaps learning to pray in spite of God’s silence is the most daring faith we can voice. When we are in the pit—shrouded by darkness, and friends and neighbors have shunned us, and God seems disinterested—we have a choice. We can remain silent. Or we can cry out. May we, like the psalmist, and like the one who yelled “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” dare to continue to cry out in the darkness. Dare to believe that God still hears us. Dare to wait for God to answer.
Melissa Haupt, Program and Publications Manager for the Chapel Office
Station 13 Jesus is taken down from the cross
April 11, 2020
Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb
April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday
Matthew 28:1-10 “...and indeed he is going ahead of you...”
Most of us have plans, even if the plan is just to get a plan. We have plans for our work, relationships, children, finances, futures, and how we will recover from our past mistakes. We don’t readily admit this, but we also have plans for Jesus. Like the first disciples, we started following Jesus because we thought he could lead us to a better life. That was the plan. Then last Friday we watched the crucifixion of all those expectations. Along with “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” we then went to the tomb to mourn the loss of the one we thought could save our dreams. But we found that we cannot even count on our plans to grieve because today we are startled to discover his tomb is empty. Jesus never stays where we leave him. The angel at the tomb told the women, and us, that the risen Jesus “is going ahead of you.” It’s as much of a plan as we ever get with Jesus. We know little about the future, but we do know a risen Savior is waiting there. It’s the only plan we need.
M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary
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In this season of Lent, we invite you to journey together. As we journey, it is our prayer that these scriptures and reflections will enable...