Praying Through Lent and Easter Toward Pentecost

February 17th, 2013

Does Lent often seem to you like a time to be "gotten through" as quickly as possible as we move toward Easter? Seen this way, Easter becomes the end of a jour­ney or ordeal we have had to suffer through.

What would happen if we treated Easter as both an ending and a beginning, a midpoint around which we truly shape our Christian lives? What if we begin to understand Lent as the ending of one life and the time immediately following Easter as the beginning of a new life?

Winter seems to sharpen our senses in anticipation of spring. So, too, Lent may sharpen our spiritual senses to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste the resurrection and the new life that begins at Easter.

This is the vision I encourage you to use this year. This vision is based on a centuries-old tradition of the church which sees Lent as a special time of intensive spiritual preparation that climaxes a longer period of prepara­tion (some say three years) for bap­tism. In this tradition baptism occurs at Easter, marking the for­mal end of a non-Christian life, even as it marks the beginning of a new life centered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter, then, serves as the "hinge" on which our Christian lives turn. It is both the end and the beginning, our death and our antic­ipated resurrection. We hear the words of the apostle Paul: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

The following suggestions are intended to help you find the ending and begin­ning, to help you sharpen your spiritual senses in readiness for new life, to help you pray your way both toward Easter and toward Pentecost.

These suggestions will help you engage scriptures briefly each day, patiently living with each text throughout an entire week.

The process is very simple:

1. Read the text for each week in your own Bible at least once each day of the week. (Note: Begin where you can and don't worry about being behind in the readings.) Try to memorize the text or at least an outline of its contents.

2. Also pray the prayer accom­panying the text each day or use it as a guide for your own prayer time.

3. Begin using the text on Sun­day of each week. It is, after all, the first day of the week.

4. At the end of each day, or at least at the end of the week, take a few moments to collect your thoughts about the text and prayer. Write a few notes in a journal, create a drawing or talk to a friend. Find some way of summarizing your thoughts and reminding yourself of the important ideas.

5. After Pentecost, take a few extra moments to review your notes. Think about what you have learned, how you have been chal­lenged or comforted, and how you have found new endings and beginnings in your own Christian life.

Repent, the Kingdom Is at Hand!

Read Mark 1:9-15.

0 God, not only for myself but for the church and the world help me this day to turn away from those powers of wickedness and evil that keep me from you, that I may more fully turn toward you in all that I do. Amen.

Take Up the Cross

Read Mark 8:31-38

0 God, not only for myself but for the church and the world help me this day to confess Jesus Christ as my Savior, to trust wholly in the promise of your grace, and with the whole church and all of creation to serve you in all that I do. Amen.

Cleanse the Temple

Read John 2:13-22

0 God, not only for myself but for the church and the world help me this day to accept the freedom and power you have given me to resist the powers of evil, injustice, and oppression whenever and wherever they present themselves. Amen.

God So Loves the World

Read John 3:14-21;

0 God, not only for myself but for the church and the world help me this day to nurture all who have been given into my care, that by my words and deeds I may guide them to accept your grace, to claim their faith, and to live in their words and deeds a Christian life. Amen.

Dying an Living

Read John 12:20-33

0 God, not only for myself but for the church and the world by your grace help me this day to be a faithful member of Christ's holy church, that I may faithfully serve you as Christ's representative in the world. Amen.


Read Mark 15:1-47

0 God, here I can only confess that I do believe in Jesus Christ, your only Son, my Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; who descended to the dead; who on the third day rose again and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

Christ In Risen!

Read John 20:1-18

0 God, in his death Christ destroyed my death. In his resurrection Christ restores my life. I wait for that time when Christ will come again in glory, that even as I am clothed in the glory of baptism, I may come into the glory of your kingdom. Here and now, 0 God, I am your child. Amen.

Peace Be With You

Read John 20:19-31

Mighty and powerful God, in Jesus you have destroyed all that binds us and would keep us from life. Empower us now with such faith and trust, that in the face of suffer­ing and death we too may triumph as Christ has triumphed for the sake of your church and all of cre­ation. Amen.

You Are Witnesses

Read Luke 24:36-38

God of love and life, high on the cross you took the suffering of the world upon yourself. Low in the grave you defeated the powers of death. Raised in power and glory, you restored us to glory. Now in these fifty days of Easter we are witnesses to all that you have done for us. All honor and glory is yours now and forever. Amen.

I Am the Good Shepherd

Read John 10:11-18

Almighty God, you sent Jesus to shepherd your flock, to seek out the lost, and to keep all in safety. Help us to follow where Christ would lead us, neither wandering from the path nor fearing the journey, until that day when we come to our rest in the safety of your eternal fold. Amen.

I Am the True Vine

Read John 15:1-8

Lord and God of all creation, guide us throughout our lives by your grace and your love. Nurture us by your holy word; cleanse us by your holy fire. Prune us where we are no longer bearing fruit; be patient with us when we are slow to blossom. In all things help us to worship you in word and deed that we may come at last to eternal life with Christ our Lord. Amen.

Abide In My Love

Read John 15:9-17

0 God, by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit you have filled us with a love that is complete only in you. Grant us the strength and joy which are yours to give, that we may love as you love and befriend even those whom only you have befriended, for the sake of the one who calls us friend, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Jesus Prays for Us

Read John 17:6-19

O God, even as Jesus prayed for his disciples and sent them into the world to preach good news, so now you guide us and send us into a world still longing for your good news. By your Spirit empower us, by Word and bread sustain us, by your love bind us together that we may be with Christ in faith, love, and service. Amen

The Spirit Bears Witness

Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-l5

God of truth, God of comfort, God of hope, as you have promised, you have sent to us the care and power of your Holy Spirit. For all your gifts great and small we give you thanks. Now, not only for ourselves but for the church and the world accept our gifts of life and love. Accept our words and deeds, our praise and worship, as we tell of your love throughout all the earth. To you, 0 God, through Jesus Christ and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, be blessing and honor and glory forever. Amen.

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