Lent Daily Devotional: Prayer

Prayer for Enlightenment by St. Francis

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, grant us in our misery the grace to do for You alone what we know You want to do, and always to desire what pleases You.

Thus, inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened, and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, by Your grace alone, May we make our way to You, Most High, Who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified God all-powerful forever and ever.


Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 3

Reading: Mark 3
“Finding Mercy and Compassion” by Abbie Norris

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates how serving God is driven by love and compassion, even and perhaps especially when that compassion supersedes tradition. This comes to the forefront in Mark 3, when Jesus’ decision to heal a sick man puts him in danger with religious officials. Jesus was a religious revolutionary who recognized a gap between orthodox practice and honoring God as love, and this shows in his desire to exercise healing and mercy in the world.

In a recent Sunday school class, members of our group raised the suggestion that, when we decide how to interpret the Bible, our priority should be finding the mercy and compassion in our interpretations. I was struck by the similarity between this thought and Mark 3:1-6. Jesus acts with compassion first and tradition second (or third, or fourth). In modeling our lives after Jesus, should we not seek to do the same? How can we live our faith in ways that seek not to condemn or reform, but to love?

Today, Christianity feels situated in a period of growth where some argue that the world is moving away from faith and other argues that our faith needs to move with the world. Perhaps, in framing our lives after Jesus, this isn’t a question at all. In following Jesus’ example, our faith is founded not in strict adherence but in finding human, godly compassion. In Jesus’ breaking tradition to exemplify God’s Word, I see the beauty of Christianity: a religion fueled by mercy and driven by love.

Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 2

Reading: Mark 2
Thoughts by Sam Snyder

Mark 2 is the story of how Jesus did everything wrong. No, really. Stay with me.

The Jesus in Mark 2 is not a Jesus on the side of power. He’s not, as it were, a tame lion. Instead, to the horror of scribes and Pharisees, he eats with sinners and tax collectors, even calling one as a disciple; he forgives a man’s sins then heals him just to make a point; and he allows his disciples to work on the Sabbath. Every power structure, every law of pious society – turned upside down.

Jesus himself shows no remorse when challenged: “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” “Son of Man”, originally a Hebrew idiom that simply meant “human”, gained in certain contexts a prophetic connotation, signifying something more than human. That understanding is vital for this passage; Jesus had come as both human and something more, and his very presence transformed the mundanity and pettiness of human-controlled law into something greater.

The story of Jesus in Mark 2 is the story of the work of God in microcosm. Jesus defies the law – and in so doing, recreates it. In naming himself “lord of the Sabbath”, he claims authority over law itself, and remakes it in his own image: that of a rabbi caring for his disciples, and of God himself at work among his people. In other words, these revolutionary acts of Jesus do not abolish the law, but rather instate Jesus himself as arbiter of the law, and as the lens through which the law must be viewed.

Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 1

Reading: Mark 1
“Redeeming the Time” by Sara Faye Fudge

Time is such an ephemeral concept. We calendar our appointments, check our phones, lament waiting anywhere, and generally structure our lives around the clock notations. As Peter observes, in 2 Peter 3:8-9 when answering the doubters that the Lord was not returning, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

And so we read the beginning of Mark’s gospel with the quotation from the prophet Isaiah, proclaiming the messenger’s coming to prepare the way for the Lord’s appearance. And the approximate date for Isaiah was 740 B.C. And then nothing happens for a long time!! Finally, John the Baptist appears on the scene, preaching the need for repentance and baptizing all who came out to him. And Jesus himself came out to John, the sinless man of 30 standing in the sinner line, to be baptized. And then watch what happens. After all those years of waiting, prophecy was now being fulfilled, and things speed up with an amazing pace.

Immediately after coming out of the water, Jesus is affirmed as God’s beloved son by the Spirit’s presence and the voice of God. And that word “immediately” appears 10 times in this chapter, with Jesus moving from preparation in the wilderness, to calling his disciples, to teaching, to healing after healing after healing. And his entire ministry was only three years but it was filled with action, doing the will of the Father.

As we enter this season of reflection, let us be encouraged that the Lord is working in us and empowering us to do the work he has for us to do – to speak of His glory, sing of his mercy and grace, and praise our Savior who showed us how to use our time for God, whether many years or few. We have a mission in this world and need to “redeem the time” (KJV) or make the most of our time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:16)

Daily Lent Devotional: Psalm 6

Psalm 6

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.