Lent 2, Feb. 25, 2018

Title:Lent 2, Feb. 25, 2018

 Lent 2, Feb. 25, 2018 (full size gallery)

We had 150 at the Village Harvest on Wed., Feb 21 and the second highest amount of food distributed int year. The next day Andrea, Cookie and Eunice went to the Lenten Quiet Day led by Bishop Goff at Roslyn in Richmond. Apparently the sessions were excellent. Catherine was signed up but opted to be with Barbara Wisdom in surgery in Georgetown.

This Sunday was the last Sunday of the month so there were services both at 9am and 11am and since it is Lent, 11am was Eucharist. We had 7 at 9am and 32 at 11am. The weather was poor with fog and drizzle at 9am whih had cleared by 11am. Signs of spring were around – daffodils beginning to bloom as was the Japanese maple and robins enjoying the adjacent yard.

Sunday Christian Education for adults was from "Thy Kingdom Come" and dealt with praise. The discussion was how we praise God and the importance of doing do. On the board was the following “We Praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God’s Being draws praise from us.”

At 11am we recognized Cookie who has been selected as the distinguished woman in the Diocese. She will be going to General Convention this summer in Dallas.  Edgar also received his birthday blessing.   Helmut Linne von Berg and Johnny Davis were selected at Vestry last week as senior and junion warden respectively.

The sermon last week considered "trust"; this Sunday the sermon topic was "praise." "To praise to approve, admire and to commend, to offer grateful homage…se this season of Lent to spend more time praising God throughout your day, especially if something or someone else has stolen your heart away from God, because praising God helps us to deepen and enrich the keeping of the first commandment, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

The readings are all about discipleship which is based on the covenant relationship and deepens our faith.

The Gospel from Mark is the short but poignant "Get Behind Me Satan" passage. This is first prediction of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection (8:31). (The other two are at 9:31; 10:33-34). They are set into a common pattern: (1) prediction, (2) misunderstanding by the disciples and (3) teaching on discipleship.

Peter offers Jesus the title of Messiah, “the Christ” (8:29). In Mark, the general expectation of the Messiah seems to be a political leader. Jesus rejects this understanding. Mark reiterates throughout his gospel that Jesus’ disciples cannot truly understand the meaning of Jesus as Messiah before, or apart from, the crucifixion. Peter rejects the thought of a suffering Messiah, implicitly tempting Jesus to the same false messiahship offered by Satan in the wilderness. The disciples are called to the total surrender of all assertion of self that clings to personal desires over the will of God.

Jesus proposes that the only way out is through, that we must embrace that which we fear the most. Suffering, rejection and death are part and parcel of the human experience. Jesus challenges us to seize our lives, prickly and annoying as they sometimes are, and transform them. He would not only talk about this way of transformation; He would soon show them how to do it.

David Lose has an interesting slant on the passage. (He is now senior pastor of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis in 2017.). "How do we take up the cross ?" "Rather, I think the call of these week’s passage, particularly amid the brutality and violence that seem to permeate the world, is to be willing to embrace the pain of others – rather than explain it, simply seek to comfort it, fit it into some larger plan, or even merely decry it – trusting that God is in the midst of our brokenness, working for and calling us to life…"

"We are called to take up our cross by being honest about our brokenness and thereby demonstrate our willingness to enter into the brokenness of others. We are called to take up our cross because we follow the One who not only took up his cross but also revealed that nothing in this world, not even the hate and darkness and death that seemed so omnipresent on that Friday we dare call good, can defeat the love and light and life of God."

God provides examples of faithfulness in the Old Testament reading from Genesis. This reading recounts God’s surprising gift of an everlasting covenant to Abram. God also promises to bless Abram with numerous descendants even though he and his wife Sarai are in their nineties. Such an astounding promise challenges their trust in God to provide. Their new identity in relation to God is signified by receiving new names (Abraham and Sarah), much like newly-baptized Christians as they become members of the new covenant community.

Paul in the Epistle cites the examples of Abraham to prove that justification by faith is not contrary to the Old Testament. In Judaism at that time, Abraham was held up as a model of righteousness through works. Paul argues that Abraham’s faith, his readiness to believe and act upon God’s promise, put him in right relationship to God, apart from any works. This righteousness is open to all—Jew and Gentile—who trust in God, regardless of whether they keep the law. The promised inheritance comes through faith to Abraham’s true descendants who are those who follow his example of faith. To make the fulfillment of the promise contingent upon the later Mosaic law would render the promise void. The law serves only to make transgression evident. This was probably developed from the Roman maxim, “no punishment without a law.”

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