Daily Prayer

Devotions for Eastertide

During the season of Easter, our Sunday worship will focus on the Acts of the Apostles. Acts tells story of the early disciples, immediately after the resurrection, trying to sort out who they are as followers of Christ and how to be church together.  They find themselves in a new world, full of transition—and so do we.  And they find ways to proclaim the Gospel and come together as church—and so are we.

Each text is accompanied by a related psalm; please consider incorporating this psalm into your prayers for the week. Pastor Margaret will post a devotional guide to each Psalm on Monday morning. Vinny will post a musical setting on Wednesday evening.

For the week leading up to Pentecost Sunday, May 31, please read, study, and pray Psalm 104:24-34, 35b.

Wednesday evening psalm setting

Monday morning devotion guide

For the week leading up to Sunday, May 24, please read, study, and pray Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35.

Wednesday evening psalm setting

Monday morning devotion guide

For the week leading up to Sunday, May 17, please read, study, and pray Psalm 66:8-20.

Wednesday evening psalm setting

Monday morning devotion guide

For the week leading up to Sunday, May 10, please read, study, and pray Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16.

Wednesday evening psalm setting

Monday morning devotion guide

For the week leading up to Sunday, May 3, please read, study, and pray Psalm 23.

Wednesday evening psalm setting

Monday morning devotion guide

Holy Week Daily Scripture Readings

Rather than morning and evening prayers, we will post daily scripture readings each morning of Holy Week.  The story is set in Jerusalem, and it describes the tensions and the teachings of Jesus’s final week of earthly life and ministry.  It’s important to follow this story, in scripture and in worship, because if you hop right from Palm Sunday to Easter you miss much of its great drama.  This year especially, it’s important for us to remember that our savior knows intimately our darkest hour.

Each day we will post a longer reading (if you want the wider scope of the story) and a shorter reading (if you prefer a deeper, focused dive), as well as a question or two for contemplation.

A note about context:

The Jewish people in first century Judea were living under the thumb of the Roman empire, which was only the latest in a series of oppressive empires that had conquered and occupied Israel and Judah on and off for the past 700 years.  Under such extreme and difficult circumstances, factions had developed, each with its own idea of how best to live in the face of such extremes–Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.  The author of the Gospel of Matthew was writing for a community that existed in this milieu of competing factions; his inclination was to portray all rivals in the worst possible light, as enemies of Jesus.  When Christians ignore this context and take the groups portrayed in scripture to represent Judaism writ large, they perpetuate attitudes of hatred and acts of violence.  Any responsible reading of scripture must actively work against anti-Semitism.

Easter Sunday

Matthew 28

This passage tells the story of the stone rolled back and the tomb found empty, the risen Christ appearing to two brave but frightened women, telling them, “Do not be afraid,” and urging them to pass along the message of Good News.

The Good News comes to us, even in the midst of trauma. And it comes with a commission: pass it on. How will you spread the message of Easter hope and joy?

Join us for the Easter Message at 10 a.m.

Holy Saturday

Matthew 27:57-66, the story of Jesus’s burial.

If it’s possible for you, try to make this day a quiet and restful one.

Good Friday

Matthew 27:1-56 (longer version), or Matthew 27:32-54 (shorter version)

(This will be the same text used in the Good Friday Tenebrae devotional this evening)

Each Gospel writer provides a slightly different account of the crucifixion.  Let yourself enter Matthew’s version.  What details of the story does Matthew linger over?  Who is with Jesus, and who is absent?  What are Jesus’s final words from the cross?

Maundy Thursday

Matthew 26 (longer version), or Matthew 26:1-16 (shorter version)

If you will be participating in Maundy Thursday home meal worship, you may want to read 26:1-16 this morning, and encounter the remainder of the chapter, which describes Jesus’ last supper, his arrest in Gethsemane, his trial before Caiaphas, and Peter’s betrayal, during and after dinner tonight.

Think about the unnamed woman who anoints Jesus with costly ointment from an alabaster jar in verse 7.  Notice that Jesus directs us specifically to remember this woman and this act.  Anointing, in the ancient world, was practiced on kings at their coronation and also to prepare dead bodies for burial.

What does this woman’s act mean?  Why the abundance and extravagance in a time of scarcity?  What does she signify about who Jesus is?

Wednesday of Holy Week

Matthew 24-25 (longer version), or Matthew 25:31-40 (shorter version)

The Wednesday of Holy Week is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday” in recognition of the betrayal of Judas, but given today’s readings we might think of it as “end-times Wednesday” instead.  These chapters contain Jesus’s “eschatological discourse”–his prediction of the coming end of days.

Christians are pretty divided over what to do with end-times predictions in the Bible.  Some keep a weather eye open for the Second Coming, and tend to read the headlines for signs of the times (the current pandemic, for example).  Others find this end-times talk superstitious, the product of an antiquated worldview and prefer to ignore it entirely.  These texts use bold, colorful, and often violent language.  What are we to do with texts like these?

Jesus himself acknowledges to his disciples that hard times are ahead: persecution, wars, natural disaster.  However, he discourages his disciples from speculating about when the Second Coming would be: “But of that day and hour no one knows…”  Instead, his guidance to them is ethical as much as it is eschatological.  He focuses on how to behave in the midst of hardship.  That, for sure, is applicable to the present moment!

What do you see Jesus recommending, in these chapters, about how Christians should respond in the midst of distressing times?  Where does he recommend watchfulness?  Using your talents?  Caring for the most vulnerable?  Where do you see yourself and others doing this?

Tuesday of Holy Week

Matthew 22-23 (longer version), or Matthew 22:34-40 and 23:23-28 (shorter version)

The conflict begins in earnest.  Jesus starts with a grim parable of a wedding banquet, enters into contentious debate about death and taxes, and delivers a series of stinging rebukes: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  What do you make of all this conflict?  What parts of the text are hard to encounter?  What parts do you connect to?

Monday of Holy Week

Matthew 21:12-46 (longer version) or Matthew 21:12-17 (shorter version)

In this story, Jesus cleanses the Temple of the commercial interests that had come to dominate the holy space, then turns toward the most vulnerable to offer healing. In this story, where do you see Jesus challenging people?  Where do you see him comforting people?  Where do you feel challenged or comforted in your life today?

Previous Weeks’ Daily Prayer Videos