St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Monday In The Fourth Week of Lent

Lent Week Four—Monday

Psalm 89:1-18 Jeremiah 16:10-21 Romans 7:1-12 John 6:1-15

Feeding of the 5,000; the only miracle recorded by all four gospels. What an amazing accomplishment, read by all, going unchallenged…until it was. It was about 50 years ago when our Day School Headmaster offered a point of view that was new to me. As I look back, his rendition of the story has become a steppingstone of growth for me.

Pete suggested–No, he seemed positive–that the lad with barley loaves and fish set the example that day for those around him and continues to do so to this day. As the lad offered what he had, others began to reach into their bags and pockets and offered up what they had brought. Let me confess, I was stunned by Pete’s interpretation—almost angry; had a lively conversation with a friend about it..maybe more. Now, I feel nothing but gratitude for that steppingstone and all the other stones that have become mine right here under the roof at St. Marks. I have learned that the Bible is filled with metaphors that teach truth, and only sometimes facts. I have learned that just because it didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Lately, from all sides, I am learning that we become our choices. The lad and Jesus chose kindness, generosity, and love as a way of being in the world. Shall we follow their example?

Rosemary P. Lafargue

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Sunday In The Fourth Week of Lent

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Psalm 23 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9: 1-41

John’s Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Lent calls to think about seeing, blindness, and healing. The young man is literally blind, but “sees”, knows and acknowledges it. He gains his sight, becoming able to physically see, because he trusts that Jesus can heal him. The Pharisees, who can literally see, are blinded by jealousy, and their desire to remain in power. They miss seeing what is really going on around them because they are distracted. They are blind, but do not know it.

We, the youth of St. Mark’s, recognize that we too are blind in many ways. We are distracted by many things, especially technology like our phones, and social media. These things “blind” us to what matters, and to what is really going on. We know this. We hope that by recognizing our blindness, we can ask Jesus to heal us. We promise to try to pay attention. We pray that Jesus will help us see – healing us, and freeing us from the things that distract us, and make us blind. We ask Jesus to take from darkness into light – from blindness to sight! As the Letter to the Ephesians puts it, We want to “ Live as children of light.” We know that the true light, Jesus, makes everything visible. This Lenten Season, may Jesus, the light of the world, awake us from our sleep, take away our distraction, and heal us from our blindness. May Christ’s light shine on us all! Amen.

St. Mark’s EYC

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Saturday In The Third Week of Lent

Lent Week Three—Saturday

Psalm 90 Jeremiah13:1-11 Romans 6:12-23 John 8:47-59

The readings today adhere to a theme that is consistent throughout this Lenten season, really throughout the Bible: how to live abundantly and defeat death. The lessons are familiar and pretty simple, yet we humans seem to have such a hard time accepting what God is offering. Psalm 90 is “a prayer of Moses the man of God.” The psalmist laments that we might live seventy or eighty years, if we’re lucky, yet we spend the best of them in trouble and sorrow. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (v. 12),” he implores the Lord. And so, at every turn, God tries to answer. He tells Jeremiah that, like a belt around the waist, He binds the people of Israel and Judah “to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened (v. 11),” and so, like the belt stuffed under a rock, they will be ruined.

Jesus, in one of many attempts to teach the wisdom the Jews say they want, tells them, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God (v. 47).” Look, Jesus tells them. I’m not doing this for myself. I’m telling you, “whoever obeys my word will never see death (v. 50-51).” When they question his authority, Jesus answers them, “before Abraham was born, I am! (v. 58). But they reject his teaching and pick up stones to stone him. “

The apostle Paul is more direct. Who or what is your master he asks his Roman flock? Sin or righteousness? “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey? (v. 16).” Thanks be to God, by choosing obedience to Him, “you have been set free from sin (which leads to death) and become slaves of God . . . and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ (v. 22-23).”

How easily in our everyday lives we enslave ourselves to sin. And as Paul asks his followers, what benefit did we reap from the things we’re now ashamed of? The choice, as always, is ours. The secret to Moses’ “heart of wisdom” is ever before us. Why is it so hard to choose obedience to God?

Laura McLemore

St. Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Friday In The Third Week of Lent

Lent Week Three—Friday

Psalm 91 Jeremiah 11:1-8, 14-20 Romans 6:1-11 John 8: 33-47

Today’s readings share two major threads—the first, that we are enslaved by sin and doomed to suffer and die in its thrall, the second, that God is our protector and that through Christ we are freed into everlasting life. Of the four readings, I find that today’s selection from the letter of Paul to the Romans has the most resonance for me. Like Jeremiah or indeed like Christ in John’s Gospel, I usually have no trouble finding where I have failed in my life, where I have sinned in thought, word, or deed. Indeed, I could list a long catalog.

But I take great consolation from Paul’s words—that when we were baptized in Christ, we joined him on the cross, and when we were baptized in Christ, we joined him in resurrection into eternal life. And in this way of thinking we are “dead to sin, but alive in God in Christ Jesus.” This is very comforting to my heart. If I turn to Christ, renew my Baptismal Covenant, my slavery to sin is ended. With Christ, I have been freed to be with God.

Rob Gilchrist

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Thursday in the Third Week of Lent

Lent Week Three—Thursday

Psalm 42 Jeremiah 10:11-24 Romans 5:12-21 John 8:21-32

John 31 & 32, Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples: and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

WOW, Freedom, but freedom from what and to do what? To what freedom was Jesus referring? Freedom is often thought of as the freedom of a group of people within a geographical area to not be subject to a tyrannical government. Some consider it being able to act, speak, or think as one desires without restraint. Not being imprisoned or enslaved is also considered freedom as is having freedom from undesirable things and unrestricted access to other areas. But is this the “free” that Jesus is saying will be given to his disciples if they continue in his word?

To gain this freedom, Jesus says to the Jews that they will truly be disciples if they continue in his word. How do they/we do this? We listen to His word. We learn from his word. We seek understanding of His word, and we obey His word. According to William Barclay in the Daily Study Bible discipleship brings four freedoms: the freedom from fear, Jesus is always with us so we are never alone; the freedom from ourselves since we are recreated anew in Christ; the freedom from what other people may think and say since we care only what God says; and freedom from sin since we now are enabled to break away from sin.

So how does this translate into our everyday lives? I find that when I consider Jesus in my daily decisions, I feel the freedom to say “no” or “yes” to certain things. I receive a certain peace about my day-to-day activities and feelings when I consider the popular saying “What would Jesus do?” I feel the freedom the truth of Jesus has given us all.

Judy Storer