Lenten Scripture Reflection | Monday: Psalms 57-58; Malachi 2.1-9; Mark 10.32-52

From: Hannah P.

Jesus asks the same question twice in today’s gospel reading. “What do you want me to do for you?”

He asks James and John first. Jesus, the twelve disciples, and a crowd are travelling to Jerusalem and Jesus has just told his disciples what will happen when they get there, that he will be killed. It’s hard to tell how time passes in Mark’s gospel, but the way this is written, it seems that just a moment later, James and John pull Jesus aside and demand that he give them places of honor, at his right and left, when he comes into his glory. “You don’t know what you’re asking,” Jesus says to them.

Later, Jesus and the crowd are leaving Jericho. “Have mercy on me,” Bartimaeus, a blind man, cries out, from his place on the roadside. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks him. The man says, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

The same question from Jesus. The very same words. Two different responses.

It seems obvious, with the whole gospel of Mark spread out before us, that the disciples are missing the point, as they often seem to. Quarreling about which of them is the best. Somehow not hearing Jesus’s very clear words about his death. Not knowing that the places at his right and left will be places of suffering. It seems clear that the blind man has some wisdom that the disciples don’t, about what he ought to ask Jesus.

But perhaps the disciples’ concerns are more familiar to me than those of the beggar. I am in the throes of moving into a new home. As my husband and I settle in, it is easy to spend so much energy and thought on giving everything just the right touch. Unexpected anxious thoughts revolve around what others will think of our little place in the world. When I write it down it seems needlessly self-involved.

I think both the scenes in today’s reading—and my own anxieties—have to do with the inability to see. It is easy to miss Jesus. To see only how his power can increase our power. The cries of Bartimaeus are appropriate ones for us to take up in this season of Lent. Of the two requests made of Jesus, they are the ones that are immediately answered.

Have mercy on me.
I want to see.

I live on Cape Cod and work in Cambridge. I come to Church of the Cross whenever I can.

Lenten Scripture Reflection | Sunday: Psalms 102, 130; Malachi 1.1-14; Mark 10.1-31

From: Megan Pinckard

Halfway there, and I’m hungry. 

not that I’m starving myself—I haven’t even given up food for Lent—but that this season makes me crave. Fasting is, to me, a contest of desires: between what I want to fill myself with and how God himself wants to purge me. 

And I really want to fill my face with chocolate. 

No wonder so much of fasting concerns food. We’re consumed by food—and we eat it, too. 

Today we read of eating ashes, of food as fodder for sacrifice. I think of Jesus and His own sacrifice after He broke bread with His disciples. I remember the words of God unto Augustine: “I am the food of the fully grown. Grow and you will feed on me. And you will not change Me into you, like the food of flesh eats. But you will be changed into Me.” 

Jesus claimed to be the one thing every human needs. Come and take me, He says. Fill. Feed. 

I get paid to buy toys and books for other people. I also eat a lot of chocolate.

Lenten Scripture Reflection | Friday: Psalms 53-54; Haggai 2.1-9; Mark 9.2-29

From: Drue Rockett

Working as a pediatric oncology nurse, I spend a lot of time in the company of parents who are completely desperate for their children to be healed. Having a sick child seems to be one of the most humbling experiences one can endure.  I would expect the father of the mute, seizing, demon possessed child we read about in Mark 9 to have a similar stance of helplessness as my patients’ parents. Now this sick boy’s dad finds himself face-to-face with Emmanuel. Can you imagine how humbled he must have felt?

This father’s total desperation for his son’s healing prompted him to cry out the words, “I believe, help my unbelief!” This man is not alone in his unbelief. We all experience it on a daily basis. In fact, these may be the words from scripture I find myself echoing in prayer most often. If we are honest, there are so many daily circumstances in which our posture is marked by unbelief that God’s promises are true.  

When the people we love the most fail us, Lord, help us believe You promise never to leave us nor forsake us. 

When we are striving to determine our futures, Lord, help us believe that You direct our steps.  

When we’re overwhelmed in times of transition, Lord, help us remember that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

When we feel exhausted and weary of serving You, Lord, help us believe that we will reap a harvest of blessing in due season if we don’t give up.  

When we are overwhelmed by our shortcomings and the pattern of sin we just can’t seem to escape, Lord, help us believe that Your grace is sufficient for us and Your power is made perfect in our weakness. 

When we feel unlovable, Lord, help us believe that Your love knows no bounds. 

When we are overwhelmed by tragedy after tragedy, cancer diagnosis after cancer diagnosis, Lord, help us believe that a day is coming in which there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor sickness, nor tears.

We believe, help our unbelief.

My husband Carson and I live in Back Bay just a couple of blocks from the Charles River. Come have a picnic with us when it finalllly warms up!