2019 SPU Lenten Devotional

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Starting with Ash Wednesday and culminating in Holy Week, Christians throughout history have utilized fasting, prayer, and other spiritual practices during Lent as a means of dying to self in order to rise with Christ. 

The Campus Ministries staff at Seattle Pacific University curated this devotional as a means of helping our community grow during this Lenten season. Starting with Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019), there is an assigned passage of Scripture and a subsequent reflection written by a member of the Seattle Pacific community.

By reading Scripture together throughout these 40 days, it is our deep prayer that our students, staff, and faculty might grow in their love of God and love of neighbor.

The full devotional is available for download here or follow along on Instagram (@spucampusministries).

 

Artwork by Courtney Rutzer (Class of 2018)

Week 2 of Lent

March 18, 2019
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Teylar Greer, Executive Assistant, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Staff Council President

Scripture is the story of our promise-keeping God. It is the story of the people of God and what they do while they wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises. This, too, is our story. What do we do while we wait?

After Abram carries out God’s instructions to prepare a covenant ceremony, Abram has to drive away circling birds of prey looking to make a meal out of his preparations while he waits for God to show up. I imagine Abram putting the finishing touches on the alignment of the animal pieces, wiping the back of his hand on his forehead as he crouches on the hot ground, taking a deep breath as he prepares for God to come. He’s hot and tired, and has done what God has asked of him, so now he can sit back, rest, and wait. As he waits though, he notices that scavengers have noticed him, and that they are beginning to circle above, coming closer and closer. He is determined to keep things ready for when God comes, so he jumps up, scans the desert brush and breaks off a stick, wielding it against the birds of prey.

Abram waits actively because he trusts God will show up.

We, too, can trust God’s word to us – even in the waiting. There are moments when we, too, must be ready to drive away that which tries to sabotage our preparation, our hope, our sacrifice. Regardless of how long the wait, we know God will come.

During this season of Lent, as we wait individually and collectively for our promise-keeping God, as we reflect on our need for Jesus our Redeemer and Reconciler, as we seek to receive and respond to the revelation of the Holy Spirit, are we ready to wait like Abram?


March 19, 2019
Psalm 27
Caenisha Warren, Coordinator for Events and Student Ministries, John Perkins Center

This Psalm begins with encouragement on who God is and ends with the same remembrance through an expectant hope in God’s wait. However, in between there is a whole lot of life - praise, struggle and lament.  And that life being lived in the in-between is one that is real and in need of this expectant hope that David speaks of.

The words in verse 9 say “You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.” This is a plea but also a comforting assurance of a God who is “with”. When there are tests, trials, and troubles, and those against me rising within the midst, even so, in those spaces and in those places, there is God. This is the belief that, like David, carries me into the waiting.

As a sharing example, the next verse stings of familiarity given parts of my own story (perhaps not a seemingly normative example for some), “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.” As someone with one parent who is an addict and the other emotionally estranged, this recites a truth that demonstrates part of the grace and blessing about who I am today and for how my story of becoming was formed through a God who made a way. But even in the broader context when community may be distant, whether parents, family, friends, there is still a God who is “with”.

This is one practice of being community that we can learn from God; how to be “with”, even in the waiting.


March 20, 2019
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Joselyn Molina, Urban Involvement Coordinator; Chemistry and Political Science Majors, Class of 2019

Oh what a blessing it is to be a friend of someone who serves as a great and wonderful example of a life of love, humility, and strength. As I reflect on this passage, I think back on the gift of Jesus’ life to us – not only did he live a good life of love and mercy, but he invites, not forces or guilts us, to live just as he did. We are welcome to live like God. By our own will, we are free to love like the love that was given to us, and that is liberating in how God cares for us.

It is through being firm and living beside God that we can live by his example. Through this, we are able to manage  life in the face of evil and those who hold evil thoughts. We are called to live in the light of what Jesus has done to and for us. For we are people of heaven, and we are able to live by how heaven does. We live on Earth, surrounded by the fellow creations of God, to live in a reflection of Jesus by living in love. This is the beauty of Jesus’ life to us.

This passage brings me to understand the foundation of my role in another person’s life – I am here to love and to serve. I am here to wash my friend’s feet, because I long for them and love them much like how Jesus loved those around him. I strive to continue living in this way and follow Jesus’ steps in all I do.


March 21, 2019
Luke 13:31-35
Nate Wieland, MDiv Student, Class of 2022

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

This Lukan passage is all about desire. The Greek word thelo occurs three times throughout the pericope. First when Herod wants to kill Jesus, secondly when Jesus wanted to gather Jerusalem together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and finally when Jerusalem did not want to be gathered. In this we see the conflicting desires of the Divine and human will that constitute the brokenness of our world today. The Divine enters into the human situation and desires to gather us into one people, but in response to this Divine initiative we tend to resist, often with violence against the very God we claim to worship. What does this mean as we enter into this season of Lent? Lent is a time of preparation, of tending and pruning our spiritual lives with the fulfillment of our discipline in sight; Easter. Our houses are left to us, and we find ourselves downtrodden as we wait for the time when we can say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” The time for celebration and rejoicing is on the horizon, but we aren’t there yet. We must fast before we can feast. We must be readied to join in the resurrection of the Christ. How does this passage guide us into that readiness?

We learn from Jesus’ emotional lament, the strength of God’s desire to gather God’s people up into one body. We learn also the strength of God’s sorrow over the human desire to resist this gathering; manifested in hierarchies that subordinate some to the benefit of others, doling out lethal violence to those who embody God’s desire for reconciliation. Given this revelation of God’s desire, we must examine our own desires. Where in our lives are we resisting the gathering of all people together under God’s wings? Who are we pushing out, whether actively or by our silence? Are we ready to be gathered together, or will we find that togetherness with God exceeds what we thought we desired?


March 22, 2019
Isaiah 7:10-14
Rebekah Johansen, Administrative Assistant, Finance and Business Affairs

In these verses God is telling Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign. But how does Ahaz respond? By saying that he won’t test the Almighty. The thing was, God was asking Ahaz to do that very thing and even without Ahaz asking, God still chose to give him a sign.

Is there an area of your life in which God is calling you to seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit before anyone else? Maybe in your search for a spouse, a job, in trying for a family, or applying to grad school. Maybe you’re in the midst of one of those things, but you aren’t sure what steps God wants you to take next. Imagine with me what could happen if you were to ask God to reveal these areas to you.

Take a deep breath and ask for a sign. God gave one to Ahaz, so why wouldn’t our Almighty grant the same to you? The truth is, that the Everlasting will. God just needs you to listen, and when you do, you give God the space to do incredible work in your life. Does someone who is almighty need this? No. (Just look at Ahaz) But, if you let go of resistance, the answer will be so much sweeter.

Breathe. Listen. Receive. God will take care of the rest.


March 23, 2019
Psalm 45
Tracy Norlen, Director of Public Information, University Communications

Psalm 45 is a royal “wedding song to the tune of ‘Lilies,’” and reading through it certainly gives the reader a feeling they are witnessing the beginning of a most extraordinary ceremony. The bridegroom and bride are described in extravagant terms and surrounded by the finest materials.

“You are the most excellent of men and your lips are anointed with grace” is one description of the groom. “All glorious is the princess in her chamber, and her gown is interwoven with gold” is the description of the bride and her dress. They enter the king’s palace with “joy and gladness.”

As I think about the grand entrance of this royal couple, I can’t help but think of Jesus’ final return. I know we don’t know when that day will be, but what will it be like? The day of Jesus’ first return — an empty tomb and surprise appearances before Mary, Martha, and the bewildered apostles — was not extravagant and only witnessed by a handful of people. It certainly changed the lives of all those who worshiped and believed in Jesus, but most people in Jerusalem were unaware. The second time Jesus comes, like a royal bridegroom coming for the royal bride in the most extravagant setting imaginable, is something everyone on Earth will witness. Maybe we will be singing the hymn “What If It Were Today?”

“Jesus is coming to earth again, what if it were today?

Coming in power and love to reign, what if it were today?

Coming to claim his chosen Bride, all the redeemed and purified,

over this whole Earth scattered wide.

What if it were today?”

(Hymn: “What If It Were Today?

Words and music. Leila N. Morris 1912)

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