Easter Resurrection

Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb. 1638. Rembrandt.

Opening
Living Lord,
Let the light and hope of this day
Seep into every part of us.
We are longing
for the hope we know in You.

Reflection
The events of this week,
and if we are honest,
the events of so many weeks
have taken their toll on us.
Make us aware of your presence
with us right where we are.
Shine your light on us
and renew us
through your Living Word.

Invitation
As you read the scripture,
observe how Jesus is present to Mary.
What do you notice about their interchange?
If you wish, prayerfully imagine you are there
and Jesus meets you in the garden
calling you by name.
How does your conversation go
on this Resurrection morning?

Scripture: John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 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. 13 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.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 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.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Prayer Response
Risen Lord,
Thank you for the way
You see us and know us.
Nothing is hidden from you.
You know our doubts and fears
our griefs and sorrows.
You meet us right in the midst of them
just as you met the disciples
in the midst of theirs
on resurrection morning.
What good news this is for us,
Giver of Life.
May the truth of this
fill us with your deep abiding peace.
As we each hear you call our own name
may light break forth like a brilliant sunrise
within us.
May joy arise as a fountain deep within
as hope becomes reality.
Yes, shadows and death are still to be found
but they do not have the last word.
You do!
We don’t go it alone,
we have You!
Because of You we know true life..
Because of You
everything is different.
Make us ever mindful
of the hope, joy, strength,
love and life within
because You live there with us.
Christ is Risen, Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Amen.

Copyright © 2020, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Holy Saturday

Opening
Today I remain quiet. Grief is ever present. I meditate on all that has been.

Reflection
Holy Saturday, often overlooked, is a holy day, it is when Jesus lies in the tomb. Darkness and grief, doubts and questions, wailing and morning fill this day for Jesus’ followers. Look at the depths Jesus goes to, to enter the darkness for us, even a tomb. There is nothing He does not know. There is no place his love does not reach.

Invitation
Read the scripture through a few times. Imagine yourself in this story as an observer. What would it be like to watch all this unfold? How deep is the grief of all. Allow yourself to pause where you are drawn.

Christ with Joseph of Arimathea. Girolamo Savoldo / Public domain

John 19:38-42
“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.”

Prayer Response
Oh Lord, this day…
This day is filled
with gut wrenching grief
And heart shattering silence.
Your followers mourn
Lost and despairing.
It is confusing and scary
And they wonder what to hold onto,
not yet realizing the magnitude of this day.
For look at what you have done.
Every death we have mourned
Each tear we have shed
Every time our hearts have been broken
by the absence of those we love
Is affected by this day.
This day.
Because on this day
You entered that mournful space.
You lied in an empty tomb.
Look how far your love goes
It reaches every corner of our hearts
Every breath of our experience.
How deeply you understand us.
So as we sit in silence today,
honoring all you have done
and all you have given.
Our hearts are comforted
because your love did not stop.
It entered the tomb.
From the depths of our being
We thank you.

Amen.

Copyright © 2020, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Good Friday

Opening
Lord, help us to journey with you throughout this day, ever so mindful of you.

Reflection
This is a day that is hard to take in, the extent of God’s love for us. We pray oh Lord, please stir our hearts and change us as we humbly, enter the story again.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly, pausing where you are drawn. Take as long as you need. Imagine you are there. As you read keep your eyes on Jesus. Listen to His words. Imagine his face as He speaks. What do you see in His eyes? Watch his actions. How does He respond? Stay focused on Him as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayerful reading.

Drawn by Gustave Doré, engraved by J. Gauchard Brunier. Scanned by Michael Gäbler with Epson Perfection 4490 Photo. / Public domain

Scripture: Read John 19:1-6, 14-19, 28-30
(To read the whole account, read from John 18:1-19:42)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 4 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.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 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…14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew[d] is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth,[e] the King of the Jews… 28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Prayer of Response
On this day, words are hard to find.
Moved by all that has been given,
By all that has been done,
I sit in silence with Jesus.
I remain with Him.
I offer my heart in quiet
just as He offers Himself
completely to me.
Amen.

Maundy Thursday

“He loved them to the end.”

Opening
Lord, as we journey with you in these last days, make us ever present to you on your way to the cross and the empty tomb.

Reflection
These days are filled with wonder, questions, amazement, at how we can be so deeply loved. Humbly, we enter the story again. Change us through this week as the story unfolds day by day.

Invitation
Read the scripture slowly. If you are comfortable put yourself in the story as an observer. Stay close to watch Jesus, his actions, his words, his responses.

Scripture: John 13:1- 5, 12,-15, 34, 35
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him… When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Prayer of Response
Having loved your own who were in the world,
You loved them to the end.
Loving your own who are in the world,
You love us to the end.
What could mean more than these words?
You love us to the end.
How can we begin to grasp this even a little bit?
When we doubt your love,
when we question,
when we fail You, others, and ourselves,
may the truth of these words
echo deep within us.
“You love us to the end.”
You have shown us the healing
affirming, transforming power of your love,
that says Yes to us,
that says, I love you no matter what.
May this truth sink deep within us,
heal us and ground us
and so much so
that we love each other like you do.
May it be healing, affirming and transforming
to all whom it touches.
May it be said of us,
having loved you,
we who are in the world,
we loved you to the end-
In all the hungry, hurting faces
in which we see you
each and every day.
May we the loved, so love.
Amen.

Copyright 2020 Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Fifth Week of Lent

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. You invite me to come as I am and so I come. Open my heart to all you have for me. Awaken me to your voice within.

Reflection
As we continue our journey through Lent
we slow our pace so we can listen well
to what God desires to say to us.
God’s love seeks to heal the broken places within us,
To free us from the things that bind us
To bring light into our shadow places.
God desires us to know life in a fuller way,
And to live from a place of belovedness and belonging.

Invitation
Read the Scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where your heart is stirred.

Scripture: John 11:32-44 (Read verses 1-44 to read the whole story)
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Prayer of Response
Beloved One,
How much it means to see your humanity,
to know that you loved your friends so much
that you were moved to tears by theirs.
How much it means to have a God
who loves us so deeply
that you feeling the ache in our hearts cry with us.
How blessed are we that you love us that much!
How blessed are we
that just as you unbound Lazarus
You unbind us and free us
with the life we have in you-
the life that heals, transforms, makes new.
Bless You oh Compassionate One. Bless You. Amen.

Fourth Week of Lent

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. You invite me to come as I am and so I come. Open my heart to all you have for me. Awaken me to your voice within.

Reflection
As we continue our journey through Lent
we slow our pace so we can listen well
to what God desires to say to us.
God’s love seeks to heal the broken places within us,
To free us from the things that bind us
To bring light into our shadow places.
God desires us to know life in a fuller way,
And to live from a place of belovedness and belonging.

Invitation
Read the Scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where you are drawn. What is God’s invitation to you?

Healing of the Blind Man. Carl Bloch / Public domain

 

Scripture: John 9:1-11 (Read through verse 41 to read the whole story)
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We[a] must work the works of him who sent me[b] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight

Prayer of Response
Compassionate One,
You are always on the side
of those who have been marginalized
You notice and reach out to those
who have been pushed aside,
judged, ridiculed, and wounded
so often by those of us
in the church
who presume we know you more.
While you include, we exclude.
Lord, help us to notice
those whom we make the stranger,
those we push aside.
Forgive us for making circles
of who is in and who is out.
Open our eyes
Remove our blindspots.
Help us to see as you see.
Open and transform our hearts.
Enable us to be true
reflections of your love.
We cannot do so
without you.
Amen.

Second Week of Lent

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. You invite me to come as I am and so I come. Open my heart to all you have for me. Awaken me to your voice within.

Reflection
As we continue our journey through Lent
we slow our pace so we can listen well
to what God desires to say to us.
God’s love seeks to heal the broken places within us,
To free us from the things that bind us
To bring light into our shadow places.
God desires us to know life in a fuller way,
And to live from a place of belovedness and belonging.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where you are drawn.

John 3:16-17
“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.”

Prayer Response
Gracious and Holy God,
Who are we that you are mindful of us,
And yet you so are.
You are beyond our understanding,
bigger than the boxes we put you in.
You want so much more for us
than what we recognize.
The life and love you have for us all,
is freeing, healing, life-giving.
May it seep into the deepest part of us
And affect all that we are.
Oh may we embrace the life
You have for us.
May it transform
how we see ourselves
and each one you have made.
May it pour out of our pores
in a compassionate grace filled stream
that heals and blesses
all those around us.
Amen.

First Week of Lent

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. You invite me to come as I am and so I come. Open my heart to all you have for me. Awaken me to your voice within.

Reflection
We begin our journey through Lent once again.
We slow our pace so we can notice and pay attention to all God has for us.
God’s love seeks to heal the broken places within us.
God’s love seeks to show us a transforming way to see and hear and live.
Let us intentionally imagine Jesus walking beside us.
What does He want to show us
within ourselves, within others?
May we listen and as we do
May we notice how deeply we are loved.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where you are drawn.

Scripture: Mark 1:9-15
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Prayer of Response
Beloved God,
You name me your beloved.
Help me to live from that space.
Help me to so claim it
that its truth resides anchored in my inner core.
Even when I fail
may I remember this truth
that there is no place I can go
where you are not with me.
There is no place I can go
where I am not loved by you.
And oh Holy One,
may I remember and live out
that the same thing is true
in every person you have made.
Help me to recognize
their belovedness
and to love them well.
Help me to be touched by their pain,
to celebrate their joys
and to claim
our inherent connection to each other.
So Beloved God, to whom I belong,
please forgive me
for all the ways I have failed
You, others, and myself.
Help me once again to live in
and reflect your love
and all of our belovedness
wherever I am.
Amen.

Ash Wednesday

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. You invite me to come as I am and so I come. Open my heart to all you have for me. Awaken me to your voice within.

Reflection
We begin our journey through Lent once again.
We slow our pace so we can notice and pay attention to all God has for us.
God’s love seeks to heal the broken places within us.
God’s love seeks to show us a transforming way to see and hear and live.
Let us intentionally imagine Jesus walking beside us.
What does He want to show us
within ourselves, within others?
May we listen and as we do
May we notice how deeply we are loved.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where you are drawn.

Scripture: Psalm 51:1-3, 10-12
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

Prayer of Response
The challenge of Lent is to see myself as I am
with all that is good and with all that is not
and at the same time
to see myself through your eyes
through your love and grace.
Your love and grace are healing
and transforming
at same time
because they ask me to be more.
They ask me to love myself and others
the way that you do.
They ask me to look upon others
with compassion and grace
and prayers for healing and transformation.
Lord, please answer this prayer
I long to be a person
after your own heart.
I desire to be a reflection of you
in which people see your love and grace in me,
for me, for them,
in love and communion with you.
Amen.

Easter – The Great Yes

Opening
Living God, quiet my heart and mind to be attuned to you in these moments. I check within to notice what feelings and needs are there, aware that sometimes the joy of the holiday doesn’t match the feelings within. I bring my full self to you. Speak to me and meet me where I am on this most meaningful of days.


Woman, Why Weepest Thou?
Fritz von Uhde between 1892 and 1894
Public Domain

Reflection
Meet us in our own stories as you met Mary, and bring life to them. Risen Lord, we have waited for this day after the journey of this week. We have needed to get to Resurrection and Hope. Speak to us deeply through your Word.


Invitation
As you read the scripture, pay close to attention to the disciples. Are you drawn to a particular one? What do you notice about them? Watch how Jesus responds to Mary. He invites her to speak her pain, to tell her story before he reveals Himself.  Notice the way in which Jesus meets her where she is.


John 20:1-18
“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.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But 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 around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”


Prayer Response
Lord,
My heart is bursting with the Yes of today.
Even though there is still sorrow and shadows,
hardships and corners of despair, they do not have the last word!
Indeed they cannot.
Easter is about Yes, the Great Yes that says,
death and sorrow and despair
are overcome.
Hope becomes real and deeply felt.
We know promise and presence because You live!
Thank you that the light is greater than the darkness.
Thank you that life is stronger than death.
Thank you for the way you share our lives.
Thank you for the way you bring life and Yes to us.
We praise you for the unspeakable joy of living with you and the hope it brings.
Amen.