Tag Archives: Maryland

Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. John 13:34

My first thought (and second and third): “Oh my – I’m being asked to act like Jesus!  I’m not sure I can do that.”  Yes, the bar is quite high when we are asked to be like Jesus – maybe even out of sight.  But God would not ask us to do something for which there is no purpose.  Even if we can’t meet that standard and love one another, we might just find things in others which are good and pleasing.  We might just be better people – and likely closer to God – if we TRY to love one another as Jesus asked.  These are times in which there is so much pressure to look for the worst in others; clearly Jesus wants us to look not for the worst, but for the best – to be the best kind of people we can be.

Prayer: God, I know I am limited in what I can see in others, but help me to seek the best in them and help my eyes to see it.  Help me to understand that others might just need for me to show a little love toward them and make their day a little more bearable.  Perhaps they’ll even “pay it forward” and show a like kindness to someone else, making your world a little better. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Roger Stenersen

Wednesday, April 17,2019

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

We have a “great cloud of witnesses” in the prophets, the apostles, our pastors, and our forerunners here at St John’s. Miss Jane Martin entitled her video history of St John’s Church, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.” Those who came before us here at our church ran their race and left as evidence our buildings, our stained-glass windows, various other memorials, and a living church for us.

The writer of Hebrews suggests that we should not concentrate on those past heroes of our faith, though, but that we need to fix our attention on Jesus who ran this Christian race and set our goals.

We run the race for eternal life, the prize that is already won for us, keeping our mind on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” In the running, we become more like Jesus. Even though we never reach perfection, we are improved by the striving.

Jesus endured death on the cross to pay for our “sin that clings so closely” to us. He knew that after His glorious resurrection, His victory over sin and death, He had a place reserved in heaven beside the Father.

At the end of our successful race through this life, we have a place reserved in heaven, too! In John’s gospel (John 14: 3), Jesus promises, “…I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.”

Prayer: Father in Heaven, You sent Jesus to us and a great cloud of witnesses pointing to Him. Guide us as your church to remember our past and to plan for the future with stewardship. Lead us to serve people now and to keep a church here for future generations to gain more witnesses for You. Amen.

Tom Hefelfinger

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1: 18

Have you ever had a civil conversation about religion with an atheist? Most I have met want something that can be proven by science. For me, the proof of intelligent design is comparing an atom to the solar system. The basic design is similar if we look at the sun as a nucleus and the planets as electrons spinning around the center. I have yet to convince anyone, but it does give them something to think about and I keep trying.

The resurrection of Jesus is an even harder discussion. I’ve heard it called a myth and arguments it was a hoax. At this point there is usually some eye rolling, head shaking, and scoffing on their part, but I smile and explain the message of salvation and love. Thankfully, most do agree on the “do unto others” message.

In this verse, Paul is comparing the believers to the non-believers of Christ, although his letter was referring to the Greeks and Jews. They could not believe someone would be foolish enough to follow a man who was executed for his teachings in the shameful way of crucifixion.

But those of us who believe know that through this suffering our sins are forgiven. Because they are forgiven, we strive do better in our lives to live up to those expectations. And even though we all stray, because we are sinful people, God still forgives us because of our belief in Jesus Christ. The true power of the story of the cross is ultimate forgiveness.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your forgiveness and let our faith never waiver when we are faced with adversity and judgement. Help us to respond calmly and with grace when our beliefs are challenged. Put kind words on our lips during difficult discussions, no matter the topic, and help us find peace with those around us. Amen.

Emily Boward

Monday, April1 15, 2019

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

I like The Message’s version of this verse:

“Be a guest room where I can retreat; you said your door was always open! You’re my salvation my vast, granite fortress.”

No matter how hard our lives can get, we need to remember that we have a haven to retreat to. In these times, we need to lean on God the most.

Be to me a strong fortress. What is a fortress? A fortress is a strong building that is impossible to get into. Think of God as our fortress. His stability is impossible to break. When we feel weak or need strength, we know we can look towards God to be or strength as he cannot be broken.

Over time our bodies may grow frail, but our confidence can become sturdier: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.” We can trust that when we cry out and ask the Lord for healing, he always hears our prayers.

Prayer: Lord, be my rock and my fortress. When I am struggling, comfort me. Remind me to retreat to you in the good and bad times for you are my salvation. Amen.

Allison Keller

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19: 39,40

The Pharisees were not bad people. They were learned, and above all obeyed the law. They were politically correct, and they feared the Romans. And the Romans were wary of a Jewish uprising.

Now here comes Jesus, a man they revered as a Master and Teacher, parading through the streets proclaimed loudly by a multitude of followers to be THE Messiah!
Just not the Messiah they had imagined. He was riding a donkey instead of a stallion, and there were no legions of angels to drive the Romans out. They missed the allusion toward a heavenly kingdom.

Shhhhh! Please keep them quiet! Make them stop, the Romans will hear! Nothing good can come from this. There will be repercussions. Don’t make things worse for us!

They missed the Messianic announcement. In response, Jesus declares the impossibility of containing the proclamation. Even if all His followers could be kept silent, all of creation would still feel the effect of His coming as foretold in the scriptures.

He is here. Jesus, the Messiah, has arrived.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, as we celebrate this Lenten season, help us to understand, and not miss your message. Give us loud voices to declare and spread the Word of your amazing grace as we wait for you to come again. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

David Russo

Friday, April 12, 2019

Cast your cares upon him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Anxiety is a struggle every day. Some may struggle more than others, some may just mask it better. I don’t know anyone, including myself, who hasn’t laid awake in bed some nights or every night for that matter, thinking about the next day, week, year and even the past. Things as simple as… Did I lock the front door? What are we going to have for dinner tomorrow? Where is my cell phone? I need to schedule the car for an oil change. To more pressing things such as… What bills are due? How will I speak in front of everyone? My promotion depends on it. And serious issues… How will I take care of my elderly parent/grandparent? My sick kids? What happens if I get sick, too?

I’m a list maker, organizer, analyzer, and a repeater. I go over and over things many times in my mind, replaying scenarios with all the outcomes I can think of. I tend to dwell on things too, things that have already passed, thinking, “I could’ve done that better, I could’ve been better.” “How can I do better, for next time.” I’m pretty sure I drive everyone in the household nuts! I find myself singing with Elsa, “Let it go! Let it go!” to give myself some solace. Why am I telling you this? Because it is okay to admit our mistakes so that we can repent them. It is okay to ask for help when your inadequacies get in your way. It is okay to not be perfect.

In 1 Peter 5, God wants us to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Being humble is casting your cares onto the Lord. Not wanting acknowledgment or reward. The risk of not being noticed or looked down upon.

The reason Peter deals with anxiety is because, he is dealing with the problem of humility, as we all do, every day. But God wants us to have faith that he will lift all of the resistance. In 1 Peter 8, we read, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The anxiety we feel every day isn’t our own. We are not alone in this battle. God wants us to let him take the burden, He LOVES us! So “Cast your cares upon him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Prayer: Dear God, let me lift all my anxieties up to you, for you are the only one who can relieve me from them. I pray for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, that you may give us all the humility and grace that we so desperately need. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen

Kristen Kessler