30. LET HER ALONE

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Monday, March 29th

Read Mark 14:1-9.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.
Mark 14:6

“Why was the ointment wasted in this way?” the disciples asked. While they were sharing a meal with Jesus, a grateful woman came to him with a jar of costly ointment, broke it open, and lovingly poured it on his head. Of course, some of those gathered around the table immediately questioned her extravagant actions! The ointment was expensive, and Jesus clearly wanted to help the poor and feed the hungry. The ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. From what we know of Jesus’s life and teaching, I would ask the same question!

What might we learn from this short passage? First, Jesus tells his friends to let her alone, which reminds us that we are not to judge or criticize others. He goes on to say that she has performed a good service for him; she has anointed him ahead of time for his burial. In this, we are reminded to refrain from making assumptions and to be mindful that there is usually more to the story than we observe. Finally, even as Jesus held his deep concern for the poor, perhaps he knew that her need to serve him was the greater need in that moment. We are reminded that Jesus knows our greatest needs more than we do.

Today, our spiritual invitation is to Let her alone – but with a different perspective.

Let’s imagine that Jesus is telling us to let ourselves alone. We can be our toughest critics at times, can’t we? Yes, we are imperfect, often broken, but we are always beloved, just as this woman was. When we have failed in some way, we are invited to repent (in order to heal and grow), but we need not remain critical of ourselves. We can be grateful to be forgiven as we strive to do better. When we make mistakes, instead of assuming all is lost, we can trust that God will bring a deeper meaning and perhaps even greater good from them. There will always be more to our story. And when we feel helpless to address the great needs of our world, we can let God use what we can do – our small acts of lovingkindness – to make more of an impact than we might imagine.

~~~~~

Today, let’s walk as beloved children of God, doing the best we can with what we can, trusting that Jesus is using us for good in all things. God will guide, forgive, and love us through each moment. We can learn to let ourselves alone – because we know that God won’t!

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be John 14:1-27.

Photo by Oshin Khandelwal on Unsplash

Bible verses found at BibleGateway.com

29. LET US BE JOYFUL

THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
March 28th (PALM SUNDAY)

Read Luke 19:35-42.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Psalm 5:11 (NRSV)

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:8 (NRSV)

But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.
Psalm 68:3 (NRSV)

As we enter into Holy Week, our inspiration focuses on the Lets of Jesus. We will look at the incredible ways Jesus let God’s will be done – as he approached the cross of Good Friday.

The events of Palm Sunday are perplexing, aren’t they? We begin to envision this day as one of great joy and victory for this lowly king, as the people welcoming his entry into Jerusalem praise him with palm branches and strewn cloaks. Then we remember that Jesus knows the rest of the story. He has already told his followers several times what was to come. And in verses 41-42, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, for he sees how the people are missing his purpose and the “things that make for peace.” This day encompasses so much of what is in store for us this week – as we move between joy and sorrow, praise and lament, hope and despair.

But on this day, Jesus chooses to let the people be joyful. Jesus accepts the joy of his triumphal entry even as he knows that terrible days are coming. Sometimes I wonder if this day was a gift for him, as saw how the grateful crowd had been touched by his love, his teaching, his healing; their adoration could confirm that his life had been worthwhile, that he had blessed God and done all he could. And yet, knowing Jesus, we understand that this procession was not about his glory or recognition, but about giving his people a time to hope, to be joyful, and to celebrate. He brought them joy and he received their joy during this one momentous occasion. He let them be joyful.

Jesus does the same for us today. He wants to give us us an abiding joy for all of life. Jesus promised his disciples – and he promises us – his constant companionship and the joy that comes from our relationship with him:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~ John 15:9-11 (NRSV)

We know what the future days hold for Jesus. But in this present moment, may we find joy and gratitude for all he has done in our hearts and lives. We do not know everything our future holds. But we do know that Jesus will remain with us, share his love, and bring our joy. Let us be joyful!

~~~~~

May our praises ring out today, as we stand in the presence of Christ – the One who brings our joy, shares our joy, and is our reason for joy – today and every day.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Mark 14:1-9.

Photo by Levi Hernández on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

28. LET US HOLD FAST TO OUR CONFESSION

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, March 26th

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.

Hebrews 4:14 (NRSV)

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23 (NRSV)

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”*

This well-known expression has been said during challenging times to inspire and encourage people to keep trying, to not give up, and to remain tough. At the time this letter to the Hebrew people was written, Jewish Christians were being badly persecuted for their faith; the going WAS incredibly tough. But instead of imploring them to remain tough and keep up the fight, here the writer encourages the Hebrews to hold fast to their confession.

In fact, earlier in chapter 4, he is calling the people to keep the practice of sabbath rest – to cease from their labors and enter into the rest of God. He reminds them that the practice of sabbath rest is a sample of the eternal rest in the goodness of God they will enjoy one day. These are great words of comfort and hope for those who were facing hardship, persecution, and even death because of their faith.

When do we need to hold fast to our confession? I find it easy to confess my faith through my written or spoken words when life is good, when I am among like-minded people, when blessings abound. But if trials come, or my faith and integrity are challenged, or if I were to be criticized or threatened (as the Hebrews were), I need to hold fast to that confession. I must cling to my faith as my stronghold and rest in the goodness of God.

Imagine ourselves floundering in a sea of trouble. We may thrash, yell, swim, tread water, fall below the surface, gulp for air, struggle, become exhausted. Jesus offers us his life-saving help, reaching out and calling us to take his hand. As soon as we take hold, we can stop floundering and rest. We allow Jesus to pull us closer, out of the waters, into his arms. Every morning during a particularly difficult time in my life, I sat on the edge of my bed, held out my hand, and asked Jesus to hold it and go with me through the day. That ‘holding fast’ helped me to cope and to hope.

If we read on in chapter 4, we are assured that we can come with boldness to the One who has ‘passed through the heavens’ and has experienced and endured as much or more than we ever will. We can rest in the One who sympathizes with our weaknesses and showers upon us mercy and grace to help in (our) time of need. Christ Jesus knows and understands our struggles very well. And he reaches out his hand and invites us to hold it fast.

~~~~~

May we hold fast to our confession of everything we know of Jesus and need of him – especially our love for him, and his for us. He who has promised is faithful. In him, we have our stronghold for every trial.

~~~~~

There will be a daily devotional for all of Holy Week. Our reading for Palm Sunday will be Luke 19:35-42.

*The original quote has been attributed to several people, including John F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy, and Knute Rockne.

Photo by Roan Lavery on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

27. LET US LOVE

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Thursday, March 25th

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
1 John 3:18 (NSRV)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7 (NRSV)

Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NRSV)

Very early in our relationship, I knew I had deep feelings for Jim but I was nervous about sharing them with him, wondering how he would react. But one day I was overwhelmed with affection, and I asked him, “Is it okay if I love you a little bit?”

Our spiritual invitation today is to Let us love. We are called to love others with an agape love, a love that is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.1

Maybe the secret to loving greatly is by loving in little bits. Jesus loved the world, but most often he reached out with love to one person at a time. I found some thoughts on agape love that speak to this idea of loving in small ways…

~ “Agape’s object is always the concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. Love of humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging.” ― Peter Kreeft, ‘Love’, ‘Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics’, 1988.  

Isn’t this so true? Oh, we can sincerely pray for, care about, and suffer with all of humanity. But loving the individual is more difficult, more demanding of us. We grieve for the two million people worldwide who have died from this pandemic, but our grief becomes raw when we hear the personal stories of victims or lose a loved one ourselves. We donate to World Hunger, but hesitate to feed the man on the street corner. I speak and write to support LGTBQ students, but I hesitate to offer a much-needed support group for them. Loving others on a personal level requires more of us.

~ “Just as God, above all, is free of every need and self-interest, the spiritual man who has the Spirit struggles and becomes perfected in the love according to Christ, love that is delivered of all need and self-interest.” ― John Romanides.

Loving generously comes easily when we hope to be loved in return. Our loving acts may even be an effort to persuade someone to like us or do something for us. When we love others with agape love, we love with no expectation, no self-interest. We then love better, because we can love with the right amount of love to make good differences in the lives of others. We love best when we can reach out but also know when to leave alone. Help but not enable. Care but not smother. Raise up and let go. We love with a selfless love that is not about us, but genuinely about the good of others.

 “Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy. Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love. Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful. Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful.” ― Rob Bell.

There are people we find so easy to love, and there are those we find difficult to love, even a little bit. We are called to love the undeserving, the difficult, the enemy, the one who hates us. These are the ones we try to convince ourselves, “don’t even matter to us.” They matter to God. They matter to God as much as we matter to God. We learn to love them with agape love, when we realize that we are “little bits” greatly loved by God, too. God’s love is what makes us worthy and beautiful. Sharing God’s love will offer the same for others.

~~~~~

May we remember all the ways Jesus has loved us greatly, by loving us with every little bit. May we then share that love with everyone – individually, selflessly, and graciously.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Hebrews 4:14 and 10:23.

1What Does Agape Love Really Mean in the Bible? (christianity.com)

Quotes found at 30+ Best Agape Love Quotes About Unconditional Love by Kidadl

Photo by Will O on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

26. LET US NOT GROW WEARY IN DOING WHAT IS RIGHT

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Wednesday, March 24th

Read Galatians 6:7-9.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right,
for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)

Sydney Harris was my favorite newspaper columnist when I was a young adult. I have an old book that contains the best of his “Strictly Personal” columns, but I treasure one particular story:

“I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the newsstand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn’t even acknowledge it.
“A sullen fellow, isn’t he? I commented. “Oh, he’s that way every night,” shrugged my friend. “Then why do you continue being polite to him?” I asked. “Why not?” inquired my friend. “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?”
As I thought about this little incident later, it occurred to me that the operating word was “act.” My friend acts toward people; most of us react toward them. He has a sense of inner balance lacking in most of us frail and uncertain creatures: he knows who he is, what he stands for, and how he should behave…1

I imagine we have all asked ourselves at least once, “Why do I even bother?” We enthusiastically teach a class, then at the end of the year discover how little the students learned (or cared). We keep offering to help a neighbor, but our help is never accepted. We ask for forgiveness but receive only silence. We long to befriend someone but it is not returned. We clean up trash along our road, but soon more trash reappears. We do our best to bring good to our corner of the world, but see no lasting results. Are we making any difference at all?

But Jim has a similar story with a different ending. On his early morning walks, he greets a gentleman who sits in the low light of dawn to have a cigarette. For over a year, the man had never replied, but Jim continued to be friendly. Then one day, the man returned the greeting! Since then, the gentleman has introduced himself – and his wife – to both of us! A new friendship has been formed.

Let us not grow weary in doing what is right. Let us keep doing all the good and right things we can, leaving the results to God. Let us keep doing what is right through our calling and our desire to become more Christlike – even if for that reason alone. We may never know what good might come when we do what is right, but we are blessed in the doing, in the integrity of spirit that comes from living this way.

And Jesus will help us to not grow weary. Hebrews 12:3 reminds us to Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. Jesus knows how we feel. Jesus has experienced frustrations, futility, and even hostility for doing what is right. We are in good company with the one who can help us endure and continue.

~~~~~

May we not grow weary in doing what is right, but ask the Spirit to help us persevere, trust that Jesus goes with us, and let every action demonstrate our gratitude to God.

~~~~~

Our readings for tomorrow are 1 John 3:18 and 4:7, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

1Harris, Sydney J. The Best of Sydney J. Harris. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976. Print.

Photo by Wan Chen on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

25. LET OUR GENTLENESS BE KNOWN TO EVERYONE

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Tuesday, March 23rd

Read Philippians 2:1-11 and 4:5.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus
Philippians 2:4-5 (NRSV)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5 (NRSV)

To gentleness belongs ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation,
and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger,
but free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquility and stability in the spirit.
~ Aristotle

Today our spiritual invitation is to Let our gentleness be known to everyone. Gentleness is a sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.1 Why is our gentleness essential as we seek to show and share the love of Christ Jesus?

Gentleness is not timidity or weakness; gentleness is built on inner strength and love. Our gentleness comes from centering ourselves in God, trusting we are infinitely beloved, and finding an inner strength to withstand hostility, insults, criticisms, or blame from others. When we are wounded, we need the strength of the Spirit to keep from wounding back; to respond instead with grace, mercy, and dignity. Gentleness is choosing to act with the “sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior” that comes from our love for God and humanity.

The gentleness of Jesus in the Philippians 2 passage helps us understand why he was so compelling – why people were willing to drop everything and follow him. Jesus emptied himself, looked to the interests of others, and only sought to humbly and obediently serve God and God’s people. This sense of gentleness and acceptance in his presence certainly beckoned people to come and follow him.

Today I fondly recall a small chapel on the campus of Lourdes University, a Franciscan university sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. Portiuncula Chapel is modeled after the 12th century chapel in Assisi, Italy, in which Francis received his first followers. When Jim and I lived in the area, we loved to go to the chapel for prayer and reflection.

The quiet chapel rests at the back of the campus, humbly welcoming guests to come inside and pray, light a candle, kneel at the altar rail, or sit and reflect. As soon as we entered the door, we were embraced by a warm, sacred, cloistered atmosphere. We were comforted by the soft fragrance of burning candles. We were hushed by the dim glow of lamplight and the reverence of lingering prayers from those who had been there before us. I have found that even without intentional prayer, my time in the chapel brought great peace and stillness to my soul.

When we are gentle in spirit, we become like this chapel – a haven of peace and stillness. Our gentleness makes us more approachable, less intimidating. Those who have been wounded themselves will find in us a safe sanctuary where they are received with kindness and invited to drop their burdens. Standing in the strength of God, we become both the refuge and the open door. In us, people will see the Christ who welcomes them in, embraces them in warmth, comforts their wounds, and provides sanctuary for their souls.

~~~~~

May we Let our gentleness be known to everyone, as we trust that Christ Jesus warmly welcomes us into his presence and grace. Our Lord is near.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow is Galatians 6:7-9.

1Gentleness Definition and Meaning – Bible Dictionary (biblestudytools.com)

Photo by Reign Abarintos on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com

24. DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON OUR ANGER

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Monday, March 22nd

Read Ephesians 4:22-32.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger
Ephesians 4:26

I wish I could wrap up all my concerns at the end of the day and place them into God’s care. I would sleep much more soundly, wouldn’t you? God also wants this for us. All through the Bible we are invited to trust God instead of holding on to worry, fear, guilt, resentment, or yes, anger. These issues are hurtful to others, but they hurt our own souls as well. God is ready to help us with our anger and other provocations.

What an inspirational message this chapter from Ephesians holds for us! Our spiritual invitation for today is “do not let the sun go down on our anger,” but there are three other LET verses that clearly contribute to this instruction. Let’s look at the other Let verses in this passage for some other helpful suggestions. We will also look at the helpful verses Paul then uses to close out the passage.

~ So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another (verse 25). 

Today I am moved by the word, “speak” in this verse. There have been a few times when I have shared concerns or dismay with another person through a text, note, or an email. Seldom has this communication gone very well. It takes courage to speak directly with someone about a disagreement or an issue, but when we share an honest and humble conversation, take time to listen and clarify, watch facial expressions and nonverbal gestures, we communicate so much better! And if we can hold this posture of “we are members of one another” we can approach our disagreements with mutual love and willingness to work together.

~ Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil (verses 26-27). 

Jesus was angry at times. We also can claim that righteous anger to stand against wrongdoing, oppose injustice, or fight oppression. We are right to be angry when we have been hurt or mistreated. This verse reminds us though, that we are not to cling to our anger. When we do, we “make room for the devil.” When we cling, we allow ourselves time to fester, then plot a retaliation, think of a perfect retort, or decide to have nothing more to do with someone. When I hang on to anger, my soul becomes more distraught, my wounds grow deeper, and my recollection of the hurt becomes exaggerated. Today we are reminded to address and work to resolve our anger as soon as we can.

~ Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy (verse 28). 

I can easily assume that those of you who are reading this today do not steal. You probably strive to work for an honest living and to share with the needy. But as we consider this verse for our own instruction, we know that some thievery occurs as people struggle to survive without the opportunity for decent education or employment. I wonder how much anger and resentment could be diminished – in both the thief and the victim – if we all worked for the betterment of one another.

~ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear (verse 29).

Words have an incredible power to hurt. I imagine we all have heard words that we will never forget – words that have pierced our souls and left sensitive scars. May we ask the Spirit to guard our tongues, to pause our replies, and to grace us with mercy, compassion, and tenderness in our thoughts and words. May our words heal rather than wound, comfort rather than harm, soothe rather than irritate.

~~~~~

Finally, may we let the Spirit guide us to: Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you (verses 31-32). Amen. May this be so.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Philippians 2:1-11; 4:5.

Photo by Karen at Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Bible verses taken from https://classic.biblegateway.com/

23. LET US BUILD UP ONE ANOTHER

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, March 19th

So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all,
and especially for those of the family of faith.
Galatians 6:10 (NRSV)

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Romans 14:19 (NRSV)

What should be done then, my friends?
When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. 
Let all things be done for building up.
1 Corinthians 14:26 (NRSV)

These three verses are all parts of larger passages that describe how we are to build up one another. In Galatians, Paul is instructing the people (and us) to help one another especially in times of trial or sin – to not judge, to be gentle with our words, to regard ourselves with humility, to bear one another’s burdens. Romans 14 addresses the issue at that time of what food was acceptable to eat – what was forbidden and what was holy. Paul tells us not to judge others by what they eat, not to cause another to stumble, and to remember that the kingdom is more than food or drink; the kingdom is righteousness and peace (17). And in 1 Corinthians, he is actually talking about the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues but also warning of its shortcomings. He invites us all to share our unique spiritual gifts and together, build up one another.

Our spiritual invitation for today then is to Let us build up one another. I don’t find this very timely for today, do you? 😉 Dear goodness, we can so easily become divisive over any number of issues in which we disagree! I am a bit relieved and comforted to know that people were divisive back in Paul’s time as well.

Perhaps it is human nature, but we know it is not the nature of Christ Jesus. As his followers, we are called to a higher nature. We are called to build up one another – even when we disagree. We are meant to live as a faithful community of people who love, uplift, and regard one another in such a way that others will be drawn to Jesus. How might we do so?

Paul gives us several instructions to help foster our mutual upbuilding. We are to be gentle, humble, gracious, compassionate. We are to pursue and regard the gifts of the kingdom over the laws of the religious. We are to share what will bless and not burden. All of these have a connecting quality – that we see one another as equals; equally broken, equally blessed, equally beloved. We will all stumble at one time or another. We will all need a helping hand. Let us offer the good help, the uplifting word, the tender kindness when we can.

~~~~~

May God let us build up one another today. May we refrain from judgment or ridicule, and strive for grace and compassion. May we refrain from petty quarrels, and strive for the joy of the kingdom. May we refrain from reacting in anger, and strive to speak the truth in love.

~~~~~

Our reading for Monday will be Ephesians 4:22-32.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Bible verses taken from https://classic.biblegateway.com/

22. LET US PERSEVERE

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Thursday, March 18th

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 NRSV)

I needed this reminder to persevere this Lent. The year of isolation and distancing are weighing on me, even as we begin to see more vaccinations and less cases of COVID. We recently canceled our family vacation for the second time, we are still grieving the loss of a loved one, we are still concerned about another, and we really miss our community of family and friends.

Does it seem to you that the waiting gets more difficult, the closer we are to the end?

These passages are tough to heed these days. I am weary of persevering, of “producing endurance.” But today I wonder if our perseverance serves as a profound witness and visible example of our faith for others. Does our continued hope and optimism bolster someone else’s faith journey? When we persevere, are we helping someone else do the same? And at the end of the day, despite the hardships, are we more blessed to have continued on, to have made the most of this precious life we have been given? Yes. We know all of these to be true.

More and more, I find that we need God’s help through community in order to persevere. Years ago I ran a 10K race, determined to complete it in under an hour. Oh, I did the training, I paced myself, I did what I could to succeed. But I know that I never would have persevered without the help of others! Along the way, volunteers handed out cups of water and cheered us on. At one tough hill, a high school band played upbeat music. The runners in the lead encouraged me on. There was a crowd waiting at the end to welcome us across the finish line. But the ones who blessed me most were the ones who fell behind; they never looked deterred, but only determined to finish. One of my friends proudly exclaimed, “Someone has to come in last!”

Our spiritual invitation for today is to persevere – and to persevere in helping one another to persevere! Does someone you know need a bit of encouragement today? Who might appreciate a note, a call, a text? Do you need encouragement to persevere? We can always count on God’s help, but is there someone you need to ask for help – someone God can use to help you? Perhaps in the asking, you will be blessing, too.

~~~~~

May we let God strengthen and encourage us so that we may continue our journey with perseverance and endurance, and may we help and support one another all along the way.

~~~~~

Our readings for tomorrow will be Galatians 6:10, Romans 14:19, and 1 Corinthians 14:26.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Bible verses are from https://classic.biblegateway.com/

21. LET DOWN OUR NETS FOR A CATCH

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Wednesday, March 17th

Read Luke 5:1-11.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
Luke 5:4 (NRSV)

Today, we are invited to Let down our nets for a catch. We are invited to spread our souls out and let God fill them with all good things… except we are not to cast them into our usual places. We may be even invited to put out into deeper water. Where might Jesus be calling us to drop our nets? What new and surprising places might he have in mind for us? What good things will we discover there?

In this story from Luke, Jesus was surrounded by crowds “pressing in on him.” When he saw two boats on the shore, he climbed into Simon’s boat and asked him to go out on the lake so he could teach from there. When he finished, he surprised Simon by instructing him to go into the deeper water and put his nets down. Simon had been fishing all night long and had caught nothing! Jesus’s words did not make sense to Simon, but he must have sensed that Jesus was to be trusted, and so he obeyed. He and the fishermen caught so many fish that Simon fell to his knees! From that moment on, Simon Peter and his partners followed Jesus.

Today let’s consider how we might move into deeper water in our relationship with God in Christ, whether through prayer, worship, contemplation, journaling, study, or service. How might Jesus be calling us to spend time with him in new ways? Have your prayers become stale, rote? These months of social distancing from one another may cause us to feel separated from God, too. For many of us, our way of worshiping has changed significantly. Are you finding new ways to spend time with God and others? When you cast out the net of your soul, is it being filled with all of the goodness of God?

Our invitation for today is to change our way of drawing near to God, especially if we have been merely skimming the surface or wading in the shallows. Changing our routine can refresh our souls, our outlook, and our perspective. We can try a meaningful prayer practice, begin a new spiritual book, praise God as we walk outdoors, create a cozy corner just for prayer, or listen to inspirational music or podcasts. We can even reposition ourselves through our approach – through our spirit – by letting our guard down, changing our expectations, or silencing our requests.

Like Simon, we may have our doubts about moving into deeper waters, and we may feel a bit of uncertainty and discomfort. What do these feelings reveal in us, teach us? How are we being stretched? These revelations can also be embraced as gifts of discovery as we move more deeply into God.

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God is always at work within us. God always wants to fill our nets with abundant goodness and love. Today, let’s ask God to show us where and how we are to cast our nets. When we eventually draw them in, may we glean all that is nourishing, worthy, and fruitful, as we thank Jesus for calling us into deeper waters.

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Our readings for tomorrow will be Hebrews 12:1-2 and James 1:2-4.

Photo by Romain HUNEAU on Unsplash

Bible verses taken from https://classic.biblegateway.com/