Wednesday: Psalms 142, 143; Exodus 25.23-40; Luke 19.28-48

From: Sarah Black

How often do we weep over brokenness in our lives and in our city? 

The end of Luke 19 finds Jesus having just entered triumphantly into Jerusalem. As he draws near he begins to weep over Jerusalem, mourning the brokenness of a city he loves.

Previous to this, in Luke 13:34, Jesus laments deeply over the city: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, and you would not!”

I am reminded of Mark’s sermon a couple weeks back on reconciliation. Lament was the first call to action: mourning our divisions, both personal and corporate, before God. Living in a big city often makes us desensitized to the brokenness around us. Are we seeing it? The homelessness and needs of under-resourced communities? Are we seeing the cracks in our own church community? Are we crying out to God in lament, praying for reconciliation in all areas of our lives?

When I was 8 years-old, we passed a bad car accident on the side of the road. As we waited in traffic my mom prayed aloud and asked God to intervene and protect those involved in the accident. I could hear emotion in my mother’s voice; the scene was upsetting. In that moment my 8 year-old self realized that as Christians we are to mourn the brokenness around us.

There is so much hurt in this world, it can seem overwhelming. But praise God we have the promise of the Holy Spirit and his peace. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear the needs of our neighbor and of the church and cry out to God in lament for reconciliation.

I live in Boston with my husband, Tyler. Today I learned how to make steamed milk at my new job and it was a very humbling experience. Along with the milk, I also managed to get chai latte sauce everywhere. Grace is abundant. 

Tuesday: Psalms 120-122; Exodus 19.1-25; Luke 13.1-35

From: Megan Pinckard

“What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 

Jesus knew what he was doing.

He knew that most of the Jews were farmers, intimate with the ins and outs of husbandry. And he knew that at the mention of mustard seeds, the Jews likely shuffled their feet and mumbled curses under their breath. 

The kingdom of God is like a pest, Jesus was saying. Mustard seeds were the gardener’s bane. Like biblical kudzu, the mustard plant would spread and steal over the other plants. But they were not magnificent. These were not tall, oversweeping things. Mustard plants spread outwards a great deal, but only upwards of a few feet.

The kingdom of God is not what you’d expect, Jesus said. The kingdom of God is powerful but unwanted. Who could belong there? The birds of the air—birds of prey. Vultures. The kingdom is for the least of these.

And we who flock to the gospel are so highly favored in this low but overgrown kingdom. May we encourage it to spread. May we plant seeds wherever we go, and wherever we ourselves land, help them grow. 

My job is to use other peoples’ money to buy books and toys. It’s not so bad. 

Wednesday: Psalms 113-115; Exodus 13.1-22; Luke 9.25-62.

From: Charlie Glenn

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).

We are accustomed (and rightly so) to seeing Jesus as our loving savior and shepherd; it is easy to overlook the stern warnings that are also an essential part of His teaching. The image of the hand on the plow is such a warning, and an urgent one for Christians today.

Religious faith and practice, social scientists and daily experience remind us, are no longer taken for granted in Western culture. This can be a very good thing, if it sharpens our awareness of the radical nature of Christ’s calling to be transformed rather than conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). Lukewarm and conventional religiosity is not pleasing to God (Rev. 2:15-16).

But this secularization, the growing assaults on religious convictions as “bigotry,” and the general degradation of cultural norms create the serious threat that many immature believers will fall away. As Jesus both warned and promised, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13). Will we be among those who stand firm to the end?

I’m reminded of one of the freedom songs that, in the Sixties, strengthened our resolution to confront racial injustice. It was (like most) adapted from the gospel hymns of the Black church, and taken from today’s warning, by Jesus, to those who would follow Him. Here’s how it went:

We are soldiers in the army,
We have to fight, although we have to cry,
We have to hold up that blood-stained banner, 
We have to hold it up until we die!
Yes, I’m a soldier,
I’ve got my hand on the Gospel plow,
And when I get old, I can’t fight any more,
I’ll have to stand there and fight anyhow!

“Stand firm then,” Paul wrote, “with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

My prayer is that, young or old, we will stand firm in Christ, so that “we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). Let us pray that God give us strength to hold fast to the Gospel plow, following it to the end of the furrow that God has prepared for each of us, so that at last we will rejoice to hear his “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Mary and I are excited about Ryan’s new ministry to relate university campuses more closely to the life of Church of the Cross.