Be Shaped to Receive

A Lenten Devotional with Mark’s Gospel
Composed by Benjamin Vineyard

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Table of Contents
Introduction:!..................................................................................................3 Guide for Use:!...............................................................................................3 Morning Prayer:! .............................................................................................5 Sunday Morning Prayer !........................................................................5 Monday Morning Prayer!........................................................................5 Tuesday Morning Prayer!.......................................................................6 Wednesday Morning Prayer!.................................................................6 Thursday Morning Prayer !.....................................................................7 Friday Morning Prayer! ...........................................................................7 Saturday Morning Prayer !......................................................................8 Mid-Day or Dinner Time Prayer!.................................................................10 Night Prayer (Compline & Examen)! ...........................................................11 Scripture Readings and Prayer!.................................................................13 Week #1!........................................................................................................18 Week #2!........................................................................................................24 Week #3!........................................................................................................30 Week #4!........................................................................................................37 Week #5!........................................................................................................43 Holy Week!....................................................................................................48 Easter!...........................................................................................................55

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How do we really make way for God’s work in our lives? How do we prepare to receive Jesus? What do we make of Jesus when we hear some of the things he has to say? This devotional is a guide for the Lenten journey. Lent is a season of pause, reflection, repentance and reception. It is a season designed to have us come face to face with Jesus, realize our own brokenness, and let go of that brokenness so that we can receive the life he comes to bring. Our devotional will have some uncomfortable questions; we will have to wrestle within ourselves what we make of Jesus. And we know that no growth comes without discomfort, without readjustment. We will have to ask ourselves, “If this is true, do I really want to continue?” This booklet is written to be a guide for prayer, study, and action. As we read along, we’ll pause for prayer. Our reading itself will be placed inside of prayer. This is all to place us before God, becoming more open to receive. We’ll discover that it is Jesus himself that comes to us in the words of Scripture that causes us to receive. But will we allow it?

Guide for Use:
There are two ways to use this devotional guide. 1.) Go all in; 2.) Use the daily prayer and reading section alone. If you go all in, this is what the rhythm will look like: 1.Morning Prayer (based on which day of the week it is) with the day’s Scripture reading and guide for prayer inside the morning prayer rhythm. (You’ll see how it works.) 2.Mid-Day or Dinner Time Prayer. Based on whichever time spot works best, this is a time of prayer focused on gratitude and re-engagement with the rest of the day based on the day’s reading. There is one setting for midday / dinner time prayer for every day. 3.Night Prayer. This is a nightly prayer intended to encourage looking back on your day based on the day’s reading.

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I can’t imagine our hearts and minds not being formed if we didn't spend this kind of prayerful time with the words of Mark’s Gospel. Finally, at the end of each week segment, there is a collection of ideas to explore and express faith in Jesus. Some of them will be more active, others more contemplative. The goal with this list is to provide you with a few ideas to spur your imagination into action as well, practicing and growing to imitate Jesus in all you do. (Many of these ideas are borrowed from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals).

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Morning Prayer:
Sunday Morning Prayer
You, Lord, have done great things for us and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126.3) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation (For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section). Reading. Guidance for the Reading. Guided Time of Prayer. Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Restore us, Father; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80.3)

Monday Morning Prayer
Restore us, Father; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80.3) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation (For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section). Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
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trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. We wait for you Lord, our whole being waits; in your word we put our hope. (Psalm 130.5)

Tuesday Morning Prayer
We wait for you Lord, our whole being waits; in your word we put our hope. (Psalm 130.5) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation (For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section). Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Oh that today we would hear your voice Lord : may our hearts not be hardened.

Wednesday Morning Prayer

Oh that today we would hear your voice Lord : may our hearts not be hardened. Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation

Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our
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daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. You Lord are close to the broken hearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34.18)

Thursday Morning Prayer
You Lord are close to the broken hearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34.18) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation (For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section). Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Father, your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and your rule endures through all generations. You are trustworthy in all you promise and faithful in all you do. (Psalm 145.13)

Friday Morning Prayer

Father, your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and your rule endures through all generations. You are trustworthy in all you promise and faithful in all you do. (Psalm 145.13) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation

(For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section).
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Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Lord Almighty: you are Holy, Holy, Holy. The whole earth is filled with your glory. (Isaiah 6.3)

Saturday Morning Prayer

Lord Almighty: you are Holy, Holy, Holy. The whole earth is filled with your glory. (Isaiah 6.3) Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation

The Te Deum: We praise you, O God : we acknowledge you to be the Lord. All the earth worships you : the Father everlasting. To you all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein. To you Cherubim and Seraphim : continually cry, Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Sabbath; Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty : of your glory. The glorious company of the apostles : praise you. The good fellowship of the prophets : praise you. The noble army of martyrs : praise you. The holy Church throughout all the world : does acknowledge you; The Father : of an infinite Majesty; Your honourable, true : and only Son; Also the Holy Spirit : the Comforter. You are the King of Glory : O Christ. You are the everlasting Son : of the Father.
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When you took upon yourself to deliver man : you humbled yourself to be born of a virgin. When you overcame the sharpness of death : you opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. You sit at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father. We believe that you will come : to be our Judge. We therefore pray You to help your servants : whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with your Saints : in glory everlasting. (For the Reading, Guidance for the Reading, and Guided Time of Prayer, find today’s date in the “Scripture Readings and Prayer section). Reading: Guidance for the Reading: Guided Time of Prayer: Our Father, who is in heaven / hallowed is your name. / Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us today our daily bread / and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. / Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. / for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. You, Lord, have done great things for us and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126.3)

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Mid-Day or Dinner Time Prayer
Draw us into your love, Jesus : deliver us from fear. Quiet | Dwelling | Anticipation Return to the Reading. (Read the day’s reading again. Return your attention to the Lord.) Return to the Call of the Reading. (Turn your attention to the content of the verses you read. Does Jesus extend an embrace? A call? A command? What is Jesus inviting his followers to believe or do? How does this “call” resonate with your life right now, right in the middle of your work?) Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice, for great is their reward. Return in the Reading. (Read the reading one more time. Read it slowly; let it sink into your mind as you prepare to re-enter the rest of your day.) Prayer: Talking with God about what you’ll be doing together. (Pray for God’s embrace and guidance in Jesus from the Reading. Let the words of Jesus and actions of Jesus become an embrace or guidance from God.) Return to work or to the rest of your day in the content and substance of the reading.

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Night Prayer (Compline & Examen)
Oh God, come to our assistance; Oh Lord, make haste to help us. (Psalm 22) Reading for Rest. (Read today’s reading tonight. Read it like you’re searching for rest and comfort.) Examen 1 & Confession Inspired by the Reading. (Here are some questions to facilitate prayer, examination and confession:) 1.How has your time of prayer with God been today? 2.What stands out to you tonight with regards to your day? 3.Where did your life today imitate the part of Jesus you saw in today’s reading? 4.Where did your life today not imitate the part of Jesus you saw in today’s reading? Express gratitude to God where you saw his guidance; confess to him where you fell short as well. Reading in Rest. (Friend, because of Jesus, your sins are forgiven. Anything that feels to bar you away from Jesus has been taken down by the cross. Read the reading one last time for the day. Read it with the feel of resting in Jesus you see him there. You are in his arms and care; his calls are always for your life to be filled with his life.) Guided Time of Prayer from the Reading. 1.What, from your day, are you thankful for? 2.What, from your day and perhaps inspired by today’s reading, would you like to confess? 1
“Examen, pronounced ex-ah-men is an ancient process of prayer and examination. Here, we have a short version. | 11

3.Who would you like to say a prayer for tonight? What would you like to talk with God about for them? 4.What would requests would you like to make to God tonight? Go ahead: ask him. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32) Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; Your word has been fulfilled. My eyes have seen the salvation You have prepared in the sight of every people, A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel. (The Liturgy of the Hours Translation)

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Scripture Readings2 and Prayer


Our reading outline comes from Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B, by N.T. Wright. WKJ. ©2012 | 13

Ash Wednesday Mark 1.1-20 “Prepare the way of the Lord...” “You will be baptized by the Holy Spirit.” “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I’m very pleased.” “The kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” “Follow me...” “Immediately he called them and they left...” We’ve found ourselves swept up by news of Jesus. It’s precise news, immediate news. There’s hardly time to think before acting, so we must act from faith. If we’re to follow Jesus, we must turn now, we must follow now, we must receive the kingdom of God now - before Jesus moves to the next town. But, what is this “good news?” 1.15 says, “The kingdom of God has come near.” (NRSV). What’s so great about that? The goodness has everything to do a promise from God being fulfilled: “One of the great promises that Israel had cherished for centuries was that when [God] finally made the Exodus story happen all over again, setting his people free once and for all, that would be the time when he would come to live personally with his people. He would be with them; he would be their God, and they would be his people.”3 [To explore this, begin with Exodus 14.1-15.3; Isaiah 61; Ezekiel 36:25-29; Joel 2:1-2, 12-23; Malachi 3.1-7] So, here we have it: God is showing up in history in the person of Jesus, calling us into freedom, redemption, and wholeness. Yet, along the journey, we’ll also discover that what we believe about “freedom, redemption, and wholeness,” needs to be redeemed. Following Jesus in Mark’s gospel is about being called into a journey with Jesus. You’ll follow him everywhere. On the road, you’ll begin to receive the faith he has, anticipate the hope he ushers in, and love in thoughts and actions like Jesus loves. Have you ever tried to define what a disciple is? Try it now. As you continue reading, let Mark’s gospel refine and shape your definition as you keep company with Jesus. Can you think of something that prevents you from following Jesus everywhere? A Guide for a Time of Prayer: ●For the grace to see and turn from anything that holds us back from following Jesus. ●For communities of faith to continually re-hear Jesus in the Gospels and then follow him. ●For God’s kingdom to continue to be ushered in on earth as it is in heaven, beginning with me. Thursday after Ash Wednesday Mark 1.21-45


Mark for Everyone by N.T. Wright. p. 3. WJK. ©2004 | 14

Today’s reading is about Jesus making room for life or introducing new life to the people he meets. Whether it’s kicking out demons, bringing a new, authoritative, life-bringing teaching, or healing a man with leprosy, Jesus is ushering in a new era. We read about it earlier: the kingdom of God was coming near. A significant part to remember about the cleansing and healing is what being healed in those cases meant to the recipients. To be cleansed of a demon is to be cleansed of a spirit that resists God. To be cleansed of leprosy was to be cured of a disease that was considered socially unclean - you were removed from the community and thought to have had God abandon you if you had a disease like that. Yet Jesus brings the reverse: God and his kingdom of care and rule was coming near. Life with God, life received from God in Jesus, was becoming possible. ...and that’s what we see Jesus doing in the middle of the healings in 1.35; he’s enjoying a conversation with God; he’s enjoying life with God. When have you last felt Jesus’ teachings to be filled with authority for your life? When did you last feel Jesus’ teachings to bring true hope and life? How’s your prayer life these days? How simple or difficult is it for you to talk with God? Might you be called to have pity and compassion on another person - to get involved in a healing of some kind (whether small or large)? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our renewal in life with God. ●For us to be moved toward compassion for others. ●For us to hear Jesus’ words as authoritative and lifebringing. ●For deep repentance and a willingness to let go of anything that would have us receive life from God in Jesus. Friday after Ash Wednesday Mark 2.1-17 Jesus brings more healing, more restoration to people in today’s reading. Yet not everyone is ready to receive. In order to truly see and say, “We’ve never seen anything like this,” we need to hear the call Jesus spoke to Levi (and speaks to us) today: “Follow me.” It is in following Jesus that we see ourselves as those who are sick and receiving their healer. It is in following Jesus wherever he goes that our eyes are opened. It is in prayerful, faith-lived obedience to Jesus that our hearts and minds are shaped to receive the kind of life Jesus brings.
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It is then that we will remember when we heard: “Son, daughter, your sins are forgiven. Stand up; walk.” We will be able to remember and receive; we will be shaped by the journey with Jesus to do so. When was the last time you felt overcome with awe because of something God did? Do you know, truly know, that your sins are forgiven and that life with God is possible for you, now and forever? Once Levi was loved into a relationship with Jesus, he invited his friends who had messed up lives to come and see. How easy or difficult is it for you to introduce friends to Jesus or to talk about life with god together? Does being a Christian feel too much like a “nice boy, nice girl, religious thing” to really get involved in the dirtiness of life? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For God to work in us an ability to receive Jesus into our lives. ●For our lives to become attentive to Jesus and his ways. Saturday after Ash Wednesday Mark 1.9-15 We needed to rewind today. We need to say, “Wait: what’s going on here?” You and I have also been called beloved children of God in our baptism. We will go through desert times in life where we must, absolutely must, learn to rely on God alone. We, in receiving God’s love like a child, and hearing him call us a beloved child, will also begin to talk about the good news, that is, the effective range of God’s rule is coming near. We need to repent! We need to change! We need to be cleaned to receive the kingdom (10.15); we need to free our hands from all the junk of life in order to receive God’s kingdom. Are you aware that you really are God’s beloved child? Remember a story where you felt like you only had God to rely on. Do you have one? Repentance. What do you need see changed in your life in order to rely on God alone? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●That knowing we are beloved children of God would really sink into the depths of our being. ●For the comfort to talk with others about the Good News of nearness of God’s kingdom (the effective range of his rule). ●For the growing ability to rely on God alone and the grace to let go of anything that would get in the way of that.
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Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed
Go for a walk in your neighborhood and keep an eye out for neighbors that might be in need (like elderly neighbors). If you can’t find any need, go for a drive or walk in a neighborhood you know has needs. Pray for guidance on how to respond. Ask people in your community about needs they know about. Pray about how to make room and time to respond. Go shopping in a deep discount grocery story. Engage in conversation with someone if there’s an opening to. Ask the next person who asks you for change to join you for dinner. Keep the sabbath holy. Rest one day a week for Lent. Don’t answer the phone or the door, and don’t use the Internet. Do something that brings you life that day.

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Week #1
Sunday Psalm 25:1-10 We pause today from reading Mark’s gospel. Instead, we draw a song from Jesus’ prayer book - the Psalms. Allow Psalm 25 to become a prayer for you as we continue reading Mark’s gospel in Lent. May we truly hunger for Jesus to teach us his ways, to take us on his paths; may we thirst for his presence all day long. Is Psalm 25 really a prayer you want to live by? Do you honestly desire those verses? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●Simply re-read Psalm 25:1-10. This time, read the verses to God, read them as a prayer to God. ●...that the Church all over the world would hunger and thirst for the kind of life Psalm 25 invites. (Especially for your own church.) ●That our leaders in churches would live by Psalm 25 and receive by the Gospels.

Monday Mark 2.18-28 Today’s reading has religious leaders clashing with Jesus. What do they clash over? Fasting and sabbath keeping. Fasting is a practice of hungering for God alone; it is a declaration of faith, saying, I will depend on God alone for life, identity, and everything. Sabbath keeping is a practice of resting in what God has provided. It is a declaration like saying, “Thank you and I trust you,” to God. When we practice living by faith and not by being anxious or worried, we will find ourselves in times of resting in God’s care. The religious leaders in Mark seem to have distorted what the practices were for and turned them into empty, lifeless rules. In the middle of our stories, Jesus essentially says, “We can’t learn to depend on God or rest in God if we live by emptied out rules. We can’t put new wine (new life from God [see 1.27]) into worn out wine skins (worn out rules). We have to live into what those rules were intended to bring.” Have you ever felt your faith being more about rule keeping than living by faith, learning to depend on God alone and resting in what God has provided? If so, what’s the story behind that?
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A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●That we might move from empty rule keeping and empty traditions to a life lived together, a life lived learning to rely on God and rest in God. ●For spiritual renewal and refreshment. ●To keep company with Jesus even when we feel others breathing down our necks because we do. Tuesday Mark 3.1-19 There are two ways to watch Jesus in Mark’s gospel: 1.) So you can accuse him and say, “That won’t work in ‘real life!’” - seeking to destroy what Jesus says and does, even who he is, or, 2.) So you can be shaped to receive the kind of life he came to bring: life with God, truly under God and nothing else. For the first, Jesus grieves at the hardness of heart; for the second, Jesus is compassionate. In order that they might be shaped and sent, Jesus calls twelve apostles (that is, “sent ones”). It is significant that Jesus calls them first to be with him. Just be. Live life with Jesus. That’s our first call too. It’s only after that when we discover we have a story to share with others and an authority from God to be agents of cleansing in people’s lives, helping set people free from anything that is anti-God. (In Mark’s gospel, this is always a compassionate embrace for the person and a stark clash with the demon.) Do you feel comfortable just being with Jesus? ...walking with Jesus in the ordinary rhythms of life? Have you ever felt the call to leave something behind in order to be with Jesus? As we think about seeing Jesus in different ways, have you ever said, “That will never work for me!” for anything Jesus says in the gospels? Why did you feel that way? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our ability to just be with Jesus (especially if that means I need to leave something behind in order to go and be with him). ●For our capacity to see Jesus in the way that brings life and not condemnation of what he says.

Wednesday Mark 3.20-35
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If we clash with the essence of God, with the very Spirit of God that brings forgiveness and life and we say, “I’ll have none of it!” how could we honestly receive the gift the Spirit brings? If we deny the call Jesus extends to us to come and participate in life with God together, to come and learn to live life from Jesus, to be forgiven constantly of all the times we rebel against what Jesus says, how can forgiveness be received? If the point is to live with God, but we say we’ll only have it on our terms, can we really live with God? It’s with this thought that we see that “whoever does the will of God” is the brother, sister, and family of Jesus. What is the will? The will is to be shaped to receive life from God. You’ll be shaped to receive life as you enter the journey as a disciple; the journey itself will also be the life received. So, anytime Jesus calls us to follow, he’s shaping us to live with himself and with God. He is showing us what we are forgiven into. This is a life totally dependent on God alone, able to totally rest in God alone, capable of entering the journey with Jesus because of God’s healing grace alone (see 2.10-11, 17). You and I are forgiven into a relationship of dependence and obedience to God in Jesus. And we’re going to need a lot of forgiveness to sustain the journey. Do you ever feel yourself clashing with God? We read that it’s those who do God’s will that are called family members of Jesus. Do you desire to carry the family resemblance? Do you desire for people to see you and automatically think, “Hey, he/she looks like Jesus’ brother/sister?” May God grant us the grace and forgiveness to be so; may we be shaped to naturally express his will. A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the “family resemblance” of Jesus (naturally doing God’s will) be seen in us. ●For a renewed confidence and calling to follow Jesus in our homes, work places, schools, and places where we play. Thursday Mark 4.1-20 Jesus’ teaching today invites us to listen, if we’re able (“If anyone has ears to hear, listen.”). We find ourselves in the middle of Jesus asking us to receive something he is here to bring. This time, he calls it the word, and this word of life is referring to 1.15: the kingdom of God. There’s a hard quote from Isaiah 6.10 in our reading. Did you catch it? Jesus says that he teaches in parables in order that, “they may
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look but not perceive, listen but not understand; that they may not turn and be forgiven.” What is Jesus saying here? We’ll return to that later. Jesus teaches more about what he meant in the parable of the sower in the second half of today’s reading. He says, in effect, that the reasons the seed doesn’t grow are the same reasons people won’t accept the nearness of the kingdom of God. What we see going on in today’s reading is that our lives need to be cultivated to receive life from God in his kingdom. Often, when we hear about Jesus and what Jesus is up to, we try to make Jesus fit to our agenda, to what we think or want him to be; we accept Jesus but only on our terms. Left to our own understanding and desire, our hearts become hardened when we hear much of what Jesus has to say. Jesus, on the other hand, as he shares stories and parables, works on our hearts through subversion. By indirection in parables, he cultivates our hearts and minds, preparing us to receive the word, preparing us to receive life with him, but this time, with our hearts and minds cultivated to be free of needing things to be on our terms. We are shaped to receive the kingdom of God as we journey with Jesus and live out what he says. (If it was Jesus’ desire to use parables to prevent people from perceiving, understanding, and being forgiven, as some suggest, then why does he take the time to explain the meaning of this parable?) Have you ever experienced the work of Satan, struggles, or stuff preventing your reliance on Jesus? If Jesus were to say to you tonight, “Donate your entire salary to a charity and practice living by grace through faith by begging on the street,” would you hesitate? How might we present the good news of Jesus and the kingdom of God through indirection? Have you ever told a person an indirect story about Jesus or made some kind of art about the grace of God? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our hearts to be softened that we would freely live as Jesus invites and freely produce a fruit of life for others. ●For the capacity to suffer with Christ and with others. ●For Satan and all evil to be rejected and destroyed in our lives. ●For creativity in sharing the message about Jesus.

Friday Mark 4.21-41
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The kingdom of God takes time to develop within us and within our world. 4.27 suggests that it is also a mystery to us, yet 4.24 suggests for us to pay attention to what we’re hearing, that is, pay attention to what little bits of the kingdom of God you see and garden the place where it is growing so it will continue to flourish and be experienced by others. For, the measure of attention and obedience you give to the seed of God’s word, the more it will grow and produce life within you. Yet we return to 4.1-20. Remember the things that prevented growth? These are the things that will need to be weeded out so that life with God will grow in us. May God grant us the grace to see such things removed in our lives. Our reading today ended with Jesus letting the disciples practice a life dependent on God. They fail and are bent by fear and “no faith.” Jesus is teaching them, and us, that relying on the Father and living life in the kingdom of God is going to take a while to fully become our new life. How do we proceed? We nurture the seed that was planted. We listen to Jesus and go and do likewise - this is how we are formed to receive the kingdom. A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the faith to rest in the middle of life’s most violent storms, knowing that God is in control. ●For the patience and endurance as a community of believers to nurture the seed of God’s kingdom in our life together. ●For the ability to really hear and obey and be formed by God’s grace.

Saturday Mark 8.31-38 Like journeymen and women asking our guide where this road is going, our reading has us asking Jesus that same question today. We, like Peter, will find ourselves fighting against the way; we’ll say, “Heck no! That ain’t the way we’re going!” But we need to remember: life in God’s kingdom does not come on our terms. The way of life in God’s kingdom does not come to satisfy what we desire and understand right now. Our lives, like Peter’s, need a great deal of cultivation in order to fully receive God, his kingdom, and the life he intends for us.
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In order for this to happen, we will need to see the old us killed, our old life and expectations killed, our old understandings killed. The boxes we have placed God in will need to be smashed out of our lives. In these verses we are confronted by our Guide; we hear that the Way is not an augmentation for our life as our life is, but a complete reorientation. This reorientation will have us no longer asking, “What’s in it for me?” but, “May my life be poured out for others.” (See 4.20, 4.29, 4.32, and 4.38). Does the call to deny yourself and carry a cross sit well with you? What causes hesitation? On the other hand, if this applies, what causes an over eager willingness to do so? (See Mark 14.26-31) A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the capacity to receive what God desires for us and to live as God desires for us in Jesus. ●For the time for us to contemplate how significant this call to be a follower of Jesus is. ●For our hearts and lives to be poured out in love, mission, and evangelism for all.

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed

Create a directory of spiritual mentors and help people find them. Invite someone over for dinner. Enjoy the conversation and storytelling. Allow yourself to receive a gift without the obligation to pay it back. Take break from noise. For three days, turn off everything that makes noise. Spend time in silence, speaking only when necessary. Laugh at advertisements, especially those that say that you can buy happiness.


These ideas come from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

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Week #2
Sunday Psalm 22.22-31 Yesterday we talked about our life being poured out. Psalm 22.1-21 is a prayer and song about life poured out. Read it in a minute. But first, today’s reading from Psalm 22 declares the why and how of life being poured out: God has not hidden himself, he hears us, our lives will be shaped to praise God in all things, because he is in charge of all things and all nations. Because of this, we will live for him; our lives poured out are not a loss, but true life running its course through us. In this sense, life poured out in knowing God is for us and fully in charge is not a loss at all, but the fruition of abundant life. Read Psalm 22 and 23 together. Can what you read allow you to freely let go of your life in order that life from God might fully live in you? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●Re-read Psalm 22 and 23, this time as a prayer for your congregation. ●For the desire and intent to see God as the one who is graciously in charge. ●For the desire and intent to let our lives be poured out for others. Monday Mark 5.1-20 Everything Jesus does in today’s reading is a declaration: what was unclean will be made clean. For Jews, the Gentile land on the other side of the sea was defiled and unclean for them; Jesus walks right in. Tombs were declared unclean places to be; Jesus walks right in. The man Jesus met had an unclean spirit; he was sent to howl with violence in the unclean tombs. Jesus draws near to him. The spirits within the man declare their name to be Legion, a name of a division in the Roman army. 5.10 is striking. “He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country” (NRSV). Jesus’ next move is precise: in this land of people declared to be “unclean,” he enters an “unclean” place, he meets a man with “unclean spirits” who represent themselves as an “unclean” and threatening Roman military occupation. Jesus commands those unclean

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spirits to enter a bunch of unclean animals, pigs, and sends them into the sea (the sea, for ancient Jewish people, was a symbol of chaos). In essence: Jesus sends all uncleanness and oppression into chaos, drowning it there. But the people are afraid, not thankful. They beg Jesus to leave. Why don’t they want the cleanness and freedom Jesus brings? Why don’t they want Jesus around? Read Mark 4.19 again. This story parallels our own lives as well. As Jesus continues his cleansing work in our lives, we will be sent home to friends to share what the Lord has done for us. Is Jesus a threat to your current way of life? Do you really want Jesus to hang around you? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For Jesus’ cleansing work to keep working in our lives. ●For the courage to share the simple story of how Jesus has made a difference in our lives.

Tuesday Mark 5.21-43 Today’s stories of Jesus show some people very unlike yesterday’s people. Jairus requests Jesus to come. The woman who was bleeding all the time searches Jesus out and touches him with an expectant faith for healing. The little girl receives vivifying life from Jesus. All of them receive the kind of life from Jesus that can go out and reproduce more life. Compare and contrast today’s people with yesterday’s people. Do you desire the kind of life Jesus brings to be in your world or do you want him to take his way and leave? Why does Jesus not want the Jewish people in today’s reading to share the message, but yesterday’s Gentile man is told to go home and share the word? Is it because some will have the desire to make God conform to their standards and expectations and others have God come to their life like writing on a blank slate? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the growing desire to have Jesus among us. ●For the ability to receive Jesus as revealed in the gospel and not force him to conform to what we think he is or needs to be. Wednesday Mark 6.1-29
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One thing keeps amazing Jesus: how unbelieving people are. Even when people are astounded by what he says, they still don’t put their confidence in his words and in the lifestyle he brings to us. But Jesus keeps on. He sends out his disciples to prepare the way, to declare that the king of a new kingdom was coming and that people should begin to receive him. Their journey was not only to declare, but to practice living under the reign of this king who would provide. ...and then we hear about Herod and John the Baptist. Herod, Scripture says, liked listening to John, but did he take in anything John said? You tell me: how did it turn out for John? Herod seemed more attuned to doing life as he’d always done, letting lust, power, and people-pleasing run his life. Do you like just hearing things about Jesus or do you like living the things of Jesus? Have you ever gone out two by two with nothing for the journey except a good story about Jesus and a declaration for people to turn around and clear out their lives for Jesus? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the desire not to just like what Jesus has to say but to live the life he intends for us. ●For all those who work in education - that they might form lives and not just impart information. ●For our commitment to be sent with the message of the king. Thursday Mark 6.30-44 After work comes rest. Jesus’ immediate gospel takes a precisely placed rest. But it doesn’t last long. Perhaps it was even in this short time of rest, a resting in God, that had Jesus’ heart ready to respond to the people with compassion. They were a people without rest, without guidance. Jesus wanted to share what he knew was available. And, he invites his disciples to do the same. From what seemed like nothing, they offer it with obedient compassion; with thanksgiving to God for what little there was, all concerns for enough or my share were melted by compassion. I wonder if the people passed the fish and loaves around with an imitation of the compassion for one another that Jesus first had.
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When has your heart bent toward compassionate action for another? What’s the story? Have you ever felt reluctant to give because you were worried about your share? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For Jesus-like compassion to eliminate anxiety and greed in us. ●For the time to rest, even for a little while, and know that God will provide. Friday Mark 6.45-56 Jesus begins with prayer. He goes off into solitude to be with the Father. 6.46 picks up where 6.31 left off: he still intends to go rest and be with the Father. It’s as though such a prayer life is the essence and substance of what he comes to bring down the mountain. He’s bringing the availability of life with God, of life reliant on God. We disciples of Jesus will find ourselves drawn into this kind of prayer and peace-filled reliance. Next, we see a contrast: the contrast is between straining disciples and a Jesus so at ease that he’s intending to walk on by, walking right on the sea (remember: the sea was also a symbol for chaos). And instead of seeing Jesus, the provider, they become filled with fear. Who else was filled with fear in Mark’s story? (5.15). The people they meet on the shore have a different story than the disciples just now. Instead of seeing a “ghost,” they recognize Jesus; instead of fear and hardened hearts, they rush around to bring people to Jesus. They even beg to touch his cloak. In your life today, is your reception of Jesus more like the disciples or the people on the shore? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our hearts to be softened to receive and recognize Jesus. ●For God to work on our hearts through a life of prayer in order to soften our hearts to receive him and to rely on him. Saturday John 2.13-22 We just read another story about Jesus cleaning things up, restoring things as they ought to be, and making proper room for the reception of God’s kingdom. Yet we often respond to this work of Jesus
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as a threat to our lives, traditions, and expectations. Irritated, we may find ourselves asking of Jesus, “What sign [or reason] can you show us for doing this?!” Jesus will take us to the great sign of the resurrection, where what was dead is now filled with life; where a life poured out for others is vivified to now receive others again. When Jesus announces to those who question him, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (NRSV), he says in essence, “Life from God will not be found in your current, hardened lives or in your hollow traditions or your misled expectations.” No, life from God will be found and received only in Jesus, by Jesus, and through Jesus’ way. Do you feel the desire to demand a sign from Jesus today, a sign that will validate a command, teaching, or invitation Jesus has extended? Can you pinpoint something in your life that Jesus needs to rip through in order that you can truly receive life from God? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For Jesus to continue to rip apart distortions against life with God. ●For Jesus to continue to rip apart our arrogance and hardened hearts. ●For Jesus to restore our hearts to where they need to be to receive life from God.

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed

Discover an urban farm or someone who grows a lot of their own food. Visit their farm or garden and see if you can learn a few things about growing your own food, or the benefits of such. Become a pen pal with someone. Leave a tip for someone cleaning streets, restrooms or fast food places. Eat only one bowl of rice a day for a week (take a multivitamin too). Remember the twenty-five thousand people who die of malnutrition and starvation each day. 5

These ideas come from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

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Take a moment to just be alone with God. Make the space and time to be in silence and solitude. Be together.

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Week #3
Sunday Psalm 19 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and redeemer” (NRSV). You and I will see God more and more as we’re shaped to see. As the heavens and all of creation declare God’s goodness, we will come to perceive that goodness. Not just perceive, but crave it. In today’s prayer and psalm, we heard a declaration of craving for God’s story (the law) with his people. It’s a craving for something more than a story of the good ol’ days; to hunger for the law like this is to hunger for relationship and an interactive life together between God and his people. Now, we see how very blessed we are! Instead of a mysterious experience in a story and through various sacrifices and rituals, we’ve been blessed to have God himself incarnate (alive through and through) in Jesus, and Jesus has come to pay us a visit. God himself has come to us; may we hunger and crave to see more of him in our lives. May we be like the people we read about two days ago and recognize Jesus with us, rush to get our friends, to go to be with him. To what degree do you hunger and crave for God and life with Jesus? Do you sense a growing desire to consume Jesus’ life and teachings into your life - that they might become new life and energy within you? Jesus has really come into our own history. He is present. This is a tremendous gift! How hard is it to realize, remember or recognize Jesus in your life? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For us to honestly crave life with God through Jesus. ●For Jesus to always be with us and for us to perceive his presence. ●For a rich understanding of the gospel: that God’s kingdom has come near to us in Jesus. Monday Mark 7.1-13 What, really, is at the heart of the issue? The Pharisees and scribes present a problem: Jesus and his disciples aren’t living the traditions of the elders. Jesus volleys the problem he sees: “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” Let’s look at the traditions first.
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The traditions from the elders were interpretations on Scripture that were intended to enforce distinctions between who’s a serious Jew and who’s a Gentile pagan, or, put another way, who’s in and who’s out. Piles of interpretation were built onto the Scriptures, working hard to establish a hard line of who God was really for and who God wasn’t. Jesus responds by saying in essence, “You guys have have so clouded the commandment of God with your interpretations, and ‘who’s in, who’s out’ garbage that you’re now living as a people who don’t live with God; you’re not living and obeying what God intended for us.” Instead of loving their parents, the tradition had people taking support for parents and pouring elsewhere, thus missing God’s intent. Have you seen tradition cloud out God before? Tell that story. A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our hearts to be filled with God himself and not distorted by empty traditions. ●For the capacity to listen to Jesus and follow him even when he seems to clash with how we think things should be. Tuesday Mark 7.14-23 In today's reading, Jesus is saying something very radical to his original hearers and us. The message sounds simple: "It's what comes from the heart that defiles." Yet, what's in question is something much deeper than "check your heart." The old way of doing things, the way that yesterday's reading declared to now be distorted from what God originally intended, was that if a person kept certain rituals, certain outward signs (like a food restriction) then they could feel to know that they were set apart from who they were supposed to be set apart from. In Jesus' day, it was the Jewish people setting apart from the pagan Romans. The regulations from the Old Testament originated from God; they were guides God gave to his people that said in essence, "Don't get swept away into other religious practices of the people you meet; don't stop being my people!" The regulations were signs and reminders: "We are the people of God, dedicated to God alone." By Jesus' day, these regulations had become more about not bring a Roman or a pagan instead of being a people of God. God had been dropped out somewhere along the road. So what we have left then is a political and patriotic symbol: food purity laws were a symbol akin to today's American flag - they were
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marks of national identity (and Jesus' day) and even marks of separatism and elitism. Jesus' words and actions are stark. He, in essence, says, "The life and meaning of this symbol has been left out; it is not breaking a food regulation, sabbath regulation, or any other kind of regulation, that will have you looking like a godless pagan; no, it's the garbage in your heart that boils out into your actions that has you marked as godless things like fornication, theft, murder, and so on." Here, Jesus' words and actions, are akin to burning a national flag. He says, "Having this symbol in your life will not mean you live by the substance of it." Having purity laws will not mean that you depend on God and express a life that comes from God. And we can continue the parallel with our modern day flag: Having a flag on your front porch does not mean anything; will your heart be a home where the substance of what that symbol is about rests? ...and this goes one step further: by clashing with a line in the sand national identity (which felt like it had the edge on God), Jesus says in essence, "Your national identity will not be the indicator of receiving God and his kingdom." We'll read on... Is it more easy or more difficult to be a follower of Jesus in your nation today? Why do you feel this? Does the nation you’re from give you an “edge” on being a Christian (or knowing what a Christian really is)? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For national identity or religious tradition to not get in the way of us depending on God alone. ●For the poor and local poverty struggles - that the substance of faith within our hearts would be a true faith and pour out in love, care, and presence.

Wednesday Mark 7.24-37 In direct clash with yesterday's sentiment that God only visits certain people, today, the love of God in Jesus comes to "the wrong kind of person," (so some would have thought). Where yesterday's people touted their religious and national traditions with pride, this gentile woman bows with humility before Jesus and begs. Her humility has a confidence to it, a deep, strong, confidence. When Jesus says, "Let the children (that is, the Jewish people) be fed first," he's recalling the promises God extended to Abraham in
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Genesis, that the people of Abraham would receive God's promise and become a blessing for all people. The woman boldly and humbly counters: "Yes, God's care and presence will come down, and here I am to receive it." Her heart is postured to receive God in Jesus, she had been looking for God and when she saw Jesus, came and bowed down. Her spiritual insides are primed to receive instead of having been rusted in the weather of pride. She is ready to receive; others were ready to control and desired to prevent the blessing from God to Abraham (Genesis 12) to be a blessing for all people. Do you feel your life is postured to receive from God or are you in more of a purchase agreement contact with God, feeling like if you do all kinds of religious good things, then, God will just have to bless you? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our lives to be shaped to humbly look for God's grace and presence and anticipate receiving it in Jesus. ●For God to shatter our notions of having the edge on God because of where we were raised or how much money our parents did or didn't make.

Thursday Mark 8.1-30 Today's reading takes us way back in Jewish history, back to Exodus 16. (Take a moment to read Exodus 16). The setting is right after the march of freedom from Egypt. The people are standing now in a vast desert and they immediately cry out, "Well, what are we going to eat out here?! We wish we'd died in Egypt rather than come out here and starve!" God provides manna (in Hebrew it is literally known as, "What is it?") in the desert to sustain people on the desert journey of becoming a people who rely on God alone; in the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus provides bread and nourishment in the desert to sustain people on the journey of once again being a free people who will live and depend on God alone, with God himself as their only king in Jesus. This desert meal is alluding to the meal celebrating freedom from slavery and dependence on God. The remainder of chapter 8 is Jesus reacting like God did in Exodus 16. God's heart grieves for the people's inability to receive freedom and life from him; Jesus' heart grieves now. The time in the desert was to be a cleansing time from the
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old ways of life in Egypt; Jesus says, "Watch out for the imprisoning and lifeless ways of the Pharisees." The people being freed from Egypt were beginning to see God's intents for them, but it took God several times to get them to see what he was up to; Jesus' healing of the blind man took two times until the man could see clearly. Also, the freedom God brought in Exodus was only part of the story which would be further revealed to God's people later on in Jesus (much like going from seeing foggy images of people that look like trees to seeing actual people). Finally, read Mark 8.31-9.1. This, friends, is where the road of freedom is going. The old Egyptian ways of life in us will need to be killed off. And, when we live in a place that thinks it still has power over us, when we clash with it, declaring our independence into Jesus, they're going to want to chase us into the Nile. But remember the Exodus story. More than that, remember how Jesus responds to his enemies. Try this again: write down what you understand it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Think back on what you've read in Mark's gospel so far; what did you find there? Do you desire to be a disciple? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For true freedom by relying on Jesus and his way alone. ●For the ability to leave behind old ways that separate us from living with God. ●For God's forgiveness and the readiness to extend it to others.

Friday Mark 9.2-29 In a moment of terror, Peter, James and John hear God's voice: "This is my beloved Son, listen to him!" In a moment of confusion, Jesus laments and tells them that God had been at work in John the Baptist ("Elijah") to restore all things, but people would have none of it and they killed him. Like the Israelite people in the desert after the Exodus who were constantly clashing with God, constantly resisting living by faith and abandon of self to God, Jesus finds himself in the middle of a people who are resilient to the ways of God; it seems tiring. We can hear it in Jesus' voice. Like God said to the people in the desert more than once, Jesus says, "How much longer do I have to deal with you people who are so resilient and stiff-necked against my love and guidance?"
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And the great call for the people in the story and for us today is to completely abandon ourselves to God. That is what is meant by, "All things can be done for the one who believes." Working hard to believe more won't work; it is only when we abandon our situation totally to God and his care, and don't try to control God by believing harder that we find ourselves under his reign and care. This is what it means to "lose our life in order to find it," as well as, "This kind can only come out through prayer," which is to say, "Any ability you think you have to get rid of a demon like this is useless; you need to surrender, submit, and release this kind over to God and depend on his abilities alone." Do you imagine God could be worn out and irritated by our unbelief, our inability to rest in him alone? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our lives to a prayer of, "I believe; help my unbelief." ●For us to absolutely rely and anticipate life, meaning, and identity, from God alone. Saturday John 3.14-21 Today we remember something else Jesus said as we read John 3.14-21. We remember him saying he came not to condemn, but to bring life - a kind of life that will never die. This life and salvation comes from resting and relying on the very person, character, and name of Jesus. And this reliance is a lifestyle of inner belief and outward expression working in tandem: people who believe in God's care and authority and in Jesus' embracing forgiveness and guidance, will be freed into doing true works - works of self-abandon in loving neighbors and enemies because there is a faith in the God who provides and nurtures. Love, then, is believing. Love, then, mimics the love it has received from God who sent his Son. Do you believe that a person's actions reveal a person's belief? When we love, we love from God's love; when we fail, we rest in forgiveness (and not self achievement, as in, "Try harder next time!"). A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For God's gracious love to pour into our lives - that we would be so deeply aware of how much we are loved and how much God cares for us. ●For thankfulness to find its home in our hearts thankfulness for God's love that rescues us from perishing and forms us in eternal living.

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Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed

Hang out with folks who will inherit the earth. (See the beatitudes in Matthew 5 for details). Look through everything you have two of and give one away. Begin a scholarship fund so that for every one of your kids who will go to college you can scholarship an at-risk youth to do so too. Visit a worship service in which you’ll be a minority. Invite someone to a meal afterwards. Serve in a homeless shelter. For extra credit, go back to that shelter and allow yourself to sleep there and be served.


These ideas come from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

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Week #4
Sunday Psalm 107.1-3, 17-22 When trouble comes, where will we cry? When trouble has come, where have you turned? We all have stories of being rescued. Our lives carry the gospel story of God getting involved in our little worlds and rescuing us or shaping us. And for times of our inner resistance or forgetfulness, may God form within us an expectant reliance on his goodness and love for us. When was it that you last shared a story with another person of God's rescue within your life? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For thankfulness for God getting involved in our lives, yet remaining uncontrolled by our expectations. ●For the excitement and joy of being rescued to explode into storytelling with our neighbors. (May we not take it for granted!) Monday Mark 9.30-50 Our reading begins with a shock. Jesus, instead of talking in a language followers wanted to hear, mentions something that sounds more like defeat with a twist. "They're going to kill me, but I won't stay dead." The followers have no idea what to do with this, and they're afraid to ask. Yet, what we see with the rest of today's verses is that we should become open to welcoming and receiving things from God we do not expect. We should also keep alert to what actions and rhythms of our lives that would prevent others from receiving what God has come to bring, even though at this point in the Mark's story, we're not totally sure what it is he's bringing. All we get at the end of today's reading is that whatever this is that comes from God, that takes Jesus to be killed and raised, will be like a flavorful salt and life within us, a life that will cause peace to dwell between us. At this point in the story, do you feel like the disciples in wondering, "What does he mean that he must be betrayed, killed and after three days be raised again?" If you can, rewind through Mark's gospel and search for the illusive answer. A Guide for a Time of Prayer
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●For our imaginations to be captivated, though freed of fear, to wonder what Jesus means by needing to be killed and raised again. ●For our lives to be open to receiving and welcoming God beyond expectations and preconceived notions. ●For our lives to not be stumbling blocks that precent others from receiving life from God. Tuesday Mark 10.1-12 At the heart of today's reading on divorce, Jesus is preparing our hearts to receive others with love. But this love is more than warm fuzzy affection; this is a love that genuinely seeks out the good for the other person. With the divorce language mentioned in our reading, Jesus is clashing with people's hearts again - a heart that was often predisposed to saying, "Well, if the law will let me do it, then let me just throw my wife into the street and get a new one!" Jesus says, "No... that's not the point. Those regulations were provided because your hearts were hard and you were unable and unwilling to live with a love that comes from God ruling in your lives. The point is to love and cherish, not control or use." Have you felt a permission to do anything you want if you didn't sense a law against it? How would it be to live with a love of God and others guiding our lives instead of whether there is a law some place telling us yes or no? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the ability to cherish one another and seek out the good for the other people in our lives, regardless of what a law may or may not say. ●For marriages to deepen - that we might love and dote on one another and let each other know we treasure one another. Wednesday Mark 10.13-31 The key to understand the struggle of the rich young man is in verse 10.15: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." Key word: receive. Up to this point in Mark's gospel, we've seen many stories about people being able to perceive, welcome, receive, and anticipate life from God, or the inability to do so. Way back in Mark chapter four, in the parable of the sower, we read about how and why difficulties emerge when it comes to receiving the word and life of God.
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Today's wealthy man is an example of being unable to receive. This breaks Jesus' heart. There is an undercurrent in this man's story, a perception that if one did the right things, then God would bless them with financial and social "graces." This young guy shows up to talk with Jesus, asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Key word: Do. He's operating from a paradigm mentioned above, that is, doing the right things will bring right blessing. Jesus responds with love, "Take all your doing and what you think you've earned because of your doing and give it to the poor, then come, I'll teach you eternal living (or, life in the new age) by learning to receive and rely on the Father alone (receiving things quite unexpected, as we read earlier)." The man couldn't do it. He had built an empire for himself; his identity was firm in it, or we might say, mired in the muck of it. His hands were too full to receive. ...and what does Jesus tell Peter in a moment of Peter's disbelief or awe? "You will receive and it's going to seem like such a crazy amount, such an exuberance that you'll know for sure that it was God behind it all." (Remember how the good seed in Mark 4 made a supernatural amount of produce? Remember how the manna in the desert in Exodus 16 just showed up in a tremendous, yet just-enough amount?) ...but you have got to receive it. You cannot make it, force it, will it, or purchase it; you have to be brought to a spot of reception. And Jesus says to us, "Come, follow me." Is it difficult for you to receive an unexpected gift from another person without feeling like you should do something in return or offer a little cash for it? Can you freely receive? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the ability to receive from God and others. ●For the ability to let go of all things that prevent us from receiving an eternal life of dependence on God alone. Thursday Mark 10.32-45 What is eternal life? And, why does another story of Jesus dying and rising right here in Mark's gospel? Here, Jesus is teaching us something about eternal life. Eternal life is the capacity to give of yourself sacrificially even to death. It is a life that cannot be extinguished. It is a life that can self abandon (not self hate) because it has received the kingdom of God, that is, the living lifestyle of relying on God no matter what happens. This is a life that has truly become submissive to God's care, God's commands, and God's presence in Jesus. And what if I fail to do so? Well, we rely on God's grace. If I succeed? We aren't to be proud but remember and rely on God's grace.
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Yet, what is Jesus sacrificing his life for and to? We catch a glimmer in 10.45: Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. This is something James and John just don't get; they're too busy vying for political power and prestige. Jesus says, "No, it's not about you getting power and prestige; it's about your life being so filled with reliance on God that it can be poured out for others - and, in this, you'll discover that it is the life capable of being poured out that is the one of abundance; it is the servants who are capable of serving and loving (rather than demanding and expecting) who are on top." And for the word ransom? Jesus is collecting a people back to God, back to a life of relying on God. His life poured out will be God saying, "Look, nothing, no sin, no ignorance, nothing, will hold me back from being with you; come, be with me." Jesus is revealing to us how eternal life is a life capable of being poured out and this life also works as a ransom: we see how to receive and participate, and naturally pour out the life God has embraced, forgiven and freed us into. We have been brought back to God by Jesus. In the cross, we see that all of the world's ideas of power and glory are turned on their head; the one on top at the end of the cross is God alone, not some prideful people. How do our notions of power, glory, and pride, especially at the political level, need to be shown who's in charge at the cross? We will eventually see that the location of the cross is where Jesus is declared to be king, our king. It is in the power and symbol of the cross that all powers are declared useless and that God alone reigns - by means of the cross. Are you prepared to come along with Jesus still? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our pride and desires for glory to be slashed from us. ●For the capacity to let Jesus redefine God's power and love for us. ●For gratitude for Jesus being a ransom, bringing us back to God. Friday Mark 10.46-52 What will we need to throw off in order to have as much speed as possible to get to Jesus? Do we even want to go? Are our hearts filled with Bartimaeus' bold yelling, "Jesus, true king, have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus' story is a story of expectant healing and renewal; it's a story of salvation of a person and a people, a story about God having come close. Bartimaeus is primed and eager to receive what can only come from God. The action of leaving behind his cloak is also Bartimaeus leaving behind a life of being a blind beggar (that's what the
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cloak was for - to receive alms). He knows that the King has come and that the King has the power to heal, rescue, save, and redeem. Jesus will also ask us, "What do you want me to do for you?" We've been primed by the story to learn how to answer this. We don't approach it like James or John, looking for pride and glory; we don't approach it like the rich young man, feeling like we have something about us that will make it possible to purchase what we want from God, from Jesus. No, instead, we approach like the man who had a son with an evil spirit (9.14ff) who exclaimed, "I believe; help my unbelief!" and like Bartimaeus who says, "My teacher, let me see again." In this way, we become ones who receive the kingdom's care and the rule of God; we receive like children (10.15). it not significant that Bartimaeus calls Jesus his teacher, not his healer? Instead of Bartimaeus wanting to just get a one time healing from Jesus, he wants to continue to receive from Jesus. And the healing is the ability to see. How can we desire to receive the healing Jesus brings and to see things and participate in life like Jesus does? What kindles that desire? What prevents it? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For boldness to receive life from Jesus, a life that will redefine our notions of power and glory and turn us into a people filled with life from God, a life that is freely poured out. Saturday John 12.20-33 Yesterday, Bartimaeus wanted to see. Today, the Greeks want to see Jesus. Jesus responds to the Greeks, and to you in me, that if it is a spectacle we're wanting, we won't see Jesus; if want want him to only augment our life, we won't see Jesus. No, unless Jesus' life is poured out, bearing much fruit, then we don't really see Jesus. Unless our lives are shaped and filled to have the kind of life that is freely poured out, then we won’t be seeing Jesus either; at that point, we don't have the eternal kind of life freely flowing within us. To really see Jesus is to see him on the cross, with his life poured out. To really live with him is to see ourselves with a cross, our life freely poured out. And, friends, this is not a loss, but is true life within us. To see Jesus is to see that Jesus is not an augmentation for our lives, not a man with a few good ideas to admire. No: to see Jesus is to participate in the Jesus life, a life with a cross. What is for your life, a way to make your life as it is now - a little bit better (or perhaps never ending in its current state)? Or, are you
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beginning (continuing) to see that to see Jesus is to see your own life freely poured out in submission of self to God? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For us to continue to anticipate wholeness and healing from God - the kind of wholeness that sets us free to love God and others (and not for our own desire to feel good about ourselves).

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed

Confess something you’ve done wrong to another person. Ask them for forgiveness. Go through a thrift store and drop dollar bills in coat pockets. Go shopping at a thrift store instead of places you might normally go. Begin planting a garden. Learn to nurture God’s creation. Build a little chapel space or sacred space in your home that you can go to to be with God.


These ideas come from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

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Week #5
Sunday Psalm 119.9-16 Today's Psalm is a prayer of desire. It's a request and declaration to fix our entire lives on God's ways, who God is, and how God loves us. Today, we celebrate coming to know God's love and ways in Jesus. How would you describe what it means to search after God with your whole heart? Do you currently treasure the words of Jesus and meditate on his ways? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our lives to treasure life with God. ●For the time and space to meditate and wonder on God's ways revealed in Jesus. ●For the grace to know that even in our moments of failure and distraction, Jesus says, "Come, follow me." Monday Mark 11 The long awaited and also feared entry to Jerusalem began in today's reading. We waited in anticipation to see what Jesus would do here; we waited to see how people would respond; we feared the journey because Jerusalem has made a name for itself: "God-rejector and Prophet Killer." The people seem to receive Jesus well, at least by appearances. Their words and actions are those of declaring a king having arrived. The party doesn't last long though; did you catch where Jesus went to spend the night? For Jesus, the arrival to Jerusalem is like coming up to a fig tree expecting to see fruit, but seeing nothing; he declares to be dead what is carrying no life. Could it also not be Jerusalem's "off season?" Yes. Instead of seeing people praying and anticipating God in the kingdom, he sees people absorbed in making money of religion, ignoring the God of the temple. This excites the religious leaders. Their response? Let's kill him. (Does that sound like their souls have been a dwelling place of the God Jesus proclaims?) The disciples must have felt dumbfounded. Remember, these are the guys who are struggling the whole way with Jesus, not totally sure what to make of him. Now, the notions of Jesus being the kind of king the people wanted, a king with pride, human glory, and a violent
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rule, was not the king Jesus came to be. He heads to Bethany instead of sticking around a place with those kind of distorted expectations. So, with blank looks on their faces, the disciples notice the fig tree Jesus declared to be dead; sure enough, it had died - making an actuality of the inner substance of the tree (it did not have fruit and thus life to it). In awe and fear, the disciples must have wondered... Jesus response? Prayer. Not just words uttered upward, but the kind of release-of-self, reliant, expectant, requesting that Jesus has so far taught as an essence of how we participate in God's kingdom. The leaders of the society then come to Jesus, unable to perceive the authority of God in Jesus' words and actions. Jesus leaves them guessing; their hearts are out of season. What kind of king do you want Jesus to be? Does the Jesus we meet in Mark's gospel line up to your expectations? What do you feel you should do do with those expectations? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For us to be able to receive Jesus as king of our life and world on the terms and ways he describes. ●For God to uncover the secret idols and expectations of God and others in our lives. ●For our lives to be free to pray and rely on God - to spark up a conversation with God, tossing all the details of our life in his hands. Tuesday Mark 12.1-17 The parable of the wicked tenants is a story about a people rejecting caretakers sent from God. Those sent were the prophets of the Old Testament. Again and again the people rejected God's reign, rule, and care. Eventually, they see the son. Their response? If we kill him then we can be fully in charge (and by extension though perhaps not on the front of their minds, fully without the need to have God). Jesus pauses and asks: "Don't you pay attention to Scripture?" More civic leaders show up. They spew hollow flattery at Jesus, never intending to be molded by the truth of God that Jesus brings; instead, they search out a clever way to say, "Your way does not apply to me or to how things ‘really are’ in this world." In gauging the worth of Jesus, they bring up the worth of money and to who it is owed. They bring this up because all of what Jesus had brought up has been shredding the fabric and ideals their society was built on; they wanted to see if Jesus had any civic propriety left in him. The response. Give the symbols (coins) that represent actual worth (how many loaves of bread you can buy with a coin) back to their owner; they're useless. Dedicate everything else, things that have worth, like bread, to God, giving thanks to God. Jesus, in effect, is saying,
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"There is one person in charge and to whom I pay allegiance; only one. That is God." Perhaps it is guilt that plagues these men with amazement, knowing deep inside how true and freeing Jesus' words are; yet these men are afraid of the troubles that would come if they followed Jesus' way, they're afraid of what will happen to the piles and piles of symbols they've collected with Caesars' face on them. Are you at a spot to declare allegiance to God alone? What holds you back? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For God to grow our faith to see that he is king of all, owns all, and we are totally under his loving care. ●For God to steady our fears that hold us back from totally trusting him to take care of us. Wednesday Mark 12.18-44 God is not God of the dead, but of the living. That phrase will have double meaning for us. To be alive is to truly have God as your God; to have God as your God will be the kind of faith that carries eternal life. This is the kind of faith that grows within us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Notice also how these commands are tiered: a first and a second. It is truly the love of God that pours into loving a neighbor, so that what we being to our neighbor is not just a good deed or our love alone; we also bring the kind of love God loves us with in Jesus, the kind of love poured into us, the kind of love that will pour out of us in selfsacrificial expressions. This, Jesus declares, is seeing the nearness of God's kingdom. Will we let the river of God's kingdom sweep us further in? Will we find ourselves so swept up by God's love, goodness, and care, that we will out of our poverty freely hand out all we have to live on, knowing God will provide? Could you today toss everything you own, even everything that composes what you feel to be your identity into God's treasury, abandoning yourself to God's mysterious care and identity for you? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the faith and freedom to release all of who we are into God's care, not worrying about stocking things up or what will bring us happiness tomorrow. ●For the grace to receive God's care and not be stuck in pride, needing to hold back for ourselves out of fear and faithlessness. ●For the grace to know that our faith will grow.
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Thursday Mark 13 As the fig tree, so the temple. As Jesus, so us. Will our lives be filled with life from God or will they be empty? Will we be able to receive the gift of depending on God or will there be too much stuff in the way? In today's reading, we learn about our calling as followers of Jesus. Our calling is to imitate Jesus. So, as Jesus' life was given to declare the nearness and availability of God's kingdom and life in that kingdom, so our lives will become declarations of such a life for others. Just as Jesus' life is spent clashing with the systems, structures, and traditions that prevented people from walking with God, from receiving God's goodness, so our lives will be about that same kind of deconstruction so that others will receive love, care, nourishment, and healing. And finally, because this kind of love is threatening to many people who would prefer to be in power to prefer to look glorious than have anything to do with God, we are going to experience persecution and hard times, just like Jesus. The greatest part about this is that the energy and substance is a grace from God. We will be carried along by God's Holy Spirit, we don't need to worry, just hold on. We must keep alert; we must stay awake; we must continue to receive life from God in order to pour out life. This is, after all, the life we've been freed into and to declare available to all. Have you ever felt persecution for your faith? Tell that story. A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For us to stay alert for Jesus and as we read the Gospels, be shaped to know who to look for. ●For endurance in the faith - that none of us would fall away, but continue to grow in God's grace. Friday Mark 11.1-11 This has been a crazy week; we need to look back and remember how it started. Jesus was received like a king, but no one wanted him to rule. Jesus was celebrated in the beginning of the week, now everybody wants to kill him because what he teaches feels threatening. Do you feel threatened or comforted by the kingdom Jesus came to bring and is still bringing? Why do you feel this way? A Guide for a Time of Prayer
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●For a growing understanding of the cross of Jesus: what it is, what it is for, how Jesus is king only through and on the cross, how we are called to carry a cross. (This will take us all a lifetime to grow into.) ●For those living in poverty and unjust situations - that we might get involved and declare peace and justice from the King who really reigns (Jesus). ●For those of us who are facing temptations of all kinds. Saturday Mark 14.1-15.47 Let what we read be enough for today. Let your mind be lost in those verses. What just happened? Why? Let the verses and events become a prayer.

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed

Do something that doesn’t fit the status quo. Forgive someone who wronged you. Serve at a free clinic for persons who are uninsured. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Take a walk and let your attention listen to the birds and sky. Thank God for what you notice.


These ideas come from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

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Holy Week
Read this week’s readings like you’re looking back on events that took place and you’re squinting to remember the details. Dwell in the emotion of the moments you can remember.

Palm Sunday Psalm 118.1-2, 19-29 Looking back on Jesus’ death, a song comes to mind - an old song some say they used to sing at church as kids. You can only remember parts of the song; it was Psalm 118.1-2, and 19-29. Jesus’ death takes you back to that old song, but you can’t figure out why... As you ponder, some details come to mind: Yesterday's story about Jesus’ death brought sadness, but within that emotion, thankfulness will be cultivated. God has, in Jesus, opened to us the gates of righteousness that we might enter. God in Jesus has become our salvation. This is something to be thankful for. Yet, remember what you read about Jesus yesterday. What happened to Jesus? Is that your God there on the cross? Is that your God there in the tomb? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our imaginations and hearts to be formed by the story that Jesus is Lord and King and he is so because he was crucified. ●For us to become evermore thankful that God has drawn us to himself in Jesus (yet not to augment our lives but to reform them). ●For the church to be unified around the Jesus we see on the cross.

Monday Mark 14.3-9

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Do you remember the moment in Bethany at Simon’s house when the lady with expensive perfume anointed Jesus to be king and Jesus said something about her anointing him before his burial? The end really is near. As we look back and remember the Jewish context, the end we see coming for Jesus is tucked into the beginning of the Jewish new year. The new year was a few days before Passover (the ancient celebration of freedom from Egyptian slavery). As you look back, you can remember that the world was saturated with warm, festive celebration. Yet, the woman’s extravagant act of recognition of Jesus and her worship were frowned on by the disciples. Were they embarrassed by this woman’s free ability to see Jesus, to declare his worth (in light of their own continual hesitations toward Jesus)? What should they recognize anyway? You can remember a key: the oil of anointing. This has two meanings for us to absorb into our souls: Jesus was being anointed as a king (that’s was anointing was reserved for), but this king would only be fully realized as the king in the moment right after the cross - his burial. Does this make any sense? Why does this feel so backward? What is Jesus saying about himself as king, what his kingdom rule is like, and what he desires of his subjects to be like if today’s reading is about his anointing as the true king and that his reign would begin at the cross and after the cross? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the eyes to see how Jesus really is king of all things. ●For the eyes and faith to see how Jesus’ rule (how he is king) is completely different than how we might expect a ruler for our life to be. ●For the grace to receive Jesus’ kingly rule into our lives - to grow however slowly into his likeness.

Tuesday Mark 14.32-52 Do you remember Jesus’ agony in the garden? His soul seemed tattered, he seemed worn out. He kept saying to his disciples, “Stay awake.” It reminded you of a teaching he had taught just a few days before when he said (from Mark 13.32-37) how important it was to stay awake, to pay attention.

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...and then Judas came. That disgusting, hollow kiss, like a man coming home to be with his wife when he smells like another woman’s perfume. The look on his eyes told you where he’d been. Then everything came unraveled. Everything about Jesus that we thought we knew, we know longer felt confident in. Everything we believed about him seemed to shatter as people took out swords. Jesus said, “This is so the scriptures are fulfilled.” We didn’t get it; we ran off. We were so frightened and let down by what we thought Jesus should be that one of us even ran off naked. When you read and remember these things, what emotions come to heart? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●The the forgiveness in the times of our lives when we’ve turned our backs on Jesus in active disbelief. ● For a renewed call to follow Jesus at home, work, or wherever we are.

Wednesday Mark 14.53-65 Peter once told us about following Jesus at a distance. He overheard the town leaders giving false testimony and it made his blood boil. But he wasn’t sure what to do; frozen in fear, he just had to swallow the words he heard and try to stay hidden until he knew of something he could do. Peter said he heard Jesus quote Daniel 7:13 to the civic and religious elites. When he heard Jesus say that, his heart fell out of his chest; he knew it was over. Why? Well, because Daniel 7 was an old prophesy about the Son of Man, the one who would come and be declared the only true king by God - the one who would have an everlasting rule, the one whom all people of all nations would serve alone. Saying that scripture was about himself was an absolute clash with the people who thought they were in charge. The leaders wanted to really kill Jesus after saying that. They were in power, not Jesus. Is Jesus really the king of all things? If so, do you receive from him total reign over you life? Do you receive from him total care for your life?
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A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the faith to see that it is Jesus alone who is in charge of all things; if we’re not with him, we’re insurrectionists in his kingdom. ●For the faith to know and rely on the truth that Jesus is king and that by being our king, he is going to take care of us. We can receive all we need from him.

Maundy Thursday Mark 14.12-26 Today we remember when Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover. It was a celebration meal of God’s care and freedom for his people, setting them free from the slavery of Egypt, and walking them through the formational desert (learning to rely on him alone as their God). Mark wrote down something he wanted us to remember too (Mark 14.12): Passover is when the Passover lamb was sacrificed; its life was given for the sake of others. Right there, as the disciples were remembering the ancient Passover march to freedom, Jesus gave new words. “Take, this is my body.” This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” He also said he wouldn’t drink wine again until he drank it when God’s kingdom fully came. (Where did Jesus next drink wine?) We thought back. Covenant? What was that about again? Exodus 24.1-8 is one. (Read it.) God’s people read everything the LORD spoke, there was blood splashed on an altar, and sprinkled on God’s people. Then we as God’s people said, “Everything that God has said, we’ll do.” Moses said, “See the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (NRSV). Jesus, in his last supper words, was establishing a covenant, one established by his own blood and life. In light of us breaking our end of the covenant with God, a new covenant was being made, where Jesus’ blood and life would be poured out to reestablish us back into a covenant relationship. This new covenant is where we find ourselves receiving God’s gracious embrace (who are we to receive God’s pardon for breaking the relationship covenant we had together?) It is also where we declare the intent to live as God desires, as Jesus revealed to us. We declare the intent to be disciples of Jesus. ...and this was all wrapped up in the freedom meal of Passover, the meal where we celebrated God’s embrace as he led us out of
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enslavement. We remember the ancient story where a lamb’s blood marked the doors of those who were prepared to leave. Whose blood will mark the doorway of your life? Do you declare the intent to follow Jesus into freedom? Do you feel like you’re seeing what freedom is, as Jesus reveals it in his own life? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For gratitude: We’ve received the nourishment of Christ himself for us. ●For the intent to follow Jesus and do and say as Jesus does and says.

Good Friday Mark 15.1-41 Pilate saw something that the Jewish leaders didn’t: Jealousy is why they were handing Jesus over. And for Pilate? He handed Jesus over because he wanted to please the crowd, which we all know is the only way to keep political “power”. Jesus received the title, “King of the Jews,” but no one there received him that way; he was handed over to those who would crucify him. Jesus’ life is traded for an insurrectionist’s life; Jesus was one insurrectionist traded for another in the people’s eyes. Everyone wanted to see the power of Rome, the power of politics, the power of the State at work. Little did they know, however. As soldiers led him from the political headquarters, gave him a crown, a royal purple cloak, and paid homage to him (though in jest), they were leading the True King out to where he would be seen as True King. That would be on the cross. From the cross Jesus cries out a song, Psalm 22. He begins with, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” But, do you know how that song ends? Go read it. Then, Jesus is given a cup to drink. It’s sour wine, but wine nonetheless. We remember what he said the day before: “I won’t drink the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14.25, NRSV). Jesus cries out, exhales, and his body relaxes; he breathes his last. Suddenly, the temple curtain, the one that kept the Holy of Holies place in the temple secret, hidden, rips apart. The place where the Jewish people believed God resided rips open as if God himself were making a hasty appearance. Somehow, at this moment of Jesus on the

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cross, dead on a cross, God rips himself out of the hidden and mysterious and comes out into the plain as day. Do you see God there? Do you see God in Jesus on the cross? Do you see your king there? Do you see true power, glory, and the kingdom of God coming from there? As you hear Pilate call out, “What do you want me to do with Jesus?”how do you respond? If your intent is for him to be king, which is who Jesus was and claimed to be, then how does your life need to adapt and be re-formed? If we cannot find yourself at a spot open to obey what Jesus has so far said, then can we say anything different than what the crowd said that day? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the eyes to see that in the cross, God’s power and way is most clearly revealed. ●For the faith to see that when life is freely poured out, then we see life that mimics God’s own life in Jesus. ●For the faith to know that God is not finished; he continues to work on us and grow us to become like Jesus.

Holy Saturday Mark 15.42-47 Evening is the beginning of a new day in Jewish life; the day begins with dusk, not dawn. So, it is a new day with a new king. Joseph, a bold man, approaches Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus. Does Joseph feel remorse or sadness, or is he receiving a king of a new kingdom? ...I can’t tell. All we can remember is that he was expectant for the kingdom of God and this is what boldly sent him to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. Why would Joseph want Jesus’ body, to risk such a bold request from a person who has the capacity to crucify people at whim? If Jesus doesn’t matter any more, if the kingdom was not in Jesus, then, why bother? Why risk it? Does Joseph anticipate something? Do you think you would have had it in you to do what Joseph did that day? What would provoke you to risk it? What would hold you back? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the courage to risk our lives for Jesus, even if we aren’t totally sure what will happen.
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●For the faith that anticipates God’s kingdom rule and care for us in Jesus.

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed
Be still and know that God alone is God and that his power is revealed in the mystery of the cross.

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Easter Day Mark 16.1-8 When the sabbath was over. That’s significant. Sabbath is a time when we are told to rest and know that God will take care of things. Instead of frantic work and figuring, on a sabbath we rest and we rely on God working things out, even when we have no idea what will happen. So, they rested. Right after Jesus is hung on a cross then laid in a tomb, they rested. Instead of frantic work, frantic fighting, or frantic figuring, they rest. They let God sort it out. In their deepest sense of depravity, all they have left now is to rely on God making sense of things for them. It’s a couple of the women disciples who set off to see the tomb of Jesus. They took spices, anticipating seeing Jesus’ body, anticipating the time spent with his corpse. They went to anoint him. Like we saw before, anointing was reserved for people of special honor. Much of the time, it was reserved for anointing a king, declaring them in the process to be the ruler. But why did these women go to anoint Jesus? If they believed he was a failed king and they got duped into thinking he was going to usher in the kingdom of God, then why did they go to anoint him? There’s something else going on in this story... And that’s precisely what the women disciples discover. They get to the tomb, they saw a man dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side of the tomb. He said, “Don’t be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. ...Go tell the other disciples.” What’s going on here? He was crucified but now is raised. He is not still crucified, he is not still dead. There’s life coursing now. He’s on the road, heading to Galilee. You’ll see him there. The women fled. They were afraid. Why were they afraid? Because Jesus was raised? Or, because of the disbelief? Or some other reason? We’ve just seen what happened to Jesus; if we decide to go keep company with him, would that happen to us? And that is how the ancient manuscripts end Jesus’ story. You have to risk the journey to go see him in Galilee. Would you risk it? After seeing what all happened to Jesus, would you believe the man in the white robe? Would you have set out? Would you today set out into the world see Jesus?
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A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For us to have the courage to risk seeing and being with Jesus.

Easter Monday Mark 16.9-end This reading is something that was added on to the gospel of Mark after it had been circulating to different churches. Someone felt it would be helpful to add this because of how abrupt the ending of Mark’s gospel is. As you noticed with 16.8, the gospel just ended with women being afraid and not sure what to do next. But, we know that’s not how the story stayed. What we learn from the other Gospel writers, from Acts, and from the letters in the New Testament, is that Jesus was resurrected, was alive, and was most definitely Lord. That, in essence, is what this addition to the end of Mark’s gospel is getting at. Jesus is Lord, the resurrection verifies that, and the cross established it and revealed how Jesus is Lord. Now, we are left to wonder what to make of Jesus and him being Lord. We are also sent to share the message about Jesus with all the world. And we’ve seen how many will receive it. They’ll think it is ridiculous or offensive. Much of it will seem beyond reality as they know it. How easy or difficult has it been for you to share your faith in Jesus with others? Do you find it smooth or difficult to mention life with Jesus? How do you feel people at school or work would respond if you said that Jesus was in charge of everything and no one else really was? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the courage to share about Jesus, that he is Lord and this is great news. ●For the faith to walk with Jesus even though we’re enable to really predict or anticipate a lot of what will happen to us. Easter Tuesday Mark 2.23-27 Bible scholar N.T. Wright wrote in his book Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B, that sabbath (and other things) worked like signposts for something that would eventually come.
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In our reading today, we remember when the Pharisees clashed with Jesus about the sabbath. Jesus’ disciples were breaking the sabbath by Pharisee ways of seeing it. Yet, in essence, what Jesus was encouraging his disciples to do was to act out a reality that the sign post of sabbath had pointed to: God will bring rest. God will take care of things, will take care of you; don’t worry about it. Rest, see God at work, trust God at work, and join in what he’s done tomorrow. The disciples were celebrating with Jesus, back in Mark 2, that the kingdom of God, the rest God was to provide, the fulfillment of what the sabbath regulation pointed to, was coming to be. This wasn’t a time to wait and rest in a somber mood; no, this was a time to exclaim that rest had come, God had come, he is taking care of things - celebrate! Easter calls for our great celebration. On the cross and through the grave, Jesus has truly become our king. This is good news for us and for all people; it’s a good news that has everything to do with today and not just tomorrow or eternity. Have you been able to grasp the depths of this good news, a story worth celebrating and throwing a party for? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our lives to be lived as celebration: Our king has come and is reigning. We will be taken care of! ●For our lives to experience and live out the rest that comes from Jesus. Easter Wednesday Mark 4.26-33 By immersing our attention and imagination in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, as written down by Mark, we have experienced the seed of the kingdom of God planted in our lives. We will not be able to predict how it grows and we will be surprised at how it will develop from such a small, insignificant-feeling beginning. Have you sensed being drawn into walking with Jesus, into listening to Jesus and doing what he says as you’ve kept company with Mark’s gospel? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For our faith to grow, that we would become participants in God’s kingdom. ●For our lives to become like Jesus. Easter Thursday Mark 12.28-34 There is a new reality to live by. Once we have become witnesses to the story Mark tells in his gospel, it won’t be long until we
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find ourselves participating in the rhythms and new, kingdom of God reality that Mark proclaims (that is, if we haven’t written it off as foolish, false, or “just not applicable today”). The simple two step rhythm is what this new reality boils down to: loving God, loving neighbor. And it’s a whole being poured out into love. It’s all of who we are that’s poured into the love of God. It’s finding ourselves to consider the needs of our neighbors as much as we think of our own needs that we discover ourselves really loving our neighbors, really living the new kind of reality that Jesus ushered in. It’s a reality that is called living in the kingdom of God. Others have called it resurrection life flowing from Jesus into us. Can you trace growth yet in your life with regards to being a person who loves God with all their being and considers the needs of their neighbors right alongside your own needs (rather than after your personal checklist for yourself is marked off)? It will come. It will grow. A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●That we would grow to become more and more pure of our love for God and neighbor. Easter Friday Mark 12.41-44 We may feel like we have nothing to contribute, nothing to offer. We might wonder if our lives can ever become shaped to depend on God. The widow is hailed by Jesus as going about it the right way: toss it all in. Abandon yourself to God’s care and discover that in losing your life, you’ll find it. Does this feel do-able right now? What holds you back? Or, what has you jumping in? A Guide for a Time of Prayer ●For the grace and courage to place all of who were are in God’s care. ●For the faith to let go of all we are and let God take care of us. ●For the strength to give up all that we have, even if it is all we have to live on, and rely on the grace of God alone. Easter Saturday John 20.19-31 Finally, we see Jesus after the resurrection. He comes to us, says, “Peace be with you.” And, we’re sent. We’re sent, filled with the Holy Spirit, sent to create reconciliation between people and people,
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between God and people. We’re sent to declare that through all our doubts, Jesus is truly our Lord and our God. We’re sent that we and all may have life in Jesus’ name. Let this become your question and your prayer.

Small Ideas for Faith Explored and Expressed
Go and do likewise. These past weeks have been a training ground for you to have enough practice to sense the kinds of needs Jesus would have gone into. Now, you’ll be going there, just like Jesus.

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