Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Second Sunday in Easter, Year B April 15, 2012 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B John 20:19-31
Easter, April 8, 2012 April 8, 2012 Sermon, Easter Sunday, Year B Mark 16:1-8
Good Friday, April 6, 2012 April 6, 2012 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012 April 5, 2012 Maundy Thursday John 13:1-35
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B March 25, 2012 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B John 12:20-33
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B March 18, 2012 Sermon, Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21
Third Sunday in Lent, Year B March 11, 2012 Third Sunday in Lent, Year B Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Second Sunday in Lent, Year B March 4, 2012 Second Sunday in Lent, Year B Mark 8:31-38
Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B February 26, 2012 First Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15
Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 22, 2012 February 22, 2012 Ash Wednesday Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year B February 19, 2012 Last Sunday after Epiphany 2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 12, 2012 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1: 40-45
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 5, 2012 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 29, 2012 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B I Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 22, 2012 Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:14-20


Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B

Sermon Date:February 26, 2012

Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15

Liturgy Calendar: First Sunday in Lent, Year B


Bosch Grave

A tombstone in our graveyard bears the following inscription:

"In beauty let me walk

The pollen trail may I walk

In old age lively I walk

Beauty all around me then

Living again may I walk"

This inscription echoes both the beginning and ending of our holy scriptures.  Within these words lie hidden visions of the Garden of Eden, as it is described in Genesis, full of the beauty of God’s good creation, a place with everything needed for a life of beauty and peace, with its river flowing out of Eden to water the garden. 

And then that last line of the inscription on the tombstone, Living again may I walk, calls us back to the first line, In beauty let me walk—in the kingdom of heaven, which is also full of the beauty of God’s good creation in the holy city, New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, with its river of the water of life, bright as crystal, and on either side the tree of life, with its leaves for the healing of the nations. 

Visions of the Garden of Eden and the holy city come down from heaven, New Jerusalem,  lie hidden throughout the scriptures appointed for today.

Noah, following God’s directions, creates a floating Garden of Eden.  In this floating Garden of Eden are human beings, two of every kind of animal, and every kind of food that is eaten  which is stored away to sustain the only bits of creation that will survive the forty days of rain that produce the mighty waters that cover the earth.  These waters destroy all of God’s creation not contained in Noah’s floating Garden of Eden.

In the first letter to Peter,  the destructive waters of the flood become the saving waters of baptism, and we find a reference to our final Garden of Eden, a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven, where Jesus is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

The waters of baptism also flow through the gospel according to Mark that we’ve just heard.  Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan.

This baptism in the water of the Jordan River marks the beginning of the ministry of Jesus.  This baptism stands at the beginning of the journey Jesus makes through the beautiful countryside and the small towns of Galilee and the surrounding areas, the journey he will make to the north of Palestine, to Caesarea Philippi and to the top of the very high mountain where he is transfigured, and then at last the journey to Jerusalem, to his death, and his resurrection.  His baptism marks the beginning of his journey. 

And immediately after his baptism, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness.  Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 

Once again, in this wilderness scene, we see hints of the Garden of Eden, full of the beauty of God’s good and harmonious creation.    Jesus is there, in harmony with the creation around him, with the wild beasts.  He is cared for through the divine hands of the angels, as God cared for Adam and Eve. 

The serpent, if it were included in the living creatures in Noah’s Garden of Eden, chose not to create the dilemmas that the serpent created for Adam and Eve.

But in Mark’s gospel, we find that Satan is present and active in this wilderness Garden of Eden where the Spirit has driven Jesus, and Satan tempts Jesus, just as the serpent tempted Adam and Eve. 

Because of their disobedience to God, Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden.  Because of their disobedience, the entire earth became cursed, and the angels, instead of waiting on them, guarded the way to the tree of life so that Adam and Eve were unable to ever return to paradise. 

When Jesus leaves the wilderness after forty days, we know that he resisted the wiles of Satan, because Mark tells us that  he was in harmony with the wild beasts, and because the angels waited on him, and because he came out of the wilderness, not in disgrace, but proclaiming the good news of God. 

And in the first words that Jesus speaks publicly in Mark’s gospel, we hear the following good news.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 

This is our good news, the good news on the tombstone in the graveyard outside these windows. 

In beauty let me walk. 

The good news for us is that our lives, here and now,  can become for us a Garden of Eden in which we can walk in beauty. 

Like Noah, if we follow God’s directions, we can create our own floating Garden of Eden, the ark that will bear us, in harmony with one another and with all of creation, through the plagues, pestilences, famines and temptations of this life. 

Our baptisms mark the beginnings of our particular journeys toward God.  Our baptisms are a sign of the fact that we have chosen to be in covenant with God, and in this covenant, God promises, as he promised Noah, that the covenant is everlasting, with all of creation and with all of humanity, beginning now. 

That is good news!  God’s everlasting promise with the whole creation, God’s everlasting covenant with us!

When we accept this covenant, and let God care for us, love us, forgive us, then we long to live in harmony with all of creation.  We long  to be obedient to God, we long  to walk and to live in beauty,

And in our longing  in the wilderness of our lives, we see the beautiful glimpses of  the good news—we fleetingly sense that we are already in the Garden of Eden here and now, and that the very kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims has truly come near. 

We know, though, that based on the whole history of humanity, that in spite of our longing, we will sin, that we will be disobedient, that we will suffer from blindness and hardness of heart, that we will commit sins of pride, vainglory and hypocrisy, that we will envy others, hate others, and feel malice toward others, and that we will lack charity, as the Great Litany reminds us. 

So Jesus includes this direction in his proclamation of the good news. 

Repent and believe.

This season of Lent provides us with the opportunity to be driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, and to repent of those sins that we commit in thought word and deed against God, against one another and against creation itself. 

Satan will be present, as Satan always is, in our forty day sojourn in this Lenten wilderness.  But Jesus reminds us—the wilderness becomes the Garden of Eden itself when we resist Satan, when we do the hard work of repenting of all that is past and seeking harmony with our brothers and sisters, and with all of God’s good creation.

And so in this Lenten season, we pray and ask our patient, promise keeping, creative God who would mark the covenant with us with something as beautiful as a rainbow to

“Grant that  all who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection”  and

“Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that thy Holy Spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.”

"In beauty let us walk

The pollen trail may we walk

In old age lively we walk

Beauty all around us then

Living again may we walk."


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