April 6, 2020
Daily Lectionary Readings for Year A
Rather than pointing you by hyperlink to the lectionary, each day this week I would like to include the full text followed by brief reflections. Scripture tells the story of this holiest of weeks. Read it once. Read it again aloud. Read it a third time. Take 40 minutes each day of Holy Week. Allow God to speak to you through the Word.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Praise for the servant. The servant is given a mission and nothing will get in the way of the mission's fulfillment. The servant will lead with steadiness and humility. The servant will pursue the mission with tenacity. How can the servant pursue the mission with such strength? Because the mission comes from God. And the mission is to be a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. The steadfast pursuit of this mission brings to light a new day. A new hope. Who does this servant represent for you? How are you a part of the fulfillment of this mission?
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!
Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me, or the hand of the wicked drive me away.
All people take refuge in the shadow of God's wings. In what ways do you feel God is sheltering you or others these days? With images of a feast and drink, how does God call people to the table? God is the fountain of life. What does the phrase "in your light we see light" mean to you?
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
The early Christian community sought to understand the shift that was occurring in the community of faith. Rules put in place by God were suddenly changing. There was no longer a need to go to the temple to make sacrifices - Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. What a radical reorientation of a life of faith. We find ourselves worshiping in new ways these days. We are discovering that we no longer have to go to the church and sit in particular pews to be a community. We can find Christ in these places of shelter and respite. How has online worship felt to you? Has it made you think about our traditions differently? Have you experienced Christian community in new ways? What do you miss? What have you discovered?
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"
(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
Do you remember the Terry family reading the story of Mary and Martha grieving with their friend Jesus, and of Jesus raising their brother Lazarus from the dead? This is the continuation of that story. It is a meal to say thank you. During this meal, Mary takes a pound of costly perfume and pours it over Jesus' feet. Imagine the fragrance! A quick Google search of "costly perfume" brought up Chanel's coromandel and maisons d’art coffret perfume, costing $10,000 for 1.7 ounces. A pound of this would cost roughly $150,000. In the text, it cost 300 denari. Herein lies the seeds for the arrest of Jesus. Judas can think of a hundred better uses for that kind of money including keeping some for himself. The crowd (smelling the aroma of the house?) gather because they want to see Jesus and Lazarus. The leaders now pledge to kill not only Jesus but also Lazarus, because the people loved them both. It is getting messy. What do you think Jesus meant when he said, "You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."?
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REv. Dean N. Prentiss
I am blessed to be the Pastor at Wesley Park UMC. Find Daily Lectionary Readings Here.