March 14, 2018

Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.   Mark 15:6-11


Barabbas, probably a political dissident, apparently violent, and imprisoned by his political enemies, the Romans, suddenly finds himself a pawn in the political machinations of the chief priests and Pilate, the Roman governor. The name Barabbas means, “son of Abba” or “son of the father.” It is therefore a bitter irony that he is chosen for pardon, rather than Jesus, the true son of the Father. But, Barabbas is chosen for release by the crowds who are stirred up by the chief priests, who were themselves motivated by jealousy. Pilate’s simply wanted to defuse the situation, and appease the crowd. Where did all this leave Barabbas?

On his 2017 self-titled album, the country singer-songwriter, Jason Ealy, recorded a song written from Barabbas’ perspective. Ealy’s Barabbas is confused and disoriented by his sudden release. He had no sooner come to terms with “doing his time,” when he finds himself free at the expense of an enigmatic man he does not know. “On this side of forgiveness,” the cross that Barabbas must bear is to learn to live life well after getting a second chance; to learn to forgive himself; to learn to be free. This is our task, also. By virtue of his life, teachings, death, and resurrection Christ offers total forgiveness, infinite love, and limitless grace. As the Apostle Paul tells us, through the Spirit of Christ we are made children of the God—we are un-ironically made sons and daughters of the Father (Romans 8:12-17). Christ has set us free, not because of an insistent mob, nor because of the jealousies of religious leaders, but because of the unending mercy of the ever-living God. On this side of forgiveness, we must learn to bear the cross of accepting this grace, and this freedom.


Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Rev. James Stambaugh
Church of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne


March 5, 2018

Monday after the Third Sunday in Lent

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. Mark 14:51-52


My New Testament professor in seminary loved to muse about this passage, which was funny in light of the fact that he did not like for us seminarians to interpret what was not written in scripture. Whenever one of us seminarians would break this rule he would say, “That’s all well and good, but the text does not say that. Your explanation is simply midrash.” And yet for him, this passage was fair game for this kind of extra scriptural interpretation. He fancied the idea that the little boy who ran off naked was none other than the gospel writer Mark himself. And he would throw a few facts our way to support his claim.

Going with the premise of his midrash makes me wonder about those seminal moments in each of our own day-to-day activities that change the trajectory of our lives forever. Again, making an assumption that we all have those events in our lives, it may be helpful to reflect and identify our own seminal moments. Is your moment the death of a loved one? Could it be a mountaintop experience? Might it be a time where you gave so much of yourself that you understood the power of servant ministry? Maybe it’s a time where you messed up your own life so badly that receiving and accepting grace was the only way to move forward in your life. Lent is full of opportunities for the discipline required in self-discovery. Today I invite you to reflect on those times in your life, good or bad, acknowledging that they somehow changed your life forever. After careful reflection, I invite you to pray. Because you never know how one day can change your life forever…if you let it.


Lord God we know that you are with us in all aspects of our lives. Please help us recognize your presence in all the things that we do and experience. Help us to have the discipline to be quiet and reflect on your activity in our lives. And then give us the wisdom to open our hearts so that you may work in and through our everyday lives. All this we ask in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The Rev. Joseph K. Smith
Saint Mary’s, Wayne

February 28‬, 2018

Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Lent

And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. Mark 14:39-40‬


The presence of a friend is a gift that not only makes our life sweeter but also helps make difficult pain easier to bear. Companionship – fellowship with another that helps us know we are not alone – that we are with someone who knows us and loves us – can be a balm and comfort in the journey of life.

As Jesus prayed in the garden, he wanted and needed his companions. He needed them at his side – to watch, to wait, and to pray, together. But every time Jesus turned to his friends, every time he reached out for their presence, they abandoned him for sleep. ‬

This isn’t the only time Jesus finds himself reaching out to his friends with no response. He is constantly reaching out to us, too, his beloved friends, to gift us with the grace and gift of companionship. He reaches out to be a presence for us, to hold us through whatever situation life has to offer. But we are not always ready or responsive. Sometimes we are distracted. Sometimes we are asleep.

The good news is that even though we don’t always turn toward his outstretched hand and take his offer of companionship, his presence and offer are never rescinded. They are always there for us. God never gives up. Not in this life, nor the next. Jesus is always our companion, is always waiting for us to turn and respond, to take his hand. And even if we don’t, even in our darkest hour, in our death and beyond the door of our death, Jesus outstretched hand touches us and holds us, softly, until we turn, and meet his grace.


The Rev. Amanda Eiman‬
Saint David’s, Radnor‬

February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”      Mark 14:1-2


The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings a new Light into the world and into our lives. It is a light that reveals the face of the God who is gracious and forgiving; the God who is present with us at all times and in all places; the God who rejoices with us in the goodness of our lives; the God who suffers with us in our brokenness and struggles; the God who offers a way of living that brings real life and the power to become the persons God created us to be; and the God who offers us life now and a new life beyond the door of death. It is a light that shines in the darkness of our lives and gives us hope.

The Light that has come into the world and into our lives also reveals the shadows. Like a lamp in a room that brings light, the light casts shadows wherever that light cannot reach. It is not the intent of the Light to cast shadows, but there are shadows wherever we block the light. And we all block the light in areas of our lives where we are unwilling to turn to the life that Christ is calling us to live, especially when it means we will have to surrender our lives more completely to God.

Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who are looking for a way to arrest and kill Jesus, we, too, look for ways to block the light and to hold onto our power and our less Godly ways of living, choosing to live in the shadows rather than in the fullness of Light.


May God grant us the desire and the ability to surrender our lives completely so that the light of Christ may shine in us and through us, removing every shadow, and setting us on the path of the life that is truly life. Amen.


The Rev. W. Frank Allen

Saint David’s (Radnor) Church