Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Second Sunday in Lent, Year C
March 17, 2019
Lessons: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people never give up, persevering in the Way of Christ, believing and hoping against all that would have them do otherwise.
Key Scripture: I believe that I shall see the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! – Psalm 27:13-14
There’s no turning back now—not for Jesus, not for Abram, not for Paul, and not for us either. The gospel lesson for the Second Sunday in Lent finds Jesus headed for Jerusalem to fulfill his purpose and nothing, nothing at all, will deter him. Even when Jesus is warned by the Pharisees about Herod’s desire to do him in, Jesus tells them to let Herod, “that fox,” know that he’s coming. His destiny, his plan, his purpose is in motion, and the location will be the holy city of Jerusalem.
For now Jesus has work to do; he is healing people and casting out demons, but he is on his way, his face set, his mind made up, and his heart aching. Even with Jesus’ harsh words for Herod, there is great tenderness and compassion for Jerusalem and all for which this city stands. One can read the love between the lines that Jesus has for God’s people. Jesus will never give up on them or on us, even to death and, importantly, beyond death.
The divine intent to bless and hold in relationship is also present in this week’s Old Testament and epistle lessons. In the passage from Genesis, we encounter a frustrated Abram who is tired of waiting for a child to carry on the family line. He can no longer see the possibility or a future; he is instead resigned to the fate of passing on his inheritance to a household slave. God has other plans and invites Abram to gaze into the night sky and count the stars. This, God says, is how is will be with your offspring. God seals the blood covenant with Abram in the “deep and terrifying darkness.”
In the letter to the church at Philippi, Paul encourages the believers to imitate the example of faith they see in him, reminding them that their citizenship is not located in the powers and provinces of earth but rather in the cosmic realm of Christ. He urges the believers to never give up, saying “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” (Phil. 4:1).
Even the psalmist echoes the theme of persistence, of never giving up, with these words: “Wait for the LORD, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (27:14). The entire song echoes this theme of praise, belief, and steadfastness.
We, today, may not be facing death as a result of discipleship, but we do face challenges, fears, and messages that urge us to follow other gods. As we follow Jesus to the cross, we can take courage and have hope. We are stewards of amazing, life-altering news. We are disciples of the One who never gives up—on anyone or anything in all creation. While we wait for the fulfillment of promise and renewal of all things, we do not give up. We persevere with Jesus, who holds us in the divine arms of mercy and love. Yes, what good news we dare to believe and have to share!
What hymns and songs capture the essence of Jesus’ tender compassion in this week’s gospel lesson? God’s instructions to Abram?
How can you best explore through your preaching and teaching the beautiful and tender image of Jesus as a mother hen sheltering her brood? How might you communicate that Jesus’ words are for all people, not just those gathered in your faith community or those who look or think like those in your faith community?
Be sure in your Lenten liturgies to slow things down and allow time for reflection. You might even begin worship with a simple breathing exercise to bring focus and a reminder of the breath of God. Encourage worshipers to hear old familiar words (creed, prayers, etc.) in fresh ways. Invite lectors to slow their pace and pause after the lessons. Take special care to slow your words and actions during Holy Communion. This is sacred space and sacred time.
Patience and perseverance can be tough for teens. Adults and institutions place a lot of pressure on them to perform at high levels academically, in sports, in the arts, and in social interactions. Explore Abram’s frustration and God’s answer. Consider Jesus’ deliberate course of action and ability to stay the course without distraction. Above all emphasize Jesus’ love, compassion, and mercy. Even though the world may hold unrealistic expectations for teens, Jesus loves each precious one of us just as we are and will never leave us.
The lessons from Genesis and Luke also serve as a good springboard to talk about the recent college admissions scandal and why it matters. Read more here.
This week’s focus verse is Luke 13:34b: How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
This week’s gospel lesson features one of the most beautiful and poignant images of Jesus, as he states his longing to gather God’s people under his protection and care as a mother hen does her chicks. If you have anyone in your congregation or circle of friends who has chickens, ask if that person would be willing to talk with the children about how mother hens care for their chicks. If you have access to some chicks, you might bring them in for the children’s time. They are so lovely, fluffy, and cute, but they need care or they will easily die.
If you have time, teach the children to sing the first verse of “Thy Holy Wings” by Karolina Sandell-Berg. Set to a Swedish folk tune, this hymn feels like a lullaby where one is held safe and sound under the protective wings of Jesus. Learn more about the history of the hymn here.
Since the stores are already full of Easter goodies, you might pick up a package of felt chicks at the craft store and give one to each child as a reminder that Jesus will always care for each one of them just as a mother hen cares for her babies. Finish with a simple prayer.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
On this Second Sunday in Lent Jesus teaches us to persevere and to never give up on our discipleship journey. Jesus also loves us with the tender care of a mother hen and will never leave us, no matter how much we may grieve him. We are stewards of this very good news. Will you share it this week with someone who needs an encouraging word?
Stewardship at Home
This week spend some time looking at the night sky and pondering this week’s lessons from Genesis, Luke, and Psalm 27. Not only are the stars lovely to look at, they also illustrate the vastness of the cosmos. While we are but tiny specks in the grand scheme of things, God loves each one of us as with the same love exhibited for Abram and the same love and compassion Jesus speaks of over the city and people of Jerusalem.
A friend and colleague introduced me to a wonderful song this week by Jacque Darragh. It’s called “Only Those Who Walk in Darkness See the Stars,” and the message is a lovely one to contemplate and pray with. Click here to listen to it on YouTube.
2016 Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2016/02/a-fast-of-first-fruits/
Photos: Art in the Christian Tradition, Vladimir Shioshvili, and Ronnie Macdonald, Creative Commons usage license. Thanks!