Lent Readings and Reflections 2024

Lent Readings and Reflections 2024

Easter Sunday

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.  
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 
John 20. 1, 11-17

Jesus, Son of God, no one believed that you would rise again;
not even your closest disciple, not even Mary Magdalene,
though you had told them often enough.
We don’t know when or how it happened –
when God’s Light pierced into the darkness of the tomb,
when his Life filled your body and his power moved the stone.
There you were – the Risen Christ – the same – but different, 
waiting for the weeping Mary to recognise you:  ‘Mary…’
And there you are still, in the Holy Spirit, for us today
waiting for us to recognise you, calling us by name.
‘My Lord and my God’ cried Thomas – as he saw and believed.

Almighty God and Father –
Jesus, Son of God – and of Mary –
Holy Spirit of God and Jesus –
We thank you with all our hearts
and we worship and adore you for ever.  Amen.

Saturday 30th March

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.  John 19. 38-42

It is all over.
‘It is finished,’ you said, bowed your head
and gave up your spirit. You were in perfect control.
You had been obedient to your Father, had been rejected,
humiliated and tortured by a slow, agonising criminal’s death
and had taken the weight of the world’s sin on to yourself.
You had done all that, because of your love for your Father
and your love for us. It was an act of atonement
which only you, the Son of God – could achieve for us –
at the cost of your ultimate suffering and death.
And now Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin
and Nicodemus, a Pharisee, both secret believers in you
gave you a dignified, if hurried, burial in a prepared tomb.
All is quiet… sorrowful… and dark.
It is all over…

The Light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1.5)

Good Friday

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. 
John 19. 17-22, 25-27

Dear Lord, we cannot imagine what it was like
carrying your own cross to your execution;
hanging there in agony secured by nails
piercing through your hands and your feet.
Yet we have to try because you did it for us.
Part of us has to die with you – the sin part;
We try to absorb your love for us,
the love you expressed from the cross for your mother.
We try to accept the forgiveness that your sacrifice means.
We can only gaze upon you with love and gratitude…
Give us the grace to stay here a while, taking it all in….

We may not know, we cannot tell what pains he had to bear
but we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there.

Thursday 28th March

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. 
John 19. 1-7, 16

Oh Jesus, your own people could not accept who you were;
the godless ruler of the province gave way to their demands.
You knew it would be thus – but did you not feel a failure?
No.  You had been true to your Father in every respect.
You had spoken his words, done all that he had told you to do,
and now you were prepared to offer the supreme sacrifice
of your life, human and divine, with all the physical,
emotional and spiritual agony that would entail..
You rose above the cruel flogging, mocking and spitting
and were perfectly confident in yourself and your death.
It had to be.  It was your Father’s will for you.
How obedient to your Father;  how courageous, how loving…
Jesus, help us to take it all in – what you did for us – 
May we live our lives in the light of your forgiveness and love.

The Jews insisted, ‘We have a law and according to that law
he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God

Wednesday 27th March

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ 
John 18. 1-5, 15-17

Jesus, you knew what was going to happen.
They came for you in the dark, with armed soldiers,
top Jewish officials and much noise and drama.
And you faced them coolly, calmly, without resisting.
‘Who are you looking for? I am he.’ No fuss. Take me…
But they had to treat you like a criminal, binding you
and leading you to the high priest, to be condemned.
Peter could not bear to be separated from you and followed.
But when recognised as one of your disciples he denied it.
Three times he denied knowing you.
Judas, unable to accept forgiveness, troubled you greatly.
Peter, who wept bitterly, you forgave.
Jesus, keep us from denying you when we are with unbelievers.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him,
went out and asked them, ‘Who is it that you want?’

Tuesday 26th March

But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.  John 16. 5-11

Lord Jesus, the disciples could only think of your leaving them;
they were filled with grief, bewilderment and a sense of loss.
But you looked beyond death to the joy of being
with your Father and to the next part of your Father’s plan –
sending the Holy Spirit to all who believed in you
that through him you would still be there for them
And not only to them but to all believers, the world over.
People would see themselves in God’s light, as sinners
but made righteous through your sacrificial death.
They would receive power to obey your command of love.
Lord, when we are confronted with death help us to see beyond
and when we have troubles help us to look above them, to you.
Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to us.
Now we can know you and know that you are with us always.

It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away the
Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you

Monday 25th March

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 
John 15. 9-15

Lord, you continue your teaching in the short time left to you.
This is the keynote to all your teaching – ‘Remain in my love.’
Help us to slow down and focus on your love for us.
We cannot easily understand or accept this kind of love,
that is so strong, so deep, so healing.
But if we can be open to you and respond, it gives life,
real joy, confidence and the knowledge of salvation.
But you don’t want us to just know your love for a moment.
You want us to stay close to you, breathe in your love
and give it out to each other.
We understand that this is not a choice.  It is a command.
Lord, we can only love like this if we remain in your love.
We must spend more time with you – and receive.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you

Sunday 24th March

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14. 1-6

Jesus, even in your own grief you comforted your disciples.
And you comfort us too. It was not the end of your
relationship with them and you are there for us too, in grief.
You know us, from the beginning of our lives to the end;
you know our failures, our losses of faith and our loves.
You know where we and those we love, will be right in heaven
and where we can grow ever close to our Father God.
But now, while we are still living in this world,
we know the way: -following you, who loves and cares for us,
believing in you who gives us the true way to live,
living through you and in you as the giver of life.
Other religions point the way to God as sovereign Lord
But 0nly you lead us to know God as our loving, close Father.

I am the way and the truth and the life.
 No-one comes to the Father except through me

Saturday 23rd March

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’  So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out.  And it was night.  John 13. 21-27, 30

Lord Jesus, the blackness of that night had begun –
with the betrayal by a friend which grieved you deeply.
You knew he would do it – yet you may have appealed
to him by offering him the bread. You wanted to save him.
You want to save everyone – each thief, betrayer, villain;
but Judas didn’t respond, though he might have done once.
Lord, however far we may ever go along the path of deception
give us the grace and strength to turn back to you.
You came in love to save us, to forgive us and befriend us.
You never let us go;  may we never let go of you.
And so Judas went off into the dark night.
And you voluntarily entered the darkness
and took it upon yourself…

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Friday 22nd March

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, 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.
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. 
John 13. 1-5, 12-14

Lord Jesus Christ, you were deadly serious now.
It was the night of your betrayal and you still needed
to teach your disciples a very important lesson:
That they, and all who believed and followed you  
were never to lord it over others but were to care
for each other, undertaking the most menial tasks
with their own hands – with love.
And so you, their Lord and Teacher, began to wash
your disciples’ feet – their dirty, sweaty feet –
 a job usually performed only by the most lowly servant.
You did it slowly, carefully, lovingly as an example.
Lord, never let us think we are more important than others
and never let us shirk from getting our hands dirty.

Having loved his own who were in the world
he now showed them the full extent of his love

Thursday 21st March

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
‘Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!’
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.  Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!’
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. The Pharisees then said to one another, ‘You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!’ 
John 12.12-19

Jesus, you made your entry into Jerusalem 
into a moment of glory, urged on by all the pilgrims
who were streaming in from the country.
Many would have seen you or heard about you in Galilee
and were excited to proclaim you as Messiah.
They were not the religious officials, but ordinary folk
who believed in you and rejoiced; and you  rejoiced with them.
But your disciples were puzzled. They believed in you
but did not seem to relate you to Old Testament prophecies.
The moment of human glory did not last long.
The Pharisees were waiting in Jerusalem,
dismayed at your popularity and planning to get rid of you.
You were challenging their teaching and traditions.
You were not the one they wanted as their Messiah.

Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey

Wednesday 20th March

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’  John 12. 1-8

Jesus, what a great meal that must have been:
For the family – a celebration for Lazarus coming back to life;
and a thanksgiving to you who had performed the miracle.
ut for you, Jesus, it was your last meal with these friends
and the knowledge that your death was very close now.
May’s act of extravagant devotion was very poignant to you,
expressing her love, her humility  and her abandonment of
social etiquette as she wiped your feet with her hair.
You linked it with your death and burial and it was all right.
Not so to Judas. But there is always the question:
Which is more acceptable to God – giving money to the poor
or spending it on something useless but beautiful  
to honour some person or special event?
You, who. cared passionately for the poor, felt that Mary’s use
of the very expensive perfume was beautiful and precious.

You will always have the poor among you
but you will not always have me

Tuesday 19th March

But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.  Romans 3. 21-26

Merciful Father, we cannot be confident in ourselves
 as we come before you – who are perfect goodness and love.
We want to be close to you – but we don’t feel good enough;
 and we want to do things our way rather than in your way.
We are not right in ourselves and we cannot seem to help it.
Amazingly, you want us to be close to you, to make us right.
We thank you, Father, for giving us your beloved Son
to come between us and you to atone for our sin
by the sacrifice of his human life.
We can be confident in ourselves now – ourselves in Jesus –
and through him we can feel confident about coming to you,
our God and heavenly Father who loves us for who we are.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Monday 18th March

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I 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 overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. 
Psalm 23

Father God, you gave this psalm to David for all of us,
especially when we can see no way forward, no hope.
You suggest that we quieten ourselves down,
~make ourselves still  – in order to be restored by you.
How often do we ignore this and go on worrying.
And when we are in the throes of grief you remind us
that you are surely there with us, walking alongside us.
You do not change what has happened – but in stillness
and quiet we become aware of your presence –
and see it all in your loving eternal light
which makes it not just bearable but somehow different.
You fill us with your joy – even in the midst of our troubles;
and your comforting love when we are feeling lost and alone.
You may even show us a way through – your way, not ours.
O Lord, help us learn to be still and quiet
and to know that you are God…

Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for you are with me…

Sunday 17th March

Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 
John 12. 23-33

Jesus, the hour had come …for you to die;
for the ‘Son of Man to be glorified…’
Glorified, in crucifixion…
You were facing a horrific death in all its agony,
but seeing it as an act of glory to your Father.
And that was what you wanted above all else.
As man you shrank away from it to your very core;
as Son of God you knew you could only go through with it.
Now your mind was fixed – not on the earthly agony –
but on the glorious resurrection beyond it.
Lord, may we follow you when we are bowed down in trouble
and look up through the darkness to you – our light.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. 
But if it dies it produces many seeds

Saturday 16th March

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 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 of him.’ 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, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’  John 11. 17-27

Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth,
you knew what your Father wanted you to do
though you must have wanted to go quickly
to your friends as everyone expected you to do.
But you waited. Lazarus died.  And even you were upset.
Martha was disappointed in you as well as upset.
Then you said those amazing words we hear
at every church funeral: ‘I am the resurrection…’
You raised Lazarus from death to demonstrate this.
You yourself revealed the resurrection after your own death.
Jesus, be with us as we grieve the physical death of loved ones.
But let us rejoice in our belief that you are the Son of God  
who will raise all who believe in you to new life – eternally.

I am the resurrection and the life. 
Those who believe in me will live, even though they die

Friday 15th March

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.’

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
    in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
    their drink-offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
    my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
    or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.
    In your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures for evermore. 
Psalm 16

Merciful and loving God, you are indeed my Lord,
my refuge, my joy, high above me, deep inside me.
‘You have assigned me my portion and my cup’
May I be content with my lot and feel secure in you,
never envious of others who are more successful than me.
May I set you before me at the beginning of each day
and trust in you all day long and through the night too.
‘You have made known to me the path of life’ –
following Jesus in love and caring for those in need.
Through Jesus I can come into your presence,
resting in stillness and quiet, knowing your joy within me,
knowing you, my God, my love, my life – now and eternally.

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge

Thursday 14th March

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10. 19-25

Heavenly Father, we are always thankful for Jesus –
that he was the sacrifice we so badly needed
to make us clean before you and know you as Father.
And yet, we sometimes still feel guilty about ourselves,
not good enough and hold our heads down instead of up to you.
Forgive us, Father that is not how you want us to feel .
Help us to grow in confidence, not in ourselves but in Jesus,
Help us to be absolutely confident that he opened
‘a new and living way’ for us to come into your presence,
to receive your love and know ourselves as your dear children.
And may our new confidence encourage our fellow Christians
as we meet together to pray and love and praise you.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith

Wednesday 13th March

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’
Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ 
John 10. 14-21

Jesus, you are our carer and protector
when we put our life in your hands. 
You know us through and through
and we can know you more and more 
if we love you and spend time with you in prayer.
You will never leave us or give up on us. 
And we must never forget that you gave your life – willingly,
for love, that we might be right with God.
Such love is beyond our understanding.
Help us to receive it, to accept it
and to hold up our heads and hearts to God,
who made us for himself and without whom
we are restless and anxious.
Jesus, I give myself -my whole self – to you,
who gave yourself for me…

I am the good shepherd…and I lay down my life for the sheep

Tuesday 12th March

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 
John 10. 1-10

Lord Jesus, forgive me for trying to ‘make myself right’
by ways other than through you:  by adopting the life-styles
of people I admire; by healthy diets, exercise, meditation;
they are good, but they are man-made
and cannot fulfil your permanent, eternal intention for us.
We cannot make ourselves ‘right’ through our own power.
Only you are the way, through our relating to you, closely.
You will provide what our deep inner beings yearn for:  
peace for our souls, joy of our spirit and the wonderful security
of knowing that we are loved, unconditionally, for who we are.
Jesus, help me to look to you, and you alone for real life –
life in its fullness – now and eternally.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…
I have come that they might have life and have it to the full

Monday 11th March

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.  God finds fault with them when he says:
‘The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah;

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.

For I will be merciful towards their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.’ 
Hebrews 8. 7-8,10,12

Lord God, you gave the Commandments and Law to Moses
that your people may live in love and obedience to you.
But the religious leaders began to add more laws
and it became impossible to keep them all.
At best they kept the letter of the law
and missed out on the loving spirit of the Law.
And their animal sacrifices did not bring inner purity.
You moved the prophet Jeremiah to tell of a change that was
coming that would bring about genuine forgiveness.
And that change happened – in the form
of the once for all sacrifice of your beloved Son.
You loved your disobedient people as much as that.
O Lord turn our hearts from hardness to love;
from independence to dependence on Jesus;
from discontent to praise and thanksgiving;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Saviour.

I will write my laws on their hearts.
I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more
.

Sunday 10th March

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’ 
John 3. 16-21

Lord God Almighty, our Creator, and loving Father,
You made us to live in a close relationship with you,
filled with your light and life and love – and  obedient to you.
But we broke away from you, lived in our own way,
and your world  became dark, its people  unloving.
But you still loved the world and held out your arms to us.
In Jesus, your beloved Son, you offer the way back to you.
Through Jesus and his suffering you open up the way of light.
O Jesus, come and be in our lives every minute of each day,
Gather us to you in love, forgive us for living in darkness
and bring us up into God’s light to live in his way, with him,
not only on earth but in heaven, for ever and ever.

In him was life and that life was the light of all people  (John 1.4)

Saturday 9th March

‘Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
    he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
    his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.’

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
    What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
    like the dew that goes away early. 
Hosea 6. 1-4

Lord God, as you called back your people Israel to you
so you call us back to look to you as our Lord and king,
to worship you and you alone and to obey you in everything.
But we are so weak and so influenced by others
that we slowly lose our closeness to you – and drift or sin.
Father God, we need you above anyone or anything else.
You gave your Son to us that we may be close to you,
our sins removed, our souls set free…
Jesus, open our hearts that we might know our need;
turn us away from all that holds us back.
Come to us ‘ like the spring rains that water the earth’
and bring us to a strong, close relationship with our Father.

Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears

Friday 8th March

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.  Mark 12. 28-34

Father, this first commandment is surely the basis
for all human life, setting everything in its right perspective.
For you are the source of our very being, of the whole world
and love is at our core and the way we relate to you.
You are love; when we receive your love we are fully alive.
Such love demands our all – our hearts, souls, minds
and our strength. The greater our love the greater our joy.
When I am caught up in your love it spills over to others
for you love them as you love me -even in our sin.
Such love – for you, for my neighbour, is of your kingdom,
the way your kingdom comes to earth.
Father God, turn my heart fully to you, that I might love
as Jesus did, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength

Thursday 7th March

He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’ As he was saying these things, many believed in him.  John 8. 23-30

Jesus, it is hard reading how you were challenged
by the authorities who could not believe
that you were the promised Messiah, the Son of God.
At that point you could only present your own challenge:
that unless they believed in you they would die in their sins.
And some did believe your words – but not the authorities.
After your death and resurrection many believed.
After your ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit
many more felt the power of God in their lives.
O Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, help us to be open to your Spirit
that we may show in our faces, our actions, our love,
that you are the Risen Lord who died for our sins
and gives us eternal life to be with you for ever.

You are of this world;  I am not of this world

Wednesday 6th March

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! 
Psalm 25. 1-7

Loving God, thank you for this psalm, written by David
when his life was in a mess and people were getting at him.
We see him rousing himself from any depression
and looking to you as his Saviour, his hope, the one he trusts.
He asks your forgiveness for his sins,
(what has he done this time?)
vows to walk in the ways you show him
and calls upon your mercy and love.
Above all he expresses his complete trust in you.
Jesus, never let us be ashamed to pray to you like this. 
However bad we have been, you are just waiting to forgive us
and restore us when we turn to you in penitence.
We thank you for your unfailing love.
Help us to trust you in everything as David did.

To you, O Lord I lift up my soul, in you I trust, O my God

Tuesday 5th March

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 
John 7. 37-41

Heavenly Father, do you really send your Holy Spirit to us?
Your Spirit was in all your creation and in the prophets of old
– in special holy people – but not in ordinary people – like us.
Your Spirit filled Jesus -your Son – and he fulfilled your will.
But we can never carry out your will perfectly;  
and we like to think we can live our way without your help.
Father, we are sorry; we do not deserve your gift of the Spirit
and we do wonder too if we have the courage to accept it.
But you sent your Son to be crucified that we might be
forgiven and live in the power of your Spirit.
Jesus, we come to you as we are – in our weakness and pride –
and ask you to send your Holy Spirit that you may live in us,
fill us with your love and light and radiate your presence
to those we meet in  our everyday lives.
Come, Jesus, come and live in us that we may live in you…

Whoever believes in me…
streams of living water will flow from within them

Monday 4th March

And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
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.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
Hebrews 4. 13-end

Father God, you know us as no one else knows us,
you know the secrets of all our hearts
and yet you still love us and just want us to love you back
Give us the courage to open ourselves up to you;
give us thankful hearts that you sent your Son to us
who looks upon us with compassion and understanding,
forgiving us and helping us to forgive ourselves.
Jesus, you faced all sorts of temptations
yet were so strong in the Spirit that you overcame each one.
Give us the humility and grace to be completely open to you 
and to receive your love, forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight

Sunday 3rd March

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body.  John 2. 13-21

Jesus, to you the temple at Jerusalem was a sacred place.
You called it ‘my Father’s house’, when you came as a boy
and had long discussions with the learned elders there.
Then the outer court of the temple would have been hushed
as gentiles came to pray – the one place they were allowed.
But now, that court was taken over by money changers
doing business, noisily, irreverently; no one was stopping them.
You were so angry that you forcibly drove them out
shockingly, righteously, flinging over their tables of coins.
You were angry on behalf of your Father – and the gentiles.
We sometimes think that anger is wrong;
but you showed us that it can be pure and right to express it.
Lord, when we are angry, give us the quick discernment
to know when it is right to express it – and then let it go…

In your anger do not sin. 
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry 
(Ephesians 4.26)

Saturday 2nd March

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. 
Luke 15. 1-7

Jesus, you mixed with all sorts of undesirable people
because you loved them and wanted to save them.
We don’t want our children to have ‘bad friends’
because they are not strong enough to resist their influence.
And we have friends and family too, whom we love
but who do not believe in you. And we grieve for them.
Give us the wisdom to pray as we try to influence
or persuade them – and the wisdom too to know
when we must just pray for them in faith.
And give us the sure knowledge of your presence in us
that they may want what we have – you, Jesus.
Thank you for your delight in saving even the most wicked.
Give us the qualities we need to help unbelievers turn to you.

There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent

Friday 1st March

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Happy are those who make the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
    none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
    they would be more than can be counted.
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God. 
Psalm 40. 1-5, 17

Almighty God, your hand was upon King David
from the time he was a young shepherd boy,
playing the harp and writing songs
to the time he was a great king over your people.
You were indeed his shepherd and his king
and he lived life to the full, ever praising you
and calling on you for help and guidance.
He loved greatly, he sinned greatly,
but repented deeply and was fully restored.
Above all he trusted you, as you long for your people to do.
O God, our Father, help us to love you and trust you,
to live in the fullness of life with joy and thanksgiving
and know the releasing power of your forgiveness.

Blessed are those who make the Lord their trust 

Thursday 29th February

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.  Jeremiah 18. 1-10

Sovereign God, you long for us to yield to you
so that you may work in us to become the best we can be.
You know we won’t get it right on our own.
You just ask us to turn to you and let you gently mould us,
making something new, something good from our mistakes,
something more beautiful perhaps than before.
Such was Jeremiah’s vision of the potter and the clay.
You are the potter, working and changing your plan for us
as we move toward you and as we turn away from you.
We are the clay; help us to put ourselves in your hands.

Can I not do with you as the potter does? declares the Lord

Wednesday 28th February

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’ When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ 
Matthew 20. 17-28

Jesus, did you not get frustrated that your closest disciples
just did not understand, however bluntly you put it? 
They could accept the nice part – that you were
a kind of king – and two of them at least wanted to share in
your glory with a place in your kingdom above the others.
But are we any better? We too jostle for status above others
ignoring the whole crux of your mission and message:
that you would let the sin of the world – our sin – crush you
to death, taking it on yourself before you rose out of it.
To share in your glory means to share in your suffering.
O Lord Jesus, help us to accept the hard part– to let you
take our sin away; to let ourselves be forgiven and  free,
to accept the suffering that being your disciple involves.

The Son of Man…came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many

Tuesday 27th February

It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.  And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.  So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’  Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’  He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. 
John 6. 63-end

Father God, you give us that other dimension of life,
eternal life, life in the light of your Spirit.
You give life through Jesus, through his words to us,
through his presence when we pray and wait in stillness.
But what can we do about our loved ones
who do not believe, who do not see life in your light?
We cannot make them believe;  but we can pray 
that you will call them and that they will hear.
We can pray that your presence in us may affect them.
Lord, give us your life – that we may share it with others.

We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God

Monday 26th February

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. 
Matthew 7. 7-12

Lord God, we worship you as our Father,
known, yet unknown, personal yet awesome,
powerful yet gentle – a mystery we cannot comprehend. 
You long for us to love you, as you love us
but you wait until we are ready, till we look to you.
Father, we want to relate to you, we really do…
We pray that we may ask you for the things we need,
seek you in everything, knock on your door
when we are bogged down or bewildered.
Give us the wisdom to repent of all that cuts us off
from you, to love and care for others as we would
like to be cared for.  Thank you, Father for your love,
unique, unconditional and so caring.

Do to others what you would have them do to you

Sunday 25th February

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’  He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’  Mark 8. 31-38

Jesus, you had to tell your disciples that as their Messiah
you would suffer, be rejected by the authorities – and die.
We don’t want to think of this any more than Peter did.
Yet this is what we are asked to do in Lent:
to realise that your suffering was for us – on our behalf
because of our sin, our ignoring of God, our wrong-doing.
O Lord, let us dare to face ourselves as we are,
our potential for evil – but also our potential for great good
when we live close to you – who died and rose again
and sends your Spirit to enable us to be close.

What good is it for anyone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Saturday 24th February

Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But I know him; if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’  John 8. 53-58

Jesus, Son of God, you came to the world to save it from sin
and many people, especially the humble, poor and powerless
loved you, believed in you and flocked to you for healing.
But those with power and status -many of the religious leaders
who were anything but humble – they hated you. 
They got at you, with malice trying to humiliate you.
You engaged with them, answered their questions truthfully,
referring to God as ‘my Father’, whom you knew, personally
 – unlike them, who did not have a real relationship with him.
Then – the ultimate claim – ‘Before Abraham was born, I am’ –
I am – the words God used of himself when speaking to Moses.
You were expressing the eternity of your being
and your oneness with God. That, to the Jews was blasphemy
and the punishment for that was death..

Who do you think you are?

Friday 23rd February

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.   For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against such things. 
Galatians 5. 16-23

Lord Jesus, you must have lived in the power of the Spirit
from the time of your baptism till the time of your death.
You faced and overcame temptations and when challenged
you gave very clever answers which produced silence.
You healed, did miracles and let yourself be killed.
You loved with the love of your Father; you did everything
in obedience to him, wanting only to speak and act in
accordance with his will for you.
Forgive us, Lord.  Some, at least of the sins mentioned by Paul
come upon us unbidden – and we cannot resist them
because we do not live by the Spirit much of the time.
Help us to pray for your Spirit at the start of each day
and so produce those beautiful fruits of love, joy, peace etc
Help us, Lord. We cannot do it in our own strength.

Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature

Thursday 22nd February

‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.  Matthew 7. 1-5

Jesus, you tell us not to judge others – but we do – all the time.
It comes naturally to us and it can make us feel better
to talk about the faults of others. How hypocritical is that!
Forgive us, Lord; only you know us through and through
and why we behave as we do. 
Give us the insight to see and accept ourselves as we are
but to want to become more like you.
Only you can judge fairly – but you came to save us,
forgive us, heal us and help us overcome our faults.
You came to make us fit for your kingdom.
Thank you, Lord, that you do not judge me,
Thank you that you love me into being more lovable.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged

Wednesday 21st February

To you, O Lord, I call;
    my rock, do not refuse to hear me,
for if you are silent to me,
    I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my supplication,
    as I cry to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
    towards your most holy sanctuary.
Blessed be the Lord,
    for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
    and with my song I give thanks to him.
The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

O save your people, and bless your heritage;
    be their shepherd, and carry them for ever. 
Psalm 28. 1-2, 6-9

Father, I call to you for help in trying to live
by your commandments – and failing miserably.
Especially I pray in my struggle to forgive
when it doesn’t seem fair or when there isn’t repentance.
I want to pay them back but in doing so I harden my heart
and if I don’t let it go that hardness spreads and my love fades.
Only you know the full story of those who hurt me–
and you love them and want to give them every chance.
Father, give me the grace to put them in your hands;
to pray for those who hurt me and leave it there.
You really are my rock, my strength, my shepherd
and you want only good for me – and for those who hurt me.

My heart trusts in him and I am helped

Tuesday 20th February

‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 
Matthew 6. 9-15

God, our Holy Father, we thank you for this prayer;
we thank you that we may call you Father as Jesus did.
It reminds us each day that we must pray for your kingdom
to become a reality in our world by carrying out your will
and living by your commandments.    
It reminds us too that we must – must – even against our will –
forgive those who have offended us deeply, hurtfully.
Only so will your kingdom come;
only so will we remain close to you. 
Lord, keep us faithful to this prayer
and faithful to carrying it out in our daily lives.

If you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins

Monday 19th February

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 
Matthew 25. 31-36, 40, 45b

Lord Jesus if I’d been there when you told this parable
I think I would have gone cold and deaf.
I try to be good and loving to those I know…
but I don’t personally know many who are destitute
or in prison, rightly or wrongly.
But – they are constantly on the news, there on the streets.
While I drive to the supermarket, they go to the food bank.  
While I eat with friends and am cared for by my family
they may be alone in a room they cannot afford to heat.
How can I ignore them?
You called them your brothers and sisters, whom you love
and with whom you identify…
Dear Jesus, enable us to see you in all humanity –
in friends, in strangers, in all in need, near and far.
Help us to care and love as you love.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me

Sunday 18th February

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 
Mark 1. 9-15

Jesus, Son of God, you came from heaven,
to save human beings from the sin
that casts a dark cloud over us and the world.
You were baptised by water and the Spirit,
and as perfect Man, human and divine,
overcame the temptations laid before you
by the prince of darkness, the devil.
Now you understand our temptations
and can give us the power to resist them.
As you took on and bore our darknesses on the cross
so your kingdom on earth began…
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, give us the grace
to truly repent and work for your kingdom to come
more fully in the world around us.

Show me your ways, O Lord and teach me your paths  (Psalm 25.4)

Saturday 17th February

After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ 
Luke 5. 27-32

Jesus, you genuinely loved people;
not always what they did but who they were,
especially those who knew that they were not good.
You saw what Levi could become
if he were given a chance, believed in, loved.
Jesus, I am often uncomfortable about myself;
as when I say polite things but do not think polite thoughts.
Let me know myself as you do and seek your forgiveness
and help to be genuinely loving, specially to the unloved.

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance

Friday 16th February

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. 
Isaiah 58. 6-9

Father, as I renew my prayer life
and my love for you so I must consider fasting:
Should I give up chocolate, wine? That might be hard…
though good for my self-discipline.
Or should I make it a priority to speak out against injustices,
give more to those in need,
share more with those who are less privileged,
care for the stranger who comes my way,
support my family in every way.…?
All that might be hard too…
I realise that I am not very good at self-sacrifice…
Lord, I come before you now, just as I am…
Tell me how I should fast this Lent.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear

Thursday 15th February

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, ‘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 he, the one who is speaking to you.’ 
John 4. 7-14, 25-26

Lord, we see you breaking through social barriers
to engage with a woman, an outcast, with different beliefs.
You speak directly to her hidden depths,
relating her need for the earthly water of the well
with her need for the spiritual water of heaven.
Give us a real thirst for your Holy Spirit
that we may see things in your light
and truly worship you in spirit and in truth.
May we know you as Christ, the Son of God,
as you revealed yourself to the woman at the well..

The water I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life

Ash Wednesday

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 Corinthians 5.17 – 6.1

Father, may this Lent mark a renewal of my faith;
that as a believer in Christ  I may reflect him to others
by letting his light in me shine out in my everyday life.
I will try to be more disciplined about my prayer life
spending more time listening to you, open and silent.
I want to renew my love for you and for my neighbour.
Help me to forgive when I don’t feel like forgiving.
Father, give me the grace to see myself as you see me,
to know my need of Jesus as my Saviour from sin
and to worship you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51.10)

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