GOODBYE

GOODBYE

March 17, 2019

This is the final post for Value of Sparrows. Thank you for all your warmth, support, and enthusiasm. With all my love, [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Passover Meal by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 14, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” (John 13:1; Luke 22:14-18) On the Thursday evening before [...]

ATTENTIVENESS: Love As Focused Attention by Leighton Ford

March 14, 2019

From The Attentive Life What difference can Prime make as we begin and go through our days?  When Jesus spoke of abiding, it was all about loving obedience, being loved by him and loving others as he loved us.  We might describe love – whether the love is that of friendship or of lovers or of compassion – as focused attention. In friendship, out of a potential universe of candidates, we select (or have selected for us, as Augustine said, in a kind of “divine lottery”) certain ones on whom we focus time and attention.  In the practice of attentiveness we are able to see and be blessed by the beauty of the friend. In married love we pledge to each other that singular attention signified in the Biblical word cleaving – [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Where Is The Room? by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 14, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”  They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?”  He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ and he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.”  And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. (Luke 22:7-13) The [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Fig Tree by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 13, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.  And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves.  And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!”  And the fig tree withered at once.  When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”  And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:18-22) After the Lord had made [...]

POETRY: Confession (O What A Cunning Guest) by George Herbert

March 13, 2019

O what a cunning guest Is this same grief! within my heart I made Closets; and in them many a chest; And, like a master in my trade, In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till: Yet grief knows all, and enters when he will. No screw, no piercer can Into a piece of timber work and wind, As God’s afflictions into man, When he a torture hath designed. They are too subtle for the subtlest hearts; And fall, like rheums, upon the tend’rest parts. We are the earth; and they, Like moles within us, heave, and cast about: And till they foot and clutch their prey, They never cool, much less give out. No smith can make such locks but they have keys: Closets are halls to them; and hearts, high-ways. Only an open breast Doth shut them out, so that [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Judas’s Bargain by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 13, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”  And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16) Is it true that each Christian has a price for which he would sell his Savior?  Unfortunately it is only too true in the case of all who are not willing to break with sin.  It is true for those whose Christianity only serves to satisfy their Earthly desires, or who imagine they are able to combine it with serving the world.  We see what this must lead to in the shattering example of Judas. The closer his relationship with the Lord, the [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: When I Am Lifted Up by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 12, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love “And I, when I am lifted up from the Earth, will draw all people to myself.”  He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:32-33) The Lord spoke this word about his being lifted up to the Jewish people and to the seeking Greeks shortly after he had entered the temple forecourt.  What he meant here by his “lifting up” is explained not only by John’s addition, “This he said to indicate the kind of death he was to die,” but also by what the Lord himself said to Nicodemus, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” (John 3:14). In contrast to the lifting up desired by the disciples and the populace (that is, [...]

PSALMS: Connivance (Part 2) by C. S. Lewis

March 12, 2019

From Reflections on the Psalms (Besides our Lord there would have been among their guests toadies and those who wanted to be “on the bandwagon”; people in fact like the young man I once knew.) He had been a strict socialist at Oxford.  Everything ought to be run by the State; private enterprise and independent professions were for him the great evil.  He then went away and became a schoolmaster.  After about ten years of that he came to see me.  He said his political views had been wholly reversed.  You never heard a fuller recantation.  He now saw that State interference was fatal.  What had converted him was his experience as a schoolmaster of the Ministry of Education – a set of ignorant meddlers armed with insufferable [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Grain Of Wheat by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 12, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.  So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the Earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Immanuel’s Tears by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 11, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44) When the Lord had reached the top of the Mount of Olives, the royal city with the gleaming gold of the temple lay in all its glory before his eyes.  But in the midst of the disciples and rejoicing [...]

PRAYER: Prayer For Lent by Peter David Gross

March 11, 2019

From Wheatstone Ministries Hold me together, Jesus. Be my king and my first resort. Oh archetype, remake me after you. Set at peace the war-making parts of me. Forgive me, and spread balm on my injuries. Sharer of my death, share your life and light with me. Bring me home into your home, to your family. Purify, beautify me until I refract your light. Step into my pain. Touch my scars. Even now, show me your singing. [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The King Enters Jerusalem by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 11, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him.  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!” As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Mary Is Justified by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 10, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  But Judas said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?  For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”  And they scolded her.  But Jesus said, “Leave her alone.  Why do you trouble her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, and whenever [...]

SERMON: The Temptation In The Wilderness by George MacDonald

March 10, 2019

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Anointing by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 10, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  So they gave a dinner for him in the house of Simon the leper.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.  Mary therefore took a flask of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and poured it on Jesus’s head as he reclined at table, and anointed his feet and wiped them with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:2-3) The Lord was on his last journey from Jericho, the city of roses, to the peaceful little village of Bethany, whose name means, “house of palms,” situated on the Mount of Olives just an hour’s walk [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The High Priest’s Counsel by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 9, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love But one of them, Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all.  Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:49-50) There in the meeting of the council a pertinent answer is found to the question, “What are we to do?” Caiaphas, the High Priest, listened for a long time to the excited speeches.  Now he rose and said, “You know nothing at all.  Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”  Some of the council may have secretly had the same thought but not dared to express it openly.  [...]

DISCIPLINE: The Call To Discipleship (Part 1) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

March 9, 2019

From The Cost of Discipleship And as he passed by he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the place of toll, and he saith unto him, “Follow me.”  And he arose and followed him. (Mark 2:14) The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience.  The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus.  How could the call immediately evoke obedience?  The story is a stumbling-block for the natural reason, and it is no wonder that frantic attempts have been made to separate the two events.  By hook or by crook a bridge must be found between them.  Something must have happened in between, some psychological or historical event.  Thus we get the stupid question: Surely the [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Enemies Gather by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 9, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do?  For this man performs many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48) Ever since the Lord’s first appearance, he encountered malicious opposition from the Pharisees and elders.  The higher the sun of his activity rose, the deeper grew their hostility.  For he had nothing in common with them, nor they with him.  They wanted a brilliant, political messianic kingdom; he demanded repentance and a change of heart.  They looked for pleasure and power; he demanded obedience and surrendered faith in his [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Humble Yourself, My Heart by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 8, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.  And he said to her, “What do you want?”  She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”  Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”  They said to him, “We are able.”  He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:20-23) It was a great-hearted request that John and James made through their [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: What If God Doesn’t Come Through? by Francis Chan

March 8, 2019

From: Forgotten God Before we delve further into this conversation about the Spirit, I believe some other fears need to be identified and dealt with.  One concern I’ve often heard (and felt) is, what if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens?  What if I ask for more of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and don’t see any apparent “results”?  It’s scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn’t that mean God failed?  Doesn’t that mean his Spirit isn’t all we’ve been told he is? I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.”  This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more.  We [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Lord’s Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 8, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love I came to cast fire on the Earth, and would that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! (Luke 12:49-50) What kind of fire does Christ want to kindle on Earth?  It is the fire of the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist already prophesied, “He who is coming after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” (Matthew 3:11).  Accordingly, the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost in tongues of fire.  This fire has a consuming power to begin with.  It is a fire that causes dissension and struggle, and the Lord throws it into the sinner’s breast to awake him from sleep and death.  As he said, “I have not come to [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Disciples’ Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 7, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.  And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”  But they understood none of these things.  This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34) When the Lord told them what he would have to suffer, the souls of his listeners were stunned as if by a thunderclap.  “But they understood none of these things.  This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what [...]

ATTENTIVENESS: A Life Of Continual Conversation by Leighton Ford

March 7, 2019

From The Attentive Life When I consider these three important words, I confess I feel just a bit bewildered.  If contemplation (seeing life in the presence of God), abiding in Christ, and Christ’s indwelling me are so important, how do they operate in my everyday life? How do I take these wonderful concepts and translate them into my own “prime time”? It helps me to think of “abiding” as a continual conversation in which I listen for God’s voice and speak back to him.  The late Henri Nouwen said that to “pray without ceasing” would be impossible if it meant that we did nothing but think and speak constantly about God.  To pray unceasingly is not to think about God rather than other things, or to talk to God instead of to [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Lord’s Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 7, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.  And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” (Luke 18-31-33) As long as the Temple of Jehovah was standing in Jerusalem and the beautiful services of the Lord were celebrated there, every year when spring came and the Passover festival was drawing near, the joyful cry rang out, “We are going up to Jerusalem!”  It resounded in all the towns and villages, cottages and palaces of the Holy Land.  When [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: Who Takes Away The Sin Of The World by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 6, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) This testimony of John’s is the heart and the star of the whole gospel.  It is true, John’s mouth was soon closed by a bloody death, but the apostles proclaimed it further: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  They too have died, but this gospel rings through all centuries and hallows them.  And when today the church of the Lord gathers to celebrate the Holy Supper, she looks up to the Crucified One and thousands of voices sing, “O Lamb of God, who bears the sin of the world, have mercy on us and give us your peace!” We are often weighed down with our work, our cares and suffering, but if we had [...]

POETRY: Marked by Ashes by Walter Brueggemann

March 6, 2019

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day… This day—a gift from you. This day—like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received. This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility. This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home halfway back to committees and memos, halfway back to calls and appointments, halfway on to next Sunday, halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant, half turned toward you, half rather not. This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday, but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes— we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth: of failed hope and broken promises, of forgotten children and frightened women, we ourselves are ashes to ashes, [...]

LENTEN DEVOTION: The Lamb Of God by Johann Ernst von Holst

March 6, 2019

From The Crucified Is My Love The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father, Abraham, on that strange journey, (Genesis 22:7).  His father answered, deeply moved, “God will provide for himself the lamb.”  But the lamb that God the Lord would in fact provide as a sacrifice for the lost world was described in this way by the prophet Isaiah: “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth,” [...]

PRAYER: A Good Collect For Shrove Tuesday

March 5, 2019

Let us pray (in silence) that we may live as forgiven people. pause God of infinite mercy, grant that we who know your compassion may rejoice in your forgiveness and gladly forgive others for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. [...]