March 17, 2013 Fifth Sunday in Lent | The Community
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March 17, 2013 Fifth Sunday in Lent

This week’s readings

I hope your preparations have been fruitful this week. I don’t regularly put myself in the situation of preparing a sermon while on vacation, but here I am at my inlaws’ dining room table with my iPad. A family emergency required us to leave for the Maritimes a few days earlier than planned, so my sermon preparation got pushed back.

If I was any good at coming up with sermon titles, my title for this week would be, “What has God done for you lately?” All of our readings recall God’s saving power and compassion.

If your folks are like mine, many have probably begun to watch The Bible on History Channel. After watching the first episode (haven’t seen the second yet. Looking forward to watching it when we get home) it seemed to me God had become a secondary character compared to the epic characters of Noah, Abraham, Sarah and Moses. This reading from Isaiah brings God back into this epic story. Isaiah calls us to look forward, not back, to remember that God is doing a new thing. As we bring Lent to a close, and we know what is coming, this is the Sunday for us to look forward, begin to anticipate the promise of the resurrection.

This psalm is another of my favourites. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream” (NRSV). The Common English Bible says, “…it was like we had been dreaming”. My paraphrase would say, “It was like a dream come true.” This is what salvation feels like. Even when we do not receive all we want, can we still dream?

The passage from Philippians recalls our Lenten journey as a race, we are almost done. The end of the race, the end of Lent, is not the goal. The goal is the transformed life that comes only through Christ’s resurrection. This is a good Sunday to ask, “What’s next?” After keeping a Lenten discipline, you could take another 50 day journey by making an Easter commitment. What has your Lenten discipline strengthened you to do?

The most loving expression of gratitude for the saving work of God is in the actions of Mary, sister of Lazarus. One could take this opportunity to explore gospel parallels, or the ways in which women are assumed to be sinful. Given the season, I would stick with the theme of gratitude. What has God done for you that would bring you to perform such an extravagant act? Maybe it is time to look at your own salvation history to find the answer.


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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4 Responses to March 17, 2013 Fifth Sunday in Lent

  1. Dawn Leger

    In continuing my sermon preparation, I realize that this gospel happens after Lazarus is raised from the dead. All the more reason for Mary to lavish her Lord.

  2. Last night, a colleague emailed me asking, “where did Mary and Martha get the three hundred denarii they needed to buy the perfume in the first place?”

    It led to an interesting conversation, with both of us searching for historical details to fill in the blanks. Inheritance? Undocumented marriage? As we thought about it together, we realized that we may have been caught up in the details. I asked, “how is this question any different than ‘why was I born in Canada rather than a developing nation’ or ‘why am i healthy?'”

    Your thematic title jumps out at me because it reminds me that many of the gifts we’ve been given are simply without merit or explanation. And it can’t help but lead me to the question’s reverse: what am I going to do [for God] with them?

  3. Dawn Leger

    My colleague and I are very excited about bringing our parish deeper into Scripture. We have begun to encourage folks to bring their Bibles to church and, last week, he introduced a Bible app for phones.

    I am continuing the challenge this week by doing a Bible study format of the Philippians passage. I’m just returning from vacation and I am not usually a Saturday night sermon writer, but here I am.

  4. Dawn Leger

    @jesse-dymond, what an intriguing conversation. In exegesis we keep looking for one rule fits all. Perhaps not here. Many gospel stories require us to have some historical context in order to understand Jesus’ audience, and therefore his intent. Our conversation last week about the Prodigal Son, in a way, countered that argument. In the end, it didn’t matter how much the young son got, or what the elder son had to lose. What mattered was the love the father had for both sons.

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