Saturday, 26 March 2016

Sabbath rest

Mark 15:42-47
The Burial of Jesus
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Joseph of Arimathea
Waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God
offered what he had
- an empty tomb.
He wrapped the body in a linen cloth
sealed the tomb
and continued to wait.
Did he have the slightest inkling
of how God would usher in the kingdom?
Or were his actions those of a defeated hope?
Joseph of Arimathea
by doing what he could
and giving what he had
unwittingly,played a part
in the greatest story ever told.
But first....sabbath rest.

Prayer
God may we be willing to do what we can and to give what we have, especially when we cannot imagine the outcome. For your kingdom.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Nine o'clock in the morning


Mark 15:25-27
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.

The day started early
Forced to carry the instrument of torture
through streets thronged with revellers,
some sporting post Passover hangovers
some just winding their way home
some heading to jobs that would not wait
And others who knew a good spectacle was promised
By nine o'clock, the excitement was over
the procession had stopped
And all that remained
was the sorry business of dying.
Three criminals
hoisted up as a warning to others
Left to die
as the party moved on.

Prayer
God, may we not move on too quickly to the next thing but stay awhile by your cross today.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Betrayal

Mark 14:17-19
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?”

One  of you will betray me...
Surely not I, Lord?
Surely not I?
Betrayal lives in us
Betrayal lives
deep in the recesses
of all we keep hidden
Betrayal lives in us
when we take the easy option
and settle for a quiet life
Betrayal lives in us
when we refuse to speak up
and let our voice be heard
Betrayal lives in us...
And Christ on his way to the cross
embraces our betrayal
simply placing it
within the sphere
of forgiveness 
and grace
that was God's response
to hatred and evil.
One  of you will betray me...
Surely not I, Lord?
Surely not I?

Prayer
God, may we accept that betrayal lives in us along with the forgiveness found in your response to evil.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Denial

Mark 14:66-68
Peter Denies Jesus
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed.

Jesus was under no illusions
He knew how fickle we can be
The lengths we will go
to save ourselves
consequences be damned.
He knew
and yet he continued
Continues
To hold out
Love
Forgiveness
Grace
No illusions
Just arms opened wide
to embrace.

Prayer
God, as we recognise our many failings, may we remember our beloved status. Known and loved by you.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Desertion

Mark 14:50
All of them deserted him and fled.

Deserted
Left alone
with those who sought to harm him
those who came for him
mob handed.
Suddenly the garden,
a place of retreat
became a place 
of sinister shadows
filled with malevolent soldiers 
and guards
and frightened friends
cowering in the darkness.
And when we imagine
that we would have stuck around
stood our ground
not melted into the darkness
we are reminded
that it was for us
and others like us
that Jesus endured
alone in the garden.
And we too 
are included in that statement
All of them deserted him and fled.

Prayer
God when we are tempted to trumpet our loyalty and our bravery, confront us with our willingness to be with the crowd and even your friends who deserted you. And, God, forgive us.

Monday, 21 March 2016

In remembrance...

Mark 14:3-9
The Anointing at Bethany
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

What she has done ...
Gifting her precious ointment
Sensuously pouring it on Jesus' head
Not minding those
with whom he dined
Overcoming her fear
with love so pure
it could not be denied
Stepping into the line of fire
because it was now or never
will be told...
Told with scorn
Told with wonder
Told with derision
Told with awe
Embellished
Diminished
Repeated in myriad ways
in remembrance of her...
Who did this
in memory of him.

Prayer
God, just for a moment give us the audacity to do as this woman did,
taking risks to show our love. Stepping out of line and not counting the cost.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Beyond words

Mark 13:10-11
And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

So many ways to witness
Living
Working
Words
Action
Proclaiming good news
to all nations
On the midst of suffering
witnessing love.

Prayer
God, in all things, may we proclaim the good news, in and out of love.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

This...

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Word!

Prayer
God you lay it out for us in terms easy to understand. You don't promise it will be easy but you make it clear that there is no wiggle room, no room for excuses. Yoir command is to love. No exceptions. Practice love, teach love, live love. That's it

Friday, 11 March 2016

Poured out

Psalms 22:14
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;

The Psalmist
Destroyed
Yet full of hope
Feeling abandoned
Yet looking to the promise
of a faithful God
Believing
in restoration
even in th depths.
Faith in despair.

Prayer
O God, when all seems lost, draw near to us and lift us from despair to hope in you.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

What shall I offer?

Psalms 116:12-13
What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord

Gratitude
For a love undeserved
And a cup overflowing
Filled with every good thing
Not earned
Not worked for
But gifted
By God who freely gives.
How can I keep silent?

Prayer
Lord let me seek and use every opportunity to praise you for your goodness and to spread your name far and wide in praise and thanksgiving in all things.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Keeper and shade

Psalms 121
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Always present
Tuned in
Anticipating need
Providing shelter
There
Whether we acknowledge or not
There
When we know it
And when we don't
When we believe
And when we doubt.
Keeper and shade 
Faithful God.

Prayer
God, ever present, thank you for you constant care and concern. May we know you guarding our everyday and glorify your name.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Promises

Psalms 102:15-17
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.

How long, O Lord, before we see you
fulfil your promise
before we see the destitute
raised up from their plight
How long, O Lord, before we see
those who struggle
finding a way out of trouble
How long, O Lord
before we awaken
to the dawning
that the answer to prayer
is in our hands

Prayer
Lord help us not just to pray for those who suffer but to work for justice and to be the means of answered prayer.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Being of God

Hebrews 1:1-3
God Has Spoken by His Son
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. 

Reflecting God's glory
Part of God's very being
Higher than the Angels
Bringing the word of God,
the life giving, creative word.
Co-creator
Sustainer
Son of God

Prayer
God open our hearts to listen as you speak to us in your Son, Jesus Christ for the life of the world.

Friday, 4 March 2016

To the hills...


Psalms 121
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Disappointment


Isaiah 5:1-4
The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard

Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?

A picture of disappointment
Of energy expended
 with no return
Of investment
that yielded no fruit
Of hard work and effort
that brought no gain.
A picture that evokes empathy
for the one who has worked so hard
and tried every which way
to bring about fruitfulness 
An empathy that brings
not resolution
but companionship
in the sorrow
of hopes dashed
and promise
snuffed out
in loss.
No light
simply accompaniment
through sorrow.

Prayer
O God, may we who are fixers lay down our tools and acknowledge when death must come to make way for resurrection.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

God the word

Mark 12:24
Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?

When we twist the words 
to suit our own ends
When we manipulate God
to create the kind of deity
who fits our purpose
We deny fullness of life
for ourselves
and for others.
We reduce the possibility
of love and abundance
Of openness and acceptance
Of room for all.
Words spoken in love 
used to divide
Power given to liberate
used to oppress.
And God weeps at the diminishing
of those whom God calls beloved.

Prayer
God show us the real power of your word in redeeming the world and convince us of the part you have for us to play in living out your word of life.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Conflict

Mark 12:17
Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

How often do we attempt
to put words into God's mouth?
And how often do we interpret
Jesus' words to suit our purposes?
The truth is
that Jesus' way
of peace and justice
is not a road we take lightly
and not a path
we cab manipulate
to our own taste.
Following Christ
is wholehearted,
not a mish mash
of the bits we like best.
And sometimes that entails
showing respect
for those in authority
whether we are in agreement
or not.
Such is the way of the kingdom.

Prayer
God help us not to pick and choose but to be all in with our obedience to you, living peaceably with those who have authority over us.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Undivided

Psalms 86:11
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

Undivided
Not pulled in all directions
Undivided
With a single focus
Undivided
Knowing surety in purpose
Undivided
Following a path
that leads to God.

Prayer
God give us such devotion that we walk in your way, focussing on your truth and bringing glory to your name.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Dangerous gospel

Mark 12:1-12
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”
When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

The gospel is always dangerous with its challenge, its radical statements and its unflinching truth. But these two passages are often (mis)appropriated to make them even more so.
The background to this passage is that it is written around the time of the destruction of the temple, under fierce Roman oppression following an uprising by those under occupation. It was a tough time to be part of the Jewish or the fledgling Christian community. A familiar pattern in times of change, when established ideas and patterns are being established is a jostling for position, creating clearer divisions and separation. Centuries old tradition is being thrown into doubt and there is the inevitable kick back reaction.
The Vineyard, an image for and of Israel, is now a symbol of dispute. A new group, known as Christians are laying claim to an inheritance. Those who first heard Mark’s gospel would have heard it very differently than we do today. Their interpretation, in their context, would have identified the religious authorities of their day, the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders as the tenants of the Vineyard of whom Jesus spoke. For new Christians, Jesus’ parable would have confirmed, for them, that they were the new inheritors of the way of Jesus.
Today, Christians are not in that position of being a new fledgling group needing to establish rights with God at the expense of others. Instead, we might see this parable as an invitation to examine ourselves in the context of the kingdom. And to see that kingdom, not as a given right or inheritance, but, as an invitation into community, connecting and responding generously to one another.
(Previously shared as RevGalBlogPals Narrative Lectionary Post)

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Trap

Mark 11:27-28
Jesus’ Authority Is Questioned
Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?”

The question
intended to trap
intended to add
to the evidence
that was mounting up.
The question
that went unanswered
And in its place was posed
an even trickier question.
Jesus could give as good as he got
when it came to sparring
with the wise guys.
And they were too afraid
to push him any further
in the light of day.
Their revenge could wait
until it was dark
and the crowds had gone home...

Prayer
God may we never use our knowledge to Lord it over others. May we use the intellect you have given us for the good of all whom we meet this day.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Believe

Mark 11:24-25
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Believing - is it really that simple?
And forgiving
That's hard work
that involves constant prayer.
Yet Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem
On his way to betrayal, arrest and death
spoke of forgiveness
of faith
of believing 
and of prayer
On his way to Calvary.

Prayer
God, when we pray, may we seek forgiveness for ourselves and for others and may we be forgiving. Give us faith to know that our prayers are answered and, as we are forgiven, help us forgive.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Sealed

Mark 11:18-19
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Sealed
His fate was sealed
He played right into their hands
Like poking a bear with a stick 
He refused to back down
Refused to slouch away
But got right up into their faces
And confronted them with their shortcomings
There was no going back
No retreating into the shadows
No way out
The authorities were out to get him
And get him they would
Sealed
His fate was sealed

Prayer
God on those days when you call us to step up, give us courage not to take the easy way out but to confront what goes against your way of love and grace - and face the consequences with you right beside us.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

One of those days

Mark 11:12-14
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Did Mesus have off-days too?
You know, one of those days
when nothing seems to go right
and you just can't seem to shake of the angst
that's assailing your soul?
You need some kind of diffuser.
And, for Jesus, that day,
it was the fig tree.
Not carrying any figs.
Even though it was out of season,
Jesus was out of sorts
And so the fig tree took the brunt
of his frustration.
We might try and make some 
fancy theological point
out of Jesus' irrational act.
But what's wrong with just letting him
have an off day
and be done.
It happens...

Prayer
God on those days when we cannot see our way out of the haze, send us a fig tree, or something equally harmless on which we can diffuse our angst and give our brothers and sisters a break.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Everlasting covenant

Psalms 111:7-10
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.

Even today
when all seems to conspire
to tell a different story
still God is faithful
and God's promise endures.

Prayer
Today, O God, confront us with your promises anew that we may see your steadfast love and faithfulness in all things.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Seek peace

Psalms 34:11-14
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

Loving God
involves speaking truth
and not evil.
Desiring life
and all that is good
is achieved 
by seeking peace.

Prayer
Help us to speak only truth, truth that builds up and does not destroy, truth that leads us on paths of peace..