Lenten Devotional: Motivate

    by Audrey Riley

    This reflection is part of our special Season of Hope Lenten devotional series. Be sure to check back each week as we share reflections from a diversity of people whose prayer and support make the mission and ministry of Lutheran World Relief possible. You can read the entire series by pressing the button below.


    Read more

    "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,”  he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 

    Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:16-25

    No one knows who wrote the New Testament book called Hebrews. The King James Version of the Bible calls it a letter, but most scholars these days consider it a sermon with a personal note added at the end. And throughout the centuries, a few scholars have attributed it to Paul, but most have doubted that. Martin Luther thought the writer might have been the eloquent Apollos (see Acts 18:24-38). Other scholars nominate Paul’s companion Barnabas, or Paul’s friends Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2-3). 

    We’ll never know, at least not on this side of heaven, but personally, I like to imagine that Apollos wrote it with help from Priscilla and her husband, Aquila. Remember, they were the ones who invited Apollos into their home after he had revealed in his preaching—powerful though it was—that his knowledge of Christ was incomplete. They lovingly taught him what he needed to know, and that made his ministry all the more effective (Acts 18:27). 

    I like to imagine Apollos dropping in to show his old teachers his notes for the sermon we now call Hebrews, and Priscilla saying, “Very nice—and remind them to love one another and to do good deeds for people. You can phrase it how you like, but make sure to put that in there, brother Apollos. It’s important!”  

    Now, 2,000 years later, the words I’m imagining on Priscilla’s lips surely resonate with Lutheran women, because that’s how Lutheran women live. Tirelessly, lovingly, Lutheran women do good deeds for people around the world through Lutheran World Relief. Lutheran women and their congregations inspire and equip other women around the world to do good in their own communities, like women in Bihar, India. Here women have been empowered to be agents of change and equally contribute to family decisions, especially about finances, division of labor and nutrition.  

    And how many Lutheran women do you know who make Quilts or assemble Kits for LWR? How many Quilts and Kits do you suppose they’ve made over the years? Each Quilt, each Kit, is tangible proof that Lutheran women motivate one another to love one another and do good deeds, just as the inspired text calls us to do.  

    As this Holy Week comes to its conclusion, how can we gather around the cross and, in the light of Jesus’ grace, motivate one another to ever-greater love and good deeds? Thanks be to God for all that you and your community motivate in one another for the sake of the world!


    God of grace and mercy, as we enter this Holy Week may the life, death and resurrection guide us to extend such grace to those in need around the world. Thank you for the saints you send into our lives to show us the way and for the gift of Jesus. AMEN. 


    Audrey Novak Riley serves on the staff of Women of the ELCA.