Meditations for Pentecost 2013

by Rev. Greg Karlsgodt

Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:1-21

Jerusalem was packed with Jews from many countries to celebrate Pentecost, their spring harvest festival which also commemorated God’s gift of the Law.  Just as the Jewish Passover became the foundation for our Lord’s passion (suffering and death) to liberate us from sin, death and the power of evil, so Pentecost became the festival for us as Christians to celebrate the birthday of the Church.  John the Baptizer had promised a baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16).  In this reversal of the tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1-9), the pilgrims hear about the “mighty works of God” in their own language.  Peter explains that this event was foretold by the Prophet, Joel.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit!  Revive your Church!  Begin with me!

 

Holy Trinity Sunday: John 16:12-15

We celebrate on this Holy Trinity Sunday how the three Persons of God work together to rescue us and make us new.  The Father creates, provides and gives his Son.  The Son is sent to offer forgiveness and abundant life with God and the Church.  The Holy Spirit is sent to deliver the gift of faith and to link the believer to Christ (and to the Father).

Prayer: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we thank you for the many ways you touch us with your love, generosity, forgiveness and new life.

 

2 Pentecost: Luke 7:1-10

What a wonderful example of faith…and from a Gentile!  Not only was this Roman officer an outsider as far as the Jews were concerned, he was also an occupier and an enemy of Israel!  Yet, Jesus lifts him up as an example of what it means to trust in God.  This man was a proselyte and also applied the military chain of command to his limited understanding of how God works.  Therefore he simply asks Jesus to declare his servant to be healed and knows that it will happen.

Prayer: Great Physician and Lord of all, may we learn to trust in your power and rule over us, knowing that you are a loving, forgiving, and healing ruler.

 

3 Pentecost: Luke 7:11-17

The people of God would have undoubtedly been reminded of Elijah raising another widow’s son from the dead in Zarephath (see 1 Kings 17:17-24) and of Elisha raising another son from the dead in Shunem (which was close to Nain.  See 2 Kings 4:32-37).  No wonder they respond with “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”  Little did they know that the one who demonstrated his divine power over death would himself die on the cross, but then be raised on the third day!

Prayer: Reawaken our faith in you, O Lord, and in your power over all things – including death!

 

4 Pentecost: Luke 7:36 – 8:3

Even though the woman in the story may have been regarded as a “party crasher” to the Pharisee who was hosting Jesus and the other guests, some parties need to be crashed.  Those whose sins are public knowledge may make us uncomfortable; and, yet, they might be ready to receive our Lord’s love and pardon.  May God use us as agents of grace to reach out and receive them.

Prayer: Help us to be receptive as you were to those who suffer from spiritual, physical and social ills and thereby contribute to the healing community of the Church.

 

5 Pentecost: Luke 8:26-39

What a contrast: gratitude and fear!  The man who had been released from the bondage of many demons is so relieved and thankful, he wants to follow Jesus, the liberator.  The people from the surrounding area, however, are so intimidated by the power that Jesus has over the demonic, they want Jesus to leave.  Perhaps some of them would later soften as they listened to the testimony of the one who had been liberated.

Prayer: Sometimes, Lord, we resist your healing power because we fear change and try to hang onto false securities.  By your Holy Spirit open us to new opportunities and ministry.

 

6 Pentecost: Luke 9:51-62

Discipleship is demanding!  Our Lord calls us to a life style that resists retaliation, risks having no place to call home and recognizes the greater family that goes beyond one’s own flesh and blood.  Thank God for the One at the head of this family of faith and the gracious, loving, forgiving ways he leads us!

Prayer: Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, empower us to trust in you as you lead us to new ventures and to welcome strangers who await your gracious hospitality.

 

7 Pentecost: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20     

Oh, how easy it is for us to become so enamored with power or accomplishment that we forget the One Who has empowered us!  May our gratitude of salvation keep us humble and motivated to serve others in Christ’s name.

Prayer: Fill our hearts with gratitude and joy, O Lord, so that we may continue to serve others in all that we say and do for your glory.

 

8 Pentecost: Luke 10:25-37

The lawyer (Biblical scholar) would like to limit God’s Law and make it attainable i.e. “to inherit eternal life”.  Jesus takes the limits away by defining a neighbor as anyone in need.  The parable he tells features a Samaritan (regarded as a heretic by the Jews) as the one who is the compassionate, good neighbor.  Jesus is full of surprises!

Prayer: O Lord, free us to love and serve as the Good Samaritan did as a way of saying “thank you” for the way you loved and served us.

 

9 Pentecost: Luke 10:38-42

The Church needs Marys as well as Marthas.  Christian education and inspiration prime us to witness and to serve.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to recognize that learning and prayer go hand-in-hand with evangelism and ministry.

 

10 Pentecost: Luke 11:1-13

It may seem that we are knocking on God’s door in vain at times because we don’t receive an answer right away.  The parable reminds us to be persistent – not because we have to badger God into giving in to our demands – but because we can rest assured our heavenly Father knows best and will answer our prayers in the best way and at the right time for us.

Prayer: Help us to be patient, Lord, because we are so used to instant gratification we give up after only a couple of knocks.

 

11 Pentecost: Luke 12:13-21

When we try to possess that which God has created and loaned to us, we end up being “possessed”.  God’s gifts are given to us to use, enjoy, manage, improve and share.  Being “rich toward God” is remembering and living as God’s steward.  God alone deserves our praise and devotion.  Material things are signs of God’s love, care and generosity – rather than idols to be worshipped.

Prayer: Help us, Holy Spirit, to be responsible and generous stewards and use all your gifts for the care of others and for your glory.

 

12 Pentecost: Luke 12:32-40

We are held accountable as God’s stewards.  At the beginning of each day we are wise to pray: “O Lord, guide my thoughts, my plans, my feelings, my words and my deeds so that I may be your faithful servant.”  At the end of each day we can pray: “Thank you, Lord, for blessing me and my service.  Forgive me for my short-comings.  Bless me to be a blessing tomorrow.”

Prayer: Thank you for blessing me, Lord.  Help me be a blessing.

 

Mary, Mother of Our Lord: Luke 1:46-55

Two expecting mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, are together to celebrate in advance God’s gifts: John the Baptizer and Jesus the Christ.  Mary’s song, “The Magnificat”, is based largely on Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10).  It is a joyous celebration of how God continues to exalt the lowly and humble the haughty.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for Jesus, your royal, suffering servant.

 

13 Pentecost: Luke 12:49-56

Even though Jesus came to earth as the “Prince of peace”, some follow him while others reject him.  We are not to be too surprised when disagreements and divisions happen within one’s family as a result.  Even though we may be able to predict the weather, we cannot predict when Jesus will return.  Therefore, we need to be ready at all times and trust God’s great love and eagerness to forgive us.  We ready ourselves by treating others how God has treated us: graciously and lovingly.

Prayer: Rather than waste our time trying to predict your return, O Lord, help us to focus our efforts on serving our neighbor.

 

14 Pentecost: Luke 13:10-17

Before we get too indignant and angry with the ruler of the synagogue in this story, may we be reminded of the times we have been so concerned about adiafora (“things that aren’t that important”) that we failed to do the things that really matter.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to keep our priorities straight.  Show us what really counts; and empower us to serve as you lead us.

 

15 Pentecost: Luke 14:1, 7-14

We followers of Jesus are called to seek places of humility instead of honor.  We are also called to serve without expecting reward.  We have been given a job with fringe benefits that are out of this world!  May we go about our work with the “poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind” with thankful hearts and for the sheer joy of serving them.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with gratitude and empower our ministry.

 

16 Pentecost: Luke 14:25-33

Following Jesus means putting him first above family and everything else.  It’s the way of the cross.  It means devoting oneself to serving others and to be willing to sacrifice.  As Jesus promised earlier in this chapter, however, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (vs. 14).

Prayer: We fall way short of putting you first, O Lord.  Thanks for standing by us at the times we have not been loyal to you.

 

17 Pentecost: Luke 15:1-10

The Pharisees (“separatists”) and the scribes (scholars of Scripture) resent Jesus for hanging out with those whose sins were public knowledge; but his ministry is to the lost.  May the Holy Spirit fill us with compassion for the outcasts so we may reach out to them and rejoice when they are brought back to God’s family.

Prayer: Train us for your search and rescue team, Lord.

 

18 Pentecost: Luke 16:1-13

Jesus is commending the steward’s concern for his future – not his dishonesty.  We are called to live as faithful stewards and recognize that everything we have been given is on loan from God, who will hold us accountable.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, enable us to enjoy the freedom of being stewards rather than owners and to take care of all the gifts you have entrusted to us.

 

19 Pentecost: Luke 16:19-31

We North Americans are among the wealthiest people to have ever lived on this earth.  Each one of us needs to ask ourselves how we use that wealth.  We also need to ask our government the same.  We literally have been given the means to wipe out hunger!  Do we have the will?  “Bread for the World” is a worthy Christian organization that can show us the way.

Prayer: Open our eyes and hearts to Lazarus and to the billions like him.

 

20 Pentecost: Luke 17:5-10

God does not owe us anything.  We owe God everything!  God is loving, forgiving and generous, however; and even a tiny bit of trust in God can bring about fantastic results!

Prayer: Help us, Loving Father, to realize that serving you and trusting in you is our reward everyday.

 

21 Pentecost: Luke 17:11-19

Surprise! Surprise! Only one out of ten returns to Jesus to say, “Thank you”; and he is a Samaritan (regarded a heretic by the Jews)!  May we get into the daily habit of thanking God for the many ways we are blessed.

Prayer: Create in us grateful hearts, Holy Spirit.

 

22 Pentecost: Luke 18:1-8

Jesus contrasts the selfish judge with our loving God.  The judge finally gives in because he is tired of being bothered.  God, on the other hand, is always glad to hear our prayers and vindicate us (grant justice to us).  When Jesus returns, though, will he find us still trusting in God or will we have given up?

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help us to trust in your power to defend us.

 

Reformation Day: John 8:31-36

We’ve been caught up in the slavery of sin our whole lives and may not fully recognize how imprisoned we are.  The Truth that Christ is and gives to us provides our “get out of jail” card.  May we call upon him daily to liberate us.

Prayer: You are Truth and your Word is Truth, O Lord.

 

All Saints Sunday: Luke 6:20-31

Saints are forgiven sinners claimed by Christ to be a counter-cultural community.  We are led by Jesus to identify with the poor, the hungry, the depressed, the despised, the excluded, the persecuted and the humiliated.  We wealthy Christians are called to help them, feed them, offer them hope and bring them into the royal family of Christ.

Prayer: Activate us, Holy Spirit, to put the Good News of Christ into action.

 

24 Pentecost: Luke 19:1-10

This story is a beautiful picture of the loving, graceful hospitality of our Lord and Savior and the repentant response of a grateful sinner.  What a great inspiration for us who live in a world where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, make us mindful of those we have robbed by our pursuit of comfort and convenience at their expense.

 

25 Pentecost: Luke 20:27-38

The Sadducees were “sad you see” because they did not believe in the resurrection!  Our heavenly relationships will not be limited by our earthly relationships.  God has something far greater for us!

Prayer:  Help us to remember, Lord, that a “bad” day in heaven will far surpass a good day here on earth.

 

26 Pentecost: Luke 21:5-19

The beloved Temple (and every human-made structure) will eventually come crashing down.  This world is temporary along with our life on it.  We need not fear the end even though it will be accompanied by betrayal and persecution.  God has something brand new and far better awaiting us!

Prayer: Help us to live this day as though it is our last: as thankful, faithful servants!

 

Christ the King Sunday: Luke 23:33-43

We see Jesus at his best on the cross: offering himself as the sacrificial servant!  Christ, the King, left his heavenly throne to live and die for us!  Greater love has the world never known!

Prayer: Christ, our King, rule over me today and everyday.

 

Thanksgiving: John 6:25-35

Jesus has just stretched a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000 plus; and now he proclaims himself to be the “Bread of Life”.  As we take an inventory of our “daily bread” and the many ways God provides for us, may we also give thanks for the Bread that satisfies our spiritual hunger forever.

Prayer: Thank you for feeding us so abundantly, Lord.

 

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