I always find the week after the third Sunday in Lent the worst! It’s dark here in the northern hemisphere. People seem less patient, perhaps because of the burden of Lenten disciplines. It is often around or just after vestry time, when everything is transitioning into a new financial year. In the midst of this darkness, it’s time to start getting the preparations ready for Holy Week – getting the word out, finding volunteers for foot washing, organizing with ecumenical partners for Good Friday, coming up with something exciting for Easter Sunday while still in the penitent attitude of Lent.
But things are looking up with these readings. Last week we reflected on God’s grace in repentance; this week, the loving grace of God’s forgiveness and new life.
Our first reading celebrates the Israelites crossing the Jordan River on their way to the promised land. Finally the days of wandering and manna are over, and they are celebrating the new life in Canaan. In every stage they have marked and dedicated their victory to God. Their deliverance is further expressed in the words of the Psalm.
The passage from Corinthians shows us a glimpse of the new, reconciled life in Christ. What does it mean to “become the righteousness of God”? As we are moving closer to Easter, perhaps this is a time to reflect on what kind of Easter people God is calling us to be. Out of this season of penitence, how will we have changed? What will be new?
The parable of the Prodigal Son offers so many incredible opportunities for preaching about our relationship with God. Can we imagine ourselves as the selfish, frightened younger son? The bitter older son? The father mourning and hoping all at the same time? An interesting sermon might be to imagine how your Church acts as the father and welcomes and includes the prodigal sons and elder brothers. Do we welcome back with tears and celebrations, or with judgement and suspicion? Do we let the bitterness and fear of elder brothers restrict us from loving one another?
How are you looking forward to the Easter promise of new life this Sunday?