Monthly Archives: March 2016

Prayers for Good Friday

On Good Friday, the day Christians remember Jesus having been betrayed, arrested, quickly tried and convicted, then crucified and buried.

On the Friday between Palm Sunday and Easter our sanctuary will be open from noon until 3 pm for anyone interested in quiet meditation and prayers. Should you be unable to come here, we offer the following for your family or personal devotions.

Welcome

The ancients called this day “Triumph of the Cross” reminding us to gather not to mourn this day, but to celebrate Christ’s life-giving passion and thus find strength and hope in the tree of life.

As you consider these readings, listen carefully for signs that
affirm
God is Good.

Throughout this day, as you ponder these readings, members of our Worship Committee or Congregational Care Committee or the Pastor will be available to sit with you and pray alongside you.

Please silence all cell phones and other devices to enhance your time with God.

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Invitation To Worship Isaiah 53:4

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
All the while we thought
that his suffering was punishment sent by God.

But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.

We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
each of us going his own way.
But the LORD made the punishment fall on him,
the punishment all of us deserved.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God,
for our sake Christ Jesus allowed us to betray him,
and allowed himself to be given into angry hands,
and allowed himself to suffer death on a cross;
look with mercy on your people again,
may we confess our sins, turn back to you,
and receive your overflowing love.

Moment of silent reflection…

This we ask in the name of our Lord Jesus the Christ,
who now lives with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever and ever. Amen!

Scripture Readings:

John chapters 18 and 19

In these two chapters, John summarizes Jesus’ arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, and burial.

Some cultures consider a rooster to be a Christian symbol.
How have you responded when “the rooster” called for you?

Psalm 22

Mathew and Mark record Jesus reciting the first verse of this Psalm as he hung from the cross. At that time, before chapter and verse numbers were invented, merely citing an opening verse indicated reading of an entire Psalm or chapter.
How does this Psalm offer hope in the face of trial?

Hebrews 10:16-25

Having gained complete restoration through Christ,
how have you encouraged one another?

Prayers From and For the People and The Lord’s Prayer

O crucified Jesus, Son of the Father,
conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary,
eternal Word of God, we worship you.
You came into the world not to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through you,
so that all who trust in you
might be delivered from the power of sin and death
and become heirs to eternal life.

Hear our/my prayers for the whole Church:
for its witness and service wherever it is found,
for its leaders and the people whom they serve,
increase your love and preserve your peace in it.

Silence

Hear our/my prayers for all nations and all peoples:
for those in authority and those who seek office,
and for all who serve for the common good.
Assist them, O Spirit,
that they may seek your justice and truth
so all people may live in peace and harmony.

Silence

Hear our/my prayers for all who suffer in body, mind or spirit:
for the hungry and the homeless,
for the destitute and the oppressed,
for those suffering persecution, doubt, or despair,
for the sorrowful and bereaved,
and especially for …
Comfort and relive them, O Father,
grant them knowledge of your love,
stir up in us/me patience and desire to minister with them.

Silence

Hear our/my prayer for all who have not received your Good News:
for those who have never heard the words of salvation,
for those who have lost their faith,
for those who have become indifferent to Christ,
for those who are enemies of your cross and your disciples.
Open their hearts to truth, O Christ,
teach us/me how to lead them to faith and obedience.

Silence

Eternal God of unchanging power and light,
look with mercy upon your whole Church.
Bring completion to your saving work.

Hear us/me now O Lord as we pray the prayer you taught us/me to say:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.
Amen.

Flowers at a Tomb

cementerio-948048_1920My practical side looks with disdain upon the thousands of dollars spent on a typical funeral: meticulous embalming the deceased including makeup and hair styling, an elaborate casket that requires a concrete grave liner, large ornate flower arrangements often including dozens of roses, and finally a majestic grave marker; most of which will only be seen for a few days. My practical side wants to tell my family: “When my time comes, put my body out with the trash and spend the money on a grand trip, making new memories, or spend the money supporting those who would lack a place to sleep or food for their bellies.

Judas would approve of my practical side. After Mary had poured an expensive bottle of perfume over Jesus’ feet Judas had complained: “Why was this perfume not sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor?” (John 12:5)

Yet my pastoral side reminds me of the need for people to see their beloved friend as they knew him or her one more time, often kissing the deceased farewell. An elaborate service, funeral procession, and decorations become one final and formal thank you for all that was good in her or his life. These grand rituals and expensive decorations attest that those who are left behind will deeply treasure memories of those who have gone on before us into heaven. Thus my pastoral side encourages me to place my hand on the casket or, if the casket is open, on the deceased, while offering the final prayer of committal; a final blessing upon one who has already received their ultimate blessing in heaven.

Thus my pastoral side wins, adding to the ritual centered around one who is no longer among us, and thereby enriching and blessing those who are left to guard and further priorities initiated by the deceased.

Each and every person deserves time to experience the riches of this world, to savor the beauty of each day, and to marvel in a ray of sunlight. And thereby marvel in the sweet smell of forgiveness and resurrection. Thus we the living merit savoring the scent of flowers at the tombs of those whom we love.

I will have more to say about John 12:1-8 on Sunday, March 13th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Forgiving Family

ArgueA man once placed a personal ad in the newspaper that simply read: “All is forgiven. Call home.” When the ad ran, that night hundreds of phones rang across the area.

Families are complicated.

Jesus’ longest and perhaps most widely know parable tells of a father who had let his younger son run away with his share of the family fortune. And when that son had eventually returned, that same father threw an extravagant party.

Many people might counsel such a father to give that wayward son a few licks with a paddle. For a child to merely asking for his inheritance, infers an insult that the family would be better if the father were dead.

Then when that son had returned, asking for a job as a servant, that same father instead immediately elevated him to a position of authority and responsibility. Consider for a moment the foolishness of this restoration: The son had frittered away a third of the family estate. (By custom the older son would have received two shares of the estate so at least part of the family would have enough to survive a disaster and younger sons only one share each.) Is this the kind of person you would allow anywhere near your home on a regular basis even with appropriate supervision?

Further, when the older son rebuked that father for such foolishness, that father had ignored that insult and had assured the older son of his place in the family and had urged him to join the celebration.

No wonder the religious elite had grumbled while the tax collectors and sinners had drawn near as Jesus told this tale that should be known by the quality of the Forgiving Father.

This parable leaves unanswered if the older son would remain outside sulking or if he would also learn to forgive and join the celebration?

I will have more to say about Luke 15:1-3 & 11-32 on Sunday, March 6th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.