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April 17, 2022

Year 2 - Week 33 (April 17-23, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Exodus 15:22-27

Last time we saw the Lord Yahweh Himself lead the people of Israel out of Egypt toward the Red Sea, veiled in the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke. We read the rest of the crossing of the Red Sea in year 1, so we will conclude our time in Exodus this Holy Week with the account of the Lord’s provision of water to the people after the crossing of the Red Sea. We will find that this is surprisingly relevant to this week.

Bitter Water Made Sweet

22 Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out that there is an easy connection to draw between this story of the bitter waters of Marah and the death to which humankind is subject; and the Lord has sweetened even the “water” of death by means of the wood of the Cross. As we receive the Lord Risen from the grave this Pascha, then, we also receive this same statute and ordinance, that if we listen to the Lord and follow Him, He will deliver us from all diseases, for He is indeed the One Who heals us.)

2) What do we learn about God in this reading?

3) What do we learn about human beings in this reading?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Saint Theophan the Recluse - The Path of Prayer - Sermon 1 - A Personal Rule of Prayer

Last time St. Theophan gave instructions for what to do if our heart and mind become attached to a particular word or thought in our prayers, and how we should not destroy such a beautiful thing as a heart determined to dwell in a moment of prayer. This time he will tell us how we should conclude our rule of prayer each morning and evening.

A Personal Rule of Prayer - 9

Finally, once you have finished saying your prayers, do not immediately go on to do something else. Stand for a while, and consider what it is to which all this commits you. Try to hold in your heart what has been given you to feel during prayer.

Nobody who has fulfilled his rule of prayer with care will immediately want to return to his ordinary interests. This is the quality of true prayer! As our forefathers said, on their return from Constantinople: “He who tastes sweetness does not then wish to taste something bitter.” This happens to everyone who has prayed conscientiously during his time for saying prayers. Indeed, you must realize that to taste this sweetness of prayer is the true aim of saying prayers, so if praying educates us and gives us a prayerful spirit, this happens precisely because of this tasting.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that this advice makes sense not only in the context of our daily prayers, but also of our experience of Holy Week. It is always a difficult thing to leave behind the intensity of services after Pascha; so Bright Week, we may conclude, is a good time to spend a little bit more time and attention in our daily prayer at home, as the daily services in the Church come to an end. Even five minutes more will be a balm for our souls, something of an off ramp from the intensity of Holy Week.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 16:1-8

We have been reading the latter chapters of the Gospel of Mark, leading up to the Lord’s Passion and Death, and then skipping back to Palm Sunday last week. This week, we will read the Paschal reading of the Empty Tomb, as we read it outside the Church after the distribution of the Light, and before we sing Christ is Risen.

The Resurrection of Jesus

16 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.

5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The Shorter Ending of Mark

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that, in the oldest manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark, this was where the Gospel ended, with the revelation that the Tomb could not hold the Lord. As with much else in Mark’s Gospel, he doesn’t spend so much time telling us Who Jesus is as he does showing us; in this case, having shown the Lord to have full knowledge of what was coming, and giving full assurance and explanation to the Disciples that He would not only be betrayed and killed, but would also rise from the dead, all Mark needs to do is show the Empty Tomb; for death could not hold the Lord.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?