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An anthropologist once wrote an article on the cleansing rituals of the Nacirema tribes. They have elaborate holy places where they perform daily purification rituals, sometimes more than once a day! They are obsessed with sacred liquids and ointments for ablutions and often submit themselves to thorough inspection using instruments...

Holy One, as close as each heartbeat, show me the contents of my heart. Amen.

Lectionary Week
March 12–18, 2018
Scripture Overview

We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow, but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In what areas of your life do you find yourself keeping score? How can you release that tendency?
• Read Psalm 51:1-12. What clutters your heart, making it unavailable for love?
• Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you fallen into the habit of faith rather than exhibiting authentic faith? What distinction do you draw between the two?
• Read John 12:20-33. How does the author’s illustration of the seed and flower help you understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?

Respond by posting a prayer.


The Art is Outside

“As the curator of The Upper Room Chapel and Museum, it is my task to highlight art and draw the viewer into the work itself. On clear days, the art is outside The Upper Room Chapel: gorgeous pink blossom clouds of the Japanese Magnolia trees. The blossoms don’t last very long. If you are in the Nashville area, take a few minutes to stop by and enjoy them. ‘We recognize God’s presence in the world around us,’ the author of The Mystic in You says. ‘Sometimes it comes because of our intentional spiritual practices. Other times, it comes when we least expect it and do not feel as though we deserve it.  … Geese flying overhead and a dog running in its sleep become windows into eternity when we pause, notice and open to the wonder of all being.’ Sometimes it is in a pink cloud of blossoms.”