Feb 29

The Lord’s Prayer 3: Give Us This Day

We think we know what we want. We think we know what we need. We need food, shelter, clothing, security. We want nice things, some fun toys, a little luxury, maybe. And then Jesus comes along and tells his disciples—tells us, When you pray, say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not: give us the car we’ve always wanted. Not: give me what I’ve earned, what I deserve. Not: give my family that great vacation we really need. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Continue reading

Feb 22

The Lord’s Prayer 2: Thy Kingdom, Thy Will

As we travel from Ash Wednesday to Easter this Lent we also journey through the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus gave his disciples. We say the Lord’s Prayer every week in worship, as do most Christians around the world, but if you want to read it in the Bible, you can turn to Matthew 6:9-13 or Luke 11:1-4. As we reflect on the Lord’s Prayer each week, though, we will use the version we say together in worship. And we will go through the prayer slowly, one phrase at a time, until Palm Sunday. Last week we started with “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” And we thought about that phrase in light of the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Luke 3. Continue reading

Feb 15

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, in Heaven, Holy

Jesus, the Son of Israel, the Son of God, withdraws to the wilderness, led by the Holy Spirit. He has passed through the waters of the Jordan River, but instead of entering the Promised Land, Jesus goes into the wilderness, the place of waiting and wandering and temptation. The heavens have opened, and the Spirit has descended on him like a dove, and a voice has claimed Jesus as God’s Beloved Son. Father, Son; Son, Father. You might expect something equally wonderful to follow on the heels of that stunning revelation: a royal enthronement, a mighty display of power and gifts, a magnificent show of divine love. Instead, the Spirit leads Jesus into a barren land. There is no royal throne, no display of power and gifts, no show of divine love. There isn’t even anyone else around. No, instead, there is hunger. There is thirst. There is temptation. And there is the devil. Continue reading

Feb 15

Ash Wednesday: Real Means, Real Grace

Did you hear what Jesus just said? “Whenever you give alms.” “Whenever you pray.” “Whenever you fast.” Our human ears zero in on the negatives: don’t sound a trumpet before you, don’t be like the hypocrites, don’t make your face look dismal. But before the negatives, before the “how not to do these things,” Jesus gives us three clear commands: Give alms. Pray. Fast. These three spiritual disciplines are not optional for those who follow Jesus. Sure, Christians have been trying to wiggle out of them for as long as we’ve been around, and even today most of us find substitutes or ignore them altogether because we think, we’re sure, that we can bank on God’s grace. You didn’t give alms this week? Tell God how bad you feel about it—God’s grace is sufficient. Don’t like to pray, or still content with praying the way you did five, ten, twenty years ago? God’s got you covered—don’t worry about it. Never fasted? Not sure why you’d want to? Grace is there for you, too. Continue reading

Feb 15

Ash Wednesday: Ashes

The dance of life is a dance with death,

A two-step waiting a dread partner,

A free-style overshadowed by the slow waltz.

And we are poor dancers, flailing our arms,

Missing the beat, slipping around,

It’s like we’re dancing on sand.

It’s like we’re falling, face first, into Continue reading