Easter Reflection: Garden of Resurrection (Mark 16:2, 6)

“And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. . .But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.’” Mark 16: 2 & 6

I can imagine an early, quiet morning with the sun just rising and the women making their journey of sorrow.  A tomb or grave, the site of death, yet located in a garden.  A place for death and also for cultivating life and beauty.  The women come with spices expecting to find Jesus’ body.  Instead they find that God has completely transformed the situation.  Jesus’ body isn’t in the tomb, He is no longer dead!

Beautiful spring surprise in a bush outside our house.

The setting for this early morning Easter story is captivating and symbolic.  Again and again God takes our mess and makes something beautiful. Our Creator helps us take the dirt and death of our lives to grow gardens.  It is the amazing surprise of spring, and Easter. The dark, cold ground of Lent becoming the fetid, warmth of resurrection. We cry and lament at our losses, just like the women going to the tomb, and this is good and necessary. And then, to our surprise it is no longer winter, but spring! Jesus is not dead.  Jesus has risen!  

If you have a few minutes, this song is just the thing to celebrate Easter!

Can you name some ways Jesus’ resurrection has changed your life? How have you experienced God’s transformation of dead things in your own life or in lives of others’ around you? Are you ever surprised by joy?

God thank you for taking the hardest suffering and transforming it into beauty and creativity. Help us to trust your redeeming work in our lives, so we may cry with all creation, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come.” Amen

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Ordinary Friday? (A Poem for Holy Week)

Was it an ordinary Friday for some?

Chores and meal prep?

Betime stories and prayers?

A typical Passover

Maybe someone birthing a baby

Some burying and grieving their dead

Did they know?

Were they caught up with the crush

And rush of what’s happening to Jesus?


What about those on the edges?

In the country?

Was it an ordinary Friday?


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Maundy Thursday: Loving One Another (Seder Meal +Footwashing)

Today the church honors Maundy Thursday. 

The word maundy is from the Latin word for command. And this is a time when we focus on Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you,” by sharing a meal together and washing each others’ feet as modeled by Jesus in John 13. 

Many churches offer a Maundy Thursday service. Consider joining in this ritual at a church in your local community or gather with your family and friends for a meal, including part of the Seder meal menu or offer the traditional words of blessing. 

The Seder meal is a Jewish ritual that commemorates both suffering and joy; it’s a simple meal with foods reminiscent of the Passover meal. Christians often share in this ritual and words of blessing as they mark Maundy Thursday.

Blessed are You our Lord, our God who is the King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Food ItemExamplesSymbolism
KarpasparsleyInitial flourishing in Egypt; sign of spring
MarorBitter herbs (like horseradish)The bitterness of slavery
HarosetApples with cinnamon and raisins or nutsLike mortar,recognizing the work in Egypt
Unleavened BreadCrackers, matzoh, pita bread, tortillasFood for the journey
BeitzahHard boiled eggThe cycle of life; hope of new life
LambLamb chops, leg of lamb, lamb roastPassover Lamb; reminder of sacrifice before fleeing Egypt

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Lent Reflection: Prayer of Restoration (Philippians 2: 9-11)

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2: 9-11

Jesus, Master Carpenter,

My son’s workbench, which always has room for a new project.

Reframe our souls.

Build your home here. 

Clean out the corners filled with our insecurity and close-mindedness. 

Construct new shelves to hold Your love, God.

Renew our minds, frame windows and doors open to Your possibilities.

We want our lives to be evidence of Your creative work in the world.

Do not give up on us God, we pray.

AMEN

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Lent Reflection: My Confession (Philippians 2: 5-8)

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,  he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.
Philippians 2: 5-8

Holy God, 

This is my confession.

I am selfish. I would rather be in control than actually helpful.  I am happy to give someone a jacket, or a blanket, or a meal rather than a listening ear.  I am sure others see the world the same way I do.

I am fearful of change and suffering.  I refuse to face my inner pains at the cost of my own transformation.  I avoid others who are hurting to protect myself, like their hardship is contagious.

I don’t want to appear weak.  I would rather take the casserole than need one.

I confess I am controlling, fearful, and want to know the future.  My faithlessness hounds my loved ones.

This week we remember the great humility of Your Son Jesus.

Jesus did not make power grabs.

Jesus who walked the dusty roads and touched the people others rejected.  He listened and looked at their suffering with open eyes.

Jesus was the embodied expression of You in this world.  Jesus who suffered and even died to show Your Great Love.

Lord hear my prayer and expand my vision beyond myself. Please forgive me.

This is my confession.

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Dust to Dust: Invitation to Lent

Today, Christians around the world receive the mark of ashes as a sign of repentance and a reminder of our humanity. That our lives are finite. That all of us will die.

Ash Wednesday is the threshold into Lent. We remember that death will come, but that is just the beginning…

Lent is a season where we give up something to make more space for prayer and reflection.

Some people give up chocolate or coffee or sugar. Some people give up social media. And that’s all fine. But, the purpose of this fasting can get lost in translation.

The invitation to fast is not to prove you can go without. It’s not even really about the pain of sacrificing a luxury, but it is about making more space. It is about seeing more clearly. Listening more closely. Seeking after God more whole-heartedly.

Lent is an invitation to the wilderness so that you can experience God and grow in faith.

This wilderness time is not a form of punishment, but rather a time of focused discipline that is meant to make more space for God.

And so the invitation of today, of Ash Wednesday and of the Lenten season is to willingly enter into a wilderness time.

To surrender.

To release.

To fast.


May we not fear death but hold this as perspective.

Remembering our humanity, from dust to dust;

May we hold on to hope, 

forged and hard won through the wilderness

May we find our identity and purpose in the One who has created and called us, 

trusting the process of growth and the hope of transformation.

May it be so.


How will you make more space for God in this season?


While we are not offering Lenten reflections this year, you may choose to re-read last year’s series beginning with this post.

You may also appreciate this Litany of Ashes

Epiphany Comfort: Commissioning + Blessing

Trust in the Lord, and do good.” -Psalm 37:3

The season of Lent is nearly upon us. This is the stretch of time in the liturgical year when we prepare for Easter. The 40 days of Lent hold the echos of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. And so often we use the coming weeks as a time of fasting and reflection. Most of us would not choose a wilderness season. The starkness, the pruning, the longing are all uncomfortable feelings. 

Yet we know that there is a rhythm to life. No one stage is enduring. Seasons change, each bringing its own beauty and meaning.

We hope this Epiphany season has been one of light, hope and revelation. And, that the things you have discovered and nurtured in these weeks will sustain you in the coming season.

The Psalm for this week is a blessing for us all. There are many imperatives listed here. Receive these words as invitations to a life-giving way of being. Experience this as a commissioning as we move into the next: 

Do not fret because of the wicked;

    do not be envious of wrongdoers,

 for they will soon fade like the grass,

    and wither like the green herb.

 Trust in the Lord, and do good;

    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

 Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 Commit your way to the Lord;

    trust in him, and he will act.

He will make your vindication shine like the light,

    and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;

  -Psalm 37:1-7


**If you have the Epiphany Comfort Kit, place the sticker in a place that will remind you of the hope and blessing of this season of reflection and awakening.


We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others.

Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

Epiphany Joy: Trusting in the Lord

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”-Jeremiah 17:7-8

“I realized that it’s not really “faith” or “trust” if I only take the next step when it is clear and laid out in front of me,” I confessed to my friend over coffee. For all my confidence about God’s faithfulness to me and my faithful discipleship, I had stepped into one of the shadow spots in my own life. 

Being an Enneagram One, I thrive with a plan. I have plans about how to make plans. I have back up plans for my back up plans. I pride myself on being prepared. It’s how I cope with uncertainty, maintain some sense of control and manage anxiety. 

As you go through your day, notice when you feel anxious or worried. When those times come, take a moment to pause and offer the concern for God’s care and keeping. You may choose to mark these instances with a simple hand gesture (folding your hands in prayer, making the sign of the cross on across your shoulders and chest, or turning your palms face up in front of you) after naming the concern or by repeating a breath prayer of acknowledgement and ascent such as I shall not fear, I will not cease to bear fruit, or Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.


We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others.


Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

Epiphany Comfort: The Hopeless Heart

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, 
a puzzle that no one can figure out,
 But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human,
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
Not as they pretend to be.”  Jeremiah 17: 9-10

Today is Valentine’s Day.  The day of emotions, love, and feelings.  All we need is love, and other beautiful sayings.

Feelings are beautiful and connect us to others.  Our feelings can help us in our creative endeavors.  Feeling empathy for others is a gift to the recipient.  And, also, our feelings can lead us astray, cause us to behave in our worst patterns, and leave us exhausted and confused.  As Jeremiah points out, the heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful.

Thankfully, God sees our hearts and isn’t perturbed.  God knows the wandering of our minds.  Creativity can be expressed in many ways.  Including creative problem solving in relationships and out-of-the-box thinking as we relate to our loved ones.

What relationships is God calling you to examine today?  Can creative thinking help you to change your own ingrained ways of relating to others?

God, who gets to the root of things, renew our hearts and minds, help us to relate with authentic kindness to the people you have placed in our lives.  Grant us clear minded thinking about our own behaviors and transform us through the creative spark You placed in each of us. AMEN


We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others.

Epiphany Joy: The Comfort of Home

For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than live in the tents of wickedness. -Psalm 84:10

For me the feeling of being truly at home is one of complete peace.  Perhaps it is a feeling of comfort or safety.  Of being grounded.  In a world filled with excess noise and information, more than we can ever really process or come to terms with, being at home in God’s presence is deeply meaningful. The feeling of being at peace in God’s presence gives us an inner strength to work through the challenges of life around us. 

What practices give you this grounded or at-home feeling?  When do you feel ushered into God’s presence?

Take some time today for a practice that brings you comfort and grounds you in the peace of God.

Some ideas:

  • Take a winter walk with warm comfort items bundling you up.  Notice God’s handiwork even in the barren season of winter.
  • Sit quietly, light a candle, and invite God’s presence.
  • Slowly breathe in and out deeply five times.  Breathe in God’s presence.  Remind yourself that God is with you in your present situation.
  • Enjoy a cup of tea.  Pay attention to the aroma as you sip.  Remind yourself that God’s presence is like a permeating, pleasant odor.

Comfort Kit Note: If you purchased our Epiphany Comfort Kit, this would be a great time to enjoy some of the tea!


We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others.