Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Lent 2021
Gethsemane Lutheran Church

   Sunday & Wednesday
Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,
     find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed:
        clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see
          all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
                            ⎯ Shirley Erena Murray

As we undertake our Lenten journey this year, let us ground ourselves in
home practice. We invite you to make a space for a candle, art print, and
booklet. Each Sunday and Wednesday (or whatever days work best for you),
please light your candle and reflect on the text and accompanying artwork.

You may choose to use this resource alone, with others who share your
home, or with others in the congregation via telephone or ZOOM.

In this season of growth, represented in the green of the cross on your
candle, we invite the Spirit into our lives anew. Let us turn from those things
that distract us from God and neighbor so that we live our lives rooted in
service, justice, and love.

                                     ⎯ Pastors Kari Lipke and Joanne Engquist

Unless otherwise noted, biblical texts come from The Message by Eugene Peterson
(emended). All artwork in this booklet is © Jan Richardson, used by permission.

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Ash Wednesday, February 17: MERCY

In the midst of earthly life fear and death beset us;
who attends and hears our cry; who does not forget us?
You only, God, you only. …
Though death would torment us, let us not sink in the dust.
Lord, have mercy.
             ⎯ Martin Luther; tr. Susan Palo Cherwien

God does not forget us. That’s a powerful word for us in the times when we
feel alone or afraid or despairing. God remembers us with great tenderness
in God’s heart, because God knows what it’s like to be human. God, through
Jesus, knows what it’s like to feel the whole spectrum of human pain and of
human emotions. What difference does it make in your life when you can
trust that God remembers you with compassion?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Sunday, February 21: WILD

At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild.
For forty wilderness days and nights Jesus was tested by Satan.
Wild animals were Jesus’ companions, and angels took care of him.
             ⎯ Mark 1:12-13

Wild places test us. When we go into the wild we leave behind those things
that make our lives relatively easy—like refrigerators and soft beds, like
walls that protect us, warm showers, and clean water from a tap. What we
gain is a truer sense of our own size in the grandeur of the universe. We gain
a present-moment awareness as we keep watch for beauty and threats. We
gain a slower pace as we tend our bodies and spirits without the trappings
of the usual available technology. How might you embrace these wild gifts
even as you remain in domesticated settings this season?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Wednesday, February 24: HOPE

Tears may linger when night falls,
but joy arrives with the dawn.
Therefore my soul blesses God
with every breath that I take.
             ⎯ Psalm 30; tr. Stephen Mitchell

In the past year we have shed many tears: tears for racial injustice; for the
victims of COVID-19; for all we have had to give up because of pandemic; for
a creation in crisis; for our own personal losses. Our tears do linger, but in our
longing for change lies the seed of hope. We imagine a different future that
does not deny our present pain, but that builds on the lessons loss teaches
us. What lessons have you learned this year that you would like to carry
into the future?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Sunday, February 28: FOLLOW

Calling the crowd to join the disciples, Jesus said,
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.
You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.”
            ⎯ Mark 8:34

Somehow it seems easier to imagine following Jesus when he called those
first disciples to leave behind fishing nets and family. That sounded more
adventurous and bold. This time it sounds scary. In this call to the crowds,
Jesus notes here that followers are not in charge. Moments later Jesus says
this means learning a way of self-sacrifice and even embracing suffering.
How have you learned to give up something important to you in order to
follow the lead of Jesus calling you to follow in the way of love?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Wednesday, March 3: SPIRIT

I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in
the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And
with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.
              ⎯ Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard lived over a thousand years ago in a Benedictine community not
far from Frankfurt, Germany. From early childhood she had a profound sense
of what she called “the reflection of the living Light.” It took years and lots of
encouragement before Hildegard shared these visions (eventually she wrote
three volumes about them). Her writing helps others to see ourselves deeply
connected to God, and to be aware of God with all our senses. In what ways
do you know God present in yourself, and are there ways you share that
with others?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Sunday, March 7: COURAGE

Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather
and chased them out of the Temple,
stampeding the sheep and cattle,
upending the tables of the loan sharks,
spilling coins left and right.
             ⎯ John 2:15

Courage allows us to right wrongs even when we are afraid. We live our
lives never knowing when the moments to display courage will arise, and so
we nurture our courage in order to keep it ready and at hand. Following
Jesus, we learn to treasure the lives of others as much as we treasure our
own, and that gives us the courage to act for all who are being harmed or
oppressed. What gives you courage, and where is your courage needed?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Wednesday, March 10: QUIET

Mothering Spirit, nurt’ring one, in arms of patience hold me close,
so that in faith I root and grow until I flow’r, until I know.
             ⎯ Jean Janzen, based on Julian of Norwich

When I was little and needed rest, my mother would hold and rock me. I was
sure I needed to stay awake and keep moving, but she knew I needed to
pause and let the ancient rhythms of breath and heartbeat calm me. She
knew that’s how my energy would return to me. We live in a time when
everything seems urgent and in need of immediate solutions. It is difficult to
pause, to rest, to find calm by rooting ourselves in ancient rhythms. Yet that’s
what we must do if we are to renew our energy for life. Like a good parent,
the Spirit can nurture us—encouraging us to find quiet and peace when we
need it. What helps you to calm down and renew your energy for life?

Lent 2021 Gethsemane Lutheran Church - Sunday & Wednesday Devotions
Sunday, March 14: LOVE

“This is how much God loved the world:
God gave the Child, God’s one and only Child.
And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed;
by believing in the Child, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
             ⎯ John 3:16

The more familiar translation of this verse talks about eternal life and often
is thought to be something that comes after death. The idea of “a whole and
lasting life” makes a clearer connection not as a reward after death, but as a
gift for life. God’s own beloved, Jesus, comes in human form identifying with
us and offering a way of life right here and now. Are there ways this way of
speaking changes how you think about the gift God gives us?

Wednesday, March 17: BLESSING

But this is what I can ask for you:
That in the darkness there be a blessing.
That in the shadows there be a welcome.
That in the night you be encompassed
by the Love that knows your name.
             ⎯ Jan Richardson

We offer and receive blessings to remember that our lives are touched by
and infused with sacred presence. We offer and receive blessings to
remember that God is always nearby. Blessings are the language we speak
when we want to make God’s love known in the midst of all that is ordinary,
joyful, or difficult in our lives. What blessing do you need to receive at this
moment in your life? What blessing would you like to offer?

Sunday, March 21: BURIED

“Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world,
it is never any more than a grain of wheat.
But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.
In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.
But if you let it go, reckless in your love,
you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”
             ⎯ John 12:24-25

Usually we talk about planting seeds, not burying them. But the image of
burying helps us remember that an ending comes when we plant. The seed
literally stops being a seed so that, sprouting and reproducing, something
totally new comes into being. In your life what have you let go of, reckless
in love, that made it possible for something new to grow?

Wednesday, March 24: SOURCE

As rivers flow from a distant spring
to quench our thirst and feed the earth,
so let our lives flow from you, our Source.
             ⎯ David Bjorlin

Beginnings often are invisible. With much of what happens in life, it is not
possible to identify a starting place. We point to a first, like going to school,
but realize we have been learning far longer. Some mark anniversaries of
marriage, but the relationship celebrated began much earlier. Yet, when we
look to God as Source, we’re pointing to One who breathed us into being; we
then can say that every stream of who we are has a beginning in God! How
does your life flow as a sign of God’s life in you? What is a specific way for
you to share a sign of God-sourced love with someone this week?

Sunday, March 28: WAY

There is a time for stillness, for waiting for Christ as he makes
his dancing way toward us. And there is a time to be in motion,
to set out on a path, knowing that although God is everywhere,
and always with us, we sometimes need a journey
in order to meet God—and ourselves—anew.
             ⎯ Jan Richardson

Whenever traveling, I do my best to learn about the places I’m visiting and a
little something about what I might encounter. I think about who else will be
on the trip and what we hope to do. Maybe something similar is needed as
we begin the journey of Holy Week. Think of your companions on the way
and where we are headed. What are your hopes about how you will see
God, one another, and even yourself, as you travel these days?

Wednesday, March 31: GIVE

From a high, secret shelf, I take what I hid myself —
perfume, precious and rare, never meant to spill or spare.
This I’ll carefully break, this I’ll empty for his sake:
I will give what I have to my Lord.
             ⎯ Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community

Before sharing a Passover meal, before washing feet or giving a command
to love, Jesus was anointed. Oil poured out, and maybe mixed with tears, as
wide-eyed people criticized the display. Still, Jesus received it as gift. This
extravagance reflected Jesus’ own life poured out both in life and in death.
Think for a moment about the gratitude of this graceful giver who anointed
Jesus. What do you treasure that, in gratitude, you would give for what
God—or even the church—has helped you to know about yourself?

This booklet was created in February 2021
         by Pastors Kari Lipke and Joanne Engquist
                   for the community of
    Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle, Washington.

         As we sing during this lenten season, we pray
that the Spirit be our spirit in this time of searching for new life.
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