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Daily Encouragement - March 5

Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,

a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

— Isaiah 53:1-6

I may have mentioned this, but I didn’t go to Duke Divinity like many of your pastors and that means that I didn’t have classes with Stanley Hauerwas. Hauerwas is an institution at Duke Divinity (if you pardon the pun). Several of my friends who are Duke alums have taken to posting a quotation from Dr. Hauerwas lately:

I have always thought that Lent is a dangerous time for Christians. This time in the church year, I fear, tempts us to play at being Christian... Lent is not a time to play at anything but rather a time to confess that we would have shouted ‘Crucify him!’

There is truth in those words. We do tend to sing “were you there when they crucified my Lord . . . sometimes it causes me to tremble” and we think, if only I were there, if only I could have proved myself then, I would have stood with Jesus. I would have defended him. I would have been faithful, and yet . . .

It seems to me that part of this journey of Lent is finding ourselves in the story, knowing who we are, and admitting that there is more than a remote possibility that we too would have been among the crowds, that we would have turned away, that we too “like sheep have gone astray.” The good news is that even so, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Even so, Jesus loves us, not because we are so good and pure but because he is so good and pure. Thanks be to God.

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know,

for the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to him belong;

they are weak, but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

God of grace, God of glory, grant that we may know ourselves as people in need of your grace, as sinners surrounded by your love, as wounded souls in need of your healing. In all ways, we trust only in your grace. Through Jesus Christ, the one who loves us still. Amen.

Pastor Tom Greener

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