Third Sunday in Lent – Yr C (3/3/2013)

4 Mar

Exodus 3:1-15

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Luke 13:1-9

 

Psalm 63:1-8

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

 

Opening Questions

  1. If repentance is the means, what is the end?
  2. What are the implications of thinking about repentance as a state of mind rather than an action/decision?

Appointed Passages[1]

Exodus 3:1-15

3Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 5Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 6He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ 11But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ 12He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

13 But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 14God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ 15God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.

{According to Wikipedia, the Hebrew words for the phrase “I am who I am” are generally interpreted to mean I am that I am, though more literally translate to “I-shall-be that I-shall-be.”}

  • What do you think Moses’ intent was in asking God about his name?
  • What does the phrase I am who I am (or I am that I am, or I shall be that I shall be) mean to you?

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

10 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

  • What is the value of assessing the moral content of how you live your life?
  • Is it good to be confident and comfortable, or should we pursue the periodic tension of temptation (i.e., is it “healthy” to do so)?

Luke 13:1-9

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” 8He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’

  • If the fig tree represents people, what does the fruit we can produce represent?
  • What is the value of repentance?  How does it shape the character of one who embraces it?
  • What are the catalysts that encourage us to live our lives in alignment with our faith?

Comment

We know that life sometimes brings great joys and sometimes tough times and mind numbing sorrow.  The question of value is what we do with them.  I think one of the key messages in today’s assigned scriptures is that we should be aware of how to continually improve our internal moral compasses to use these experiences as directional landmarks to guide us along the pathway toward righteousness.  It is also important that we feel a sense of urgency or somehow find a catalyst to get us moving.

One of the comments I read about the parable of the barren fig tree suggested that Jesus had been in his active ministry for three years when he told it.  If that is true, one interpretation is that Jesus could have been lamenting that the people he was aiming to inspire weren’t yet getting his message – or at least not acting on it.

I don’t know about you, but I can find a good bit of manure these days…and frankly, a lot of fig trees that could use a dose of it.  The question I suppose is how to “dig round it” in a way that enhances the digestion of the compost to distill the ingredients needed for a healthy tree to produce fruit; both for ourselves and those around us.

We might think of repentance as a method of softening the ground….becoming active in that we invite the messages that come wrapped in the manure of life.  As well, I suspect it would be helpful to spend time grappling with or exploring what fruit we are destined to produce – and, of course, given my background as a CPA, my need to suggest that you identify how to measure your success at producing it.

 

Quotes for Today:

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Epictetus

 

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves.

Carl Jung

 

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

Elie Wiesel


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

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