via WordPress https://ift.tt/2QUAsZp
Thought for the Day: Can you imagine being accused of something that you had yet to do? Can you imagine those words coming from the one who you loved and respected, the one you had promised to follow to the end? I can only imagine my first response would be defensiveness, followed with words of my undying commitment… a little like the disciples. On further reflection and some deeper introspection, I might have been able to painfully acknowledge the possibility that Jesus was correct. Within all of us, at any given moment, is the possibility for betrayal and denial and outright subversion of the message Jesus came to share. A fear that we could betray him might leave us unable to do anything, yet awareness of the possibility allows for us to be humble and confessional. It is only then that we create the possibility of following Christ into the darker hours of Holy Week.
Prayer: I confess to you, Merciful God, how my life can so easily turn away from you. I am quick with an excuse or an explanation why it’s not the right moment. I can speak lofty words as I betray your mission of love. Forgive me and beckon me to join you again in the journey to the cross. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3m2um4y
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3u4jmqg
Thought for the Day: Maybe it is just me, but I come across a lot of passages that leave me wondering WHY? After Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), this feels very anticlimactic. Jesus went to the temple, looked around, noticed it was getting late and decided to go onto Bethany. Why did Mark include this? Now a few days later, Jesus returned to Jerusalem and confronted the hypocrisy of the temple. That was a big event. In fact, it was probably the turning point for the Roman government and their reason for executing Jesus. Rome historically was willing to give other religious movements a fair amount of freedom, assuming their practices did not cause any sort of upheaval or controversy. Jesus had pushed the envelope a bit, but that act would cross a boundary. Yet let’s return to Mark 11:11 and the rather unimpressive follow-up to the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It makes me think about all the times in my own life when I have felt like things were moving in the right direction and nothing could slow me down. And then I turn the corner, and there is nothing – like hitting an emotional wall. How do we react to those moments? Are they so devastating that we are unable to shake it off and find another way forward? For many, that’s the case. I like how Jesus goes to Bethany and hangs out there for a short time. It’s almost as if he needs a day or two for the purpose of resting and regrouping. Was Jesus needing to collect himself after a disappointment? I can’t say for sure, but there is something nice in thinking of Jesus being a little disillusioned when his forward movement was interrupted.
Prayer: I know this life will have many disappointments, Merciful God, yet I know you are with me in both the high points and the lows. When discouragement comes my way, provide me some space to collect my thoughts and draw upon your Spirit’s energy. Amen.
TODAY’S WORSHIP SERVICE
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3fkm46M
Thought for the Day: During my Lenten Study, I shared what I call the importance of keeping an eye on the extremes. There are many places in scripture where we are confronted with an absurdity or what appears as a shocking contrast for the purpose of dramatic effect. Jesus was riding a colt, a rather plain and un-royal creature. King David would not have been caught dead on a colt, yet here comes Jesus. We cannot ignore the extremes when they appear in scripture. What does it say to you that the long-awaited king was not only a controversial teacher, but so much of what he did could not have been any further from what people expected of a king? This was a nation under Roman occupation, but a hope of a new King David was on the hearts of many. This new king would crush the Romans, yet the rather unceremonious entrance of Jesus would not have engendered much confidence in such an outcome. What do you think the Gospel writer hoped his audience would hear? How do you think Jesus would have defined the coming kingdom of the ancestor David?
Prayer: What is there for us to learn? Help open the eyes of our hearts and minds, O Lord, as we explore how Jesus challenged the norms and expectations of almost everyone… then and now. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/31rw5qJ
Thought for the Day: Yesterday, as we looked at John’s Gospel, the chant of the crowd was basically, “Hosanna!” Today, as we look at Luke’s Gospel, the declaration of “the whole multitude of the disciples” was a bit more elaborate. It is a quote from the Prophet Zechariah, a worshipful proclamation as the king arrived, the king who would crush the instruments of war and inaugurate the reign of peace (Zechariah 9). Of course, Zechariah was announcing those words centuries earlier in a very different setting, yet it remained the hope of those who echoed the long-held belief as Jesus entered Jerusalem. In a world where violence and cruelty remain very prominent, how are we to hear Jesus and his arrival that included, among other things, the crushing of the tools of war? What does it mean for those of us who join together (not in-person quite yet) in shouting these words once again on Palm Sunday? What does it mean for us to declare that Jesus has come to bring an end to the use of weapons (the word in Hebrew has been translated by some as chewed up and spit out)? Those are some pretty challenging ideas as we stand in the shadow of thirty people killed by gun violence in the last week.
Prayer: Let me not only join my voice to these ancient words, O Lord, but let me participate in seeing the vision fulfilled. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3cpCrxe
Thought for the Day: This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. As Jesus approached, the crowd shouted, “Hosanna!” Most of us have heard the word and might have even shouted it ourselves. The etymology of the word is bit a complicated as most scholars believe the Greek word we translate as Hosanna is actually the transliteration of two Hebrew words. But which two Hebrew words? Some believe the words are “save us” and “please,” while other scholars say the two Hebrew words are “bring salvation” and “please.” It may not sound all that different, but one implies being rescued from the current situation as compared to transforming the current situation. I guess my response would be, “Why not both?” I believe there are moments when we need to be rescued from the current predicament. For whatever reason, it is too dangerous for someone to remain. At the same time, we follow a God who time and time again transformed situations that we had come to believe were beyond hope. Why could it not be both?
Prayer: Hosanna! Come and save us, O Lord! Bring your salvation to transform us and the world in which we live. This is our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/2PsCcbD
READ OR LISTEN
Thought for the Day: Paul was a big fan of love, patience and kindness. These three words appear numerous times in his writings, often grouped or connected in one way or another. When you read these words, it appears as if love is expressed in the outward and noticeable acts of patience and kindness. Of course, the one expressing the patience and kindness probably experienced love in the first place through, among other things, the patience and kindness of others. So often the intolerance we see manifest in acts of hate and violence did not begin with a bad day or even a single bad experience. The genesis is often a life that has known more affliction than healing, more ridicule than hope, more brokenness than reconciliation. If the outward and noticeable embodiments of love are absent from a person’s life, why should we ever expect patience and kindness to have taken root.
Prayer: To those who have never known welcoming and unconditional love, I come asking for your assistance, O Mighty God, in the work of bringing that gift to them. May I demonstrate patience and kindness and the many other splendid ideals manifest in the life of Jesus. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/31e5gq0
Thought for the Day: And let me begin by suggesting that one of the better ways of clothing ourselves with these God-like attributes is with a mask. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to grab a few items at approximately the same time as the shooting in Boulder, Colorado. I actually had just seen news of an “active shooter” in Colorado, but with no details. While in the grocery store, I found myself frustrated at the number of people not wearing masks, including employees. And FYI – wearing it on your chin does not qualify as wearing. I chose a specific checkout line because the first two I approached had people without masks. This pandemic has sadly unveiled a selfishness with deadly consequences. Much of this selfishness has been concealed by claims of personal or religious freedom, yet I think we need to listen to two people whose voices most Americans would claim as important. The Apostle Paul wanted his fellow Jesus Followers to act with, among other things, kindness and compassion to the point that these attributes were as visible as an outer garment. The second person was Thomas Jefferson who, according to Garry Wills (‘Inventing America,’ 1978), believed that when Jefferson wrote about pursuing happiness “he had nothing vague or private in mind. He meant public happiness.” I am not making any sort of specific correlation between mask wearing and the shooting in Boulder. With that said, tangible acts of kindness and compassion seem more difficult to find these days. And as Jesus taught, the cycle of violence does not usually begin with a major act, but with demonstrations of selfishness that suggest “I am more important than you.” The cycle is broken with acts of selflessness, including self-giving love for all people.
Prayer: Let my decision-making be driven, not by what I like or want, but what is needed by the larger community that you love, O Lord. May I continue to accept the small inconvenience of wearing a mask while also pursuing some real acts of sacrifice for those you have called me to love. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3lOIu1d
via WordPress https://ift.tt/396KFIe
Rev. Bruce Frogge