One Little Word

Where God's Word Meets God's World

Category: Devotional Messages (page 1 of 47)

Weekly Devotional Message

The 10th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 12C (7/24/2016)

Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138 (8)
Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
St. Luke 11:1-13

Semicontinuous Series:
Hosea 1:2-10
Psalm 85 (13)
Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
St. Luke 11:1-13

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve.  Pour upon us your abundant mercy.  Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience, and give us those good things that come only through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

11:1 [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

St. Luke 11:1-13. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

This Sunday at Saint Peter, I am presenting the second of a four-sermon series entitled “What Is?” The topic of the week is, “What Is Faith?” I want to invite our worshippers to take an interest in the conversations people are having (mostly in theological circles) about how to understand and articulate the relationship between the death and resurrection of Christ and our standing with God. I am convinced that this is an important undertaking. If we are going to reach the numbers of people who don’t know about our faith, or who have walked away from our faith, we will have to develop the capacity to tell our own faith story with clarity and in a compelling way. So what is faith? How does it make a discernible difference in our lives? What makes it worth commending it to another human being?

As a Lutheran Christian, of course, I can’t embark on this project without grounding it in Scripture. This weekend’s text provides an opportunity to do just that. Jesus himself is praying, as he often does, and when he has finished one of his followers asks him to teach them how to do that. Evidently John the Baptizer had provided some training in prayer for his closest followers, and the disciples of Jesus want something similar from him.

Jesus provides them with a model for prayer. We have come to think that he provides us with a prayer to pray, but it serves us better if we think of it as a model for how to pray. In this model, one can glimpse what faith in Christ is all about. It has to do with honoring God’s name (speaking respectfully about God, and not using the name of God for foolish purposes). It has to do with longing for the kingdom to come (as Luther taught us, the kingdom will come in and of itself, but in this prayer we ask that it might come to us). It has to do with trusting that God will provide us with what we need for daily life (we’re not asking, here, for remarkable prosperity, or a rainy-day fund that will sustain us for years to come… but we’re asking for the peace that comes from knowing that God will not abandon us). It  has to do with living in such a way that forgiveness stands at the center of all our relationships (our relationships with each other as well as our relationship with God). It has to do with trusting that God will be our strength when we are tempted to drift away from our faith (not that difficulties will never come our way, but that God will be our strength through everything that comes).

Jesus asks us to pray in this way, as believers who (1) honor God, (2) long for the kingdom, (3) trust in God’s providence, (4) forgive and are forgiven, and (5) lean on God during challenging times. What a great way to think about what it means to be a person of Christian faith! So much more so than speculation about who’s right or wrong, who’s in or out, who’s rewarded or punished…

And here’s the kicker: no matter how we pray, or what we ask to receive, we are promised that God will give us whatever we need (whether or not we know what that might be). What is faith? It is putting our lives in the hand of this One, who loves us enough to die for us.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why do the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray?
  2. Does he teach them a prayer, or a model for praying?
  3. How might this conversation have influenced their personal prayer lives?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How would I describe what Christian faith means to me?
  2. What does the Lord’s Prayer teach me about faith?
  3. How can this prayer deepen my relationship with Christ?

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 11C (7/17/2016)

Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15 (1)
Colossians 1:15-28
St. Luke 10:38-42

Semicontinuous Series:
Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52 (8)
Colossians 1:15-28
St. Luke 10:38-42

Prayer of the Day:
Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ, and you make yourself our guest. Amid the cares of our lives, make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

10:38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

St. Luke 10:38-42. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

The Better Part

I have been on Sabbatical Leave for three months, and I can tell you: it was an extraordinary experience (more about that to come…), but it definitely is good to be back! Especially, it is good to return to Saint Peter during Day Camp week, with 30+ kids racing around the building singing, laughing, learning, loving… Many thanks to our volunteer crew at Saint Peter and the camp staff from Rainbow Trail who have made this week possible!

It is good to be back, and this Sunday I will begin a four-week sermon series entitled “What Is?” We’ll ask what is Sabbath (7/17), what is Christian faith (7/24), what is Christian faithfulness (7/21) and what are signs of a flourishing congregation (8/7). I hope you’ll join me for worship as I share some of what I’ve experienced these past three months, and as we pray together throughout these weeks about where God is leading us in the months to come. Continue reading

Pastor Dave is on Sabbatical Leave; April 11 through July 10

Pastor Dave, the author and webmaster of One Little Word, is on Sabbatical leave until July 11, 2016. He will not be composing or posting new devotional messages during this time, although he may be posting findings from his sabbatical activities. If you are looking for devotional messages or sermons, we welcome you to view his posts from three years ago.

Easter 4C (April 17)
devotional message

Easter 5C (April 24)
devotional message

Easter 6C (May 1)
devotional message

Easter 7C (May 8)
devotional message

The Feast of Pentecost (May 15)
devotional message

The Holy Trinity (May 22)
devotional message

Pentecost 2C / Proper 4C (May 29)
devotional message

Pentecost 3C / Proper 5C (June 5)
devotional message

Pentecost 4C / Proper 6C (June 12)
– devotional message Luke 7:36-8:3

Pentecost 5C / Proper 7C (June 19)
devotional message

Pentecost 6C / Proper 8C (June 26)
devotional message

Pentecost 7C / Proper 9C (July 3)
devotional message

Pentecost 8C / Proper 10C (July 10)
devotional message

The Third Sunday of Easter; Year C (4/10/2016)

Acts 9:1-6 [7-20]
Psalm 30 (11)
Revelation 5:11-14
St. John 21:1-19

Prayer of the Day:
Eternal and all-merciful God, with all the angels and all the saints we laud your majesty and might.  By the resurrection of your Son, show yourself to us and inspire us to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

St. John 21:1-19 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Do You Love Me?

They must have been searing words. Words that cut Peter to the core, and stop him in his tracks. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Any other time those words might not have had such a strong impact on Peter. Any other time he might have seen them as an introduction to something Jesus wanted to teach him, or an effort to start a conversation. But not this time. This time they sear him like a knife and stop him in his tracks. “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Jesus has reason to wonder. It was just a few days earlier that the soldiers arrested him and tortured him and were holding him captive. At the same time, Peter finds himself standing near a campfire with some of the locals. One of them — a young woman — a servant-girl — thinks she recognizes him. She asks if he belongs to Jesus’ group. Peter vehemently denies it to her: “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later another bystander seems to recognize him, yet again he protests: “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later it happens again, and Peter’s response is the same: “Man, I do now know what you are talking about!” Peter can’t have known it, but Jesus is watching him from a distance. As he speaks his third denial, a rooster crows (just as Jesus had predicted it would), Jesus turns and looks at Peter, and Peter immediately realizes what he has done. You can imagine how the image of his Lord’s disappointed (yet loving?) face must have burned its way into Peter’s memory. That exchange of looks is one that will follow him for the rest of his life.

Fast forward to some time, not long after the resurrection. Peter and half dozen of the others have returned to the Sea of Tiberias, and to their former vocation. They are fishing. It is one of those nights: for hours they throw out the nets, and draw them back empty. About daybreak, a man on the shore calls out to them: “Any luck?” When they tell him how poorly they have done, he recommends that they throw the nets to the right side of the boat. Upon doing so, there are suddenly so many fish that they can’t haul the net back into the boat. One of the disciples immediately realizes that they are in the presence of Jesus. Peter jumps into the water and swims ashore, and the rest follow in the boat.

Back on shore, Jesus asks Peter not once, not twice, but three times: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Jesus asks him not so much to test him, as to invite him to begin again. These three affirmations of love become Peter’s opportunity to answer his three statements of denial. They become, as well, an invitation to ministry. Jesus commands Peter to feed his sheep — to tend his flock. It won’t be easy, Jesus says. It may even cost you your life. But after his failure on Friday, even that doesn’t seem so bad to Peter.

Loved by Jesus, Peter goes on to become a leader in the early church. One who tends to Jesus’ followers. One who feeds even those most vulnerable of believers. One who eventually shares the death that Jesus himself experienced. Perhaps it is the depth of Jesus’ grace that turns him back towards service. Perhaps it is the knowledge that this one who asks about his love has already loved him so fully and completely.

May the love of Christ turn our lives around as well, turning us back towards lives of service.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why is Peter afraid to admit that he is a follower of Jesus?
  2. What must he feel when the rooster crows, and his eyes meet the eyes of his Lord?
  3. How must these words of invitation and encouragement be a word of life to Peter?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. When have my words or actions denied my faith in Jesus?
  2. What was it that caused me to realize my failure? How did I feel?
  3. Do I believe in God’s grace — a grace that can overcome even the worst of my sins?

The Second Sunday of Easter; Year C (4/3/2016)

Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 118:14-29 (28) or Psalm 150 (6)
Revelation 1:4-8
St. John 20:19-31

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

St. John 20:19-31 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America


That You May Come to Believe

We always set up extra chairs for Easter Sunday. The assembly may not be as large as on Christmas Eve, but it is almost aways our busiest Sunday. This makes sense, of course, because the resurrection of Jesus stands at the very heart of our faith. It is God’s proclamation that death will not have the final say. That grace is God’s way. That love finally wins out. That, in the words of St. Paul, “we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:4-5)

So we always set up extra chairs for Easter Sunday. The question for this week is: how many chairs should we move back to the storage room? The Second Sunday of Easter doesn’t always draw the smallest crowd of the year (that honor is usually reserved for Labor Day weekend or the Sunday after Christmas). But compared to Easter Sunday, there are precious few of us at worship.

It’s a shame, because this Gospel lesson has much to say to those who might miss worship this weekend. It is story of peace, forgiveness, patience and ultimately: faith.

It tells the story of Thomas, one of Jesus’ closest followers. History has labelled him the doubter, but truth be told: his story is not much different from the other ten. The story begins with ten of them huddled in fear, on the evening of the day Jesus was raised from the dead. (Thomas is not with them.) Jesus appears to them, blesses them, shows them his wounds, and they respond with joy. When they try to describe this to Thomas, it is more than he can comprehend.

The next week, Thomas is in the same state of mind they were in seven days before, only this time he is with them. Jesus appears to them, blesses them, and shows his wounds to Thomas, who then replies, “My Lord and my God!” (Arguably a stronger, more faithful response than that of his fellow disciples a week earlier…)

What is this story about? It is nothing less than an illustration of the central point of St. John’s Gospel; an account that was “written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

Jesus is willing to do anything to help them come to believe. He does so on that first Easter evening with the ten. He does so a week later with Thomas. He continues to do so with us today. The disciples exhibit faithfulness in trying to help Thomas to come to faith, but the most important thing they do is to keep Thomas in the fold until he has his own chance to meet Jesus. They don’t despise him, shame him, or reject him, even though he refuses to believe what they are sharing with him. But they hold him close, and eventually Jesus touches him.

In doing so they show their love for him, and model for us what faithfulness looks like.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does Jesus do to help the ten disciples believe in his resurrection?
  2. How do they treat Thomas when he returns to them?
  3. What might have happened if they had separated themselves from him?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How has God enabled us to become people of faith? People who trust Christ?
  2. How do we treat those who disagree with us about faith? Or values? Or morals?
  3. How do we stay connected with those who don’t yet believe in Jesus?

The Resurrection of Our Lord; Year C (3/27/2016)

Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (24)
1st Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
St. Luke 24:1-12 or St. John 20:1-18

Prayer of the Day:
O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

24:1 … On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

St. Luke 24:1-12 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A Lifetime of Easter

This Sunday Christians will gather all over the world, as people of faith, to celebrate the resurrection — the belief that our God is more powerful even than death itself. We will recall how, on that first Easter Sunday, God turned the tables on death, and made it possible for us to know everlasting life. We’ll read lessons that proclaim this sacred, good news. We’ll gather around the table where Christ is once again made present to us. We’ll be sent into the world, to be a reflection of the love this story has shared with us. Trumpets. Lillies. Festive decorations. Ceremony. Greetings of peace. All of these, simple human attempts to point to the sacred truth: we are deeply and profoundly loved by a God who chooses to become one with us, and to draw us into the promise of Christ. Continue reading

Good Friday; Year C (3/25/2016)

Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Psalm 22 (1)
Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
St. John 18:1—19:42

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given over to the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

18:1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”a Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesusc said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”e Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17 The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32 (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 40They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and satb on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrewc Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

St. John 18:1-19:42 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Continue reading

Maundy Thursday; Year C (3/24/2016)

Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (13)
1st Corinthians 11:23-26
St. John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Prayer of the Day:
Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

13:1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
31 Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

St. John 13:1-17, 31b-35 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


Passion Sunday / Palm Sunday; Year C (3/20/2016)

St. Luke 19:28-40 (Procession with Palms)
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16 (5)
Philippians 2:5-11
St. Luke 22:14–23:56 or St. Luke 23:1-49

Prayer of the Day:
O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ, and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

23:1 Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. 2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” 3 Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” 5 But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 9 He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 12 That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19 (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him.28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

St. Luke 23:1-49 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Holy Week

Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again;
but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”
[St. Luke 23:20-21]

And so the holiest of weeks begins. We will gather this Sunday to begin our commemoration of the Passion of our Lord. Jesus is the one “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.” [Philippians 2:6-8] Continue reading

The Fifth Sunday in Lent; Year C (3/13/2016)

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126 (5)
Philippians 3:4b-14
St. John 12:1-8

Prayer of the Day:
Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness, and your grace waters our desert. Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing, that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

12.1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

St. John 12:1-8 New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


Generous, Sacrificial, Extravagant

The value of ancient Roman coins seemed to rise and fall at the Emperor’s whim, but by most estimates a denarius in the first century was worth about a day’s wage for a Roman soldier. What would a day’s wage be for a soldier in the United States today? According to, “the average active duty service member receives an Army benefits and pay compensation package worth $99,000… [including] health care, retirement pay, child care and free or subsidized food, housing and education.” $99,000 per year. $271 per day. Or if you assume 48 6-day work weeks, $344 per work day. Either way you figure it, 300 day’s wages at today’s rate for a U.S. soldier would run somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000. Continue reading

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