Tag Archive | Jesus

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 5, 2015

by Kate Morrison

ScriptureJohn 20: 1-18

It’s here! Finally, Easter is here! Through this Lenten season, it sure has been a roller coaster of emotions. We have followed Jesus throughout the final days of his ministry. We have cheered triumphantly as he entered into the city of Jerusalem. We have partaken of the Last Supper. We tried to stay awake with him as he prayed in the garden, jeered as he was arrested and handed over to Pilate. And we wept bitter tears as Jesus was crucified and buried. We have waited in the uncertainty, scared, not yet understanding what Jesus was trying to tell us in his last days. 

But now, now we understand. Jesus is alive! Jesus has risen from the grave! Jesus has overcome death! No more crying. No more sadness. If we cry, let it be with tears of joy because our Savior has had the final say. Death rules no more. Let us rejoice on this triumphant day! The Lord has risen! Alleluia and thanks be to God!

Prayer: Lord, on this Easter day, we thank you for sending your son, Jesus, the Christ, into the world to overcome death and redeem the world of our sin. We are so grateful to you and for your infinite love of your people. Thank you God! Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 4, 2015

by Deanna Dennis

Scripture“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16

This is perhaps the darkest day of the Christian year. Jesus has been crucified. He lies silent in the tomb. He is dead. Yet this day of silence, which we often pass over in the story of Easter, is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus could have tap-danced and jazz-handed out of the tomb immediately after He was interred. “See, you fools! You couldn’t kill the Son of God!” But this day of darkness and sorrow affirms his physical, human death.

We can’t pretend we don’t already know how the story ends. Death is overcome. Love wins! But Holy Saturday proves that all of our own darkness, shame, self-doubt, and grief will be overcome. Tomorrow holds the assurance of the rebirth of our fully human, fully divine Christ. We are saved!

Prayer: Thank you, three-in-one God, for knowing us. There is nowhere we go, physically, spiritually and emotionally, that you don’t know us, hold us and love us. Give us the faith that throughout our struggles, the promise of our own rebirth through your mercy and grace is true. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

Links of the Week – April 3, 2015

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* Shatner Pays Tribute To Nimoy

* Takei Calls For Boycott

* Astros Unveil The Eat-On-The-Go Chicken And Waffle Cone

* We Need A Middle Class President

* 5 Charts That Show How The Middle Class Is Disappearing

* Can We Guess What Your Reading Habits Say About Your Love Life? – (Mine was FRIGHTENINGLY correct.)
readinglovelife
* How Old Do You Actually Act? – (I got 5-years-old. *sigh*)

* Angry Little Garden Gnome

* What My Zodiac Sign Says About Me – (Again, correct.)

* “I Thought I Was Bipolar” Shirt – (Need)

* PostSecret: Jazz Hands

* PostSecret: I Feel Like A Hostage

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* Monkey Meets Puppies For The First Time, Wants To Snuggle Them As Badly As Anyone Else – (Ow! My heart just exploded!)

* Tim Cook: Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws Are Dangerous

* Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling – (Proof that God loves us. He’d love me more if he’d magic these to my house.)

* The Problem With Cars And Self-Absorption

* The Spirit Of Atlanta: A Quest For Context Of 1920’s Atlanta – (Awesome old pictures of the city!)

* The Scandal Of A Crucified God (A Good Friday Reflection)

* The Importance Of Doubt (A Holy Saturday Reflection)

* When The Right To Discriminate Collides With The Rites Of Holy Week

* The Right’s Made Up God: How Bigots Created A White Supremacist Jesus

* How ‘One Nation’ Didn’t Become ‘Under God’ Until The 50s Religious Revival – (My favorite read of the week!)

* You Don’t Have To Go To Work On Opening Day Because The Brewers Wrote You An Excuse Note

* Watch Guys Attempt To Explain How Periods Work – (Hysterical. And a little sad. 🙂 )

* What The Hell Is That Tribble Doing?

* Rape Suspect Had Burns At Court Appearance – (I would get on a plane right now, given the opportunity, and go to Ohio and beat this fucker to death with my double wall Miken. PLEASE let me do it!)

* Transgender Elders Show Us The Meaning Of Survival

* ‘Child Abuse’ For A Girl To Dress Like A Boy? – (Sigh…)

* Man Thinking About Just Packing Up And Making Exact Same Mistakes Someplace Far Away

* What To Do When You Hate Yourself

* Me On My Future Plans

* How I’m Going To End Up

* Sex Doesn’t Sell…

* It’s All About Falling In Love With Yourself…

* The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig

* Girls Baseball Team Wins Championship At Boys’ Tournament – (Not just a little local tournament, a USSSA NATIONAL tournament!)

* Menswear Dog: The Most Stylish Dog In The World – (THIS! Blog of the Week!!!)

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“And when she is done, she will head for town, center, she will board the first bus she sees. Find a seat by a window, ride to the end of town.

And then? She stops. She does not know. She has not thought this part through. But it occurs to her then she can just keep on riding. It is possible, yes. She will just stay on the bus and ride. To some other place, some other town. She will look for it out all the windows. And when she sees it at last, she will know.”

Some Other Town, Elizabeth Collison


“Death will get us all. Moreover, astrophysicists tell us, even the earth and the solar system will one day be destroyed as the sun explodes in its dying gasp. On a more finite level, life is filled with threats to our existence: accidents, disease, violence, unemployment, poverty. Life easily looks threatening.

If we do see reality this way, how will we respond to life? In a word, defensively. We will seek to build systems of security and self-protection to fend off the hostile powers as long as possible.”

The Heart of Christianity, Marcus J. Borg


“It’s less embarrassing for people to think I look stupid when I intentionally look like a boy, than for them to think I look stupid when I’m trying my best to actually look like a woman.”

Deanna Dennis


“I am also learning how to feel. I’m learning that it can be safe to experience emotions. Running away – literally and figuratively – only temporarily removed me from the pain I was feeling. In order to exercise in a healthy way, I had to learn how to feel without searching for a way to self-destruct. It’s been a massive struggle to learn to accept myself. I’ve had to work to believe that I am OK exactly the way that I am, that nothing needs to be ‘beaten’ out of me.”

– Kenzi Rome, http://twloha.com/blog/making-my-workouts-work-me


“[L]ook more closely at the hard things in life: They’re trying to tell you something if you’ll listen.”

Tomboy, Liz Prince

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St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 3, 2015

by Don Clarke

ScriptureJohn 18:1 – 19:42

All through these many years, on this day of death and darkness, the lyrics from a folk rock musical continue to haunt me as, once again, I consider and contemplate the tremendous love and sacrifice Jesus made for me. I cannot get these words out of my heart and my head.

JUST TO THINK OF THE CROSS
Long ago in a faraway place
Rough rugged timbers were raised to the sky
There hung a man suspended in space
And though He was blameless
They left Him to die
Just to think of the cross
Moves me now
The nails in His hands
His bleeding brow
To think of the cross
Moves me now
It should have been me, It should have been me,
Instead I am free, I am free!
He put an end to my guilt and despair
Turned bitter hating to sweet peace and love
Even the men that put Him up there
Were offered forgiveness and life from above

Just to think of the cross
Moves me now
The nails in His hands
His bleeding brow
To think of the cross
Moves me now
It should have been me, It should have been me,
Instead I am free, I am free!

“Just to Think of the Cross” by Kurt Kaiser from the folk musical “Natural High”

Prayer: O Christ of the Cross, on this day may I once again allow the haunting horrible story of your death move me to holiness, propel me to service, and ignite me to embrace with your transforming love all persons who I meet who are hurting, crying, yearning, groaning and even dying.   Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 2, 2015

by Pam Buzbee

ScriptureExodus 12:1-14

In early January, I had lunch with a friend. During the conversation, I asked about her children. One lives in Athens, GA, with her family. She said, “This is a really busy time of year for them right now because their ewes are having their babies. They sell them for Easter and Passover when they are 3-4 months old.”

My mind started whirling thinking about these baby lambs and their moms. She said the ewe would have one or two lambs and sometimes needed help with the delivery. Sometimes a mom would reject her baby and another ewe could be tricked into taking on the feeding of a second one. And then these precious little fluffy, white babies would be sold, “sacrificed,” whether for a kosher ritual for Passover or to become someone’s Easter dinner.

In Exodus 12, we hear the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. They are told to first take a lamb “without blemish” and “slaughter it at twilight.” The blood from this lamb was to be placed on the doorposts and lintels on the houses so the angel of death “will pass over you.”

The ewes may have gotten help in giving birth to their baby, but Mary had only Joseph. The ewes may not have known when their lambs were taken, but Mary did.  This year on Maundy Thursday I think of Mary. On this evening, her baby boy, her perfect lamb, had gathered with his disciples to celebrate the feast of Passover. The next day her son was to be the “lamb without blemish” who gave his life as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. Where was Mary during this meal? Did she know who her son had grown up to be? Did she know what was to happen the next day? We know how the story ends but for Mary, Good Friday became the darkest day of her life. Her lamb had been sacrificed.

Prayer: Lord, when we are in the depths of pain and sorrow, help us to remember that we may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – April 1, 2015

by Susan Wilson

Scripture: “Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay”. Psalm 70

When I found this Psalm in my NIV Women’s Devotional Bible I couldn’t help but notice underneath the Psalm title these words:
For the director of music. Of David. A petition“.  Could God be speaking to me in this psalm today perhaps?

On days when I feel stressed why is it that I forget to call on God to come help me?  What about when life seems unmanageable?  Instead of trying to carry the load alone, why don’t I call on God to lend me support?

It’s very simple really. God is present and here. If I silence my voice and still my body and open my heart, he will be known.  As simple as it sounds, it’s hard to do those things.

We all get caught up in the duties of the day and fail to slow down long enough to listen to God’s voice. Have you carved out time during this Lenten season to do just that? Have you found a corner to seek quiet and peace?

I challenge you to continue the practice of seeking God on a daily basis in a quiet space. He is here and all he asks is that we open our hearts and minds and listen. This hymn text, taken from Hymn No. 358, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” , speaks to this quietness. It can also be used for centering as you prepare to pray.

Prayer:

Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our
souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm.”

 Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 31, 2015

by Jay Varnedoe

ScripturePsalm 71: 1-14

Over MLK weekend, I was driving my 92 year old grandmother to church. On the way she started talking about the Lord, and she said, “Jesus is my rock, and with him I shall never fall.” I thought, “For 92, she is so full of wisdom.” For most of my life, my grandmother was a quiet woman who didn’t talk about religion with me. However, in the past few years, she has opened up more to me and it has been nice to connect with her on a different level. When I sat down to write this devotional and I read these verses, there was an immediate connection to her.

In Psalm 71, the psalmist is declaring the message that the Lord is my rock and in him I have no shame. This message not only spoke to me on a personal level because of the recent conversation with my grandmother, but it also spoke to me as a member of the LGBTQ community. So many of us have been taught to be ashamed of who we are due to the religious views of others. However, in this verse I read that in him I have no shame. I choose to favor this verse over the negative views of others.   I also feel that this is a primary reason that most of us are drawn to St. Mark – we realize and celebrate that we don’t have any shame for who we are. This is part of what makes St. Mark unique, a quality that we should share with the rest of our community.

Prayer: Lord, let us realize that we are created in your image and we should have no shame. In times of trial or tribulation, let us come to you as our rock and our refuge. Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 30, 2015

by Kenneth Baggs

Scripture2 Corinthians 1: 1-7

Nearly twenty years ago, my mother passed following a losing battle with cancer. The year prior to that, my partner of nine years was killed in a car accident. The year following Mom’s death was tough. I went into a depression, although it was not something I was willing to admit to myself at the time. I went to church because I knew that Mom would want me to be there. However, my depression kept me from the joy of church – my friends, the music, God’s word and fellowship. I went through the motions of going to church and to work, but all I really wanted to do was to be home watching movies on TV with my terrier lying beside me. 

About a month before I reached the first anniversary of Mom’ death, I received a flyer in the mail for a grief support group that was forming at a local church. As I read that flyer, I recognized myself as they described the life of a depressed person. I knew I needed to go to that support group, to help me to get out of the fog into which I had fallen. In the group, as I listened to others tell their grief stories and as I shared my grief story, I began to heal. On the anniversary of her death, I opened my house to friends to celebrate her life, and to mostly thank them for being there for me as I went through her illness and death. It took time, but in receiving the comfort of others who had gone through the same suffering as I had, I was able to overcome the depressed state I had entered.

Our scripture today encourages us to share our affliction with others, so that we may receive the comfort of God, but also to bring comfort to others. Sometimes we comfort others by sharing, other times we comfort by listening, and sometimes we bring comfort simply by being there beside them. Don’t be afraid to share your suffering with others, as you never know how God will use it. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to reach out to others, to comfort them as you have comforted me.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 29, 2015

by Brenna Lakeson

ScriptureIsaiah 50:4-9a

In Biblical scholarship, these verses are often ascribed to a figure called “the suffering servant.”  While this title never actually appears in scripture, it seems to be an accurate label.  “The suffering servant” is representative of God’s relationship to us: past, present, and future.  A “servant,” Biblically speaking, is one called by God, as reflected in ancient Israel, in Christ, and in ourselves.

For the Jews of ancient Israel, the suffering servant was a figure of hope.  After many years in exile from the Promised Land, the suffering servant showed them that their suffering was not in vain. They were living in a strange land, separated from God’s promise for them, but this situation wouldn’t last forever.  The suffering servant proclaimed, “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”  Even though they are in exile, they know the story isn’t over.

For Christ, these verses speak to both his humiliation and justification.  “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.”  Christ displayed ultimate humility and humiliation.  But, just like the nation of Israel, this wasn’t in vain.  “He who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.”  Despite the shame and pain of the crucifixion, God stands against the adversaries.  There’s hope present in our past, present, and future because of the victory of the cross. 

So, on this day of palm waving, celebrate the coming victory with anticipation.  Mourn the coming pain with tears.  Let these words of the suffering servant speak into your pain and speak into your joy.  Let them give you hope of a resurrection past, present, and future.

Prayer: Lord of glory and of dirt, prepare our hearts to journey with you. Today we celebrate your triumphant entry. Hosanna in the highest! Let our hearts exalt you in everything we do. Amen

Saint Mark United Methodist Church

St. Mark Daily Lenten Devotional – March 28, 2015

by Audra Dial

Scripture: “They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days.  But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:23

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Today’s scripture passages speak to light as the awareness of the presence of God.  As I write this devotional, the sun has finally come out after a week of heavy, grey skies that made it hard to recognize the presence of light.  The sun’s presence has made a marked difference in the attitudes of people I see in my daily life.  What a difference light makes!

So, too, is the case with the internal light we experience as Christians.  When we are filled with His love and grace, we have joy, peace and confidence.  We experience life in a different way and can recognize the bigger picture and not get so upset by life’s everyday struggles.  The passage from 2 Corinthians reminds us to focus on the unseen, as it is eternal.  It can be difficult in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to remember to take time to center ourselves, but when we do, it can enable us to find our internal light and live in a way that reflects our Christian faith.  Just as the sun coming out helps energize and encourage us to think more positively, reflecting on our internal light can provide us with the energy and courage to live in the example of Christ.

Prayer: Dear God, Please help us to see Your light and to live our lives in a way that reflects our inner sunshine from its presence.  Amen.

Saint Mark United Methodist Church