Palm Branch Meditation: Palm Sunday 2021

During the season of Lent, my husband, Pastor Patrick Sipes, will be our guest blogger with a series of tactile meditations exploring Sunday’s Gospel text. He is currently serving as the transitional minister at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska, and will be inviting congregation members into these meditations in worship. May God bless you as you explore Scripture through Prayer.

“Palm Sunday” by Bennilover on flickr.com

For this meditation you will need a palm branch. If a live palm branch is not available to you, you could cut one out of green cardstock or paper. There is a good template for one here: https://coloringpage.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/pabch.pdf

Today is Palm Sunday, on this day, Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem as a king might be. With no hesitation, animals are lent to him, crowds of people come out shouting in victory, and the road is strewn with palm branches and cloaks, a sign of honor for the one who is coming. It is quite the scene and sounds quite the alarm for the political and religious elite in Jerusalem. For them, Jesus represents a threat to their existence and way of life. For them, Jesus is someone who must be dealt with, quickly, dramatically, and publicly. Over the next week, we will take time to remember these events, to reflect on where we see Jesus as savior and where we fear Jesus as a threat to our own way of life. But for today, we join the crowd, we take our palm, and we join the throng.

As the day begins, Jesus sends a couple disciples on a mission to collect a mount for him to ride on. Telling the disciples if anyone questions you, just tell them that the Lord has need of it and will send it back later. And it works. As you hold your palm, contemplate for a few moments what you have that Jesus might need or use for his mission in the world.

(Spend a few moments in reflection.)

Knowing that you will get them back when he is done with them, offer these things for Jesus’ use when he asks for them in the future.

As the parade continues down the mountain side to Jerusalem, the crowds shout Hosanna, which means “Save us.” As you wave your palm, bring to the place of your meditation the places in your life where you need Jesus’ saving, and contemplate what that really looks like to you.

(Spend a few moments in reflection.)

With the places where we need Jesus in our lives and on our hearts and minds, we say to him Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!

As they approached Jerusalem, people laid their cloaks on the ground, and spread palm branches on the road, a sign of deep respect and honor. As you lay your palm on your lap, bring to the place of your meditation ways in which you might show honor to Jesus in the coming week.

(Spend a few moments in reflection.)

Knowing better what you need to lay down for Jesus to show him honor, ask him for help with doing so in the coming week.

Let us now enter into this Holy Week, aware of God’s connection to us, and walking through it at Jesus’ side. Amen.

If you would like to explore this text as a family devotion, check out my post for Lent in a Dish 2021 on Family God Time: https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2021/03/25/lent-in-a-dish-2021-week-6-jesus-is-welcomed-to-jerusalem/

Lent 2019 Resources

CAUTION_LENT IN PROGRESS

Are you ready for a new season?  I know that I am!  Spring may still be a few weeks away, but a new season in the church, Lent, begins on March 6th with Ash Wednesday.  The Tri-Saints Worship and Music Committee, confirmation students, and I have been hard at work getting fresh, new resources ready for you, and wanted to give you a place to find all of our great resources for all ages and stages.  Check it out!

Handheld Prayers

What does a jingle bell, click pen, stone, binder clip, paperclip, warm fuzzy, and quarter have to do with quiet prayer?  On Sundays in Lent, Quiet Lent Prayer Practices will return with all new Handheld Prayers.  Our Handheld prayer satchels will contain five small objects that fit in our hands and remind us in a small, everyday way of the many options we have when we open the conversation to God in prayer.

JINGLE BELL:  Praise https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/handheld-prayers-praise/

STONE:  Confession https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/handheld-prayers-confession/

Head and Heart Verses

One of the promises of God in the prophet Jeremiah is this: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).  During this time of growth in discipleship, we will take one of the verses of Paul’s letter to the Romans as a conversation partner and work to write it, both on our minds and our hearts.  Here are the verses we will focus on:

Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/lenten-bookmark-reflection-romans-323/

Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/lenten-bookmark-reflection-romans-58/

Romans 6:1 “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  Be no means!”

https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2019/03/12/lenten-bookmark-reflection-romans-622/

Romans 6:22 “Now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God…the end is eternal life.”

Romans 8:25 “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 12:5 “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Sunday Season of Hope:  LWR Personal Care Kits

We continue our habit of the past several years of gathering items for Personal Care Kits for Lutheran World Relief.  Please bring these items to your church in Lent; the Sunday School children and Confirmation youth will assemble them on Easter morning.  Items needed include soap, bath towels, wide-tooth combs, and nail clippers (we have plenty of toothbrushes from previous years).  Please consider giving out of your abundance to those who would consider these items a true miracle from God.

https://lwr.org/personal-care-kit-assembly-resources

Prayer Experiences:  The Lord’s Prayer

What do name tags, colored pencils, Mission Possible Cards, Tickets to Heaven, play dough, dissolving paper, crocheted labyrinths, and glow bracelets have to do with prayer?  Our confirmation students have been studying the Lord’s Prayer since Christmas, and are excited to share several prayer experiences exploring the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer with you over the course of our Lenten Midweek services.  They will also be sharing their gifts of music throughout our midweek gatherings.

Ash Wednesdayhttps://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/lords-prayer-station-1-child-of-god-nametags/

Lord’s Prayer 1st Petition:  :  https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/lords-prayer-station-2-names-for-god-praying-in-color/

Wednesday Midweek Offering:  Area Food Pantries

The Parish Council has decided to designate our Midweek offering to our three county food shelves.  Although we usually think of hunger during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the need persists all year.  Please be generous in obeying Jesus’ command to feed our hungry neighbors, right here in our community.

Dive Deeper Lenten Study:  Romans

The subject of our gatherings during Lenten midweek this year is Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  This letter is a treasure trove of some of the deepest truths of our Christian faith, and also can be one of the most confusing.  As we prepare to dive deeply into this beloved book, I offer the following passage for us to Dwell in this month:  https://pbsipes.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/saved-in-hope-dwelling-in-the-word-march-2019/

If you prefer a weekly study, this is our Lenten Devotion Book from ReFrame Media:

https://pbsipes.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/pauls-letter-to-the-romans-dive-deeper-lenten-devotions/

May God strengthen us during this season of deepening faith and discipleship!

 

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Dive Deeper Lenten Devotions

vippen by theeden

This year during Lenten Midweek services, we will be diving deeper into Paul’s Letter to the Romans from the Bible.  I found a bunch of great resources to study this letter from ReFrame Media, and you can find each weekly devotion here:

Ash Wednesday:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/we-need-a-savior

Lent 1:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/hopeful-thanks

Lent 2:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/united-with-christ-2014-10-26

Lent 3:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/life-in-christ

Lent 4:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/suffering-versus-glory

Lent 5:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/beloved-2005-12-29

Palm Sunday:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/transformation-information-2009-03-01

Good Friday:  https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/joumou-soup

 

If you would like to download the whole thing as a booklet with included coloring meditations, pick up a copy at church or find it here:  Devotion Book Reframe Media

Saved in Hope: Dwelling in the Word March 2019

hope by colouredglass

Romans 8:18-30 (NRSV)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

  1. What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? What do I have questions about?

Whenever I am studying the letters of Paul, I find it helpful to break it down into small chunks, sometimes even into just words or phrases.  What words or phrases tug at your ear, your eyes, your heartstrings?  One sentence in this passage that I have always had a hard time with is in verse 28:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”  It is especially hard to believe in this statement when someone we know and love is going through a rough patch.  Where is the good here?  Why can’t I see it?  It reminds me of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and his great capacity for forgiveness to his brothers.  Where do I find good, in the midst of sorrow?  Where is the light of Christ, when all seems dark?

  1. What delights me in this text? What is my favorite part, and why?

My favorite phrase in this passage was first introduced to me as a song:  “The Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words to express” (vs. 26)  This expression of the Spirit as a sigh connects to my practice of yoga as a prayer practice.  The entire practice, including the super-bendy, more challenging movements, are animated only by breath.  We breathe in, and ask the Spirit to fill us.  We breathe out, and ask the Spirit to move us.  Sometimes, our ability to put experiences into words fails us, and it is helpful to me to know that the Spirit moves with me, speaks for me, when the end of my words has come.

  1. What stories or memories does this text stir up in me? How does this story connect to the story of my life?    

Lent is a perfect season for the practice of hope, as we see in verse 25:  “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  It is hard to be patient for spring, for warmer temperatures and melting snow, for new life and the flurry of activity that that entails.  My patience has certainly been tried on multiple occasions this past winter, and I am reminded in this verse that patience and hope go hand in hand.

  1. What is God up to in this text? What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?

This passage is one of the most important things that Paul ever wrote.  How is it speaking to you, during this season of deepening faith and discipleship?  I pray that it may come to be your friend, if even in tiny doses, as we dwell in this Word together over the next month.

In Christ, Pastor Breen

Heart Promise: Dwelling in the Word March 2018

2d6d5967df1ff37995b9e5c09132055d

This year during Lent, our readings from the Old Testament will focus on the five covenants, or promises, that God made with the people of Israel before the coming of Jesus.  Each covenant makes a shift in the people from past to new future that reminds us of our baptism.  This is the fifth covenant, which God makes as a future promise to Israel.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (New Revised Standard Version)
31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Devotional Questions from the ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about?

What delights me in this text?  What do I like about it?

What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  You might remember a time when you learned something by heart, or suddenly remembered something that you had learned by heart in time’s past, for example. 

What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?

Rainbow Promise: Dwelling the the Word February 2018

This year during Lent, our readings from the Old Testament will focus on the five covenants, or promises, that God made with the people of Israel before the coming of Jesus.  Each covenant makes a shift in the people from past to new future that reminds us of our baptism.  This is the first covenant, which God makes with Noah after the flood.

 rainbow near finland by lyza by nc sa 2.0

Genesis 9:8-17 (New Revised Standard Version)

8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Devotional Questions from the ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative:

What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about?

I do not like flooding.  When my family and I lived in central Pennsylvania, flooding was an almost yearly reality.  The thing about flooding that I especially did not like was the anticipation.  When there is a tornado or snowstorm, it happens, and it is over, and then the clean up begins.  With flooding, you know that it is raining, and that it is going to flood, but you have all sorts of time to think about it, to watch it rise, to endure it, and then to watch it slowly sink back away.  It is an extremely helpless feeling, and a reminder that, ultimately you have no control.  I am challenged by the story of the flood because I know the dread that I feel in relation to flooding, and I can’t imagine having to endure a world-wide flood, especially in response to the sin of others.  I wonder how Noah’s family endured such a difficult thing.  Did it draw them closer to God?  To one another?  Did they learn that they had strength beyond what they had imagined before?

What delights me in this text?  What do I like about it?

When we lived in central Pennsylvania, most of the flooding that occurred was because of hurricanes on the coast.  As nasty as the rain, wind and flooding were, my favorite days of weather were always the day after a hurricane.  The morning would dawn sunny and clear, the air would smell clean and fresh and new, and it seemed like anything was possible.  I wonder if that’s how Noah and his family felt when they were finally released from the ark.  Were they relieved?  Did the world seem fresh and new?  Were they ready for a new start?

What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  You might remember a time when someone made a promise to you, or you made a promise to someone else, for example.

This story reminds me to take the time to look around.  To see the rainbow, or the sunrise, or the beautiful configuration of the stars.  I am reminded to listen for the cry of the hawk, or the rushing of wind through the trees, or even the sound of sheer silence, when it feels like even nature is holding its breath and listening for God to speak.  God spoke to Noah through the rainbow, and I wonder what it was like to remember God’s voice, God’s promise, living through the flood, each time a rainbow appeared after a storm.  What was it like to be God’s people of the rainbow promise?

What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?

I am looking forward to walking with you through these promises of God during Lent this year.  Together, we will remember the rainbow (Noah), the stars in the sky (Abraham), the Ten Commandments (Moses), the bronze serpent (Moses), and the law on our hearts (Jeremiah).  Together, we will listen for God’s voice calling us to baptismal remembrance.  Together, we will discover God’s call for us, here and now and in this place.  As always, I am looking forward to discovering what this old, old story has to say to us.

In Christ’s promise,  Pastor Breen Marie