Advent Credo

On the second Sunday of Advent we stood together in worship and affirmed this “Advent Credo” written by Daniel Berrigan (found in Testimony: The Word Made Flesh S.J. Orbis Books, 2004)

An advent credo is simply a series of affirmations what we claim to be true, in the face of the many untruths that surround us. Based on Scripture, based on hope, based on the good news of Emmanuel, God-with-us, entering our world 2000 years ago and still entering our world in 2014. We invite you to read this Advent Credo out loud and envision people across the globe affirming the same, “this is true.” Advent invites us to a place of “hope against hope” because Jesus Christ is the Life of the World.

Advent Credo

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—

This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—

This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—

This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—

This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—

This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—

This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.


Keeping Christmas

After reading post after post about the recent grand jury decisions to not indict police officers and the pursuing response of riots and protests, and trying to make sense of it all, my eyes fell upon a book on my desk,

Letters & Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I flipped through the book and landed upon Bonhoeffer’s letter to his parents dated Advent I, 28 November 1943.   Because Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and pastor, refused to take the loyalty oath to Hitler and engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler, he was imprisoned in Berlin’s Tegel Prison for 18 months where he continued to write and speak of the hope of Jesus until his execution in April 1945.,

From his dank prison cell with bombing of Berlin shattering all about him, Bonhoeffer wrote this intriguing line about a painting that I had not heard of before,

“Alterdorfer’s ‘Nativity’ is very topical this year, showing the Holy Family and the crib among the ruins of a tumbledown house.”

My attention was especially captured as I read Bonhoeffer’s musings,

“However did he come to paint like that, against all tradition, four hundred years ago? Perhaps he meant that Christmas could and should be kept even in such conditions, in any case, that is his message for us.”

Albrecht Alterdorfer: Holy Night (Nativity) 1511

So, I googled Alterdorfer and found a painting that was unlike any I had ever seen of the Nativity. Jesus lay in a manger beside Mary and Joseph in an exposed space of a ruined brick building with little protection from the elements of the world. In the early 1500s when painters were commissioned to paint the Holy Family in a palace-like setting, Albrecht Alterdorfer placed them in a dilapidated house.   Suddenly the reality of no room in the inn for the birth of Jesus, placed the Savior of the world in the midst of the rubble and demise of our real world. Jesus was not protected, but entered into the center of our disrupted lives. Jesus entered into the center of our fears.

Bonhoeffer saw in Alterdorfer’s painting the Advent question: Does God show up?   Does God care?   Is Jesus who Jesus claims – God with us, Immanuel, even in the face of Nazism?

As we are aware of injustice and inequity and are wrestling with how to respond, we are faced daily with places of despair and pain and heartache throughout our city, our nation, our world. During this season, will you take the risk to ask the Advent question: Does God show up? Is Jesus here in the center of our rubble?   And, is Jesus inviting us to a new kingdom way of reconciliation and hope?  The news of division and violence is not the final word, because there is a truer, more powerful WORD. We worship Jesus, God-with-us, who enters into our rubble and leads us toward a justice that is for all. We worship Jesus, who is with us on the streets, in the justice system and in our neighborhoods.  May we keep such a Christmas.


Trinity Sunday

This Sunday at Union we celebrated Trinity Sunday and also acknowledged the fathers in all our lives.  Here are some of the prayers, quotes, pictures and Scriptures that were used in service.

Who can know the truth without the help of God? Who can know God without Christ? Who has ever discovered Christ without the Holy Spirit?

Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD)

Continue reading

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Union Evening Worship: A Time of Lament–6/8/14 @ 7:30pm

Sometimes when I pray I can’t get past the word “Jesus.”  There is so much emotion wrapped up in me, wrapped up in that name, that I can’t pray anymore words.  My broken prayers start with “Jesus” and end there too.  Only to be repeated a moment later.




And I know that God, the mysterious Trinity is with me, even if I can’t quite feel it.  The two of us sitting in a mess of my jumbled thoughts and feelings.

This has been my prayer since Thursday, when a shooting occurred at Seattle Pacific University.  I haven’t been a student there for a few years now, but I am still very close to campus.  My words fail me when I think about what happened, my tears betray my shattered heart, and my prayers are wordless and broken.

Union too is close to Seattle Pacific University.  Since Lent we have been joining together for Evening Worship on second Sundays.  Tomorrow we will gather for a service of lament.  We will sing together, listen to Scripture, hear poems, and pray.  There will be a time of sharing prayers,  a few verses, poem or a short writing.  Please join us in this time of lament as we sit in the presence of God, pray for SPU and Seattle, and gain comfort in the presence of one another.


Easter Sunday Prayer

To help us all in continuing to live as Easter people, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, here is the text of the lovely prayer that Loretta led us through on Sunday.  “Oh, can’t you see what love has done?”


God of all promise and hope,

Today we celebrate on a day that is absolutely central to our faith, a day that is the ultimate game changer.

We hear the echoes of that morning – the angel singing “He is not here, he is risen”. And then from the women who discovered the empty tomb, “I have seen the Lord”.  And then Peter and the disciples – “We have seen the Lord”.

May the truth of Easter, the joy of a risen Lord and the blessings of your grace be with us this day.

When our faith stands at the grave, grieving for a stone that’s rolled away, forgive us.

When our faith is short of understanding though the truth is there to see, forgive us.

When our faith becomes overcome by doubt and we can see no further than an empty tomb, forgive us.

God of promise and hope, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, you have granted us new life.  Too often we are not the Easter People, living into that new life that you gave us, living in the certain knowledge of your great mercy and love.  But we know that by raising Christ, your Son, you conquered the power of death and opened the way to eternal life for us.

And though we live in a world that experiences horrific tragedies of landslides and downed flights and leaders who fail to protect innocents in their charge, and ongoing international strife that destroys families, friendships and nations and avalanches that take too many lives; the resurrection of your Son has given us new life and renewed hope.  Death and disaster do not have the last word, the final chapter is written by you.

Help us to live as new people in pursuit of your kingdom here on earth as it exists in heaven.

Grant us wisdom to know what we must do, the will to want to do it, the courage to undertake it, the perseverance to continue to do it and the strength to complete it.

In the name of your son, the crucified and risen Christ,


Christ is risen!  Christ is risen, indeed!

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Comfort and Community–Loretta

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 11


We encounter angels in each of the gospel stories about the devil’s efforts to tempt Jesus to exert power. In biblical terms, angels are messengers or ministers. Throughout the Bible they bring words of hope, sometimes of chastisement, they act as a guard; they reflect the glory of God and act on his behalf.

In this reading, we see them showing up and waiting on Jesus. The impression is that they have been watching and are aware of what Jesus has just experienced. And if we believe that Jesus was fully human, we can imagine that he could indeed appreciate someone waiting on him. The angels are ready. And Jesus is willing to receive their comfort. We don’t see that Jesus called for them; neither does he turn them away.
Jesus and the angels model being in community with one another for us.

Jesus is in need of immediate comfort and the angels bring the necessary comfort, by waiting on him. We can imagine that he was tired, probably hungry and thirsty and perhaps in need of companions so he could share his story of his encounter with the devil.

There can be comfort in simply being a member of a community who is willing to wait on one another. We can be known and know others. We can have confidence that there are others watching the happenings of our lives and are willing to come wait on us when we need them.

And there can be value in choosing to be a member of the band of angels. In a description of his time in the L’arche community Henri Nouwen tells of a man who was totally helpless without his community. In coming together as a band of angels to bathe and feed and move the man, the community found their common ground. They were able to put individual differences aside, to find good in one another, to focus on the need before them.

As the Union community we can choose to lean into one another. We can be willing to ask for comfort when we’ve been through a rough patch. We can heighten our awareness of those around us, watching, not in judgment, but being ready with mercy to wait on one another.

This week: Think about the integration of comfort and community.
Do you have a friend, a neighbor or family member who needs waiting on? How could you bring a message of comfort and hope?


Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”

Luke 4:5-8

The devil is not tempting Jesus with something he will never be able to attain. Upon his resurrection, Jesus will tell his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).  Instead he’s offering Jesus a shortcut. Rather than a path that was laden with suffering and death, the devil offers Jesus an “immediate kingdom.” The road that Jesus will take will not be a quick route that leads to prestige but rather a long one full of sacrifice. As N.T. Wright puts it, “Jesus is indeed to become the world’s true lord, but the path to that status, and the mode of it when it arrives, is humble service, not a devilish seeking after status and power.” Jesus’ identity was being tested. Jesus’ authority did not come through a power grab, but through the loving act of offering himself, in obedience, on the cross.

The devil makes a startlingly simple offer: just bow down and worship me, and all the glory of the kingdoms of the world will be yours. The word “worship” is an old English word made up of two root words- “worth” and “ship” (which means something like “shape” or “quality.”) Just as “sportsmanship” means the quality of being a good sport, “worship” means the quality of having worth.  Worship, then, means acknowledging something or someone as being worthy, by, for example, bowing down to them out of respect. Jesus quotes Scripture to keep his focus intact: the only one worthy of worship is God. The quote from Deuteronomy echoes Matthew 28:20: “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Worship and service are closely connected. We serve what or whom we worship. We act according to where our life is oriented.

Maybe you are tempted by status and power; maybe you aren’t. We all have ways in which we are tempted to worship something or someone other than God. We find ourselves out of sorts and it dawns on us that we have placed something other than God at the center of our lives. May Jesus’ words reorient us this week as we reflect on the way in which he worshiped God by serving us.

Monday:  Read Luke 4:1-13 with an eye toward the “easy road” that the devil tempted Jesus to take. If you find yourself on a difficult road, spend some time praying for perseverance and a renewed spirit.

Tuesday: Think of the people that you serve today. (Think of it in terms of who you share your life with for their benefit.) Pray for them to experience Jesus’ abundant life given for them. Pray this for yourself, as well.

Wednesday: Reflect on the word worship. What helps you to bow before the Lord in reverence? Is it music? Prayer? Reading Scripture? Beholding creation? Recognizing the work of God in your life or someone else’s life? Choose one of these ways to spend some time worshiping God today.

Thursday: Reflect on this quote from N.T. Wright:

“…every Christian will be tested at the points which matter most in her or his life or vocation. It is a central part of Christian vocation to learn to recognize the voices that whisper attractive lies, to distinguish them from the voice of God, and to use the simple but direct weapons provided in Scripture to rebut the lies with truth.”

What lies are you hearing this week? What is God’s truth that counteracts those lies?

Friday: Reflect back on your week. Is there a time when you’ve felt “out of sorts”? Can you think of a way your feelings might be connected to placing weight on something that cannot bring you life the way that Jesus can? Pray about this situation and ask for God’s help in resting in the assurance of God’s great love for you.


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Prayer–Heather Juul

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”  Luke 4:3-4

Nowhere in any of the accounts (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13)  of Jesus’ temptation does the text say that Jesus prayed.  That doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t.  In fact, I’m confident that Jesus did pray during the time that he was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit and tempted by Satan.  I am confident in this for two very simple reasons.

First, Jesus was a person of prayer, who was raised by people of prayer, who chose to practice a faith that valued prayer.  As NT Wright argues in his book  “The Case for the Psalms”  the psalter (a collection of prayers that were often prayed through song) was the hymnbook of Jesus because the psalter is the hymnbook of the Jewish faith.  Jesus and his followers would have prayed and sang the psalms often.  Wright also argues that we should use the psalms more often in our corporate liturgy and I would add our own prayer lives as well.*

Second, we have good evidence of Jesus praying often, and during times of duress (the Garden of Gethsemane).  Jesus taught others how to pray (the Lord’s prayer).  Jesus gave hard examples of whom and what to pray for (enemies, the coming of the Kingdom of God).  Jesus voluntarily forewent sleep and other needs to pray alone in the wilderness.  While in the Gospels there are only about fifty explicit examples of Jesus praying, or teaching about prayer, I think Jesus was praying a lot more than the Gospel indicates.

After all in this story of Jesus’ temptation, Jesus refuses the substance his body wants the most (food) because he understands that humanity is not just sustained by what we consume “One does not live by bread alone.”  Here Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8, a few chapters after Moses gave the Hebrews the Ten Commandments:

This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.  Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.  He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  Deuteronomy 8:1-3

We live by the words of God just as we have been created by them (Genesis 1 & 2).  God spoke life into humanity, just as God spoke light into darkness and order into chaos.  And God continues to speak life into us, now and today.  But God can’t speak life into us if we stop listening, aren’t paying attention or don’t have ears to hear.

I have a pretty liberal understanding of prayer.  For me prayer is having a conversation with God (a back and forth with times of listening, silence and speaking) and this conversation can happen in a whole variety of ways.  Prayer can be song;  prayer can be aloud and silent; prayer can happen through painting or writing or drawing. Prayer is any way that you speak and listen to God for words of life, that is prayer.

This Week

This week we will have two readings each day.  One reading will be about prayer from the Gospels.  The second reading will be a Psalm.  And we will also experiment with different ways to pray as a way to practice having a conversation with God.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Repeat the Jesus prayer (Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner)  for 10 or so  minutes.

      • The Jesus’ prayer is a breath prayer.  So as you breath in, pray “Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and as you breath out pray “have mercy on me, a sinner.”

        • take deep breaths, and sit comfortably

      • The point is to go deeply with one prayer, like with Taize songs.

      • The more you pray the Jesus prayer, the more you will find that you can stop focusing on the words and instead listen to what God has for you.

      • I find the Jesus prayer quite comforting and often use it as a way to put myself in a prayerful posture before worship or before switching to another form of conversing with God.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Pray through journaling. Spend some time thinking about where you have seen God in your life, or where you would like to see God in your life.  Then be in conversation with God through journaling your responses.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Practice praying the Jesus’ prayer again and then move into praying however you wish.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Spend some time praying as you do a boring or monotonous task (something like doing dishes, folding laundry, walking, etc…).  Pray however you are comfortable, but perhaps try to begin with a few minutes of the Jesus’ prayer.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Pray one of these psalms (or one of your favorites) in whatever way you would like (silently, aloud, through song, through journaling, some other artistic medium).  You could even take a line from the Psalm and pray it as a breath prayer (like the Jesus Prayer) throughout the day.

      • Psalm 8–A Psalm of Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

      • Psalm 27–Triumphant Song of Confidence

      • Psalm 51–Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

      • Psalm 70–Psalm for Deliverance from Enemies

      • Psalm 100–All Lands Summoned to Praise God

      • Psalm 139–The Inescapable God


  • Read

  • Pray
    • Go to a wilderness place (it could be as wild as Discovery Park, or as wild as your backyard) and spend some time having a conversation with God in whatever way you are most comfortable.


  • Read

  • Pray

    • Repeat one of the ways to pray from another week. You may want to center your prayer time around “The Lord’s Prayer” by focusing your prayers on the coming of the Kingdom of God, on everyone having their daily bread, being able to forgive others, against the evil one.


*disclaimer–I have not yet read this book.  Though I did hear NT Wright give a lecture on the topic.



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Fasting–James B. Notkin

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.  Luke 4:1-2

He ate nothing. That does not sound too inviting.  I like to eat. And I don’t like to be religious. A quick look at the New Testament seems to show that is what fasting is: a religious self denial of food.   The Pharisees, those duty-bound, religious, high achievers, fasted a great deal and they were the “bad guys,” right? So if they did it we should not is how the logic goes.

There is a fasting that should be avoided. A fasting that is done believing that it will score us points with God to get the prize we desire or as a self-inflicted punishment for a mistake has no place in the life of a follower of Jesus. Nor does using it to prove to God (or others) how committed or spiritual we are.

Yet while Jesus gives us freedom to not fast (Jesus never commands us to fast) he sees it as a natural practice of a follower. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says: “And whenever you fast,” which means Jesus expects there will be fasting. His words are against twisting it into something it is not: “do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt. 6:16-18).

So then what is fasting?

A while back I started riding my bike to work occasionally (i.e. when it was a sunny day over 45 degrees—so maybe I should say rarely).  I discovered the level street leading from my home actually has quite an incline and that small cars can be as intimidating as larger ones. I noticed changes in neighborhoods, the wind off Lake Union, my (lack of) physical condition and the forgotten childhood joy of weaving back and forth on a deserted road.  There was a whole array of different input I received outside of my normal steel and glass encased ride.

Fasting as part of following Jesus is like that. It is a disruption that opens us more to the Spirit’s work.  When we fast from something we are throwing our normal patterns a bit off kilter, putting ourselves into a place where we see from different angles, where our vulnerabilities may come out of the shadows, where our timing is disrupted and creating space for God to do something new.

Fasting as a follower of Jesus is an act of worship. It is a way of stepping into God’s Gym saying,  “I am Yours—coach me into the image of Christ, into a fullness, that I might glorify you and be your image bearer.”  Fasting, especially from food, puts us more in touch with the reality that we gain our being—our “is-ness” as Madeline L’Engle calls it—from God and nothing else. What God chooses to do in us in our times of fasting is God’s choice.

God may choose to work through our fasting to give us:

  • A sense of peace that “surpasses all understanding.”
  • A sense of agitation as feelings bubble up that we have not had a chance to attend to
  • Guidance on a decision through a phrase or image that comes into our head
  • An affirmation of being loved by God
  • An awareness of a hindrance to our transformation that we have become blind to
  • A spirit of thankfulness, release and joy that comes with giving thanks
  • Promptings for an action that will bless others in ways we do not know
  • A sense of solidarity with those we pray for in the midst of our fast
  • Or maybe we will experience something we have no words for but nonetheless sense God is doing something in us.

And maybe we won’t sense anything at all. Yet that doesn’t mean something significant has not happened, for in fasting we have more intentionally done what we are created to do: worship God.

This Week:

Fasting can take a variety of forms both in terms of object and duration. We can fast from food (not water), a TV show, people, shopping, to name a few, and we can do it for 12, 24 or 36 hours (consult with your doctor and check out fasting resources on line when you get to the point where you want to go for multiple days) once a week, month or whenever.

Below are a few fasting suggestions to feast on.  Test one  (or more) out this week. Who knows, you might find something you’ll find you want to practice throughout the year.

  • Start a fast after lunch one day this week and continue it until you have lunch the next day.  Take the time normally committed to securing and eating your dinner and breakfast to take a walk, read scripture, reflect, sing or read a hymn, sit quietly attentive to what comes to mind, intercede for others or journal your thoughts.  Perhaps you might want to give the money that would have been spent on meals to help in a place of need.
  • Fast from digital entertainment. Forgo consuming content on the TV, monitor, tablet and phone for two days. What do you experience? Anxiousness? Peace?
  • Fast from people.  Take three evenings in a row to be by yourself in the company of God. It may mean reading at a coffee shop, taking a long walk, going to a museum or library, but pull yourself out of your normal interactions for a few days and spend it exploring and resting in God’s delight for you.
  • Choose anything that you regularly commit time toward and put it on the back burner for awhile. The goal is not to create suffering (although there may be some of that or some inconvenience) but to create space.
  • Meditate each morning on Isaiah 58 (try different translations) and ask, “ Lord, what do you want to say to me?”

Reminder:  Those with kids or who have others they are responsible for will find fasting more difficult –you can create space only to find it filled with others’ need to eat or be hugged—so remember fasting is not a commandment. Fasting is an act of worship of a God of freedom who desires for us to drink more deeply of the Spirit’s presence in our life and experience transformation into the image of Christ.

Temptation–Jeff Fisher

Luke 4:1-2a–Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness  for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

The Temptation on the Mount by Duccio di Buoninsegna posted by flickr user

From the very beginning temptation has been deeply embedded in the Christian understanding of sin. After all, Adam and Eve never would have snuck fruit off that tree without some prompting from the serpent, right?  It seems to me, then, that when we feel tempted we are, for the most part, wrestling with ourselves.

 As a fully human person, Jesus carried around the same temptation to sin we do when he walked this earth. Jesus lived a sinless life, but still had to wrestle with the desires of the flesh that were constantly trying to draw him away from his mission that ultimately led him to the cross. Satan surely understood this, which was why he thought Jesus would be most vulnerable in the wilderness when he was broken down by hunger, thirst, and loneliness.

The fact that Jesus was able to resist the devil’s glamorous offers in his weakened state is particularly impressive when you think about how quickly we yield to much lesser temptations. We so often give in to our own unhealthy, lustful, selfish desires that we become like those of whom Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “their god is their appetite.”  We are often easily swayed to worship something other than God, which leads to our own brokenness.

 People often say that the devil wins by convincing us that he doesn’t exist.  But it is perhaps the devil’s greatest victory when we are convinced that giving our worship to something other than God is innocuous and will not have any long-term consequences for our soul. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality our spirits are in constant formation, whether we’d like them to be or not. If we are not submitting to Christ and allowing God to daily shape us into God’s image, then we are in fact submitting to someone or something else and are being transformed into a thing that is other than what God intended.  We have the choice every day to move towards becoming well, healed and right with God or allowing sin to shape us into sad, small broken people.

We understand this when we look at the sins of our neighbor, but we have fooled ourselves into believing that our own habits of slandering our coworkers and family members, recklessly spending money, and stubbornly refusing to forgive past harms are not equally as selfish or destructive to our relationships. None of us is immune; we each lock horns with the devil and with ourselves over one temptation or another.

The question, then, is what will we worship: the Holy Trinity or a small god of our own making? Without diligent attention to our own spiritual formation, “falling” into temptation is inevitable for each one of us. Thankfully, Lent offers us the opportunity to focus on diligence, to repent and once again set our hearts on Christ. So we who are prone to wander pray with the hymnist, Jesus let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind our wandering hearts to thee.

Homework: Meditate on these passages and questions throughout the week.   Also spend some time each evening thinking about where you saw God in your day (perhaps in a sunset, a smile, a conversation, a passage of scripture).

 Monday: Genesis 3:1-13

  • Do you think Eve would have eaten from the tree if the tempter had not come disguised as a serpent? In what guises does the tempter come to you?
  • Is the serpent accurately repeating God’s original command to Eve? What lies are you tempted into believing about God?

Tuesday: “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing

  • When you do wander away from God, what helps you come back?
  • What helps your remember to give your praise and worship to God?


C. S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory: If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

  • What does it mean to you that “our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak?
  • What might you be missing out on because of the “half-hearted” desires you are clinging on to?

Thursday: Matthew 26:31-35; 69-74; 28:16-20

  • Are there ever times when you are tempted to abandon Jesus or the calling he has placed on your life? How do you respond in these moments?
  • How does Jesus respond to Peter after the resurrection (Matthew 28:16-20)?

 Friday: Matthew 26:36-41

  • Jesus was tempted to abandon his mission so that he could avoid death, but he still obeyed even when he desperately didn’t want to. What do you think allowed him to persevere?

Saturday: Charles Wesley, “O for A Thousand Tongues to Sing”: Galatians 5:1

  • What does Charles Wesley mean when he says Jesus “breaks the power of canceled sin”?
  • Spend time giving thanks that God that has set you free.  Where do you see freedom in Christ?
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