Second Sunday in Lent – Yr C (2/24/2013)

4 Mar

Genesis 15:1-12,17-18

Philippians 3:17–4:1

Luke 13:31-35

 

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold
* of my life;of whom shall I be afraid?

 

Opening Questions

  1. Could you be described as a person who lives their convictions?
  2. Would this description be a blessing, or a curse (or perhaps both)?

Appointed Passages[1]

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Elie’zer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”  4 But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”  5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7 Then he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chalde’ans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.  12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

  • When is it appropriate for us to bargain with God in similar fashion to Abram?
  • Does the Lord’s covenant with Abram apply to you?  If so, what is your obligation to it?  (Review the “Old Covenant” portion of the catechism – http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/catechism.pdf)

Philippians 3:17-4:1

17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

  • How would you describe an “enemy of the cross of Christ” (v. 18)?
  • What actions are required for an enemy of the cross of Christ to become a citizen of heaven?

Luke 13: (22-30) 31-35

22 Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 29 Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

31 At that very hour some Phar’isees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Her’od wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

  • What does the use of the wording narrow door imply about how we grow as Christians?
  • How do we “strive to enter” in order to get a better reply than “I do not know where you come from”?
  • If you were Jesus and attempting to gather people, what would you do to make the narrow door more inviting?

Comment

Today’s passages strike me as lessons in faith and patience.  During this season of lent, I think it is helpful to think about experiences in life that challenge our faith and identify possible actions or impressions they provide with the intent to upgrade our convictions to do the right things.

In a world of uncertainty, it is natural to want heavenly confirmation that we are doing the right things – as Abram did.  Paul laments that people are not imitating him as “believers” should.  We all do some things that result in our gaining “earthly” pleasures with seemingly no adverse implications.  We favor ourselves over others in ways that are subtle, yet important to notice for what they say about who we are.

It might be nice to imagine a divine force that periodically smacks the back of our heads with a physical reminder when we do something wrong.  However, the truth is that we will have to build our own mental equivalent.

True faith calls us to do the right things, not because of others who might be watching, but because they are the right things.  This sort of faith is in fact eternal, and places us squarely in that community of believers who might be described as citizens of heaven.

I daresay we all know the sort of people Abram, Paul, and Jesus are describing.  I think of the way people who knew my late father, Sam, described their experiences with him.  Phrasing included “he was a straight shooter….he said what he meant, and meant what he said…if he didn’t know, he was strong enough to tell me.”  I recall him as a man of strength and humility who developed carefully his convictions – then lived them.  I pray that I have some success in following his lead – and listening to the voices of Abram, Paul, and Jesus who remind us of the value of that course of action when we do.

 

Quotes for Today:

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

Frederick Douglass

 

The faith of a church or of a nation is an adequate faith only when it inspires and enables people to give of their time and energy to shape the various institutions — social, economic, and political — of the common life.

James Luther Adams

 

When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self.

Confucious


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

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