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Lent Daily Devotions 2021


Ash Wednesday, February 17

Lent: A time to walk through the wilderness

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:20-21

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent offers each of us an invitation to walk into the wilderness with Jesus. Luckily, 2020 and the beginnings of 2021 have already given us some good practice at wilderness navigation. We’ve learned over the course of the last year that the wilderness, especially not one of our own making or choosing, is often uncomfortable, awkward, and painful. The wilderness reveals how much we like the status quo and “just want our old lives back” and “everything to go back to normal.”

In Matthew’s Gospel today, Jesus challenges his disciples not to hold on to our earthly things and experiences and old routines and “normalcy” as our treasures, but rather to let them all go and instead to experience the spiritual treasure that comes from giving up control and relying on God. If we can truly find our treasure with God, then no matter where we are, even in the wilderness, we will be complete and whole and content. (Maybe not happy, but at least content!) What “treasure” are you and I holding onto that we might need to set aside to walk through the wilderness with Jesus?


Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Thursday, February 18

Want to follow Jesus? Prepare to go on a journey….

Then Jesus said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” –Luke 9:24-25

Jesus reveals all that is truly necessary to be his follower: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. In other words, don’t always put your own selfish needs first, be outwardly focused, and allow Jesus to challenge you to go (literally and metaphorically) with him to often difficult and uncomfortable places. If ever there were an invitation to the wilderness, this is it.

We’re always surprised and a little bit shocked that following Jesus into the wilderness is the true way of discipleship. We often think of discipleship as something that should come to us easily or, if not easily, then at least always pleasantly and with as little disruption to our lives as possible. But Jesus is clear with his followers that something will always have to give in our own lives if we want to travel with him. Take note: what makes you uncomfortable about Jesus’ challenge/invitation to deny yourself? What would it mean for you to truly follow Jesus into a wilderness place? What would you have to give up?


Give me grace and clarity and the will, Lord Jesus, to have the courage to follow you into the wilderness. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Friday, February 19

Pro tip for wilderness walking: Noticing the big things

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?” –Matthew 21:42

To walk through the wilderness with intentionality this Lent means that we must constantly be on the lookout for signs of God’s grace, presence, and peace. We’ve been trained to think these signs of God must be small or subtle or hidden; however, they are often like large boulders or stones placed in front of us, if only we have eyes to see them as gifts and messages from God.

Jesus includes this remarkable quote from Psalm 118 (“The stone that the builders rejected…”) as he tells the Parable of the Wicked Tenants to the chief priests and elders of the Temple in Jerusalem in Matthew’s Gospel. It is a damning indictment of these temple leaders, as he accuses them of not being able to see the longed-for Messiah who is standing in plain sight in front of them, just as the builders of the temple missed the cornerstone standing before their eyes. Similarly: What in our wilderness journey is so plainly obvious to you and me that we simply overlook it, missing a giant clue, message, or sign from God?


Give me eyes to see and ears to hear, Holy One, that I may not reject or overlook what you send me, but rather embrace the wilderness path with joy. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Monday, February 22

Sheep or goat—or both?

Then the king will say to [the sheep] at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed … inherit the kingdom prepared for you … for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink … a stranger and you welcomed me … naked and you gave me clothing … sick and you took care of me … in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry … thirsty … a stranger … naked … in prison…?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these … you did it to me.” –Matthew 25:34-40 (abbrev.)

I’ll confess, today’s gospel passage (Matthew 25:31-46) doesn’t offer me the most reassuring image of God, at least inasmuch as it portrays a grand king on Judgment Day separating sheep from goats, righteous from unrighteous. Would God who is merciful be so absolute in judgment, as if you and I are all-sheep or all-goat?

Notice, though, a distinction that emerges in this challenging story Jesus tells. Both sheep and goat respond to the judgment in identical words: “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry … thirsty … a stranger …?” The unassuming sheep, focused on the need, take no notice of the care they offer. The oblivious goats can’t even see the need.
My hope is in the merciful judgment of God who, as Psalm 139 assures, has “searched me out and known me,” traced “my journeys and my resting places,” looked well “whether there be any wickedness in me”—and who will “lead me in the way that is everlasting,” sheep and goat that I am. What moments have you looked back on and felt joy in realizing you’d done a caring deed for someone in need? What moments have you looked back on and realized you’d missed a caring opportunity right before your eyes? How might you sharpen your caring vision to multiply your—and others’—moments of joy?


Merciful God, open our eyes to the needs of those around us: Inspire us to give of ourselves with hearts thankful for your love and for the joy that comes from sharing your love with others, knowing that as we give to others, we give also to you. Amen.

The Rev. Tom Kryder-Reid

Tuesday, February 23

Learning by heart

Jesus said, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” –Matthew 6:9ff

Perhaps, like me, you grew up learning the Lord’s Prayer, by one translation or another, and it’s as familiar to you as breathing. Or maybe the Christian faith is new to you, and you’re weighing what you believe and wondering what this prayer Jesus taught can mean for you.

If you haven’t already, go ahead—memorize it. Or better said, learn it by heart—not merely by rote but by absorbing its sounds and rhythms, meanings and implications, into your innermost being, the very life God has given you. As our ancient forebears in faith realized, knowing nuggets of faith by heart gives us substance for reflection and meditation and anchors us in times of stress and trouble.

What scripture passages and prayers speak to you? How about Psalm 23, especially the King James Version (Book of Common Prayer, p. 476), or Psalm 121 (p. 779)? Maybe John 10:11, 27-28 (“I am the good shepherd…”) or Ephesians 3:20-21? For bedtime, try the antiphon for Compline, “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping…” (prayer book, p. 134) and for morning, Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” What other pearls might you want to make yours by holding them in your heart?


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Rev. Tom Kryder-Reid

Wednesday, February 24: St. Matthias the Apostle

Communing with the unheralded and unsung

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place [of]…Judas…” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. –Acts 1:23-26

Today on the Church’s calendar of commemorations, Matthias rates a major feast for ranking among the original twelve apostles, even if he got the nod late, after Jesus’ ascension, and to fill the place of perfidious Judas. Not a bad legacy for a guy about whom we know nothing else.

But I’m grateful for the obscure early followers like him and Bartholomew. Like Joanna and “the other women” at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning (Luke 24:10). Or Simon and Jude. Or the fellow forever demoted to James the Less—not to mention poor “Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus,” passed over in favor of Matthias (maybe because he had too many names?). They and countless others since them remind me that by God’s grace all of us, the unheralded along with the famous, have our part to play in ringing in the reign of God’s justice, mercy, and love.

What part do you see yourself playing in the drama of God’s loving work unfolding today? Who among the unsung now or from times past inspires you?


Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 395)

The Rev. Tom Kryder-Reid

Thursday, February 25

The golden rule—and more

Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. … Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? … If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 7:7-12 (abbrev.)

What we’ve come to know as the Golden Rule—“do to others as you would have them do to you”—is a nugget Jesus rightly attributes to his predecessors “the law and the prophets.” In fact, its roots have been traced back to sources many centuries before him, and it appears in various iterations in nearly every religious and ethical tradition.

Do you notice, though, the subtle flip Jesus performs on his way to endorsing this maxim? He starts by encouraging us to ask, search, and knock, assuring us we’ll receive. Then he shifts his emphasis from receiving to giving, invoking our children as recipients just to make sure we’re still listening. So I wonder—more than merely affirming a piece of ancient wisdom, might Jesus be implying that our best prospects of receiving grow from our prior commitment to giving? He is, after all, uniquely known for his assertion that “those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

What are some occasions when you’ve found that giving led you to receive more than you could ever have asked or imagined? Can you envision ways Jesus might be urging you right now to “lose [your] life for my sake” in order to find it?


Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 832)

The Rev. Tom Kryder-Reid

Friday, February 26

The wilderness we walk

Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication. 
If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?
For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope. –Psalm 130:1-4

Wilderness, as a metaphor for life’s struggles, is for me a landscape of varied forms and features. I’ve trekked across plains of repetition and tedium, slogged up mountains of challenge, teetered at precipices of fear, impaled myself on outcroppings of anger and contempt, sunk myself into swamps of temptation, and like today’s psalmist, cried from vales of despair, “out of the depths.”

I’m inclined to say that walking through the wilderness is not a journey for whiners. Except that maybe it is. Flip through the psalms sometime—the prophets too, impatient Job especially. You’ll find page after page of complainers, pleaders, lamenters, yet all brave enough to open their mouths and wait for a word from God who hears, with whom there is forgiveness, in whose word is hope, and who as Jesus walked our wilderness as one of us. What wilderness are you walking through now? In whose presence do you feel Jesus’ presence with you?


O God of supreme majesty and steadfast love, who is both far and near: Assure us through the stirrings of your Holy Spirit that you are with us at every step on our earthly pilgrimage, and give us confidence through the resurrection of your son Jesus Christ to await with joy our place with you in your heavenly dwelling, in the embrace of your everlasting arms. Amen.

The Rev. Tom Kryder-Reid

Monday, March 1

He cannot be, can he?

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. –John 4:27-30

Sometimes we wait for the perfect opportunity to meet the most suitable person in the right place. We pass up chances to talk about Jesus because we are immersed in our own thoughts, or focused on the day’s tasks, or occupied with our friends. The disciples had gone to the city to buy food. The woman had gone from the city to the well to draw water. If they passed each other on the road they probably did not speak. And while the disciples were buying food they evidently did not tell everyone in the city that Jesus was at the well.
If this was a dramatic comedy on stage or in film we would laugh at the people unknowingly passing without recognition. We know that the woman would meet Jesus and proclaim him to the city folks. We know that the disciples would doubt Jesus’ actions at the well and wonder at his impropriety. We laugh because we can imagine the looks of bewilderment on the faces of everyone involved once Jesus is welcomed into the Samaritan city and led by a woman.
Do you relax and laugh sometimes at some situations in scripture? Humor helps us to remember the stories.


Lord of all hopefulness, guide us on our way through the wilderness of this life. Help us to look beyond our own immediate tasks and current companions to see the people around us. Give us the courage to start conversations with Jesus even if we encounter someone who is in a place where we feel unsafe, or is doing a task that we think is lowly. We trust in You to open our hearts and minds to slow down and invite people to know Your love. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Tuesday, March 2

 “So he himself believed, along with his whole household.”

… Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. –John 4:46-53

How many times have we heard that someone joined a group because a friend or relative convinced them to do it? How often too do we hear that belonging to a certain club or gym is dependent on knowing a current member and being “hosted”? The royal official came to Jesus pleading for the life of his young son. He came to Galilee where the tetrarch Herod Antipas was a little friendlier toward Jesus than were the other regional Herod rulers. Yet the official came without the protection of his office or his royal connections. He came to Jesus as a father who feared for his son. It was a family matter and Jesus let it stay that way for the most part.
The royal official believed Jesus’ words, stopped pleading, and hurried home to his son. His whole household believed – following in the royal official’s example. It was not required, it was not an order from his superior, it was his personal believing and shared with his family in love. When word got back to Herod that the official believed, Herod would know that Jesus healed in love rather than lobbying for loyalty. Surely the impact reached far into the courts and many more believed. Like the royal official, we have direct access to Jesus and He does hear our prayers.

Why do you believe in Jesus? Were you told that it would help you advance in the community or at work? Is it because you have spoken with Jesus in prayer talk and felt the Holy Spirit warm your heart?


Dear God, help us to talk with you and to believe in the healing power of Jesus. May we escape the bounds of popularity and privilege to present ourselves as simply human. We thank you for the example of this royal official who sought out Jesus, asked without expectation, and rejoiced in the healing. In this wilderness of politics and social protocols, lead us back to the truth in love. May we live our lives in your Grace and show by example the power of Your Holy Name. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Wednesday, March 3

Do you recognize Jesus in the midst of your suffering?

They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. –John 5:12-15

Jesus calls to us in the midst of life. Often we feel His presence or hear “a voice” without being sure it is Jesus. Perhaps that is how God chooses to come to us, especially when we feel hurt and excluded. We get better, we find a way to ease our suffering, and we may think we know how and why it happened. The man on the mat sought healing in the waters and he got healing by Jesus – anonymously. It seems that the man not only took up his mat and walked. He walked right into the temple carrying the mat on the Sabbath and knowingly breaking the law. The man told everyone about Jesus even after being warned that worse things might happen.
When you feel the healing touch of Jesus are you afraid to shout it out? Is it easier to hide the Good News and still seem to suffer a little so that you don’t have to explain?


Oh Lord hear our prayer and beckon us to come to you. Remind us how long and how deeply You have been in our lives. Help us to claim You out loud as we cry out for Your help in our healing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Thursday, March 4

If you hear God’s word and you believe, have you claimed eternal life?

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” –John 5:24-26

It seems so simple to hear the voice of Jesus. Truly it can be quite difficult to hear God’s word clearly. Each person is so uniquely made in God’s image that it is hard to communicate with each other. That is where we err in revealing that we hear God’s word. We mistakenly think that our own words make sense to everyone else. One person’s interpretation of the message of scripture in today’s world may not make sense to another person. People learn in various ways and the background of our lives filters each other’s testimonies. There is no judgment to be made among people as to who has heard the word of God. Rather it is a lifelong challenge to try to talk about eternal life – about hearing and believing God’s word in Jesus – and to build community as believers. At any moment we could find ourselves face to face with Jesus whether in life or after death.
Have you told Jesus that you hear God’s word in Him and that you believe? The telling makes it true.


Dear God, we turn to face you to better hear your word. We come to you in our differences as people to be gathered as your children. Give us patience, give us peaceful intention, give us words and gestures to share our belief with the people around us. We love you and we want to know your message to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Friday, March 5

What does the love of God look like in you?

Jesus said to them, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?” –John 5:39-44
I watch the postings on social media of my younger friends’ babies growing into toddlers. It takes so long for humans to learn how to use words and talk. The love of God can be in a child long before they can tell us about it. Sometimes that love shows through their eyes or in how they hug or in their behavior at church services (or watching during the pandemic). We bring our children with us to be with God. Yet we adults are slower to intentionally show our love of God and each other with eye contact or simple smiles, whether for church members or visitors. We believe in God’s word while we pay more attention to certain powerful people as if they were idols.
What more do you expect God to do to convince you to come and love and have life?


God of grace and love, we thank you for our human community filled with your love. We come to you seeking renewed life. We lay before you our wanderings in the wilderness of misplaced adoration. We ask you to help us to set no human above you and no emotion above your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Monday, March 8

Where did He learn to read?

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.” –John 7:14-18

More than a few folks have asked me about the years in Jesus’ life before the Gospels begin. There are some scholarly papers and alternative writings about the growing up years of Jesus. We hear in scripture that by the age of twelve, Jesus amazed the faithful Jewish people by reading alongside the educated elders. We do not hear the detail of Jesus in grade school learning his letters and phonics. Do we need that detail? Do we know about each other’s childhoods and schooldays? Perhaps the selected stories of Jesus’ familiarity with scripture are enough. We need to know the scriptures through study and sharing. I wonder if we get distracted when we seek details about people, including Jesus, that are tangential to the main point. Reading and sharing our thoughts about scripture is a lifelong practice of true believers in Jesus Christ. We can use different learning styles, use different modes of communication, and study the books in the Bible in various orders or by topic. The bottom line is that we are to know the scriptures and follow Jesus’ example. That will help us to avoid speaking on our own, and our small groups remind us to always give the glory to God alone.
Do you have a Rule of Life that includes ongoing scripture study and sharing God’s word in community?


Gracious God we want to know you in scripture and to live into your love in community. Revive our hope. Assure us of your glory that surpasses any human imitator. We give our lives to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Tuesday, March 9

What dreams have you set aside for too long?

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. –John 7:37-39

Water is a big theme in our churches. Baptism at a font filled with Blessed Water is a major event in the life of each Christian. Renewal of Baptismal vows at least five additional times each year during worship. Some people reach out to the spray of water coming from the center aisle. Other people hide behind their bulletins to avoid even a drop. The symbolism is strong enough to bless everyone in the sanctuary wet and dry. The wine at communion is mixed with a little water as well so that we drink in the Living Water each week when in-person. During this pandemic it feels a bit like being lost in a hot dry beach without communion or baptisms. We can see the empty font and the bare altar and we are thirsty for Living Water. Jesus tells us that rivers of living water shall flow out of the believer’s heart – our hearts. We carry within us now the living water and the spirit of God. We are anointed with oil and sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism. Jesus has been glorified and we bear the mark in oil and water.

Do you reach out or hide from the water sprinkler during baptismal renewals? Why?


Dear God, we thank you for the living waters of baptism and renewal. We long to drink from the cup at communion when it is safer to share. We pray that our hearts flow and your waters fill our world. Help us to walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Wednesday, March 10

 It is no secret to Jesus – this wilderness of episodes in my life

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” –John 8:14-18

I wonder if the officiants at Morning Prayer can see how many people are watching. The feel is different online where the view is your own face as in a mirror and there are no voices to hear responding. Yet the officiant knows the pages and the prayers. The psalms and scripture readings flow as smoothly as in-person. An offering of true love, the daily office is a discipline and a study time for the regulars. Occasional visitors may be mystified at first as to why anyone would want such a quiet, intentionally rhythmic half hour with God. It can be powerful to just ride the wave of the service and listen to readings rather than flip pages. Each person attending online probably sees the service a little differently. By human standards there is a lot to absorb. Whenever there are two people as two witnesses, there is intentionality and trust in God who is beyond our understanding. How lovely that any two people gathered to pray stand as witnesses to God’s truth.
When do you intentionally pray and bring the episodes of your life before God and a human witness?


Dear God, we come to you with a sense of vulnerability mixed with exhaustion. You call us back no matter what we have done or where we have been. We have judged each other by human standards and wandered into a wilderness of secrets that we hide in guarded conversation. We ask for your help in reconciling our past mistakes with our hope for our future with you. Help us to clear our minds and hearts to make room for your truth in love. We want to be more intentional about prayer starting now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Thursday, March 11

Temptation is strong, but you are not alone.

Jesus said, “And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him. Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:29-32

There are things that we do once in life, and other things that we repeat on a regular schedule. Some things in life are optional and some are essential. Do you know which is which for the people of God? Jesus stressed that the Jews needed to continue in His word. Only by intentionally making time and space for living into the belief could the people become disciples. The truth of God’s word, the truth of Jesus as son of God, the truth of living in a community of believers – that truth would make the Jews free. That same truth will make us free. Whatever wilderness seems to surround you today, returning to scripture and Christian community will immerse you in truth.
What did it feel like the first time that a burst of God’s truth poured through you from head to toe?


God of all truth, we pray that you will wrap us in your word and guide us in your paths. Day by day we seek you in your fullness and fall short. Help us to be patient and grow slowly and steadily into your truth. May we be joyful along the way and intentional about our journey with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Friday, March 12

Do you wonder when you will hold your loved ones again?

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.” –John 8:42-43

Jesus worked so hard to tell the story of God as His Father. Yet the people claimed Abraham as their father and were reluctant to change. Generations were traced back to Abraham while Jesus was just a young man. It was hard for people to understand that Jesus was both the son of the one God and a physical human man walking among them. At this point in the Gospel story, Jesus needed for people to accept who he was in full – both human and divine. It was not working because the idea of “father” was steeped in literal human genealogy. God was believed to be immensely powerful, all knowing, generous and judgmental and beyond human. One more aspect of Jesus as Messiah was butting up against tradition and the history of the Israelites.
Do you believe that our God is the God of love? God’s love unites us across distance and time. Are the memories of your loved ones bringing blessing to your life right now and right here?


Oh God, we come to you as your children. We accept Jesus as our human brother and your divine son. We ask you to be with us as we live in this pandemic wilderness of separation from our loved ones. Bring us back into your household in faith that we may live into our spiritual gifts and be fruitful even in this circumstance. Guide us to be your people and only your people for all eternity as we find strength in your loving embrace. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Scheyer

Monday, March 15

“Go; your son will live.”

When the two days were over, Jesus went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival. Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” –John 4:43–50

Jesus is in Galilee and there receives a pagan, an official of the king who sought help for his sick son. He wanted Jesus to come with him to the house to heal the child. Then Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Why this answer? What does Jesus want to teach us? He wants to teach us what faith should be like.
The official of the king would believe only if Jesus went with him to his house. He wants to see the miracle. Deep down, it is the normal attitude of all of us. We want to “see to believe.” We lack faith. Despite this, Jesus does not discriminate. We see that although he does not go with the man to his house, he says, “Go; your son will live.” The official believed in Jesus and went home without seeing any sign or miracle. And the miracle is fulfilled! It must not have been easy. This is the true miracle of faith: believing without any guarantee other than the Word of Jesus. In times of difficulty, how do we live our faith? Do we trust the word of Jesus or do we only believe in miracles and sensitive experiences? Jesus does not discriminate against races or religions. How do we relate to people?


Loving God, we reach out to You, asking Your favor: forgive us for the times when our faith has wavered and we have acted as if You do not exist, in our relationships with others. Strengthen our faith so that others will believe in you, find time for you and live in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Tuesday, March 16


There was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. –John 5:1-9

The portion of scripture that we have shared describes how Jesus heals a paralyzed man who waited 38 years for someone to help him reach the pool water to heal. Thirty-eight years! The sick were attracted by the waters of this place and said that an angel stirred the waters and the first to come down after the movement of the angel would be cured. In other words, the sick were attracted by false hopes, since the cure was only for one person. In the face of this total absence of solidarity, what did Jesus do? He did not respect the law of the Sabbath and healed the paralyzed man. Today, with the lack of people caring for sick people in poor countries, many people experience the same lack of solidarity. They live in total abandonment, without help, without solidarity from anyone.

In this season of Lent and always, God invites us to show solidarity and compassion, challenging us to perceive the dramatic situation in which many people find themselves and to act so that humanity can experience a little love and sympathy through our help and affection. Have you had a similar experience to that of the paralytic, waiting for a long time without help? How are the sick and needy cared for in the community where you live?


God of mercy, we ask you to come into our hearts so that in everything we do we show your solidarity and love, and thus we announce to all people the greatness of your salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Wednesday, March 17

From death to life

Jesus said to the Jews, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.” –John 5:19-24

God is life, creative force. The great concern of God is to overcome death and make life. Wherever God is present, life is reborn. God makes God’s self present through the Word of Jesus. Those who hear the word of Jesus as sent by God are already resurrected because they have already received the vivifying touch that takes them beyond death, passing from death to life.

There are so many people in need of meeting that presence of God that brings life. This makes me think of our relationship with God. Perhaps the dead are all of us when we do not fully open our hearts to Jesus’ voice that comes from God. But “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). With the word of Jesus, a new creation began. The creative word of Jesus will reach all of humanity. The resurrection begins now! Where and how do we hear the words of Jesus in our lives? How do you live faith in the resurrection? What does God want you to do?


Lord our God, you grant the righteous the reward of your presence and forgive everyone who repents of their sins: open our hearts to your words and manifest your life in us so that, through faithful witness, many find your peace and forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Thursday, March 18

Words and actions

Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.” –John 5:30-38

In the reflections of the Gospel of John, the words of Jesus and the words of the Evangelist are brought together, reflecting the experience of faith in the communities of that time. In order to grasp the full and deep meaning of the words of Jesus, it is necessary to have in ourselves a communal experience of faith, that is, to live what is said. Our behavior hides messages that often contradict our words. In our day to day, we carry out endless actions that say a lot about us. Most of us do them routinely, without realizing it, unaware that they have a clear meaning in the eyes of others. And the truth is that people will judge us, to a large extent, for these actions.

We take this time of encounter with God to ask for strength of character. The correspondence between word and action is what will help us to penetrate the meaning of the words of Jesus, opening our minds to God. How do we live out our faith in community? What do we need to do to deepen in ourselves and in our actions the value of the testimony of Jesus?


God full of love, we ask you that, purified by repentance and by the practice of good works, we remain faithful to your mandates so that we arrive well prepared for the Easter season. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Friday, March 19

 The most important thing

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. –Luke 2:41-52

How can we understand today this episode in the life of Jesus that Luke brings us? The center of the passage focuses on family relationships. There comes a time when these can become tense: difficulties and misunderstandings arise. Usually when this happens, we seek autonomy and independence. Jesus, in his human condition, did not ignore the obedience due to his parents as a twelve-year-old. However, he clearly established that for him, obedience and fidelity to God were above any other fidelity.

What becomes the most important thing at a certain point in our existence? Affections, relationships, self-affirmation, values, business or morals? God invites us, as a diverse community, to focus on what is truly valuable. For this, it will be necessary to go beyond the family of Nazareth towards the place of that loving Christ, who claims all humanity as children of the same God and as members of a single family. Have I had times when faithfulness to God has put stress on my family? Do I accept others other than myself as members of God’s family? Whom do I exclude? Maybe even members of my own family?


Our Father who art in heaven, you are our creator; you welcome us through Jesus your Son and guide us with your Holy Spirit. Open our minds so that we can understand the meaning of life, and the project you have for us. Strengthen us so that in union with others, we can fulfill your will together and make the world a family, more like your image. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Monday, March 22

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” –John 8:2-11

Jesus forgives. But here it is about more than forgiveness: Jesus transcends the law and goes further. He does not say to the woman, “Adultery is not a sin,” but he does not condemn her with the law. And this is the mystery of the mercy of Jesus. Evil is strong, it has a seductive power: it attracts and captivates. To get away from it, our effort is not enough. It takes a greater love. So Jesus goes further. He advises her not to sin anymore and shows his mercy. Mercy is the way in which God forgives, because for Jesus, before sin, there is a beloved child of God. How beautiful and comforting it is to know that each of us is first in the heart of God! Let us ask for the grace to look at others like Jesus, let us ask to have a Christian approach to life, where before sin we see the beloved child of God with the eyes of love.

Let us take advantage of this time of Lent that is now ending, preparing ourselves to forgive as Jesus showed us by his example that God forgives, and instead of judging and condemning others, let us begin by recognizing our own condition as in need of divine mercy. How many times have we felt judged and even condemned? How many times have we judged and condemned the one next to us? Are we able to forgive the one who has offended us? What steps can and should our community take to welcome the excluded?


Our God and Creator, whose love without measure enriches us with every blessing: set the gaze of Jesus on us, so that we always value others above their defects and make us prepare, abandoning the corruption of the old nature, as a new humanity, to take part in the glory of your kingdom. In Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Tuesday, March 23

 True love

Jesus said to the Jews, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So, Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him. –John 8:21-30

Who is Jesus for us? Jesus is the only one who can help us understand again and again that God’s power is different, that the Messiah must enter into glory and bring glory through sacrifice. Believing in Jesus means making him the center, the meaning of our life, and on this Lenten journey, God invites us into relationship again and again. It is easy to lose sight of God, not because God is walking away, but because we are walking away. Let us not stop looking for God, because a soul without God is empty.

We know that following the Lord is not easy. It is a demanding task that requires a lifetime. And sometimes, for the one who has more, it costs more because he must sacrifice things treasured as the most precious. Let us not allow the void to take over us! A life lived without love is an empty life. But Jesus, with his sacrifice, has given us the key to understanding true love: he has shown us that love can be lived in such a way that we are only interested in pleasing the person we love. “… for I always do what is pleasing to him.” What can we do on this day to please God and other people? Have we discovered that our true happiness consists precisely in making the person we love happy? Can we imagine a life lived only to make God and other people happy?


God of deliverance, thank you for everything we learn from you about love. Make us determined to love as You have loved us: not with words but with deeds; not walking around people but giving his life for them; not waiting for the other to come but going out to look for others. We ask this for your love. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Wednesday, March 24

“The truth will make you free”

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:31ff

As believers in Jesus, we are called to live life as he lived it. It is not enough to be “cradle Episcopalians” or to simply inherit our faith. There comes a time in our lives when everyone needs to decide which God—or god—we want to serve. From this decision will emerge an ethic that will mark our lives. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” The impressive thing is that he addressed these words to those who believed themselves to be more compliant in their faith and better than everyone else, without realizing that they were fundamentally failing.

For Jesus, to continue in his word means we must give food, drink, dress, and we must visit, liberate, heal and forgive. How do we value our freedom after what Jesus says today?


God of all freedom, visit us through your Holy Spirit and help us better understand the freedom to which you call us. Help us to organize our lives thinking about making others happy and serving our community from the heart. For the love of Jesus Christ your son, our Lord, Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Thursday, March 25

 Greetings from heaven

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38

Jürgen Moltmann, called by many “the great theologian of hope,” once said: “The last and first word of the great liberation that comes from God is not hatred, but joy; it is not conviction, but acquittal. Christ is born from the joy of God and dies and rises again to bring his joy to this contradictory and absurd world.”

We remember on this Feast of the Annunciation today (with nine months to go until Christmas) that the first word from God to God’s children, when the Savior approaches the world, is an invitation to joy: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” However, joy is not easy. No one can be forced to be cheerful. How can one be happy with so much suffering on earth? How to enjoy when two-thirds of humanity is sunk in hunger, misery or conflict? One can only be joyful in communion with those who suffer and in solidarity with those who cry. Only those who strive to make others happy can be happy. What obstacles prevent us from experiencing the joy of God in our lives? What are we doing to alleviate the suffering of others? How do we feel when we do acts of solidarity towards those who need it most?


God of joy, come and transform our interior. Give us the joy and faith of Mary, that joy of a believing woman who rejoices in a saving God, who seeks justice, freedom and brotherhood for everyone and especially for the despised of this world. Through Jesus Christ your son, our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit we give all honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina

Friday, March 26

 Images of God

The Jews took up stones again to stone Jesus. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there. –John 10:31-42

We are close to Holy Week, in which we commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. We have seen how the texts taken almost exclusively from the Gospel of John accentuate the tension between the progressive revelation of the mystery of the Father and, on the other hand, the closed hearts of the chosen people, who become increasingly impenetrable to the message of Jesus. The tragedy of this is that they reject Jesus in the name of God.

It is a mirror of what is happening today. Some people become “living weapons” and “kill” others in Jesus’ name. In the name of Jesus, the members of the three religions of the God of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) have condemned and confronted each other throughout history. We are at an important moment to ask ourselves: What is the image of God that lives in our being? Jesus Christ has shown us God’s face, a face of love and mercy. How do I show my respect for people of other religious traditions? What value do I give to my profession of faith? Do I condemn someone in God’s name and then find out that I am wrong? What do I do after finding out?


Lord of heaven and earth, give us a simple faith. To know you and love you more every day. To love those who have a different faith than ours, To love those who have a different face than ours, And never be indifferent to your love and grace. May that love be the compass that guides us, so that in everything we do, we seek the well-being of all people. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

The Rev. Hipolito Fernandez Reina


Monday, March 29

Monday of Holy Week: The smell of grace

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. –John 12:1-11

This is one of my favorite passages from John’s Gospel because it is so available to the senses. Martha and Mary are serving Jesus what amounts to a goodbye dinner just a week before his death. I imagine that the smell of Martha’s lamb and za’atar and turmeric fill the house before and during the main course, but they are overpowered by the sweet, citrusy, herbaceous smell of Mary’s perfume after dinner as she opens a precious bottle to anoint Jesus’ feet in what is widely considered a metaphor for his burial anointing. The pungent smell apparently gets to everyone in the house, and especially Judas, who is publicly irritated by this extravagance. I’m guessing at some point, everyone had to step outside for a breath of fresh air.

Mary’s act gives us a chance to understand what grace smells like. Grace can be overwhelming, it can be overpowering, it can trigger unexpected reactions, including irritation, and we may need to pace ourselves to absorb its entirety. Have you ever had an experience of grace that was so overwhelming, overpowering, you had to step back from it?


Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Tuesday, March 30

Tuesday of Holy Week: Dying in order to rise again

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” –John 12:20-26

I am not a winter person. The sight of dormant plants and trees, dried, brown flowers, and limp branches makes me depressed every year. The irony is that the beauty and vibrancy of the spring and the summer I enjoy so much depend on the darkness and dormancy of winter in order to thrive.

Today, Jesus reminds his disciples of the ironic mystery that life depends upon death, and that only when a grain of wheat falls and breaks open can new fruit be born. His words are a chilling foreshadowing of what is to come this Friday.

What, in our own lives, needs to die, to fall, to go dormant, to lay fallow, to be broken open, so that we might rise and bear new fruit?


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Wednesday, March 31

 Wednesday of Holy Week: Betrayal

At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” –John 13:21-32

When Jesus tells his friends in John’s Gospel that one of them will betray him, they all look around the room, puzzled and nervous. “Who is it?” Simon Peter asks him. What follows is the account of Judas’ betrayal, but what goes unspoken is that all of his followers, including Simon Peter, will eventually abandon Jesus in his hour of need.

It is far too easy to make Judas the “bad guy” in this story and not to remember that each of us, at some point in our lives, like the disciples, have abandoned the Way of Jesus out of fear, ignorance, neglect, anger, disconnection, or disappointment.

And yet, our abandonment, Judas’ abandonment, the disciples’ abandonment does not hold the last word. Even though humanity has done our very worst to God in the act of the Cross, the Cross does not hold the last word. Instead, God will rise above our abandonment, God will rise above our failures, and God will rise above our brokenness. But more about that on Sunday…

In what ways have you and I abandoned God? And how can we open ourselves for the all-powerful grace of God that forgives even that abandonment?


Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Thursday, April 1

Maundy Thursday: Bless, break, give…even in the face of betrayal

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. –1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Tonight, we will gather for a (virtual) service of Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. St. Paul writes of this tradition in his First Letter to the Corinthians and begins with this reminder: “On the night when he was betrayed…” The last act of Jesus Christ before going to the Cross was to break bread with his friends, even as he knew that one of them had already betrayed him. (He probably also had a pretty good idea that the others were soon to betray and abandon him in his hour of need.)

What does this Last Supper tell us about the character of God? God is patient. God is forgiving. God is generous. God does not need us to be perfect or well intentioned in order to love us and feed us. God is willing to forgive and overlook our faults. God wants to connect with us, even in our darkest moments. God needs us just as much as we need God.

As we’ve walked through the wilderness of Lent, how has your understanding of God’s unconditional love and grace changed, expanded, or been challenged?


Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.

Friday, April 2

Good Friday: Approach the throne of grace with boldness

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. –Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9


Normally, Good Friday is a day of somber reflection and sadness, about the brokenness of our own lives and the brokenness of our world. But the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews offers us a refreshing perspective: “Let us approach therefore the throne of grace with boldness.” What would it be like to approach God today with boldness? To be thankful that God knows our human condition, to be thankful that God understands our brokenness, and to be thankful that God, who loves us so much, no matter who we are, no matter what we have done or left undone, has offered up redemptive prayers and supplications with God’s own body … for us?

Throughout the season of Lent, we have wandered through the wilderness with God. With the interruption of the Cross, God shows a pathway out of the wilderness … and the pathway we discover is not one of grovelling to God, or begging that God will overlook our many sins, but rather, approaching God with boldness that we are God’s beloved, and that through God, we are already forgiven, healed, and made new.


Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Very Rev. Gray Lesesne, D.Min.