During the season of Lent this year, we will “open the Bible” and learn and experience ways that we are able to encounter scripture. We will learn some basic Biblical history and background, learn and practice ways scripture is engaged besides just studying it and talking about it, and ponder the ways the Bible impacts our individual and corporate lives. Curated and facilitated by Pastor Jason, this time together will include teaching, conversation, and practice. It is suitable for those who are very familiar with the Bible as well as for those who have never or rarely opened it. So invite your friends that are curious about the Bible and join us Wednesday evenings February 25th – March 25th at 7:00 in the church parlor.
As one of the most influential figures in history, Jesus has been one of the most explored images in the history of film. You are invited to join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 during Lent for movie clips, teaching, and conversation as Pastor Jason shares his research and passion regarding Jesus in film.
March 12th Jesus Goes to Hollywood: The Classics King of Kings, The Passion of St. Matthew, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus of Nazareth
March 19th The Part of Jesus Will be Played By: Christ Figures in Film Shane, The Green Mile
March 26th Feminine Grace: Female Christ Figures in Film Babette’s Feast, Whale Rider, Spitfire Grill, Chocolat
April 2nd That’s Not My Jesus: Controversial Portrayals Jesus Christ Superstar, The Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ
April 9th The Latest. The Greatest? Joshua, The Gospel of John, Passion of the Christ, Son of God
Thank God—he’s so good.
His love never quits! Psalm 118:29 (The Message)
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:1-4 (The Message)
The readings are preparing us for the beginning of Holy Week. Deuteronomy explains the Feast of Passover, why Jesus was heading for Jerusalem.
Philippians reminds us that Jesus, being equal with God, “when the time came set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!” Therefore, we have the option of following his example to put ourselves aside and help others to get ahead.
How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word. Psalm 119:9 (NRSV)
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Psalm 119:10-11 (The Message)
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring. Isaiah 44:3 (NRSV)
The scriptures in the daily lectionary continue to remind us of God’s promise of blessing to us. Isaiah asks “What other God is there?” Here is this God that wants to quench our thirst, and keep our heart pure, and bless our offspring.
“But, but…” we may protest. But what, really? What else is there, who else is there to follow? One could definitely do much worse than “banking your promises in the vault of my heart.”
What does it look like to be “single-minded in pursuit of God?”
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (NRSV)
It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. Ephesians 1:13-14 (The Message)
And you? Go about your business without fretting or worrying. Relax. When it’s all over, you will be on your feet to receive your reward. Daniel 12:13 (The Message)
When I first read these passages, I wasn’t quite sure where Daniel fit in. I would have to read the passage in context to know for sure. However, it seems to be a reminder amidst all of this talk about blessing and freedom that sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes we don’t experience everything promised right now. But we do have the freedom to go about our business without worrying, knowing that in the end “we will be on our feet to receive our reward.”
And in Christ we have the “first installment” as Peterson translates it. This is from where our confidence comes.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble… Psalm 107:2 (NRSV)
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Ephesians 1:4 (The Message)
God isn’t angry.
Sometimes I beat myself up and convince myself that it is God beating me up. God’s purpose isn’t to tear me (or you) down. God’s purpose is to redeem me, to love me, to make me whole (and you too!).
The Genesis passage is repeated, I imagine for emphasis, from a couple of Sundays ago. God is covenanting with all of creation that the world would never again be destroyed by a flood. In Ephesians, Paul begins his letter with a reminder to his readers that God loves and blesses them. And I am looking forward to spending time with this Psalm for the next few days, being reminded that I am redeemed and loved. I hope you do the same!
There is a long tradition of making the Season of Lent a special time for reflection, especially personal reflections on one’s faith journey. Here are some suggestions for reflecting on your faith journey. This year, Lent is a time of immersing ourselves in God’s promises of presence, love, and guidance. Enjoy the journey.
Time in Scripture
Use the daily lectionary readings and join in the conversation about how God is speaking to you through your time in scripture.
Reflections for Your Daily Routine
Carry a small rock with you through your day. Each time your attention is drawn to it, contemplate the law of love. Imagine that the law of love rules your every interaction during the day. What new ways of being are possible because of the law of love?
Reflections With Family
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O God.” Psalm 119:15 It is so easy to just fire off an email or Facebook update or Twitter “tweet” or text message without thinking much about it. Challenge yourself to be more mindful of your words in these contexts this week. Take a deep breath before you respond to anything and make space in your heart before you start typing or texting. Notice how this mindfulness affects your sense of connection to others.
What if for just one week during Lent, you gave 10% of your income? Think about what your weekly income would be — one week of your salary or take home pay, your monthly retirement income divided by 4, or whatever way makes sense to you. Calculate what 10% of that would be. Then consider putting that in the offering plate just one Sunday, or making up the difference between what you would usually give. The Biblical tithing amount is 10% — so this challenge is a way for us to think about what that would mean for us and a way to experience what it would feel like.
You may find it’s easier than your thought!
What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! Psalm 84:1-2, 5-6 (The Message)
The passage from Ezra speaks of the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian captivity. The reading from Mark is an account of Jesus’ clearing out the temple of money changers and merchants.
Psalm 84 is a song of praise about the temple and it is beautiful as that. But as I have read it this week it has become more. How wonderful it is to dwell in God and to be indwelled by God! Yes, sometimes it is lonely (but really isn’t all of life sometimes very lonely?!). However, the springs and pools encountered make it all worthwhile.