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February 24, 2013 Second Sunday in Lent

This week’s readings

The readings this week remind me that Lent, along with a time to be penitent, is also a time for us to practice hope. How can repentance mean anything for us if there is no hope for forgiveness and, even beyond that, joy?

Abraham lived in hope. When having children seems impossible, the despair of having to leave all of his legacy and his riches to a servant must have been overwhelming. Why would you ever believe, after years of marriage, that children are even possible. Yet, when God makes that extraordinary promise, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be,” (Gen 15.5-6 NRSV), Abram believes God. I love this verse. “And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15.6 NRSV). A solid belief that he and Sarah would indeed have so many descendants after years of infertility…that’s hope! And God saw the righteousness of that hope.

Our epistles of late have been quite vigorous in speaking to a persecuted church. It was an age when faith in a God was held with such certainty. Today, everything spiritual seems to be up for grabs. How can we be a church that remains confident and hopeful in our good news, when we are persecuted by apathy and cynicism? Where is our hope that Jesus Christ is still the answer for our world? That same kind of confidence and hope is echoed in our gospel reading today, along with the comforting and strengthening words of Psalm 27. “What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! O tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.”

God bless you in your preparations this week. Where is the hope you practice and preach during this season?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.

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3 Responses to February 24, 2013 Second Sunday in Lent

  1. Thanks Dawn.

    This Sunday is our annual vestry meeting. To shorten the service we’re only using the gospel.

    I was particularly struck by the verse … “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

    I came across this question … “Where/how is Jesus trying to gather us closer to him, and where/how are we scurrying out from under those wings and off to danger?”
    God invites us to find rest under those wings. There are many things that keeps us scurrying about. A lot of those things include issues that are addressed in our vestry meetings like finances, buildings, volunteers or lack thereof, attendance, etc.
    How much more peaceful we might feel if and when we find our place under the compassionate and caring wings of God who created us and continues to give us life and hope in who we are and who we are always called to become.

    An image that sticks with me out of our Out of the Cold program … twice I’ve walked into the common area where guests can simply be and enjoy tv, videos, books, magazines. In the nursery where this happens is a rocking chair. Twice I’ve walked past and looked in to see a guest sitting relaxed and content rocking. What a wonderful image. I asked her last night what that felt like. She said … content, peaceful, safe … it reminded her of her mother and grandmother who would have rocked her.

    Her example is for me what it must be like to find my place under the protective place of God’s wings. What a blessing it would be if as a church we could find our place there too.

  2. My struggle is how to address these texts with about 50 guest Scouts and Girl Guides! I may use some of Mark’s thoughts, about being safe under a mother’s care, in fervent hope and prayer that this is an experience that most (if not all) present can identify with, whatever their age…. But, I’d be grateful for any other thoughts!

  3. I can’t help but think this week’s readings say something serious to us about our identity as God’s creatures–and I think both Mark and Heather speak to that. But in regards to penitence, acknowledging our creatureliness also involves acknowledging that we are not God.

    That’s a difficult thing to talk about, especially amidst deficit, illness, or injustice, because it reminds us that we aren’t entirely in control. But at the same time, it grants a certain amount of hope. How would it change the story if, instead of saying, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them… so shall your descendants be”, God had said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars: you’ve got five minutes. Now I want you to go have that many children”?

    So to me, this week’s readings present a challenge: yes, we are called to mission and justice and all the ministries of Christian life. But we can’t do it alone. Salvation is not ours to grant, and reconciliation is often beyond our own capabilities. Today, I find myself considering penitence in regards to my own temptation to believe it’s all up to me (or us) rather than looking to the relationship between creator and creation: Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

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