First Sunday in Lent – Light and Water and seeing everything

Title:First Sunday in Lent – Light and Water and seeing everything

Helmut and Nancy sang “Lead us, heavenly Father” as the concluding hymn and “40 Days and 40 Nights” on Lent 1 earlier. The latter featured a broad range of views inside the church.

The First Sunday in Lent in Year B from Mark’s gospel affirmed Jesus past baptism, his role as God’s son and with God his life affirming covenant.

From the Prayers of the People

“Loving God, you have made a covenant with us and with every living creature. We give thanks for the sign of the rainbow, for it reminds you and us of your promise: that the flood of destruction will not be the last word. We thank you, too, for the waters of baptism, the sign that we are raised as children of the covenant; through Jesus Christ our Lord. And we thank you for the sign of the dove, the promise of your Holy Spirit. Hovering over the dawn of creation, descending upon your beloved Son, your Spirit also hovers over and descends upon us. With the whole creation, we give you glory and honor. In your triune name we pray. Amen. ”

Rainbow from Nov., 2016

Notes from the sermon. The complete sermon is here

“God’s sign of this life affirming covenant is the rainbow. Rainbows occur when droplets of water spread sunlight out into its spectrum of colors—creating circular arcs of color that all have a common center. So the sign of this life affirming covenant that God makes with us and all living creatures happens when the two most basic things needed for the life on this earth, sunlight and water, produce the dramatic light show that is the rainbow.

“Rainbows are a visual sign of the marriage of both the physical and spiritual worlds: We have a physical relationship with water, a substance that we drink, bathe in, play in, and get baptized in.

“Our relationship with light is more ethereal. We can’t physically grasp light or hold onto it. Light, by its very nature, is mystical.

“And it is at this intersection of the physical and the spiritual, that place in which the two are held together, in the rainbow, for example, that we find God, and see and know God, and remember that God is fully available to us and in relationship with us.

“When the physical and the spiritual come together as a sign of God’s life affirming covenant with us, God remembers the covenant too!

“At his baptism, as Jesus is coming up out of the water, as he feels the river water that has just covered him in a cool bath pouring down his body, he sees the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him

Today in Lent 1, in the wilderness, “Jesus continues to live within the life affirming covenant that God made so long ago with Noah and with all the creatures of the earth. Angels from the realms of glory settle around Jesus and wait on him. Jesus gets forty days to ponder the meaning of what he heard God say when Jesus was baptized.

“Matthew and Luke suggest that Satan tempts Jesus to misuse the power he has as the Son of God, but Mark may have had in mind a more basic temptation–that is, for Jesus to deny that he was the Son of God at all, that the voice that Jesus had heard at his baptism was only a voice of his own imagination, that his mind had been playing tricks on him.

“But Jesus is matter and spirit, intertwined in his very essence. And Jesus claims his essence and his identity, there in the wilderness. Jesus comes to terms with who he is, both Son of God and Son of Mary.

“And Jesus as the Son of God and Jesus as the Son of Mary reveal the totality of who Jesus is. When we see Jesus for who he really is, we see life and light. As the psalmist says of God, “in his light, we see light.”

“When we claim Jesus as light—no wonder Jesus described himself in the gospel according to John as the light of the world—our eyes get opened to see that Spirit shines through all of matter, that God’s light shines in and through all of creation, that everything is sacred, full of God’s affirming life giving love. Seeing the light of God shining through Jesus helps us to see God’s light shining through everything everywhere.

We start to see Spirit shining in droplets of water refracting light and creating rainbows. We start to see God’s love and Spirit manifest in the creatures and every living thing. And we start to see the light of God shining, even if dimly, through all people too, even the ones we would rather not love. We start to realize on an elemental level, deep within, that God made God’s covenant not just with you, or with me, but with all people and all creatures, not just the ones we like.

When we start seeing the incarnation in its completeness, in all that God has made, we become lovers, justice doers, people of hope and faith in ways that we could not even imagine—because we free our bodies and spirits for God’s loving Spirit to work in us and through us. Our vision gets clear enough to see how God wants us to reach out our hands in love to all that is around us. We can see that the kingdom of God really has come near, just as Jesus said.