Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Posts tagged ‘Lent’

“Mountaintop Experience”

March 2, 2014– Transfiguration Sunday

 

Exodus 24:12-18

12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be moved!
The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.

The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.
He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;
They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.

You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

19So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

 

Comments

Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany, the series of weeks after Christmas when the church lingers on the significance of the appearance of Jesus on the stage of human history.  With the Transfiguration story, the church turns toward the season of Lent and Easter, a time of reflecting on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  The luminosity of the transfiguration story reaches toward the vision of God as transcendent, other worldly, mysterious and dimly apprehended.

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop is found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The Matthew and Mark versions are very similar.  Luke’s version varies a bit and has Jesus praying and Moses and Elijah’s words are described as saying something about Jesus’ impending death in Jerusalem.  The transfiguration story is not in the Gospel of John.  The word “transfiguration” is used to translate the Greek word METAMORPHOO in Matthew and Mark.

The setting of the story has Jesus fully aware that his journey is toward suffering and death.  The disciples, initially feeling very good about being with Jesus and having this mountaintop experience, end up being fearful and not sure about the future.  Jesus touches them and tells them not to be afraid.  I think this is the heart of the story.

Through the ages this story has influenced Christian spirituality.  The Eastern Christian Church interpreted the story as representative of the human transformation possible in Christ.  Western Christianity tended to emphasize the cross experience of Jesus.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus opens the awareness of God’s presence in the lives of previous heroes of the faith. The mountaintop experience of Moses and the mountaintop experience of Elijah are well known narratives of Israel.

After encountering a burning bush on the mountaintop, Moses leads the transformation of a slave people toward self-determination.  After encountering God on the smoky, fiery mountaintop, Moses helps Israel find its character and vision as a people of law and justice and shalom.  Moses’ final mountaintop experience was overlooking the Promised Land before his death.

Elijah’s mountaintop experience was different.  The sheer sound of silence, or a small inner voice, guided Elijah in speaking God’s word to the powerful and to those in need.

Jesus in conversation with these figures reminds the reader of the long history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the establishment of a covenant community and the sometimes irksome habit of God calling and raising up prophets to remind everyone of this intersection of divine and human activity and the ongoing dream of humankind’s transformation.

A few years ago a prophet appeared in the life of this nation and offered these words:

I have a dream…

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King Junior was a modern prophet who helped this nation move toward a more expansive view of humanity.  The “I Have a Dream” speech was a mountaintop experience for many of that generation and continues to inspire.  King was giving a speech to 250,000 people who had marched to WashingtonD.C. to demonstrate for civil rights.  As King was speaking Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”  And he did.

What is the expansive vision we need today?

  • Care of creation?
  • Narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor?
  • Including sexual minorities fully in the church and society?

Some Christian spiritualties, if not all of them, have emphasized the role of prayer in Jesus’ transfiguration.  Jesus and the disciples going to an isolated setting is interpreted to mean they spent time in prayer and meditation.  The disciplines of prayer and meditation as a ways of raising awareness of the divine presence and mystery have motivated many to work at disciplined ways of finding the presence of God.  Controlled breathing, chanting, meditating on words and phrases, observing extended times of silence, fasting, and praying have been pathways to mountaintop experiences for many through the ages.  As we struggle to stay afloat in the deluge of the information age and navigate the complexities of the 21st century, we often long for the focus and simplicity of a quiet place and a method to journey into God’s presence.

The disciples thought they had found that place.  “Wow! This is good, Jesus.  We’ll stay right here.  We will build new institutions to commemorate and perpetuate this mountaintop experience.”  As they are speaking and carrying on and planning, they are interrupted by divine speech.  “This is my beloved with whom I am well-pleased.  Listen to him.”

Almost the same words were heard at Jesus Baptism and the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of testing.

This time, God’s voice declares, “Listen to him.” Then there is a series of exorcisms, confrontations with the authorities, healings, teachings and parables by Jesus as he continues his ministry among the people and continues the journey toward Jerusalem and his death.  This the Jesus we listen to.

We are not a people called to linger long on mountaintop experiences.  If we listen to Jesus, we will be a people who are transformed as we engage in the work of creating a world as God intended it to be.

 

Maybe the ultimate transformation is the movement from loving our idea and image of God to loving our neighbors in all their variety of colors, social class, physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation and circumstances.

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The Hard Work of Lent 040312

 

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The F...

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1880) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

With our sympathy: Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Val Krehbiel, a retired Mennonite minister from Salina, KS.  Val was, to me, an activist, radical Mennonite minister who really believed Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and sought to lead in that image. May God Bless Val and his family.

The Hard Work of Lent 040312

Lent is supposed to be hard work, even though it is easy to undertake. But this week, the hard work of Lent becomes apparent, as Lent is completed by this holy, Holy Week.

It is quite a transition, from ordinary life and time in winter to this intense week of the realization of God, and reconciliation with God, to receiving a new, receiving anew, the gift of Grace in the midst of spring.

Lent is a time, it seems, not only of human celebration and communion, but a time of God’s celebration and communion. Lent is a time we come closer, and come back closer to God.

Each scripture today is heavy. Be careful with them; they have the power of the truth of God and Jesus Christ in them.

Pray for peace,

Bill

 

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

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Tu03   Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

 

Isaiah 49:1-7

49Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” 4But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

7Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Psalm 71

1In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

2In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

3Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

4Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

5For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

6Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

7I have been like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.

8My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long.

9Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

10For my enemies speak concerning me, and those who watch for my life consult together.

11They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken, for there is no one to deliver.”

12O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!

13Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed; let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

John 12:20-36

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


 

Reading a Good Book for Lent 030912

Russian icon of St. Athanasius the Athonite (S...

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This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Reading a Good Book for Lent 030912

I decided it was time to start a new book for my daily reading besides the Bible, that is.

I am looking for a book that will bring me closer to God, and closer to Jesus for the season of Lent. I realize Lent is a man made holiday season, but we have to remember that holidays are HOLY-Days.

I tend to look for books that expand my sense of what it means to be a Christian disciple. I fear that the ‘modern church’, whatever that is, has taken a suggestion from modern media experts and tried to simplify or worse abbreviate the experience of a Christian disciple. I think that the relationship between God and man is so much more diverse and wonderful than any normal Sunday morning preacher normally discusses, and sometimes a simple direct sellable notion of who God and Jesus are to us has become predominant in the world’s Christian churches. Modern Christianity may be more sellable or saleable (capable of being sold—you know what I mean) but is also more flat, has less passion and doesn’t cause us to sell all we have and follow him.

So, for Lent, as part of one’s efforts to deepen the relationship with God and Jesus, I’m seeking a new book to read. Luckily, we have so many (neglected) books and writers. On my bookshelf are books by Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard de Bingen, and other writers. Luckily, the works of older writers may be online for free and all these writers are at the library for free (this makes old German skinflints very happy). The book called The Life of Anthony by Athanaius (313 AD)

 

is available free at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xvi.ii.i.html

and could be a good choice for Lent reading.

As and result, we should consider that some human institutions may not encourage us to learn and be all we can be as disciples of Christ. After all, what happens to our Facebook account if we go barefoot, wear long robes and walk a great deal?

As Romans 8 says today:  38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 For Lent, look at human institutions that may be keeping you from God, like the church for instance, or the media, or the….

Pray for the health of your relationship with God, and each other. Pray for this peace.

Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

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Psalm 81:1-10

Leviticus 23:1-8

Romans 8:31-39

Psalm 81

1Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.

2Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.

3Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.

4For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.

5He made it a decree in Joseph, when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a voice I had not known:

6“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.

7In distress you called, and I rescued you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

8Hear, O my people, while I admonish you; O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

9There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.

10I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Leviticus 23:1-8

23The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals. 3Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements.

4These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. 5In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover offering to the Lord, 6and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. 8For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.

Romans 8:31-39

31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Weight Loss Plan 030512

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

Psalm 27

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Weight Loss Plan 030512

Almost all westerners need to lose some weight, and Lent is a good time to do it.

But I’m not talking about reducing the size of meals, or eating more or less of this or that. Instead, I’m talking about reducing or eliminating the 20 pounds of ugly fat we all might carry around—the extra weight we carry in our conscience because of unresolved memories, the work we do that does not benefit anyone, and the futile situations we may find ourselves in. Life is a great deal simpler and more peaceful, and there is more time for Jesus if this extra weight is dropped.

So, Lent can be a time of simplifying our lives. Getting back to a simpler, quieter and more holy life.

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul is avoiding Corinth, to avoid contact with someone who may have caused pain, but Paul avoids him and asks forgiveness at the same time. This doesn’t have much to do with today’s blog post, except maybe this is also part of the task of Lent. To forgive those who have caused us pain, and to leave them behind and not visit again.

Pray for us all in Lent, as we seek the Kingdom of God. Pray for peace.

Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

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Psalm 45:6-17

Hosea 3:1-5

2 Corinthians 1:23—2:11

 

Psalm 45:6-17

6Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;

7you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

8your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;

9daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house,

11and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him;

12the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people

13with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;

14in many-colored robes she is led to the king; behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.

15With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.

16In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.

17I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

Hosea 3:1-5

3The Lord said to me again, “Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” 2So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine. 3And I said to her, “You must remain as mine for many days; you shall not play the whore, you shall not have intercourse with a man, nor I with you.” 4For the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5Afterward the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

2 Corinthians 1:23—2:11

23But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth. 24I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.

2So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. 4For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

5But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. 6This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. 10Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. 11And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

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The Essential Contrast 022212

English: This is a map of first century Iudaea...

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This blog comes to you

from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO 

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 The Essential Contrast 022212

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and 40 days prior to Easter. Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the desert before beginning his public ministry, so Ash Wednesday likewise marks the beginning of a 40 day period of fasting and prayer leading up to and preparing for Easter, This, like the rest of the church calendar and liturgical calendar seem to focus around a general plan of spiritual formation and Lent is directed toward the extended fasting and prayer, like Jesus, for 40 days and nights.

The ashes of Ash Wednesday signify mourning, and in the case of Christians, signify repentance and the forgiveness of God. Ash Wednesday is for fasting and prayer, for those whose health permits fasting. We can pray certainly, even if we’re unhealthy and pray for health.

Like the royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum, we just need to believe in Jesus to be healed, and to heal. It is a story of deep passion and rich human emotion. There is nothing more poignant than the words of the official ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’

The story from John presents a wonderful contrast, and I think, an essential contrast between Jesus and the New Testament good news and the readings from Psalm 6 and Job 30. Each of these Old Testament scriptural selections is dark, deep and angry from way down deep. They are full of grief and despair, and each is a plea in desperation for help from God.

But healing, and life for the little come easy from Jesus. Jesus brings light and life to the dark regions of the Old Testament and he comes to us easily, with kindness and love.

Pray for peace,

(brother) Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

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We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

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Psalm 6

Job 30:16-31

John 4:46-54

Psalm 6

1O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.

2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.

3My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?

4Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.

5For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?

6I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.

7My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.

8Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

9The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer.

10All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

Job 30:16-31

16“And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. 17The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest. 18With violence he seizes my garment; he grasps me by the collar of my tunic. 19He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. 20I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. 21You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. 22You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. 23I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. 24“Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help. 25Did I not weep for those whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? 26But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came. 27My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still; days of affliction come to meet me. 28I go about in sunless gloom; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29I am a brother of jackals, and a companion of ostriches. 30My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat. 31My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

John 4:46-54

46Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” 50Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” 53The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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