Lenten Reflection Booklet ~ preceding days
WELCOME to Port Perry and Prince Albert United Churches’ very own Lenten reflection booklet. We invite you to make it a special part of our collective Lenten journey. The intention is to set aside some time each day to read the suggested scripture for the day and take some time to reflect on what that scripture means to you in your life right now and what it means in our life as a community of faith. Then read what one of your fellow travellers has to say about that particular passage. You may agree or disagree. You may be challenged or inspired.
Why do we challenge you to create one of these books each year? Because theology–the art of recognizing God’s presence in our world–is the work of the entire community, not just of the minister sitting alone in his or her office. It is in the stories, the life experiences, and the reflections of all, that together we may find God in Jesus Christ and live out God’s kingdom.
The forty days of Lent are reflective of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness–a time of intense and important reflection for our Lord. It was this time that prepared Jesus for his ministry and, inevitably, for his death and resurrection. Like Jesus, may this time of reflection prepare us so that our own journeys and our collective journey might be sustained and challenged anew.
Do note that Sundays are not included in the forty days of Lent. Each Sunday, no matter the season, is to be celebrated as a little Easter. That first Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, took place early on a Sunday. So, each and every Sunday celebrates the new life, new beginning and tremendous grace the Easter story offers us all.
As we now turn our hearts and minds to Lent, may we take the journey to Jerusalem and Golgotha slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. May we take the journey knowing that we do not travel alone.
Elaine Hall & Don Willmer
Wednesday, February 14, 2024 (Ash Wednesday)
When I read and reflect on this passage, I think about the wonders of new babies and all the hopes, dreams and expectations of new parents.
Unlike other women of her era, Mary knew she was having a boy child. She also knew that he would be special; a king. I wonder what her expectations were of this new baby boy and what he would grow to become. I am certain her ideas of a king were very different from how Jesus actually lived and what he achieved.
New parents are filled with love and hope that their children will thrive and be successful. Success comes in many different formats and I imagine Mary never anticipated that her son would travel among the sick and unwanted or that he would die in the manner that he did and, in doing so, his life and his teachings would change the world.
Thursday, February 15, 2024
This is a rare passage from the Bible as it speaks to the early life of Jesus. Every year Joseph and Mary went with Jesus to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Jesus at the time was just 12 years old, almost a teenager. Joseph and Mary returned home, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem; his parents did not know this at the time. They started to look for him on the home front among their relatives and friends. When they could not find him there, they returned to Jerusalem. After three days of frantically searching, they found him in the temple surrounded by his followers. Everyone that heard him in the temple was amazed by Jesus understanding and maturity. There was something special about this boy.
Mary and Joseph were astonished when they saw him in the temple, but they were not amused by his disappearance. They questioned him on why he had stayed behind. Jesus told them, “I must be about my Father’s business.” His parents did not understand what he was telling them.
Any parent can relate to not understanding their children at certain times in their lives.
We learn that Jesus is God’s son who has come to do his will. This is his mission. He was not being disrespectful to his parents, but his greater obligation was to his Father in Heaven.
He returned with his parents to Nazareth and was obedient to them. In the years that followed, he continued to grow in wisdom and understanding by knowing and obeying God’s Word.
I believe that this passage reminds us that we must continue to grow in our understanding of God and to live a life that pleases him, just as Jesus did. We all have room to grow and to improve our relationship with God.
Friday, February 16, 2024
Following his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the desert. After 40 days and nights of wandering in the desert, he was confronted and tempted by the devil 3 times. With each attempt, Jesus remembered the scriptures and calmly responded to the devil, refusing to give into temptation.
As we journey through Lent, and wander through life, let us remember this story during times of temptation. Don’t “drink the kool-aid” for short-term gain. Keep calm, trust in God for the long haul, and you will find your way out of the wilderness.
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Jesus’ practice was to go into the synagogues to bring his teachings to the people. This time he was in his hometown synagogue. He was recognized and appreciated, until he didn’t just roll up his sleeves and give them what they wanted. They wanted the healing miracles he had given in Capernaum. He was their boy giving to others, but not to them and he justified this with the synagogue’s scrolls. Anger lead to mob rule, so they took him to the cliff at the edge of town to throw him over, but in the confusion he walked away.
My thoughts: don’t just demand what you think God, government, your boss, your church or even your family should give or do for you. Take time to think and pray, you may not be seeing the whole picture. Emotionally following the crowd can be called democracy, but it can also be simply a mob.
Ted Wright (from 2018)
First Sunday in Lent
Sunday, February 18, 2024
Today’s scripture lectionary readings for worship are:
Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15, 1 Peter 3:18-22
Our focus scripture will be: Mark 1:9-15
How do today’s scriptures connect to your personal life experiences?
Do you feel you have spent time in the wilderness at certain points in your life?
What are the signs in your life that God is with you and will never abandon you?
Monday, February 19, 2024
In this story Jesus forgives the sins of a group of men in front of a large crowd. He does this knowing it would be seen as blasphemy by the Pharisees. He then heals one of the group, who is paralyzed and asks which act is easier, forgiveness or healing. He seems to be saying that the forgiveness of sins comes first and is, therefore, more important, although the crowds see the reverse as being miraculous. Jesus is further revealing himself as God and is pointing out that our spirit transcends our physical human condition.
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
There are those of us who believe in the Lord and we look after ourselves each day with His guidance. Our faith will heal us and make us whole even though there are those who believe that they are right.
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Haven’t we all been hurt by someone at some time? Should we fight back and think about the best way get revenge? Would that feel good to watch them suffer?
Luke teaches that we should have mercy and forgiveness toward our aggressors and learn to love our enemies. Hurting someone back will not make anything better, only worse. If we could put ourselves in their shoes, we might be able to figure out the reason that they are lashing out. Knowing and understanding their lives, we then could show compassion and practice restraint and mercy. By following Luke’s teachings, we shall reap the rewards of love and friendship, not only on earth, but in heaven.
Thursday, February 22, 2024
The lady who was known as having many sins, was well aware of her sins and her need. She sought forgiveness. She approached Jesus in great humility and showered him with her love. He saw her sincere need for forgiveness and took compassion on her, and forgave her. She drew near to Jesus in her great need.
The Pharisee didn’t show Jesus any special greeting when Jesus entered his home. He didn’t extend the common courtesies of that time for welcoming guests. The Pharisee either forgot or just neglected to show Jesus that he was special or loved. One gets a sense from this passage that the Pharisee thought he was above the lady sinner and thus more in favour with Jesus (God).
Jesus had to remind the Pharisee in parable that there is a danger in becoming lazy in one’s faith and thus not maintaining a close relationship with Jesus (God).
When things are going along well for one, we may forget or get lax in our prayer life and not engage God on a regular basis. When things go wrong, we are quick to go to God in prayer for help, guidance and strength. We need to work at maintaining a close relationship with God. Our faith journey will suffer if we get lazy.
I pray that I can remember that I need God every minute of every day and ask for help to not get lazy in my faith journey.
Friday, February 23, 2024
A conversation with Pablo
As luck would have it, I was running behind with my submission. We were enjoying some time away with friends in Huatulco, Mexico. On the final day for this submission, we had risen early to play some Pickleball in town. We jumped into a taxi to get back to our Villa, our taxi driver’s name was Pablo. A lovely conversation ensued. Pablo indicated his excellent English was the result of learning English and studying scripture. How fortunate! I asked his opinion on Luke 8. His sincerity and grasp of the reading stayed with me; I wish to share Pablo’s thoughts.
Jesus is the sower of the words of God, the seeds are his teachings. The seeds resting spots are the different people in this world. How well people hear God’s words depend on the location of the seeds. So, I asked him if it’s not just luck where the seeds land. The people’s responses to God’s word is just your randomized location in life. As Elaine has said many times “God meets you where you are”. So, I looked at this as a moment in time and a snapshot of the individuals faith journey. It’s ebb and flows, so to speak. Pablo told me eloquently I was wrong! “No,” he says “it is all about people having free reign to make choices”. Whether you are the seed on or off the path, or in the thorns or the good ground. The choice to listen, learn and respond is up to each person. Our ride was over too quickly. We enjoyed our time Pablo, wished each other well. I realized his thoughts were the lesson I was to receive that day. He said multiple times, “the words that come from his mouth are the direct result of God putting them in his head.” We got out of the taxi, wished him well, “adiós amigo Pablo”.
Pablo and Shelley Bertrim
Saturday, February 24, 2024
I sometimes have to remind myself not to focus on explaining the stories told to us of Jesus’ healing, but rather to reflect on their meaning and what we can learn from them.
The healing of the bleeding women gives another example of how Jesus holds women in a place of importance and love. When she touches the hem of his cloak, he does not reprimand her for defiling him, nor does he leave the crowd as suggested. Instead he acknowledges that he felt her presence and lets her know that it was her faith that healed her. What a beautiful act of love.
Second Sunday in Lent
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Today’s scripture lectionary readings for worship are:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Mark 8:31-38, Romans 4:13-25
Our focus scripture will be: Mark 8:31-38
What does it mean to you to lose your life, in order to save it?
Can we as Christians be accused of being ashamed of Jesus and his words?
Monday, February 26, 2024
In this passage, Jesus gives the disciples the power of driving out demons and curing diseases. This makes me think of some self-professed “healers” who claim to profess this gift, but I always thought of them as charlatans, not real healers. To me, only doctors were real healers. Now I am beginning to wonder. I believe in the power of prayer to heal, but that power comes from God. Can healers tap directly into that power from God? Maybe some of those crutches hanging in the Martyr’s Shrine in Midland were the result of some lightning-bolt power from God.
The disciples also had to take nothing with them and be totally dependent on the household they were invited into. I wonder how many of us would accept a wanderer off the road for as long as he would like to stay.
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Ahhhhh …… the famous parable …….. Feeding the Five Thousand. So many different themes came to me as I thoughtfully considered this scripture. Seeing a need doesn’t always have to be overwhelming. Issues can be resolved with talking to each other, being a community. Don’t think in isolation. Pray. Ask. We are not alone. The disciples felt overwhelmed. Jesus asked for help. And they had leftovers!
I, as part of the Outreach Committee, often fret and worry as we approach our Souper Sundays. Will the congregation stay for lunch? Will we have enough soup? Will it be hot enough? My prayers are always answered. People come. There is enough soup. Except for that one Sunday when our soup makers went without – I felt very badly about that – and so now I ask more people to make soup. And you know what – they do!
For life in our Port Perry Community can we help, like Jesus did, by supporting Operation Scugog so that no one goes hungry?
For further reading: Matthew 7: 7-12; James 1:17.
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
In this reading people appear drawn to Jesus and want to be part of his following. Jesus must have had such a charismatic presence that people like ourselves, ordinary people, felt compelled to ask to be in his circle. In return Jesus welcomed them, but stipulated that in order to be accepted they must sacrifice everything from their past including their livelihood and their families.
I wonder if Jesus was merely suggesting that if we choose to become Christians and follow his word, we must give up negativity and unworthy thoughts and actions that have been part of our lives in the past. Perhaps he wants us to move as quickly as possible from an ordinary life of work and family and include the word of God in our daily living. We should give over our minds and bodies to his higher power and become vessels from which the word of God can be spread.
Thursday, February 29, 2024
The concept in this story likely challenged what “neighbour” meant in those times. No doubt a radical shift. Today, this story resonates with all ages and phases. We teach the story of The Good Samaritan to children as part of expected behaviour (share and help others), and we remind adults of the same. Think about it… at its most basic level, this story guides the work of modern churches and charities. And, as the needs of our local and global neighbours grow, this parable endures all challenges, as we intuitively offer our time, talents, skills and resources to help where needed.
Friday, March 1, 2024
I feel the urgency of the neighbour in this passage. We persist in darkness with our prayers, but God is with us, no matter how many times we ask, he will answer and give us what we ask for, or maybe just what we need. as we are his children. We persist and God answers us.