Daily Lenten Scripture Readings

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Lent is forty days between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for followers of Jesus to reflect on the journey to the cross. Each Sunday, the message will focus on one portion of the last six chapters of the gospel of Mark. We encourage you to read the remaining passages daily.

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Scripture Readings for Week of March 17, 2019

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8:34–37 (NIV)

Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self-denial can say is: “[Jesus] leads the way, keep close to him.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Sometimes I wonder if any of us as Christians are really ready for the journey of transformation. We long for more in our spiritual lives, that’s for sure, but I’m not sure we’re ready for the harrowing journey of death to the false self that any true spiritual journey entails. We want God, it seems, as long as we can have our successes, we like the ideas of being on a journey of faith, as long as it doesn’t require…well, too much faith. We long for the promise land, as long as we don’t have to leave anything behind. We want space for God as long as it doesn’t intrude too radically on our packed schedules and conflicting priorities. We want self-knowledge as long as it doesn’t cut too close to the ego bone. We want God’s will, as long as it doesn’t make us look foolish, we want love as long as it’s not too inconvenient. We want to buy the pearl of great price, as long as we don’t have to sell everything we have. We’re willing to wax eloquent about the Pascal mystery one weekend a year, as long as we’re not the ones doing the dying, it’s really nice if it’s just Jesus doing the dying. —Ruth Haley Barton

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