FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
THEME: THE SILVER COINS
FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY
by Lonetta Key
Today’s consideration focuses on Judas Iscariot one of Jesus’ chosen. There is not a more glaring, blaring example of Paul’s statement in I Timothy 6:10. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
This scenario is a vivid illustration of how sin grows from a small seed to a full grown redwood. It appears that Judas had a bit of a penchant for avarice from the beginning of his association with the disciples. He positioned himself as their treasurer.
Judas started small—“borrowing” from the funds that were to be used for the needs of the chosen twelve. “…he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.” (John 12:6)
Then it grew to lying. Pretending to be indignant over Mary using expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet, he stated he would have preferred that money be used to help the poor. (John 12:5) In actuality he was envisioning the money bag getting a little heavier.
As sinful greed grips Judas a little tighter the stakes get higher. He voluntarily offers his services to the chief priests and officers of the temple to betray Jesus for a sum of money. My research suggests the thirty pieces of silver for which he sold his soul approximated four months wages. (Matthew 26:14,15) And then stooping to the lowest echelons of hell Judas blatantly betrays the Son of God—-evil personified.
There is a strategically important element of this account not to be overlooked. Of course Jesus was fully aware of Judas’ sinful core as well as his actions. But He loved him unconditionally. Jesus did not betray His knowledge of Judas’ dark heart to the others. But Judas betrayed Jesus.
Oh yes it is very easy for us to castigate Judas. But let us pause in contemplation. Is there something we possess a love for that might result in a betrayal of our Savior in words or actions??
Let us heed the admonition of James given in chapter 1, verse 15. “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown,
gives birth to death.” Literally—in this instance. “…Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:4)
Judas hanged himself because of his sin. Jesus was hanged to pay the penalty for that sin.
MONDAY 27 MARCH 2023
FIFTH MONDAY OF LENT
I ease away from stress and strain… I let my body rest at peace… I focus on the here and now…
“Lord Jesus Christ, bring me your strength.”
In through the nose…
And exhale out through the mouth…
The present moment enfolds me… I stand at the frontier of peace… a horizon of hope beckons…
I begin by setting the scene of today’s reflection in my mind…
A leather pouch of silver coins, a will bent by fearful leaders, an opportunist mocks the feast, double crossed without a moment’s thought, yet the world turns on this moment, he goes as is written of him…
I ask for the grace to be counted among Jesus’ friends…or whatever it is that I need at this moment…
READ: Matthew 26:14-25
As you weigh the weight of thirty pieces of silver against the friendship of Jesus, let yourself notice the faces of the disciples as they react to the revelation that one of their number will betray him..
Do you notice surprise or regret…pain or relief…anger or sorrow…?
As you watch their distress begin to grow, what expression is forming on your face…?
How is it possible that a friendship so close could break like this…?
As you read these words again, consider whose side you would like to be on, as Jesus makes his way to the cross…
READ: Matthew 26:14-25
And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
Speak to Jesus, as one friend speaks to another, tell him what his friendship means to you, then listen to his response…
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
TUESDAY 28 MARCH 2023
FIFTH TUESDAY OF LENT
Lectio Divina is broken up into 5 separate sections:
- SILENCO – Silence (we can use our Centering Prayer to help prepare.) Take 60 seconds (or more) in silent preparation for sacred reading.
- LECTIO – Listen to the text by reading out loud slowly and repeat 3 times.
- MEDITATO – Meditation – Reflect on what word, words, phrase or sentence that speaks to you from the text, then write it down.
- ORATIO – Pray – Pray as responding to the words, phrases, sentence that God has stirred in you.
- CONTEMPLATIO – Rest in the presence of God, allowing the words revealed to take root.
- SILENCIO – 60 seconds or more of silence
- LECTIO – Scripture read out loud slowly and repeated 3 times.
- READ: JOHN 6:27-25
- 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.
WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH 2023
SIXTH WEDNESDAY OF LENT
A LENTEN POEM ABOUT JUDAS ISCARIOT
BETTER FOR HIM HAD HE NOT BEEN BORN
by Maude Carolan
“…But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!
It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Matt 26:24b (NIV)
He controlled the money bag
dipped into the money bag
dipped with Jesus at table
mingled with Him
chewed the fat
as they roasted fish
along the shore of the Galilee
Judas watched Him heal
the blind and lame
even raise the dead
was there when He fed
calmed a raging squall
and walked billow to billow
upon the storm-tossed sea
He heard Him teach
even how to pray
observed His tenderness
as children climbed
upon His lap
observed His mercy
to those who sinned much
The day Mary anointed Jesus’ feet
with extravagant nard
and dried them
with her unpinned hair
it was he who complained
the perfume should have been sold
the money given to the poor—
yes, it was he, holder
of the purse strings
When this same apostle agreed
to betray his master
for a handful of silver
did he think
The Miracle Worker
would somehow slip away
unscathed, as He had
the day He was driven
out of the synagogue
by an angry mob
intent on throwing Him
off a cliff
Woe to the mercenary
betrayer of the Son of Man
…Mammon had always been
his greater god
Their final evening
at the Paschal meal
The Master stooped
to wash filth
from His betrayer’s feet
Judas partook of The Bread
drank of The Wine
and when Jesus dipped a morsel
and gave it to him
from His very own hand
the taker took that, too
Later, in the garden
following Jesus’ great travail
Judas approached Him
with armed cohorts
called Him, “Rabbi”
kissed the face
still damp with blood and sweat
as The Rabbi called him, “Friend”
The word echoed
till he flung
the tarnished coins
through temple doors
till he tied
a ragged noose around his neck
and hanged his wretched self
from a jutting twisted limb
THURSDAY 30 MARCH 2023
SIXTH THURSDAY OF LENT
FROM THE COMMUNITY
HAIKU ON SCRIPTURE
The haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.
This Haiku is Holy Spirit inspired from Mark 14, Jesus Walks on Water
by Maria Burke
I am far from land
The waves have overcome me
With you, I fear not.
Questions for Reflection:
How do you feel battered by the waves in your life? What strong “winds” are you fighting against? Are you feeling far from land – insecure in areas of your life? Bring these things in your life that are making you feel unanchored and uncertain to the Lord in prayer today.
Am I crying out in fear like the disciples? Jesus told us to have courage, trust in him and not be afraid. Bring all your worries before the Lord in prayer and ask him for courage and trust in Him.
Confess your doubts and lack of faith to the Lord and each other. Jesus immediately reached out his hand to Peter and saved him from sinking. Spend some time in praise and worshiping Jesus as the Son of God.
FRIDAY 31 MARCH 2023
SIXTH FRIDAY OF LENT
Catechisms may seem hopelessly out of date, suggesting rote memorization of abstract answers to questions no one is asking. We live in the internet age, not the era of McGuffy’s Readers! We belong to a church of open inquiry, not one of pat answers. Catechisms may seem to be relics of an educational era that is in the past. Why does the PCUSA publish catechisms for use in Presbyterian congregations and Christian homes?
Catechisms have been part of the Reformed church life since the sixteenth-century Reformation. Three catechisms are included in the Book of Confessions – the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. They were not meant to be memorized, but rather to be used as brief summaries of Christian faith and life, presented in dialogue form. Reformed catechisms have helped generations of Christians to explore the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer by posing honest questions and providing faithful relevant answers.
This excerpt is from the Study Catechism: Confirmation Version. It is brief and simpler than The Study Catechism. The Study Catechism includes explorations of religious pluralism, science and faith, the shape of mission, and other pertinent issues, all in the context of basic Christian affirmations. The intention throughout is to acknowledge real questions and provide honest Christian answers in a way that encourages continued exploration.
*Introduction, Study Catechism Confirmation Version, Joseph Small, Theology Worship and Discipleship Presbyterian Church USA
THE STUDY CATECHISM: CONFIRMATION VERSION
Question 1. What is God’s purpose for your life?
Answer: God wills that I should live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor. 13:13
Question 2. How do you live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Answer: I am not my own. I have been bought with a price. The Lord Jesus Christ loved me and gave himself for me. I entrust myself completely to his care, giving thanks each day for his wonderful goodness.
1 Cor 6:19-20
Question 3. How do you live for the love of God?
Answer: I love because God first loved me. Amazed by grace, I live for the Lord who died and rose again, triumphant over death, for my sake. Therefore, I take those around me to heart, especially those in need, knowing that Christ died fir them no less than for me.
1 John 4:19
2 Cor. 5:15
Question 4. How do you live in the communion of the Holy Spirit?
By the Holy Spirit, I am made one with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am baptized into Christ’s body, the church. As a member of this community, I trust in God’s Word, share in the Lord’s Supper, and turn to God in prayer. As I grow in grace and knowledge, I am led to do the good works that God intends for my life.
1 Cor. 12:27
1 Cor 6:17, 19
2 Peter 3:18
SATURDAY 1 APRIL 2023
SIXTH SATURDAY OF LENT
Read: PSALM 108
What has brought you new life and joy this week?
Where have you seen Jesus revealed in a new or fresh way?
What has surprised or disturbed you this week?
Share with God an encounter that changed, challenged, or comforted you.
Ponder times when you may have resisted God’s guidance. What has stopped you from being wholehearted? Speak with the Lord about this.
Pray for the week to come, for God’s guiding hand in your life and your interactions with others.
Are there any Spiritual Disciplines you have committed to practice throughout Lent? Ask the Lord for grace to remain faithful in those disciplines.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
That is enough for me.