Romans 4:13-25 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body

ROMANS 4:13-25

13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Consider creation today.  If it seems fitting, spend your time in prayer outside or by a window today.
  • What do you notice about God’s creation?
  • What new growth do you see?
  • What strikes you as impossible without God?
  • Consider how God is at work in your life, continually creating.
  • What do you notice about God’s creating in you?
  • What strikes you as impossible without God?
  • What response to God rises within you?
  • What message does God have for you to proclaim?
  • Who shall hear the message?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Second Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Psalm 22 Praise Him!

PSALM 22:23-31

23  You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24  For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

25  From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26  The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!

27  All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28  For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

29  To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30  Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31  and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Who first told you about the Lord?
  • What vivid remembrances to you have as a child?  a teenager? an adult?
  • As you have this chance to reflect on your relationship with God, what message have you been given to share with the next generation?
  • What message does a child need to hear?
  • What message does someone in despair need to hear?
  • What message does the world need to hear?
  • Is there a call to action for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and reflection and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Second Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Genesis 17 – This is my covenant with you

GENESIS 17:1-7, 15-16

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

15God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Consider using  a breath prayer as you sit in silence.  Inhale with the word “everlasting,” and exhale with the word “covenant.”  Everlasting…covenant.  Allow these words to cover you outside and inside as you breathe.
  • How has God been faithful to you as he was with Abraham and Sarah?
  • How have you been faithful to God?
  • How do you need to see God’s faithfulness?
  • How is God calling you to be faithful in a new way?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Second Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD


I need more grace than I thought…

"Temptation of Christ" by Jim Janknegt. Used with permission.

Miscellany Two
Pale sunlight,
pale the wall. 

Love moves away,
the light changes.

I need more grace
than I thought.

-Rumi    1207-1273

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent mediation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Sit in God’s grace.
  • Breathe God’s grace.
  • Allow God’s grace to cover you as the light surrounds you.
  • Allow God’s grace to squeeze out the temptation within you.
  • God’s grace is enough.
  • Believe the good news.
  • Give thanks to God for this time to be held in God’s grace and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2012, The First Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Mark 1:9-15 – Be held by the water

"Temptation of Christ" by Jim Janknegt. Used with permission.

MARK 1:9-15

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent mediation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • This week we contemplate our baptism.  Remember once again the waters blessing you.
  • As you remember the seal of baptism, notice the temptation(s) which surround you.
  • What strength do you need to keep you from the temptation(s)?
  • Believe that Christ’s love is strong enough to keep you from the temptations.
  • Allow Christ to send angels into your life to wait on you.
  • What do you need to let go to let the angels surround you?
  • What is keeping you from letting go?
  • Remember the water blessing you.  Allow the water to was away the things keeping you from letting go.
  • Be held by the water.
  • Believe the good news.
  • Give thanks to God for this time to remember baptism and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2012, The First Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

1 Peter 3:18-22 – Saved through water

1 PETER 3:18-22

18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you — not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • How have you been saved by water?
  • Notice how the water feels on your skin?  In your mouth?
  • What freedom do you receive in the water?
  • Focus on the freedom in the water.
  • Be held in freedom in the water.
  • Remember your baptismal vows.
  • What sins can you release as you are being held?
  • Let them go.
  • Be held in the forgiveness of  Christ who suffered for sins once and for all.
  • Be bathed in the goodness of the Light.
  • What message does Christ have for you today?
  • Give thanks to God through Christ for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2012, The First Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Ash Wednesday, Thursday, Friday….how long will the ashes be seen?

Yesterday was somewhat of a blur for me with the services, the meetings, many calls to which I needed to respond.  I couldn’t stay awake long enough to get this in yesterday…

As I reflect today, I wonder how long the ashes will be seen?  Once we can no longer see the mark, how long will we remember?  Once we can no longer feel the forgiveness, how soon will we turn away from Christ?  It is Thursday, but these texts still apply to our Lenten journey.  Remember the feeling of coming before Christ our Lord with a desire to be cleansed and forgiven.  Remember the assurance of pardon.  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.  Thanks be to God!

JOEL 2:1-2, 12-17

1   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near —
2   a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.

12  Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13       rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the LORD, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD, your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16       gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

ISAIAH 58:1-12

1   Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2   Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
3   “Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
4   Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
5   Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

6   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?
7   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?
8   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.
9   Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10  if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11  The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12  Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

PSALM 51:1-17

1   Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3   For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4   Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5   Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6   You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7   Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8   Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9   Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11  Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14  Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15  O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16  For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

2 CORINTHIANS 5:20B-6:10

5:20bWe entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6:1As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see — we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-21

1“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • As you sit in silence, do a mental scan of your body.  What part(s) of you need(s) to be cleansed?
  • What forgiveness to you seek?
  • Go to this place/these places and offer these to Christ.
  • Allow the dusty ashes to be poured into these places.
  • Allow the dark and dusty ashes to be Christ’s healing salve for you.
  • Hear the words, “You are my beloved,  you are forgiven.”
  • Allow these words of grace to hold you.
  • Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins.
  • Believe that the Holy Spirit is accompanying you on this Lenten journey.
  • Be open to the Holy Spirit.
  • Let go of your expectations.
  • Rest in the hope of the journey toward the cross.
  • Remember the forgiveness you have received.
  • Give thanks to God for these things that have been revealed and this time in prayer.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Ash Wednesday Year B 
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Psalm 25 – Lead me in your truth

PSALM 25:1-10

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

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

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

8   Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9   He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10  All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • As you pray this Psalm today, allow God to lead your path.
  • What word or phrase captures you?
  • Stay with this word or phrase as you keep it continuously on your lips.
  • What message does God have for you in this word or phrase?
  • How does this word or phrase lead you to the truth?
  • How does this word or phrase lead you to be humble?
  • How does this word or phrase lead you to love?
  • How does this word or phrase affirm God’s covenant with you and the world?
  • Give thanks for the truth in God’s word and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2012, The First Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Genesis 9:8-17 This is the sign of the covenant I have established

GENESIS 9:8-17

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Remember the covenant God has made with you.
  • Visualize the rainbow that connects God with you.
  • Where does it begin?
  • Where does it end?
  • Visualize the rainbow that connects God with all the earth.
  • Where does it begin?
  • Where does it end?
  • What part of you needs to embrace the covenant today?
  • What part of the world needs to embrace the covenant today?
  • How is God calling you to share this covenant with others?
  • Give thanks to God for God’s faithfulness to you and to the world and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 26, 2012, The First Sunday in Lent Year B 
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Do you, then, refuse to work and to suffer?

"Transfiguration" Jim Janknegt. Used with permission.

The Last Word

Life Himself came down to be slain;

Bread came down to suffer hunger;

the Way came down to endure weariness on His journey;

the Fountain came down to experience thirst.

Do you, then, refuse to work and to suffer?

 -Augustine 354-430

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Christ suffered for you.
  • How do you suffer hunger?
  • Christ suffered for you.
  • Chow do you endure weariness?
  • Christ suffered for you.
  • How do you experience thirst?
  • Christ died for you.
  • What needs to be slain in you to live in Christ Jesus?
  • Invite Christ into these places.
  • Ask for forgiveness.
  • Receive new life.
  • Be reconciled with God.
  • Give thanks to God for these things that have been revealed and for this time in prayer.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 19, 2012, The Transfiguration of the Lord Year B 
2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD