Lent 1, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Easter 2, Commemoration of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, 2018 April 8, 2018 Easter 2, Commemoration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Luke 6:27-36, Ephesians 6:10-20
Easter Sunday April 1, 2018 Easter, Year B John 20:1-18
Sunrise service, 2018 – “The Road to Emmaus” April 1, 2018 Easter Luke 24:13-35
Good Friday March 30, 2018 Good Friday, Year B John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, 2018 March 29, 2018 Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018 John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, Year B March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday, Year B Mark 15:1-39, [40-47]
Lent 5, Year B March 18, 2018 The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B Psalm 51:1-13, John 12:20-33
Lent 4, Year B March 11, 2018 The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B John 3:16
Lent 3, Year B March 4, 2018 Third Sunday in Lent, Year B Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22; Psalm 19
Lent 2, Year B February 25, 2018 Second Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
Lent 1, Year B February 18, 2018 The First Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-9, Mark 1:9-15
Ash Wednesday, Year B February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday, Year B Isaiah 58:1-12;Psalm 103 or 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10;Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Last Sunday after the Epiphany February 11, 2018 Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 9:2-9
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany February 4, 2018 The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany January 28, 2018 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:21-28, Psalm 111

 

Lent 1, Year B

Sermon Date:February 18, 2018

Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-9, Mark 1:9-15

Liturgy Calendar: The First Sunday in Lent, Year B


"Christ in the Desert” – Ivan Kramskoi (1872) with Noah inset

PDF Version


“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.”

“Trust” is the word I want to delve into today. 

We have got that wonderful old hymn, at least I think it’s wonderful because I grew up with it—and the refrain begins with these words—

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”  Trust and obedience are essential in our relationship with God. 

So today, on this first Sunday in Lent, I have three stories for you about trusting in God.  The first story is from one of us, and two are from the scriptures we’ve just heard.

The first story is from Marsha Dobson.  We’ve all been praying for her.  Here’s her story, contained in an email she sent me this past week.  She gave me permission to share this story with you. 

Marsha has gotten good news.  Her tumor, the lesions on her liver, and lymph node—no change!  The chemo is helping her body to resist any growth of the cancer. So we give thanks for that, and let’s keep on praying for our friend.

But here’s the second part of her email.  She said that a couple of weeks ago she got a bad feeling which lasted several days, until she realized that she was thinking and worrying about the cancer instead of leaving it in God’s hands.  So she gave it all back to God.  And again she feels very positive, contented and comforted…an incredible feeling, as she puts it.  

Now Marsha, of all people, knows how to trust in God, but she “forgot.”  After a few days, she remembered to get back to trusting God.  And she’s happy again because that trust in God is back in place. 

The next story is about Noah. 

When God asked Noah to build an ark, Noah did so because Noah trusted God. 

Of course, people thought that Noah was crazy—building a huge ark on dry land with no sign of a flood in sight.  No wonder the ark was big—it ended up carrying all of creation to safety through the flood.       

Not only did God save Noah’s life, but God went a step further and said that God’s saving grace was going to be, from now on, the way that God intended to relate to all people and to all of creation. 

God made a covenant with Noah and with the earth.   A covenant is a pact in which the people or groups making the covenant promise to trust that each person or party in the covenant will care for the other in a relationship of mutual concern and respect.

This is the covenant promise to Noah and the earth on God’s part.  “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And typical God!  I guess if you’re God you can’t help but show off once in a while!  So in an extravagant blast of beauty and brilliance, God throws rainbows into the mix.  I can hear God saying, “I’m going to wrap this covenant up with a rainbow, so we’ll all remember this covenant and renew our trust in one another every time I send rainbows arching and shining over the earth.” 

In God’s rainbow wrapped covenant, death is no longer the ultimate result of passing through destructive waters.  New life and resurrection are on the other side, as The Thanksgiving over the Water in our Baptism liturgy points out. 

“We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism.  In it we are buried with Christ in his death.  By it we share in his resurrection.   Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.”  We can trust that God will give us resurrection life, here and now, through the covenant with God that we enter into through baptism. 

And speaking of baptism,

today’s gospel takes us to the banks of the Jordan River where John baptizes Jesus and then Jesus hears God saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

These words tell us, the readers and listeners of Mark, that God and Jesus are in a covenant with one another because they trust one another.  Jesus shows how much he trusts God when he goes with the flow and ends up in the wilderness where the Spirit drives him.

Jesus continues to trust God even when Satan shows up, Satan being the thing that tries to distract Jesus away from his trust in God.  

And Mark tells us that God responds to the trust of Jesus in two ways.

First, Mark says that Jesus was with the wild beasts. 

This sentence is so evocative.

When Mark says that Jesus was with the wild beasts, I see in my mind’s eye, that from this wilderness of barren ground and rocks a spring of living water has erupted, and an oasis has grown.  Trees have sprung up, providing shade and shelter for Jesus and for the wild animals that have come to the spring to drink.  Those of you who are familiar with the writings of the prophet Isaiah know that Isaiah writes about these life giving springs that come out of the barren earth—and not only that, but Isaiah prophesies that God’s reign on earth will bring peace, a peace so rich that the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together…..these wild beasts will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” 

This scene of Jesus with the wild beasts in the wilderness points back to the Garden of Eden, and forward to the reign of God on earth at the end of time, when all things have been made new and the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord.    

Mark also says that the angels waited on Jesus while he was in the wilderness.   

As for these angels waiting on Jesus, a story from the Old Testament book of I Kings comes to mind.  The great prophet Elijah gets scared to death by the threats of the wicked queen Jezebel (think Satan)  and so this scaredy-cat prophet flees into the wilderness and sits down under a solitary broom tree and prays to die.  Elijah has fled off the path of trust in God. And yet, God’s gracious response to Elijah’s lack of trust comes in the form of an angel, who tells Elijah to get up and eat.  And Elijah sees that the angel has provided a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water, so that he can eat and have the energy to continue on his way. 

And so the angels waited on Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness. 

Today’s gospel ends with Jesus beginning his ministry in Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God—

“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Jesus could have added, “Trust in the Good News!” because God is renewing God’s covenant with us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.    

So Marsha is trusting God by leaving the time and the way of her healing in God’s hands. 

Noah trusted God by building an ark big enough to carry all of creation over the flood waters into a new covenant with God.

Jesus trusted God by staying on the path laid out for him, dying on a cross, and then being resurrected into new life.

In what part of your life do you need more trust in God? 

What worries you and stresses you out?  Chances are that whatever those things are, those are the things that are tempting you to lose your trust in God.

So offer those worries and stresses to God, who would be only too glad to relieve you of that burden.  Because after all, God has made a covenant with us, and God never breaks never breaks God’s promises. 

Today’s psalmist gets the last word.

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.”

Amen.    

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