Februaey – 2018

First Thursday, Feb 1 (Isaiah 40.28-31)

Feb 4 – Thirsting for God
We read in the Psalter (Psalm 42.1-2, NRSV):
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

(+) The Good News as recorded in the Fourth Gospel (John 4.3-21, 22-26, 28-30, NRSV):
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” – although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee, but he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship…neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship…in spirit and truth…God is spirit, and those who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am [the one]…”

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.

Prayer: “God of life, shower us in your living water, bringing us to new life, fresh and clean. Walk with us as we share the knowledge of your living water with others…Amen.”

Feb 11 – A Miracle Mindset
Helen Keller counseled:
“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”

(+) The Good News as recorded in the Fourth Gospel (John 9.1-21, 24-25, NRSV):
…[Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of [the One] who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The [religious authorities] did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

Prayer: “God of miracles, sometimes we are slow to believe in your power, even when your miracles happen all around us each and every day. Open our…hearts to believe. Amen.”

Ash Wednesday, Feb 14 – Affirmation
F. Bernadette Turner wrote:
“Affirmation-prayers can be successfully used in building a rich consciousness. They help you vitalize your words and feelings in communicating with Cosmic Center because they are strong declarations of your beliefs. Affirmation prayers have a tonic-quality. These prayers as mantras add a variation to your prayer-method. Affirmation prayers are an investment, enriching your consciousness and making life less forbidding in disquieting times.”

We read in the Psalter (Psalm 23, NKJV):
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[God] makes me to lie down in green pastures [and] leads me beside the still waters.
[God] restores my soul;
[God] leads me in the paths of righteousness…

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayer: Good Shepherd, we trust you to lead us, guide us, and provide for us. With you we find serenity, courage, and hope. You help us see and seize the possibilities in life. We continue to move forward assured by your constant care. Amen.

Feb 18 – Renewal
(+) The Good News as recorded in the Fourth Gospel (John 11.1-7, 11-14, 16, NRSV):
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory…” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

The Story continues (John 11.17, 20-29, NRSV):
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask…

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah…”

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.

The rest of the Story (32-44, NRSV):
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping…he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the [onlookers] said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “[God], I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Prayer: “God of new life…renew and restore us…[May we leave] in the [tomb] all that prevents us from loving you fully. Amen.”

Feb 25 – Do Something
Arthur Caliandro wrote:
“Worry is one of the greatest momentum blockers…Yet when we confront worry, it vanishes and frees us to move ahead. How can we give up worrying? One effective approach can be found in a simple two-word formula…Do something! In other words, take action. When we take action – the earlier the better – we nip worry in the bud…A wise person once said to me, ‘Why worry when you can pray?’ This thought can bring calm…So, the…steps I’ve found that really let us move ahead despite worry are: First, do something. Second, hold the immobilizing worry up before a higher power. This two part strategy embodies a wonderful internal balance…of action and contemplation. In my experience, it’s a combination that works.”

(+) The Good News as recorded in the Fourth Gospel (John 13.1-15, NRSV):
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the [next]. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. [Schemers] had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that [he] had [been] given all things…and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Prayer: “Holy God, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as a sign of service and compassion. Show us how to live in service and with compassion, for the sake of all your children. Amen.”

 

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