Wednesday Morning: 27 Nov 2019 – Luke 23:26-24:53 ~ “You are witnesses of all these things.”

Wednesday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Luke 23:26-24:53 (NLT)

The Crucifixion

As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’ People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

The Burial of Jesus

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.

As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

The Resurrection

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

The Walk to Emmaus

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.

Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.

Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Fat.her promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

The Ascension

Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
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Morning Reflection:

“‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’
You are witnesses of all these things.”

The span of today’s reading is almost too much to take in –

  • Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross – its apparent finality
  • Jesus’ burial and miraculous resurrection – the empty tomb
  • Jesus’ physical appearances to his followers – in different places
  • Jesus’ instructions to wait for the promised Holy Spirit
  • Jesus’ commission to preach forgiveness of sins for all who repent
  • Jesus’ ascension to heaven filling his followers with joy and praise

And all of Jesus’ followers, not just the eleven, witnessed these things.

Questions for consideration

  • Since you began following Jesus, what have you witnessed first hand? Please explain.
  • Have you ever personally experienced the presence of Jesus? How did that affect you? Please explain.
  • Have you received the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sin? How has that changed your life? Please explain.
  • Have you personally experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? In what way? Please explain.
  • Who comes to mind who needs to hear about what God has done for you? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Our heavenly Father sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world,
but that the world through him might be saved;
that all who believe in him might be delivered from the power of sin.

+ We pray for the holy Church throughout the world: that the Lord our God may preserve her in unity, peace, and safety, bringing into divine subjection all powers and principalities; and that he may grant us to dwell in such peace and tranquility that we may show forth the glory of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ We pray for your holy catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth, with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

+ We commend our nation to your merciful care, that being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to our President, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ We pray for the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ We pray for all those who do not believe in Christ, that the Holy Spirit may enlighten them through the Gospel and bring them into the way of salvation. Have compassion on all who do not know you as you are revealed in your Son Jesus Christ; let your Gospel be preached with grace and power to those who have not heard it; turn the hearts of those who resist it; and bring home to your fold those who have gone astray; that there may be one flock under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Christ We Do All Adore Thee” – The York College Concert Choir

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 15:1-32 ~ welcome home

Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-32 NLT

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them!

The Rescue by Nathan Greene
The Rescue
by Nathan Greene

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Prayer: Heavenly Father – I pray today for family, friends and neighbors… and all who are lost. Only You can draw them to Jesus. Give them seeking hearts and a sincere desire to know You. Raise up people around them who will not only speak a word of faith to them but live as faithful witnesses to your love, mercy and grace. Holy Spirit – Convict all of us of our sin and guilt – especially lost souls – and lead us into all truth as revealed in Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus – You lived, died, and were raised from the dead… that all might have life – abundant and eternal. Impart the graces of faith and trust to the lost souls who come to our mind today… that they might repent, turn to You, and receive the gift of eternal live that You so freely offer. May the angels in heaven rejoice today over every lost soul that You have found. For Your Name’s sake, I ask it. Amen.

Spiritual Song:  “Hallelujah, I’m ready to go”Ricky Skaggs

Hallelujah, I’m ready / I can hear the voices singing soft and low / Hallelujah, I’m ready, hallelujah I’m ready to go.

In the darkness of night, not a star was in sight / on the highway that leads down below / But Jesus came in and saved us all from sin / Hallelujah, I’m ready to go.

Sinners don’t wait until it’s too late / He’s a wonderful saviour you know / Well, I fell on my knees when he answered my plea’s / Hallelujah, I’m ready to go.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 14:25-33 NLT ~ count the cost

Gospel Reading: Luke 14:25-33 NLT

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison — your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Unfinished Structure on Staten Island, NY  (sat idle for two years)
Unfinished Structure on Staten Island, NY
(sat idle for two years)

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

Prayer: Lord God – In whatever situation we find ourselves today… may we discover your Kingdom purpose… count the cost… then take up the cross you have given us… and follow you. No regrets… no turning back… pressing onward to your upward call in Christ Jesus… who is our Life and our Blessed Hope. May we honor you in all things. Amen.

Spiritual Song: “Give Me Jesus”Matt Stinton; Bethel Music

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 13:22-30 NLT – the narrow door

Gospel Reading: Luke 13:22-30 NLT

Slimmer's door, Ringwood Church, .  This unusually narrow door occupies a rightangled corner formed by the main walls of the church of St Peter & St Paul.
Slimmer’s door, Ringwood Church.
This unusually narrow door occupies a rightangled corner formed by the main walls of the church of St Peter & St Paul, Ringwood, England.

Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world — from east and west, north and south — to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus – Open my heart to all you have for me today. Change my mind… my attitudes… my habits,.. my actions… to conform to your will.  Forgive my pride in thinking that I know it all… and give me a teachable spirit. Help me to discern between understanding born out of experience… and bias, or prejudice, born out of limited experience. Lord Jesus – It’s my heart’s desire to be true to you… in this life and the life to come. Amen.

Hymn: “I Would Be True” – H. A. Walter (1906)

I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who care; I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all — the foe, the friendless; I would be giving, and forget the gift; I would be humble, for I know my weakness; I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

I would be faithful through each passing moment; I would be constantly in touch with God; I would be strong to follow where He leads me; I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.

Who is so low that I am not his brother? Who is so high that I’ve no path to him? Who is so poor I may not feel his hunger? Who is so rich I may not pity him?

Who is so hurt I may not know his heartache? Who sings for joy my heart may never share? Who in God’s heav’n has passed beyond my vision? Who to hell’s depths where I may never fare?

May none, then, call on me for understanding, May none, then, turn to me for help in pain, And drain alone his bitter cup of sorrow, Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 12:49-53 ESV – divided families

Reading: Luke 12:49-53 ESV

Many Muslim Background Believers are forced to live their Christian lives in secret. Continuing to wear clothing sanctioned by Islam, these Christian women risk their lives to worship Jesus Christ.
Many Muslim Background Believers are forced to live their Christian lives in secret. Continuing to wear clothing sanctioned by Islam, these Christian women risk their lives to worship Jesus Christ.

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus – I pray today for divided families… divided between believers and unbelievers. And I pray particularly for Muslim Background Believers. Strengthen them… give them the courage and grace to endure rejection and abuse for their faith. Protect them and guard them from the schemes and snares of the Evil One. Hear their prayers when they cry out to you in their anguish. And do not let them be put to shame for their belief and trust in you. To God be the glory. Amen.

Spiritual Song: “Break Every Chain”Jesus Culture