Lent 2024


Dear Friends at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood,

On Ash Wednesday our season of Lent began.  We enter a time of 40 days, excluding Sundays, to the Easter celebration.  Let us recognize that Lent is a period of spiritual discipline in which we deepen our relationship to our Lord.  Lent concludes with Holy Week with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, the betrayal, the crucifixion, the burial, and the JOY of the resurrection.

For many of the devotions and reflections we will be following the scriptures that Pastor Clark will be preaching from each Sunday.  We will be following Christ and his disciples in the last few days of Christ’s ministry hear on earth.  These are Jesus final words and prayers to and for his disciples.


Find 20 – 60 minutes each day to sit with the Lord.  It may be helpful to keep a journal or notebook of reflections and thoughts as we go through the daily devotions.

The Lenten devotional will be provided each week with a link through our EPress to the FPCH website on our ‘Musings” page.


Please do not hesitate to contact Tom Hartshorn, thartshorn@fpch.org, with questions thoughts or ideas for our Lenten journey together.





MONDAY FEURARY 19, 20204 – JOHN 13:1-17



Let’s begin our week with a careful reading of John 13:1-17.  Read through the scripture 3 times.  Give yourself a pause between each reading. 

Make a mental note or write down a word, verse or phrase that stands out as you read through the chapter.  Think of this as a gift from the Holy Spirit.

Take some time and meditate on whatever stood out to you.  What may the LORD be trying to pass onto you through this careful reading of Scripture.


Thoughts to Reflect On:

  1. Why was the act of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet so shocking?
  2. What may have Jesus been trying to symbolize to his disciples by taking the form of a servant?
  3. What does this reveal about God’s nature?



TUESDAY FEBURARY 20, 2024 – JOHN 13:21-30




By Lonnetta Key, FPCH Congregant


The text for today’s consideration is John 13: 21-30.  As we begin, verse 21 makes a rather poignant statement by saying that Jesus was troubled in spirit.  And we immediately find that the source of that was His prediction of His betrayal.  Here we see an example of the human Christ feeling human agony because one of His own was about to commit a heinous act.


I have always found Judas to be the most complex figure in the community of the twelve disciples.  When my boys were young they would watch Sesame Street—at that time a very popular children’s program.  One of the regular features was entitled “What does not belong?”  That is my perception of Judas.  He just did not seem to belong. 


Why, I wonder, did Judas even remain with the group.  It would seem that while the others were busy trying to absorb Christ’s teachings and be an integral  part of His ministry, Judas holds himself a bit aloof.  Scripture does not elucidate his motives but I cannot help but think there was a part of him that did believe in Jesus’ divinity—a part of him that desired to be like the others and that was what held him there.  After all he was privy, as were the rest, to the miracles and the teachings and parables.  But in spite of all the divinely orchestrated happenings going on around him, Judas hardened his heart to letting it penetrate.  Rather he chose to let avarice rule.  


And we do get a factual glimpse into this weakness.   John 12:6 acknowledges that he had a penchant for money.  “…since he had the money box [serving as treasurer for the twelve disciples], he used to pilfer what was put into it.”  This certainly was the precursor leading to a final act of unbridled greed.


I want to digress for a moment from today’s focus to the other eleven disciples.  I find it puzzling that they are oblivious to who Judas actually was.  The missing money seems to have escaped their attention.  And even now as they sit at supper with Jesus they continue to miss clue after clue indicating who the traitor was.  (Verses 18, 19, 26)


Oh it is so easy for us to judge those men.  But how often are our spiritual eyes blinded to blatant truths as we read God’s Word?  How often are our spiritual ears deafened to the wisdom He is imparting as we beseech Him in prayer?   Are we like those to whom Jeremiah spoke. “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (Jeremiah 5:21)


And what can be learned from Judas?  Remember Judas’ sin started small as he would take a few coins here and there from the disciples’ money bag. Is that not the way Satan loves to work.  A little giving in to temptation from time to time.  And before we know it we find ourselves estranged from the Lord.  It would behoove us to take heed and be alert so, that unlike Judas, we do not let the devil enter when he knocks at our heart’s door. 


Because in a nutshell the explanation for Judas’ betrayal is, “After Judas had taken the piece of bread, Satan entered him…” (verse 27)  And as most evil deeds are, this one was committed in the darkness of night. “After taking the piece of bread, he went out immediately, and it was night.” (verse 30)






How can I be clean?

By: Lord Bard


How can I look to you, Lord
When my heart is overflowing with shame?
How can I cry out to you, Lord
When my mouth is overflowing with uncleanness?
How can I approach you, Lord,
When I the reek and stain of my sin engulfs
Everything I touch?
All of me is filled with sin
The sin of Adam
And the sin of my own
For you, God, are holy and glorious
And you deserve an obedient servant
As holy and glorious as You
And I, God, deserve Your
Wrath and unending retribution
But you, God, are loving and forgiving
As a longsuffering Father
Of wayward children
As a watchful Shepherd
Of oblivious sheep
How can you love me
The fool that I am?
How can you pity me
The wretch that I am
To send your Son Jesus
To save my soul
To pay a debt that is not your own
To offer yourself for my ransom?
O Lord, my Lord
I am sorry!
For my sinful thoughts
For my sinful words
For my sinful deeds
For my sinful omissions
I am so very sorry!
For my many sins
I glance in the mirror in disgust
I hang my head to the ground
With my eyes downcast
I soak my pillow with my tears
And fear and terror ravage my very dreams
O Lord Jesus
Heal me with your stripes!
Cleanse me with your blood!
Save me!
Forgive me!
Guide me!
Walk before me
Lest I should stray
Walk behind me
Lest I be in dander
Walk beside me
Lest I should stumble
For your Name’s sake, save me
For my soul’s sake, hosanna!






MARK 4:1-20




 “Jesus never said, ‘You should be the salt of the earth.’ He said, ‘you are the salt of the earth.’ So don’t lose your saltiness… Remember Jesus never said, ‘You will be the light of the world, if you tried really hard.’ He said, ‘You are the light of the world.’ Stop covering it up. ‘Let your light so shine before all people, that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Pastor Clark


As I was praying through Pastor Clarks message and what I might share for the first week of Lent, I was reminded of Mark 4:1-20, the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus speaks to the idea of Christian engagement in a fallen-creation, in the hope of God’s promise of new-creation.


FPCH, I wanted to encourage you, as the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts through Lent to consider deeply the riches of Jesus’ resurrection, and what that might mean for Christian engagement within a fallen world, as we await the new things Christ has promised us.

One thing you will notice as you journey through the gospels, is that Jesus’ application of the gospel naturally flowed from his proclamation of the gospel. Jesus’ deeds were the proof of his speech and Jesus’ acts were the seal of his promise. Jesus taught the truth of the gospel with conviction and devotion and healed his neighbors and engaged the culture with that very same conviction and devotion. Proclamation and application were inseparable for Jesus, and should therefore be inseparable for his church.


 Beloved, we as the church of Christ are called to till the soil of creation and scatter the seed of promise, no matter how unprofitable our culture can be and no matter how shallow our neighbors hearts might seem; from our perspective. This is the bountiful beauty that we find in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, and why I believe Jesus parables are vital for the churches witness in our culture today (I encourage you to read all of Mark 4:1-20 for the full context).


“As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”


Mark 4:4-9 (NIV)


Jesus paints this vivid and vibrant image of a sower sowing seed. As we read the parable (or better yet, imagine yourself in the shoes of one listening to Jesus) one might assume a reckless irresponsibility on the part of the sower. Why scatter seed in unprofitable places? Why sow seed along the paths where it is vulnerable to predators? Why sow seed amongst the rocky places, where the soil is too shallow for genuine flourishing and authentic growth? Why sow the seed amongst thorns that will only suffocate, choke, and strangle any possibility of the seeds flourishing? It might seem wasteful and careless from our perspective; but it is extravagant and ambitious from the Sower’s.

Where we see shallow and unprofitable soil, the Grand-Sower sees more than just potential; where we feel the pressures of this world constricting, suffocating and choking the joy of our witness, the Grand-Sower sees more than just possibility. Jesus, the Grand-Sower, is remarkably ambitious, sowing the seed of promise especially within the hearts of those, assumed by us, unfit to produce a harvest that would flourish toward eternal life.


For those who have had the honor of reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (and I stress the books because this particular illustration is not found in the films), I wanted to share this illustration, because it highlights beautifully what we see Jesus teaching us in this parable.


After Sam and Frodo travel the burdensome and difficult road to Mount Doom to destroy the evil ring crafted by the dark lord Sauron, Sam and Frodo travel the long road back home, and when they arrive, they are struck by the heart wrenching reality: everything they had loved was destroyed by the enemy; the shire was devastated. So what does Sam do when he sees his home now a ravaged, destitute, devastated, shallow, and unprofitable soil? He sows seed. In the midst of the darkness, Sam has the authority to sow seed within the shallow and unprofitable soil precisely because he remembers the beauty that had preceded the enemy’s devastation.


Jesus, the Grand-Sower in Mark 4, deliberately sows the seed of promise within the shallow and unprofitable places because he is the only one who remembers the beauty that had preceded the devastation of sin upon the soil of our hearts, and is therefore, the only one with the authority to scatter the seed and sow the promise today, through his church. Beloved, we have been destined to bear fruit and therefore produce a bountiful harvest, even in dark places, because we have been qualified to belong to the kingdom of light sown by the King himself; and where the King sows promise, the soil of out hearts never remains a ravaged, destitute, devastated, shallow, and unprofitable soil.


Beloved, the Grand-Sower, Jesus, sowed the seed of promise within your heart with the expectation of who was already guaranteed to be his. He did not sow the seed within the soil of your heart, merely hoping you would be his; he sowed the seed of promise within the soil of your heart fully knowing you were called and chosen to be his. Might we therefore trust him, FPCH church, and be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, scattering the seed and sowing his promise, trusting and hoping in the only one with the authority and willingness to provide the increase? Those he has called, he will find.


As we continue to journey as a community through Lent in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and as Pastor Clark teaches us about the final words of Jesus, consider deeply how you might reflect the good news of the gospel in application and proclamation. FPCH, the beloved of the Father, sow the seed in hope, never in despair.





JOHN 13:31-38 – Jesus Predicts Peters Denial


Today’s practice will be Lectio Divina, the literally meaning “divine reading,” but better translated as “spiritual reading.” 

Lectio Divina comes to us from the earliest days of the church, in the 3rd century Origen practiced this “divine reading,” to describe a way of approaching Scriptures for the purpose of finding a personal message from God.

From the earliest days of the church to 2023, Lectio Divina continues to be a life-giving practice that draws us into intimacy with God that leads to real transformation.1

Lectio Divina is broken up into 5 separate sections:

  1. SILENCO – Silence (we can use our Centering Prayer to help prepare.) Take 60 seconds (or more) in silent preparation for sacred reading.
  2. LECTIO – Listen to the text by reading out loud slowly and repeat 3 times.
  3. MEDITATO – Meditation – Reflect on what word, words, phrase or sentence that speaks to you from the text, then write it down.
  4. ORATIO – Pray – Pray as responding to the words, phrases, sentence that God has stirred in you.
  5. CONTEMPLATIO – Rest in the presence of God, allowing the words revealed to take root.[1]


  • SILENCIO – 60 seconds or more of silence
  • LECTIO – Scripture read out loud slowly and repeated 3 times.
    • John 13:31-38
  • MEDITATIO – Reflection on a word, words, phrase, or sentence that speaks to you from the text. Hold onto it or write it down.
  • ORATIO – Pray as responding to the words, phrase sentences that God has stirred in you.
  • CONTEMPLATIO – Rest in the presence of God allowing the words revealed to take root: 3 to 5 minutes.
  • AMEN





How do I pray the Examen?


The following practice is called The Examen where one simply pauses to prayerfully reflect on your week with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We invite you to set this prayer as a weekly rhythm every Saturday. Taking the same amount of time as you would for your regular Lectio Divina practice — pause, sit and review the experiences of this past week.

The Examen practice (or prayer) is a progression of reflections, steps, or movements (see below) that like a magnifying glass allow you to see yourself and the activity of God more clearly as you retrace your week. As one author puts it,

“we are searching for the ripples of the divine that radiate throughout the ordinary.”


As you give yourself to the Examen practice both joyful (consolation) and painful (desolation) moments from your week will surface. Take notice of what you’re feeling and sensing, and when the pain filled moments speak, lean in. For what the Holy Spirit may be initiating could be the gentle work where healing, transformation, clearing, or wholeness is taking place. Trust God’s love.


  • Become aware of the presence of God and His love for you.
  • Review the week with gratitude.
  • While asking yourself the following questions, be attentive to what you’re feeling or to what you’re thinking:
    • Where in your week did you experience consolation; joy, comfort, peace, etc?
    • Where in your week did you experience desolation; sadness, frustration, failure, etc?
  • As you become attentive to your desolation what sadness, frustration, or failure might you need to confess? Where might you need to receive forgiveness?
  • With hope, look toward tomorrow. What newness would the Holy Spirit be inviting you into?*

*shared from – My.lectiodivinajournal.com


[1] My.lectiodivinajouranl.com

  • Login