Posted on February 25, 2018
Virtual Service: Feb. 25 – Second Sunday of Lent
Almighty and ever-living God,
You hate nothing You have made
and You forgive the sins of all who are penitent.
Create in us new and honest hearts, so that,
truly repenting of our sins,
we may obtain from You, the God of all mercy,
full pardon and forgiveness,
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. AMEN
Confession and Absolution
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us,
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your name. Amen.
Celebrant Alleluia! Christ is risen.
People The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Celebrant May his grace and peace be with you.
People May he fill our hearts with joy.
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
The Sign of the Covenant
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram,[b] but your name shall be Abraham;[c] for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sar′ai your wife, you shall not call her name Sar′ai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Genesis 17:1 Heb El Shaddai
Genesis 17:5 That is exalted father
Genesis 17:5 Here taken to mean father of a multitude
Psalm 22:22 – 30 Revised Standard Version
22 I will tell of thy name to my brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From thee comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted[a] shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live for ever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.[b]
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 Yea, to him[c] shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation
Psalm 22:26 Or poor
Psalm 22:27 Gk Syr Jerome: Heb thee
Psalm 22:29 Cn: Heb they have eaten and
Second Reading: Romans 4:13 – 25
God’s Promise Realized through Faith
13 The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Gospel: Mark 8:31 – 38
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Sermon – The Rev. Brian Heinrich
In the Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
All of this Second Sunday in Lent’s scripture readings consistently and harmoniously invite us to Faith. “Hoping against hope” as St. Paul puts it in today’s epistle (Romans 4:18). Trusting God, like our exemplar ancestor Abraham, even and especially when it seems impossibly unbelievable (Romans 4:19) and when most tried and afflicted (Psalm 22:24). Trusting in God’s faithfulness (Romans 4:21) particularly when things look grimmest and all the reasonable voices around us challenge us to defect and capitulate (St. Mark 8:32b-33).
Now the testimony of these (and all) scripture, is not just for the original ancients, but to instill, encourage and invigorate Faith in us today too, in the current situations and struggles in which we find ourselves (Romans 4:23-24a).
Today’s gospel reading from Mark begins with that little word “Then”. And so, as always, I encourage us to deeply listen and pay attention to these seemingly insignificant words, and it would serve us well to back up and contextualize today’s scripture. Allow me to remind you, what immediately precedes our lesson is Mark’s version of the story known as the confession of St. Peter: Jesus asks his disciples “who do folks say I am?” The disciples respond, “John (the Baptist), Elijah, or perhaps one of the other prophets”. Then Jesus ups the ante, asking, “but who do you say I am?” Peter (the spokesperson) replies, “You are the Anointed!” (Seemingly) great answer Peter! But then something very odd occurs, Jesus “strictly warns” them not to tell anyone this. By now you’ll be familiar, as I’ve alerted you numerous times, about this characteristically Markan “messianic secret”. Mark’s Jesus oddly, seemingly counter intuitively, doesn’t want this identity broadcast.
“Then” follows today’s reading. Jesus correctively tells them just what it really means that He is the Anointed Son. That necessarily (not accidentally nor incidentally), He is (not just possibly, this is God’s design), going to suffer (paschō), be rejected by the religious authorities, and be killed, and then (“sotto voce”) on the third day rise again. (Cf. Paul in today’s Romans (4:17) epistle, if God can bring all things (“visible and invisible” as we confess in the Creed) into existence, then is it any less believable that God could give life to the dead (4:24b-25). Jesus reveals that being the Anointed Son means inescapably going to the cross.
Then Mark, again kind of oddly, reports that Jesus says this to the disciples “quite openly” in notable contrast to the messianic secret! This is the identity Jesus wants made perfectly clear. Not the glorious title but the inevitable Passion.
But Peter can’t bear it. “Shut up!” he says. Mark reports Peter “rebuked” Jesus and His self-identifying proclamation. Mark uses the same word he had just done in the preceding 8:30 translated “strictly warned” there. And that he will use again in the next verse where Jesus “rebukes” Peter and exposes the real source of Peter’s objection. Another temptation from the adversary not to believe in who He really is. We are also familiar with this word from the earlier Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, where we heard Jesus order the demon “be silent” or better “be muzzled!” (Mark 1:25). There is no room for vacillation, it is all or nothing. Only one determined possibility. Only God’s.
Jesus has been confronting and in open conflict with the way the world thinks throughout Mark’s gospel. And so, then, unsurprisingly Jesus continues to expose, openly, publicly what is really at the core, Peter’s greatest fear, that discipleship means sharing in Jesus’ paschō. (Note this is the word Christianity has traditionally used to describe the Resurrection). Only English uses the weaker word “Easter”, almost all other languages use Pasch(a). And Peter’s illusions are ours. To be a disciple means taking up one’s own cross and following the irrevocable and necessary path the Anointed Son faithfully, trustingly treads.
And this is only the first of Jesus’ corrective Passion predictions. He will repeat it twice more. Just to make sure the muddled, resistant disciples (and we) get it. (9:30ff & 10:33ff)
Being a Christian doesn’t mean escaping nor evading suffering, but precisely trusting God to be faithful in and through it and like the Anointed Son, to be vindicated in the end. Our Christian vocation is a costly, never-ending struggle and while we may not so harshly experience it, Christian profession and worship is still punished in parts of our world today. Remember even quite recently our sibling Coptic Christians have been martyred and their churches and worship services attacked. Interestingly and tellingly, when Copts baptize they are also tattooed with a cross on the hand, that in a society and culture where they are a persecuted minority their profession and witness can be publicly and irrevocably clear. Today, the Markan Jesus, the Passion-bound Anointed Son, invites us to consider what might it be like for us, if we were indelibly marked and couldn’t conveniently hide that we were Christians. What might it mean for us to live out our faith publicly, consistently, unabashedly, boldly? And to come follow Him.
May the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God Jesus trusted, grant us the same faithfulness and courage in our witness and journey of discipleship.
In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN
The Nicene Creed
Celebrant Let us confess our faith, as we say,
All We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Prayers of the People
Father, we come to you in prayer during the desert days of Lent, where our focus invites reflection, contemplation and intention.
The Lord’s Prayer
Celebrant And now, as our Saviour Christ has taught us,
we are bold to say,
All Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Leader Go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
People Thanks be to God.