Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem is ironic. The people want a king who comes with power to deliver them, but Jesus will suffer, be crucified and resurrected, which suggests a different kind of power. Jesus does not come to rule over people but rather to model mutual service with people. The story invites reflection on the reign of God and what it might look like.
As you pray this passage, imagine that you are present in the boat with Jesus and his disciples, endangered by the raging wind and waves of a storm. The boat is often depicted as a symbol of the church. As you pray with this text, think of storms that currently endanger your life and the life of the church and that threaten to undo us.
On the heels of his baptism, Jesus faces diabolic temptation in the wilderness that tests his mettle for the ministry before him. None of the temptations the devil sets before him have ignoble ends in view — daily bread, the good of nations and victory over death all are worthy goals. But each temptation entails selfish manipulation rather than service to the glory of God. Jesus models service to others, refusing to give in to the diabolic temptation to serve himself.
For the next three days, we will pray with Scripture that can help us reflect on our graced histories — that is, on your personal history of light (special experiences of God’s presence, love and justice), your personal history of shadows (doubts, questions, reflections of brokenness and sin), and your history of light out of shadows (compassion and insight out of pain and disorder, isolation).
The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin are powerful stories in and of themselves, but the context in which they appear is also important. Jesus tells these parables in response to grumbling about his hospitality to sinners! How might these parables prompt reflection on our own perception and reception of sinners? How might they bring to our awareness that within each of us that is lost?
Psalm 46, one of the most beloved of the Psalter, inspired Martin Luther’s celebrated hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It articulates deep trust in God amid turmoil and chaos — realities with which we are all too familiar in our current historical moment. There are many ways to pray with this psalm.
The first biblical text for our Lenten journey is Psalm 51, which is traditionally read on Ash Wednesday. Psalm 51 is striking not only for its honesty about sin, but also for its confidence in God’s merciful love amid the brokenness in our lives and in the world. The psalm is a prayer – a penitential prayer – and you are invited to pray Psalm 51:1-10 in a translation of your choosing.