Our Lenton Season

Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.

Annual Lenten Bible Study

Around The Lenten Circle

February 18, 2024 - March 24, 2024

View and download the materials below:

During Sunday School @ 9am Phone & Video conference. All Sunday School will join together for this study.

Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter

March 24, 2024 • Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion • Year B

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
OPENING PRAYER:
Reader: Christ Jesus, we come together to prepare for this Holy Week.
All: As our Lenten journey comes to a close, help us to keep our eyes focused on you.
Reader: Let us not give in to the temptation to skip over this challenging week in our eagerness to get to Easter.
All: Help us to stay present to the story of your Passion and death.
Reader: Open our minds and hearts to what you want us to learn this week.
All: May your life story shed light on the passions and deaths that we experience in our lives. Amen.

SHARING

Last week we reflected on God’s promise spoken through Jeremiah that he would write his law on our hearts so that we would always know them. We also discussed the paradox that sometimes things must die in order to come to new life.
1. Did you have any experience of listening to your heart to see how God might be leading you last week? Please share.

2. Please share any further thoughts you have had about last week’s materials on the necessity to die in order to gain new life.

LISTENING: ISAIAH 50:4-7

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
This reading from Isaiah references an unidentified servant who continues to do God’s will despite being persecuted and tortured. No one knows whom Isaiah is referring to in this passage and three others like it. Some people have suggested it might be Isaiah himself, or Moses, or another historical figure of Isaiah’s time. Christians see Jesus in this description. He was a teacher who gave hope and encouragement to people who were burdened and exhausted by their lots in life. He regularly took time to listen to his Father in prayer.
Even though he begged to be rescued from death, he did not run away from it when the time came for his arrest. He refused to lash out against his torturers who insulted him, spit on him, and struck him before his crucifixion. Clearly, Jesus suffered great anguish physically and mentally-as any human who had to undergo what he experienced would suffer. Yet even in his suffering he was able to show us how to remain faithful and how we can still call on God’s help.

SHARING

1. Who in your life has been a servant “with the tongue of a teacher”? Perhaps it was a teacher you had in school, or a mentor, a colleague, or a family member, someone who has the ability to say the right thing at the right time to you.

2. Share about what you do to open your ears to hear whatever it is God wants to say to you.

3. Think about someone you know or have heard or read about who suffered with dignity as he or she stood up to injustice and persecution. Please share your response to their actions.

REFLECTION: MARK 15:33-37

Each Gospel writer tells the story of Jesus’ passion and death slightly differently, emphasizing particular aspects of Jesus that they especially want to be remembered. Mark’s account makes it very clear that Jesus suffered intensely and that he experienced deep human emotions. Mark does not want us to think that Jesus was God just dressed up in a human costume who didn’t really suffer when the nails were hammered into his hands and feet. No, Jesus was just like one of us in his experience of pain and despair, even to the point of wondering why God had abandoned him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Looking back on Jesus’ death now, we don’t believe that God abandoned Jesus. Yet Jesus felt that way at the time. This point can remind us that our feelings do not make up all of reality. If we feel despairing or hopeless or that all is lost, we can remember that Jesus felt the same. If we are terrified of death, or can’t feel any sense of God’s presence with us in our suffering, we can be assured that God has not abandoned us, just as God did not abandon Jesus. Sometimes all that can be done is to stay the course, remembering that God found a way to bring life out of death, even when Jesus and the others around him could not see it in the moment.

SHARING

1. What is your first reaction to reading Jesus’ cry “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
2. Share about a time when you felt-or were tempted to wonderif God was still with you. Looking back on that time now, do you have a sense of how God was still present and active then? How?
3. Think of someone in your life now whom is suffering or despairing for any reason. How might you make yourself available to that person so that he/she will know she is not alone?

CLOSING PRAYER

All: Ever-compassionate God, We thank you for sending your son to be human like us.
Teach us to be more like him in our ability to sustain the weary with our words, and to continually open our ears to hear your will for us.
In times of suffering, may we remember that Jesus, too, knew what it was like to feel despair.
Remind us then that you never abandon us.
We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

Copyright © 2024 Ann Naffziger. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Published by The Pastoral Center / PastoralCenter.com. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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