Lenten Daily Devotionals for March 20 - March 26
Sunday, March 20
Lent 3: Repent or Perish/The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:1-9)
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Monday, March 21
“The Little Neon Green Chick Card” by Chris Christensen
Recently, as I worked at my computer, I reached into my desk drawer for a square of dark chocolate for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. My fingers flipped up a Rolling Bay Hay and Feed chick card that has resided there since the pandemic began and Bay Hay curtailed their chick card program as part of their COVID procedures. The neon green chick card triggered an immediate response of loss from the past two years. No trips to Denmark to visit family. No trips to Northern Ireland to see friends. No Road Scholar/Elderhostel trips. No long, lingering conversations with friends and family over restaurant meals. No family celebrations except outside during the summer months. No week-long visits from the granddaughters. No wandering the aisles at Eagle Harbor Books or Wm. James Bookseller in Pt. Townsend. The loss of people we held dear and of people we’d hope to know better. The tremendous loss of freedom to come and go without weighing the risk-level of leaving the house. So many losses burst from that little neon green chick card.
But, these two pandemic years also featured people’s creativity and resourcefulness. Businesses instituted COVID safety precautions that allowed them to serve their customers and keep their businesses viable. Restaurant customers ate A LOT of take-out to help local restaurants to stay in business. We learned to conduct meetings and social gatherings over Zoom. People created socially distanced spaces to visit with family and friends. We held worship in parking lots, and via YouTube. Because of previous research on corona viruses and research on potential MRNA vaccines, we had vaccines available within a year. In Genesis we first know God as a creator that brings the world into being. Humans, created in the image of a creating God, are therefore creative beings. In times of loss and when feeling inundated by difficulties, we call on the deep well of God-given creativity to help us find our way through.
Tuesday, March 22
“When the Social Evaporated” by Rachel Pritchett
Life during the work week at Bethany changed almost overnight when COVID hit.
I was the office administrator then, and without a doubt, my greatest joy in the job was welcoming people. But now the church seemed cavernous, empty and still.
I missed the FFF gatherings most. I looked forward to moving the tables into place and getting the kitchen ready. I rejoiced when folks arrived with their steaming casseroles of lunch. I gleefully abandoned my workstation in favor of chewing the fat with everyone. And, of course, there were the programs that followed lunch, which gave me a unique opportunity to find out about the lives of my friends. How lucky was I!
There were the delivery people, hungry for human contact in their daily journeys on the road; the preschool students, parents and teachers; the painter; the landscaper; the maintenance person; the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the groups that rented space.
And, there were the members of Rachel Circle, who individually remembered to come back to the office window and keep me company, thankfully. They came on Tuesdays, as did the money counters, who lingered as well, which enriched my morning. Treasurer Jim Rohrscheib then swung by to count the counters’ work, and in the process made me an ardent Seahawk fan, even though I’d never seen a football game in my life. And on Wednesdays, it was the Altar Guild women, who made me part of their lunch and business meetings. The Bible study men and women filled the place with activity and warmth.
There were handyman volunteers who swung by my window to share every excruciating detail of the repair of the day.
There were the strangers, who were lonely and in need.
I had friendships with some Bethany members before I came to the job. But I made more, including Dorothy Webb. She was a lot like me – no nonsense, rather work-oriented. We immediately struck up a solid friendship. She taught me how to arrange flowers at a higher level and how to fold tablecloths correctly. She showed me how to improve my landscaping at home. Most of all, she showed me how to be retired in an effective way, something I had struggled with since I retired from my newsroom profession. We celebrated holidays together, as we shared the same birthday.
One day she called and said she was moving to be closer to family. I told her I’d visit.
That was the natural end of a friendship I’ll always remember and cherish. Dorothy knew a trip to visit her would be a stretch for me. She never called or wrote, and neither did I. It was understood.
I understand Bethany is now slowly returning to its new normal. Weekdays will fill up with people again. New friendship like mine with Dorothy’s will be forged.
So what I lost is now someone else’s to find. Thank God for His children.
Wednesday, March 23
Lost Sibling, Part 1 (Genesis 27:41-45; 33:1-11)
Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.
But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor. Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Thursday, March 24
“Finding our Place” by Sonja Selboe
Quite a few years ago, I struggled with the meaning of life. What is my place on this beautiful, blue globe? Do I matter at all? To my husband and my brood of four smart, active children, yes. Or maybe not. Surely, there’s more to life than one’s nuclear family. Surely, there’s more to life than the labor of managing a household. God saw my empty heart. “Come child,” she said, and led me to see the long chain of blessings that I and every other human child bestowed on each other. Blessings that came from long ago and that will continue long into the future. No matter how small. A smile, picking up an item that someone dropped and bending over was difficult for them. Helping a stranger in town find a location they were seeking. Helping someone with yardwork. Saying words of encouragement. Treating people who serve us with respect and the gift of a pleasant smile. Writing notes to people who are on your mind. I think of writing as a nudge of the Holy Spirit when someone thanks me because a note came at a necessary time in their life. I’ve received such blessing notes that made me weep. The blessings that we give and receive are part of a huge web connecting all humankind and enfolding us in God’s boundless love.
Friday, March 25
“Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling” Text by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and me. See, on the portals he’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. “Come home, come home! You who are weary come home.” Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, “O sinner, come home!”
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me? Why should we linger and heed not his mercies, mercies for you and for me? “Come home, come home! You who are weary come home.” Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, “O sinner, come home!”
Oh, for the wonderful love he has promised, promised for you and for me! Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me. “Come home, come home! You who are weary come home.” Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, “O sinner, come home!”
Saturday, March 26
“A Prayer for the Homebound” by Gail Christensen
In the days of the pandemic, I have found a new calling to be a connector with a few members who for one reason or another have not been able to come to church. I have the honor to deliver homemade goodies [I love to bake bread and cookies, but don’t need to eat them], church bulletins, give information about events, and have conversations. In return I receive blessings and a purpose to connect with others instead of being a recluse.
As one dwells on this solemn time of Lent, reflect on your life, your purpose here and now, and you may find a new direction. We have ‘lost’ ways we have lived, but ‘found’ ways to be creative, flexible and adaptive. Thanks be to God.