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Grow

Grow - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Luke 13:18-19

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

If you are taking part in the Lent goal to read all of Luke, between now and Sunday, read Luke 12-14.

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Just think how much information and direction is stored in a seed, even one as tiny as a mustard seed. Inside that little ball are all the ‘instructions’ needed for the plant to develop and grow and flourish – it is a miracle waiting to happen. And yet, just looking at the seed without thinking of the tree it can become, it would be easy to underestimate this. Untended, it could fall through a crack, get swept aside, or be trodden underfoot. And not just seeds: this is our human condition. God has given us so much potential for love and growth, put so much inside us to develop and flourish, and yet too often we view ourselves as small and insignificant – we put ourselves down and limit our possibilities. God calls us to remember the miracle that is within us and the ‘tree’ that we can each become; to allow ourselves to grow in his love, and to anticipate the love and comfort that our ‘branches’ can bring.


Nurturing God, awaken within us the awareness of Your loving purpose for each one of us. Guide us in the direction You would have us take, planting Your word as the basis of our lives. Inspire us to grow in Your love and to share Your love that we may reach up and out into the world, giving life and encouragement for others. Amen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Lent Devotional Home

Focus

Focus - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Luke 10: 41-42

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

If you are taking part in the Lent goal to read all of Luke, between now and Sunday, read Luke 9-11.

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Apparently we’re losing the ability to focus. The multitude of alerts and notifications that bombard us in today’s world are blamed for eroding our ability to concentrate. There’s no doubt that we live in a distracted and distracting world, but today’s reading reminds us that this isn’t necessarily a new problem. As we see in Jesus’ response to Martha, our environment has always been able to create anxiety and distraction. There will always be something else to do and another demand on our time. The challenge now, as it was then, is how we respond to it. Can we, as Mary did, put aside our worries and concerns and open our minds to Jesus’ teaching? Can we be still in one moment and open our hearts to the message God has for us?


Calming God, still our minds and open our hearts to hear Your word for us. Slow down the worries that race through our thoughts. Create peace in their place, that we can hear Your voice. Help us recognize Your truth – that You are the only thing we need, and in You we can find comfort, always assured of Your eternal love. Amen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Lent Devotional Home

Endure

Endure - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Luke 8:15

But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

If you are taking part in the Lent goal to read all of Luke, between now and Sunday, read Luke 7-8.

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Holding fast. Patience. Endurance. The words in this reading are ones of positive determination. They acknowledge challenging circumstances, but call us to commit with energy and tenacity to our faith. In the full parable that our verse today comes from, Jesus is clear about the difficulty of maintaining and growing our faith in the world. Hearing the word and then following Jesus’ teaching isn’t always easy or popular, and frequently confronts what our wider society deems valuable or desirable. But we are called to hold fast. When the world tempts us with self-focused beliefs, we are called to love our neighbour. When the world entices us, offering status or wealth or popularity, we are called to affirm that the first shall be last. There are no quick fixes on this path, but God promises to sustain us, that we may live in patient endurance, inspired to bear the abundant fruit of a life following Jesus.


Sustaining God, You know the difficulties in our world and see the challenges we face. Help us to grow our faith in the midst of a society that rejects and scorns You. Support us to hold fast to Your word, when those around us may persuade us to take an easier path. Nurture in us the patience and endurance needed to stay true to Your teaching. Amen.
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Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Lent Devotional Home

Healing

Healing - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Luke 5:31-3

Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

If you are taking part in the Lent goal to read all of Luke, between now and Sunday, read from Luke 4-6

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As Jesus begins his ministry on earth, one theme is abundantly clear. Jesus has come to heal and restore us. His focus from the very beginning is on those that society rejects and excludes; those needing comfort and forgiveness, or craving reassurance and peace. That’s likely all of us, and we can find comfort and peace in the inclusive nature of Jesus’ love. From an ailing widow to a high-ranking government official, Jesus made no distinction in how he responded to those who sought his help. He recognized their need, acknowledged their pain, and made them well. In the same way for us today, Jesus recognizes our needs and sees where we fall short. He participates in our pain and understands our worries, and he is there to console and heal our troubled hearts. We are each one of us embraced by his loving care


Compassionate God, You reach out to us and offer Your healing embrace; a love that puts up no barriers, but rather seeks out our pain and shortcomings and offers us peace. In You, we are always welcome and accepted, always forgiven and renewed. Thank You for Your comfort and reassurance, that we are always loved and You are there for us eternally. Amen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Lent Devotional Home

Beloved

Peace- Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Welcome to the 2019 Walton Lent Devotional. Each week throughout Lent, and then each day during Holy Week, you’ll receive a short email with a Bible reading, reflection and prayer.

In the Advent Devotional last year, we explored the story of the birth of Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Luke, and so for Lent we’re continuing to look at Luke and reading his account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. If you’re looking for something to ‘take up’ (rather than ‘give up’) for Lent, why not also set yourself the goal of reading all of Luke? To help with this in each email, as well as the reading for the reflection, you’ll also find a link to read 2-3 chapters of Luke every week (less for each day in Holy Week). 

The beginning of Jesus’ ministry is marked by a powerful endorsement – the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus and a voice from Heaven acknowledges Jesus as God’s Son. In reading this, we have the opportunity to also acknowledge Jesus in our lives and proclaim our faith. Perhaps even adapt the words of Luke and affirm: “Jesus, You are my Saviour, my Beloved.” As we turn our lives towards Jesus in this way, we can gratefully recognize that his life – the episodes and events we will read about over the coming weeks – had one core purpose: to make us whole with God. To make us whole with God in this life, by healing us and showing us how to live; and to make us whole with God after death, by canceling out our human failings, so that only our love for God remains. Because in God’s eyes we are, each one of us, beloved children of God.


Beloved God, thank You for loving us, despite all our flaws and shortcomings. Thank You for looking past our anger and selfishness and fear, and seeing only love. Send us Your Holy Spirit that we might turn closer to You and closer to the life You would have us lead. Sustain and guide us, as You guided Your Son Jesus Christ, that we might follow his teaching in our world today. Amen


Luke 3:22

And the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

If you are taking part in the Lent goal to read all of Luke, between now and Sunday, read from Luke 2:41 through to the end of Luke 3


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Peace

Believe - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Hallelujah, Christ is risen!
Hallelujah! Christ is risen!

Easter Sunday is a day of triumph and joy, an outpouring of new life and hope. On this day we celebrate the victory of Christ over death and sin, and affirm the transformation that victory brings to our lives.

We proclaim that God has not left us alone, but is with us in this world. We joyfully declare that, along with the unmerited redemption Jesus secured for us, we are also blessed with the comforting, the enabling and the empowering strength provided by the Holy Spirit for us in this world.

As we receive and give thanks for all these blessings God has generously provided for us, as we celebrate the joy of this day, let us also look for the many ways we can share this joy with those around us, and live and love as servants of the Holy Spirit in the world today.


Triumphant God, Risen Christ, Empowering Spirit, all praise be to Your Holy name. Inspire me with the knowledge that Your love conquers all, comfort me with the confidence that I will never be separated from Your love, and nurture me with the assurance that You are with me in this world always, until the end of time. Amen.

John 20:21-22

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Believe

Believe - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

John’s purpose in writing his gospel, as he outlines in the passage below, also encapsulates the ongoing journey for each one of us in our lives. The phrase he uses – “come to believe” – is fluid and dynamic, and so it is for us. Faith is not a rigid attribute that we either do or don’t have, but an evolving relationship with God, who we come to know through the events of Jesus’ life as well as the events of ours.

Then “through believing” we are born into a new life in Jesus’ name. The life that is created as a result of believing in Jesus is guided by his teachings and strengthened by his love. Both because of our trust in Jesus as the Messiah, and as we live out that trust, we come to experience the hope and patience, the comfort and endurance, bestowed by God.

On this day when the Easter good news waits, when the disciples thought all was lost, we are reminded that through believing we can anticipate the joy and triumph of tomorrow, and the ultimate victory of love over death.


God of quiet and waiting, God of love and nurturing, draw me nearer to You today. Be with me and bring me closer, to know You and see Your path for my life. Remind me that it is through believing – through worshipping and praising and praying – that my life grows in hope and peace and with the confidence of Your eternal love. Amen.

John 20:31

These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Gave

Alive - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

John’s description of the end of the crucifixion is a powerful and moving account that keeps Jesus in control throughout, including at the moment of his death. Jesus announces when his life is finishing and then, in an authoritative sign, freely gives up his spirit. This is not a defeated end with a conquered soul; this is Jesus embracing death in order to bring about the victory of Easter Sunday.

This gift is the ultimate sacrifice made for each one of us, undeserved by any of us, but freely and generously granted to us by God. This unexpected redemption, the counterintuitive nature of God’s grace, can be seen throughout the imagery of Good Friday: the bleak ending that became a fresh start for everyone, every day; the death that brought about new life; the despair of the crucifixion that gives us new hope.

It is finished and yet – wonderfully, joyously – it is also just beginning.


Suffering God, in Your sacrifice I am saved; through Your generosity, I am freed. Inspire me to embrace the abundant gift You have shared with me, to espouse a life of worship and service, to live in praise and thanksgiving, in joyful gratitude for all You have given me. In the bleakness of Good Friday, still me to hear Your voice of hope. Amen.

John 19:28-30

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Truth

Truth - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

What is truth? Pilate’s question shouts to us across the centuries, as compelling to us now, in an arguably post-truth society, as it was then. For Christians, truth is God’s salvation – the eternal life promised to us by God, and the life that Jesus came to proclaim and to lead the way towards.

On Maundy Thursday we remember the challenges Jesus faced in his trial in front of Pilate and as he was condemned to death. Further rejection and suffering lie ahead. Yet even facing this, Jesus does not waver here in his proclamation of his ministry and authority.

As individuals, our lives are shaped by what we believe and choose to affirm as our own truth. How we live out our beliefs in turn proclaims our truth to those around us. To what extent do our lives reflect the truth that God loves us, unceasingly? Do our actions declare that Jesus died to redeem our lives, so that we might better know and love God through his sacrifice and his ministry? How can our lives be a clearer witness to the truth of Jesus’ love?


Eternal God, strengthen me to live out Your truth. In the face of challenges and times of difficulty and darkness, help me see and share the light of Your love, and with that light to find the path that You would have me follow. Empower me with the deep confidence of Your enduring hope. Amen.

John 18:37-38

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.

Fruit

Alive - Lent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

The image of Jesus as the vine and us as the branches is a vibrant and dynamic picture of flourishing growth. Imagine a well-established vine, with a strong central trunk, bursting into life with branches spreading out in all directions, leaves and spirals reaching out from each vine as they grow and spread further.

In the same way, our lives can be replenished with a strong centre in Christ. With Christ at the heart of our being, we can draw on God’s love and grace to empower us each day. The fruit of this connection can emerge as the peace that comes from knowing we are loved and God is by our side, and the hope that God sustains and comforts us.

The image is also strikingly interdependent. Just as a branch cannot live without the vine (John 15:6), neither can a vine thrive without the branches. While Jesus is the central focus of our faith and the church, his human life was a moment in time, and he now lives in us and through us. It is our actions and words that show the world what it is to be Christian, our behaviour that tells others how Christ is shaping our lives.


Abundant God, inspire me to make You the centre of my life, the core from which all else emerges. Awaken within me awareness and gratitude for the blessings I enjoy, living a life centred in Christ. Encourage me to share Your peace and hope with those around me, that they may come to know You better. Amen.

John 15:05a

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit.”


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful
journey of reflection through Lent.