Lent 1, Feb. 18, 2018

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Title:Lent 1, Feb. 18, 2018

 Lent 1, Feb. 18, 2018 (full size gallery)

Big changes in the worship space with the beginning of Lent as of Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14! During Lent, the color you’ll see in church is purple. The color purple is “is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion. Purple is also the color of royalty, and celebrates Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty.” The flowers are simple – we have used pussy willows. Generally the worship space is simplified including the altar linens.

The service changes with the additional of the Penitential order and Trisagion, the absence of a Hymn of praise and of course no alleluias.  We have our Lenten page with the activities, education and readings.

The beginning of Lent is busy- Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. This year we preceded these events with the Thirteen Concert.  This comprises inreach with Shrove Tuesday, outreach with the Thirteen and worship with Ash Wednesday – key points of our life in Christ.

Lenten Christian education started today with "Thy KingdomCome". We considered the catechism on prayer on page 856 of the Book of Common Prayer and discussed prayer in our lives . The first Revelation Bible study is Wed. Feb 21. 

The sermon considered the issue of trust using three stories. "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. "

We offered blessing for Gibby whose birthday is today as well as a belated birthday for Howard and Millie.

Today’s readings affirm God’s promise of continuing relationship. Water and wilderness elements are used to continue that relationship Also there is the ancient symbol of the rainbow in scripture. We can delight in the fact that Lent begins not with some dismal sign of sackcloth and ashes, but with a radiant beam of hope. Like the Ark, we too navigate choppy waters, confronting the chaos of war, the tragedy of child abuse, the danger of escalating violence and the sad consequences of our own failures. Yet some stubborn streak persists in hoping. When clouds cover the earth, we look for the rainbow.

In Genesis 9, life begins anew, sealed by God’s promise to all creatures and confirmed by the rainbow. The author of 1 Peter explains that we are saved through the cleansing water of baptism. In today’s gospel, Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness end with the proclamation of God’s good news.

In the Old Testament through Noah, God makes the first covenant, a covenant with all humans and animals and every generation. The sign of the covenant, the rainbow, is a sign of peace, showing that God’s wrath was over and the stability of the natural order was guaranteed. This first covenant demonstrates the trustworthiness of God who makes promises and keeps them

In the Epistle from Peter, the author seems to have used parts of a hymn to frame statements about Jesus’ authority and the meaning of baptism. Christ died “once,” not only as a model to be followed but also to bring new access to God.

The author draws parallels between the destructive, but cleansing, waters of the flood and the cleansing, saving waters of baptism. Verse 21b is translated more literally, “a pledge to God from (or of) a good conscience.” Thus, the believer’s baptism is effective not as a physical washing, but as a sign of one’s new life in Christ.

The Gospel reading recounts Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The event of empowerment by the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism (vv. 9-11) immediately leads into a time of testing. The 40 days recall the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2), the 40 days of Moses on the mountain (Exodus 24:18; 34:28) and the 40 days of Elijah’s journey (1 Kings 19:8). Exposure to temptation is a continuing theme of Jesus’ ministry, in the desire of the crowds for a sign (8:11), in Peter’s rebuke (8:32-33) and in the jeers of the crowds at his crucifixion (15:29-32).

Apparently Jesus was prompted by the end of John the Baptist’s active ministry to begin his public work. Jesus now proclaims that “the time is fulfilled.” The work of the prophets, including John the Baptist, was to prepare for God’s kingly rule.

In Jesus, however, all God’s prophetic words find their fulfillment. The prophets were called to speak God’s message, while Jesus is God’s message. “The kingdom of God has come near” (v. 15), that is, the kingdom of God is more than merely nearby, it is present in Jesus.

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