Devotionals for the Season of Lent, 2017
 
Below you will find daily devotionals for the season of Lent. These devotionals are also available in print form.
Thank you to all members who were very gracious with their time, open and willing to become vulnerable, and able to dedicate some time and thoughts to writing these beautiful devotionals. May you be blessed with these wonderful inspirational stories and devotionals written by your FUMC Taylor family members, as they share their God stories with you. May these Lenten devotionals help you to have a joyous, meaningful, and growth-filled season as your journey moves closer each day to Holy Week and ultimately Easter.  May the Love, Peace, and Grace of Christ journey with you this Lenten season and beyond! May we firmly hold on to our faith and the hope that binds us in the power of the resurrection. 
 
Welcome to Lent 2017! Rev. Sela Finau
 
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History
 
Lent  is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. The First Sunday describes Jesus’ temptation by Satan; and the Sixth Sunday (Passion/Palm Sunday), Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion and death. Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent is usually tempered with joyful expectation of the Resurrection.

You are invited, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; by worship, reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

 
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Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Prayer

We praise and thank you, Lord, for the gift of your victory over death, for the gift of holy awe that comes upon us as we enter into our Easter joy. Christ has passed from death to life, may we always know you as our way through the desert and wilderness, our food and drink as we hunger and thirst. You are our safe passage through treacherous waters and the home that awaits us at the end of all our journeys. In our doubts and in the pressures of our busy lives, we seem to lose you. Help us remember that you are always with us and that your way is always before us, we have only to pay attention to hear you call us by name. Teach us to recognize you in one another and with deep gratitude continue to bear witness to the life and hope with which you sustain the world. Amen.
 
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Day 40: Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 40: Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017
Rev. Sela Finau
The Breath of God
 
Scripture: Genesis 1:2 (NRSV)
The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Devotion: As we journey through life, we encounter multitude of people. Some we quickly bond with and embrace. Others we simply do not know how to connect with, nor do we make an honest attempt, and we simply walk by and pretend they are not within our sight. Some we admire and long to imitate. Others we wish they would change their way of life. Some we welcome into our homes. Others we simply ignore and secretly do not invite. What would Jesus have done? I think we all know the answer to that question. Yet, many times, we do the un-Jesus thing of doing only what is comfortable, of doing only the popular things, of doing only things that will benefit us. As the season of Lent comes to an end, and we look forward to Easter, pause for some time to reflect on what Jesus had done. In our popular culture, we rush from Good Friday to Easter without serious reflection. Pause for a moment and be in silence. Take a deep breath in. Pause for 5 seconds. Breathe out. Repeat it for several minutes. 5 minutes. Feel and hear your breath. The breath of life. Give thanks, for it is the basis of all things, from the beginning, from Creation, to the life of Jesus, and to our own breath and beyond. Feel the presence of God. Feel the breath of God.

The Hebrew word ruach could mean wind, spirit, or breath. Recall the Genesis story of how the earth was formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while “the breath of God” swept over the face of the water. This day, Holy Saturday, is such a day for me as I reminisce of what it must have been like thousands of years ago. Yet, just as the Book of Genesis tells the story of creation, that “the breath of God” swept over the face of the water, so it must have been that the breath of God was also present this day, with Jesus. Meditate on that story a while, not just today but throughout your journey in life.

Prayer: Creator God, remind us daily to walk as Jesus walked, to reach out to those in need, and to stop for a moment to greet a ‘stranger’ who may simply long for a smile or a reason to grin. May the gift of breath that is in us empower us to do the unpopular things. May we, instead of wishing for someone else to change their way of life, may we be humble enough to offer ourselves in service and to let the experience transform us. May we be reminded of the love of Christ. The breath of Christ. May the breath that is in us remind us to enjoy in all its fullness the complexity and simplicity in life, and everything in between, enjoying all of creation. May the gift of breath within ourselves move us to become that wind of God and sweep over the face of the earth. May we be reminded that the breath of God, your breath God, is always present. Amen
 
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Day 39: Good Friday, April 14, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 39: Good Friday, April 14, 2017

A Good Friday Prayer for Meditation

We praise and thank you, Lord, for the gift of yourself on the cross. On this somber day of remembrance, as we contemplate Christ’s suffering for us, help us find meaning in the wounds we endure and in the travails of the world you created. You have called us to accept our common mortality, and to serve one another in love, keep us firm in our faith as we are called to suffer for others. You have called us to keep telling the story of your salvation in the unjust and violent world we live in, help us see past the limits of our vision to your limitless love, which transcends death. In the prophecies, gospel stories, and witness of scripture may we always find consolation and hope, never faltering in our certainty that you are the God of a kingdom of justice and the author of everlasting life. Amen.
 
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Day 38: Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 38: Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Maundy Thursday Prayer for Meditation

“MAUNDY” is derived from the Latin word for commandment, “mandatum.” It was on this day that Jesus gave his disciples what he called a “new command”: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus imparts his understanding of this commandment by instituting the Eucharist. In John’s Gospel he demonstrates it by washing the feet of the disciples. We will receive the sacrament of Holy Communion on this sacred day.
 
We praise you, O Lord, for your gift of Christian community, and we thank you as we humbly, and with reverence, celebrate Christ’s initiation of our communal Eucharist. May we never fail to be grateful for the diverse people who make up the body of Christ, and sustain our faith in each other at times when we disagree. In the face of disappointments and betrayals keep us thankful for the new commandment Christ has given us, and help us to better love each other as he has loved us, with a sacrificial and unconditional love. As we struggle with doubts and fears, help us to trust that you will always provide the nourishment we need. We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
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Day 37: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 37: Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Rev. Sela Finau
 
Foot Washing
 
Scripture: John 13:5-8 5 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. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
 
Devotional: A few years ago when I was a student at Perkins School of Theology@SMU, we had a foot washing worship service. I was intrigued by what this service would offer since I had not experienced one prior, so between classes I attended this service. I was surprised to see that many of my professors and the Dean were present. I thought to myself, “Oh this would be interesting.” When it came time for the foot washing ceremony, we simply got in line and made our way forward. There were two basins of water and clean towels for the two lines we formed. The person in front of me would wash my feet, and I in return would wash the person’s feet that was behind me. The person in front of me was one of my professors. The experience played out in my mind that this professor was my teacher and was similar to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus had set an example for his disciples to follow.
 
Yet, so many of us would probably feel uncomfortable in carrying out Jesus’ teaching literally. Foot washing was a sign of hospitality in the ancient world. The host provided water and cloth, and then the guests washed themselves or allowed a servant to wash them. Jesus’ point of foot washing was serving one another out of love. He called his disciples to a deeper level of love, humility, and service. Jesus calls us to love him and be willing to serve one another with humility and complete love.
 
In this season of Lent, may we humble ourselves as Jesus did and offer hospitality and love to others by serving them.
 
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your gift of love and service. Continue to teach us your ways so that we may also do likewise. Amen
 
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Day 36: Tuesday, April 11, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 36: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Rev. Sela Finau
Global
 
Scripture: Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament[a] proclaims his handiwork.

Devotion: While in seminary I worked at nights, and before you start wondering “what kind of job?” I will soon explain. Needless to say, working at nights had not always been a pleasant experience, especially working 12-hour nights and being up for more than 24 hours at a time. That is never good for the body, mind, and spirit. Nevertheless, that had been my work schedule for about 5 years. I had to find employment that would work with my seminary school schedule. How I managed seminary work, work in a church, and that overnight job was beyond me. That is one of those things I consider a God thing.

In any case, I realized early on, working in the financial industry specifically a brokerage firm, that while America slept, the rest of the world was awake, from Asia to the Pacific to Europe, and that we were all connected in this global network, financial or otherwise. That meant that what happened around the world affected the U.S., and vice versa. I thought what happens to us as individuals and a people affects God.

One of the benefits of having worked from evening till dawn (7 to 7) was that I was privileged to see many sunsets, sunrises, endless clouds and skies in incredibly astonishing colors and forms. Each time I saw it, whether I was on my way to work or on my way home, I was always in awe of the beauty of creation and how fortunate we are to be given the opportunity to witness the splendor and magnificence of this world that we live in. Since moving here to Taylor, I have enjoyed the sunsets. I pondered on how amazing it is that we’re all connected to the sun and endless clouds in the skies, giving us a glimpse of God’s glory.

I am reminded of how humanity seem insignificant in the midst of vast stretches of the cosmos and time and space. I thought about how we’re all tiny specs in this big cosmos, but I am always comforted in knowing that God takes notice of us and journeys with us each and every day and watches over us whether we’re asleep or awake.

Prayer: Creator God, we give you thanks for all of creation, and we give you thanks for the gift of life. This Lenten season, a time of self-reflection, a time of growth and renewal, open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts, so that we may live into what you have created us to be. Amen
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Day 35: Monday, April 10, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Week 7
Holy Week

Day 35: Monday, April 10, 2017
Rev. Sela Finau

Prayer

Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 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.

Devotional: Many people are not comfortable with public prayer. One reason is that they were never taught how to pray. Even the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. He, then, taught them the Lord’s Prayer. But prayer is more than a formatted prayer. Prayer is not simply asking. Prayer is not a monologue. Prayer is more than a conversation. Prayer is also listening and putting ourselves in the hands of God at God’s disposition, and listening to God’s voice in the depth of our hearts.
 
I am reminded of the five finger prayer, the easiest way to remember who to include in our prayers.
  1. The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you.
  2. The next finger is the index or pointer finger. Pray for those who teach you and points you towards God. This includes your pastor and teachers. Always keep them in your prayers.
  3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the President, Congress, State and Local Officials. Also pray for world leaders. They all need God’s guidance.
  4. The fourth finger is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those afflicted with problems. They need your prayers.
  5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.

Prayer: God, continue to teach us how to pray and who to pray for. Amen

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Palm Sunday Prayer for Meditation

Eternal God, today we are filled with high energy as we celebrate with joy your triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Yet that same joy quickly turned to pain. May we be reminded that while our emotions can quickly change, your faithfulness and love remain true. May your giving of your life inspire us to give ourselves for others. When the struggles of life seem to remove our hope, may you give us the strength and courage to continue on. Amen



Day 34: Saturday, April 8, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 34: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Rev. Bob Walker
 
Love Like This
 
Scripture: “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.” John 15: 12-13 NRSV
 
Devotion: I have sat with a war veteran and allowed him to cry like a baby when remembering those with whom he served who did not come home alive. When called a hero he invariably answers, “I am no hero, those who gave the last full measure are the heroes.” Now most of us will not be asked to give up our lives for Christ, but He asks us every day to live our lives for Him and only Him! Jesus asked us to love one another and by that love the world would know we are His. Do you love the world? Not just your neighbor, which may be hard enough depending on who your neighbor is. But do you love the one who runs all the way down the line in the right lane and then cuts in front of you after you’ve sat there a long time waiting to make your way? Do you love those who are not so love worthy? We cannot do this unless we know that Jesus first loved us. It is because we are loved that we can love. And we must remember that Jesus does not ask us to feel warmly predisposed toward the other, just to do what is in his/her best interest. Love your neighbor (all folk) as He has first loved us.
 
I don’t know about you, but I do not deserve the Love of God that Jesus has for me! I never served in combat so I do not know the love of one who gave his live for me except for Jesus. And then there are those who love me in spite of myself: my mom, my wife, et al. Makes me feel humble. If God loves me like this surely I can try to love that one too!!!
 
Prayer: For your love we give you thanks, O Lord. Now, let us pass it on. AMEN.
 
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Day 33: Friday, April 7, 2017, #Lent Devotion

Day 33, Friday, April 7, 2017
Rev. Sela Finau
Companionship
Scripture: Luke 24:13-15, 28-29 13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.
 
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.
 
Devotional: There are times when we all long for the companionship of Christ. When we are facing some deep loneliness that seems to darken the brightest day, some great sorrow that has broken our heart and changed our lives, or some heavy burden that comes through no action or fault of our own. At times like these we long for the presence of the one who speaks our name, understand our plight, and can break the hold of loneliness, sorrow, despair, and burdens we bear.
 
There are other times when we are at the peak of our powers and all is going well that we want someone to walk with us, to share the challenge, excitement, and reward of the path we have chosen. We desire a companion who can appreciate the challenge and victory of life in the days when all is well.
 
There are still other times when we need a companion to whom we can say thank you. There are those times when we are overwhelmed with gratitude. We know that the goodness we enjoy is not just the result of our good work but that someone else had a hand in our well-being, comfort, and success.
 
At times like these it is good to remember that the risen Christ walks beside us—awaiting our invitation to stay with us, break bread with us, interpret life for us, give us hope, and share in our thanksgiving.
 
As we continue with our walk this Lenten Season, may we, like the disciples before us, have our eyes opened to recognize Christ as he comes to walk beside us this day.
 
Prayer: Oh God, forgive us when we fail to recognize you, when we fail to recognize you in others. Continue to walk with us and help us to see. Amen
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