Eighth Lenten Devotional

SCRIPTURE

Luke 24:13-35

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

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DEVOTIONAL

In his first exhortation, Pope Francis wrote, “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” Surely that is how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt. Stuck in grief and disappointment, they couldn’t believe the women’s Easter news that Jesus had risen, so they pressed on toward a little town whose only noteworthy characteristic was how far away it would get them from Jerusalem.

But then they were ambushed by Jesus, and the result was joy like a consuming fire in their hearts. “Did not our hearts burn within us” What exquisite joy awaits those who encounter the risen Savior! “Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”

And notice where the encounter happens: on the road. The joy of Easter is not waiting for you to get to Emmaus. You won’t find it in another town, another relationship, another degree, another car, another life. This joy is looking for you, impatiently, here and now, transforming whatever road you’re on into a journey with Jesus that takes you “further up and further in” to heaven and so making every step an arrival. “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return.” Amen

PRAYER

Risen Jesus, restore to us the joy of your salvation. Meet us here, meet us now, and make our cup overflow with gratitude and rejoicing. Christ be in every eye that sees me, Christ be in every ear that hears me. Lord Jesus, increase in us, we pray. Amen.

The Rev. Dave Dack
2011 Pastor, Lemoore Presbyterian Church, Lemoore, Ca.

 

Easter Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

George Burns and Gracie Allen were entertainment royalty. They started in vaudeville, transitioned to radio, and then to TV. Burns played the straight man with the gravelly voice (10 to 15 El Producto cigars a day will do it!) to Gracie’s winsome comedy. His parents were Orthodox Jews and she was a staunch Irish Catholic girl.

Gracie would die decades before George. The story goes that after her death, George went to sort through her papers and on top of everything in her desk he found an envelope addressed to him.

He opened it, and found this, "George, never place a period where God places a comma.” Perhaps you’ve heard this before.

George Burns died at 100 attributing his longevity to the El Productos. But that phrase "never place a period where God places a comma" has lived on with new resonance. I think this is something to keep in mind as we celebrate Jesus’ rising this Sunday.

There were some who prayed, those who feared, most who assumed the story was done – just another would-be-prophet, wanna-be-Messiah shown to be delusional and dead. But this time was different. What some thought to be a period was actually a comma as certain women found an empty tomb and a messenger delivering the obvious. "He’s gone. He told you where to find him." You see, Jesus obviously had things to do!

Men and women, so do we. This Sunday let’s embrace the reality that death is deposed! New life beckons in Jesus Christ! We’ll worship together in the Sanctuary. Remember, invite your friends, your neighbors, those who you long to see and even those you’d rather not. Let’s come together to worship the risen Christ!

In great anticipation -

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Seventh Lenten Devotional

SCRIPTURE

John 17:1-26

1After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

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DEVOTIONAL

Through this journey of Lent we slow our pace to a crawl during Holy Week. We pause each day to remember the last moments of Jesus’ earthly life before his crucifixion. On this Maundy Thursday, we find ourselves with the disciples resting at the feet of Jesus as he offers this prayer.  

With Jesus’ prayer washing over us, we wish for his words to linger just a little while longer, so that we may bask in his love and care for us. We hold on to these words, for we know that the words to come

next are those of betrayal. Together, Jesus’ prayer and his subsequent betrayal act for us as a mirror in which we see, simultaneously, both God’s desire for us and our own disobedient brokenness. As we pause to sit with Jesus’ prayer, may we also sit with him on the night of his betrayal. Resting in this tension, may we sit still enough to see through the cracks of our lives as his grace shines through to fulfill the hope of his prayer.

PRAYER

Ever faithful God, we give you thanks that on the night of your betrayal you were not concerned for yourself but prayed for us, and for all your disciples, that we may be one. By your Spirit unite us through your grace, peace, and love. Amen.

The Rev. John Magnuson
2013 Associate Pastor for Youth and Families at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh