Worship Resources for March 13th, 2022—Second Sunday of Lent
Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35 or Luke 9:28-36 (37-43a)
Narrative Lectionary: Jesus Washes Feet, John 13:1-17 (Psalm 51:7-12)
Abram was distressed before God because he and Sarai were old and had no children. In Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, God hears Abram’s complaint that a servant in his household is to be their heir, but God takes Abram outside and shows him the stars, that Abram’s descendants will be just as numerous, just as uncountable. God promised Abram that it someone born of his family would inherit from him. Abram believed God, the same God who brought him and Sarai from their father’s home to this new land. Abram offered a sacrifice, and God established a covenant with Abram, to give the land to Abram and Sarai’s descendants.
The psalmist sings of their trust in God in Psalm 27, that they have nothing to fear, even in the midst of enemies. The psalmist knows God will hide them from evil and deliver them, for they have made their home with God. The psalm turns to a plea for God to answer the psalmist’s prayers, that they might remain steadfast. Some have turned away from the psalmist, speaking falsehoods, and others have forsaken them, but the psalmist remains true to God and trusts that God will deliver them, reminding others to take courage and know that God will answer.
Paul writes of being citizens of God’s kingdom in Philippians 3:17-4:1. Those who live for this world are enemies of Christ, where they live by the belly, their greed, and their mind is set on worldly things. But those who are expecting Jesus as their Savior wait for the transformation of their humiliation to glory. Paul calls upon the family of the church in Philippi to stand firm, to join with him in imitating Christ.
The first selection for the Gospel reading is Luke 13:31-35. As Jesus drew closer to Jerusalem, he was warned not to go there. This passage reminds us that many of the Pharisees were not Jesus’ enemies as they are often portrayed. Many taught similar lessons and saw Jesus as another rabbi of their tradition, and warned him that Herod was against him. However, Jesus would not be deterred by the puppet ruler under Rome and told the Pharisees to tell Herod he must continue his ministry. Jesus quipped it was impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was where all the worldly power was. Jesus longed to gather the people like a hen gathers her chicks, but the people of the city would behave as the city always had—longing for God, but unwilling to let go of the world’s ways of power and greed.
The second selection is the Transfiguration, also the lectionary reading two weeks ago. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain with him to pray. While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah spoke with him, and in Luke’s version, they are speaking about Jesus’ soon-to-be departure in Jerusalem. Peter, James, and John are tired, but they behold this scene, and as Moses and Elijah are leaving, Peter speaks up. Peter tells Jesus it’s good they were present, and they want to make three dwellings, one for each of them. The Common English Bible uses the word “shrine” instead of dwelling, indication a sort of worship for Elijah, Moses, and Jesus. Then a cloud suddenly overshadowed them all and the disciples were terrified. A voice came from the cloud telling them to listen to the Son, the Chosen One. When the cloud lifted, Jesus was alone, and they didn’t say anything. In verses 37-43a, it is the next day when they come down the mountain, and a man begs Jesus to heal his son of a spirit. The other disciples could not cast the demon out. Jesus tells the man to bring his son to him, but not before declaring this is a faithless and perverse generation and complains about putting up with them. Jesus rebukes the spirit and gives the boy back to his father, and everyone was amazed.
The Narrative Lectionary turns to the events of Holy Week in John’s account, beginning with foot washing in 13:1-17. Jesus takes on the role of servant, serving the disciples by washing their feet. When Peter protested, Jesus insisted that he must wash their feet to prepare them for the journey ahead. Just before this chapter, Mary (Martha’s sister) washed his feet, preparing him for the journey to Jerusalem and the cross, serving him, and Jesus followed her example. Peter thought he understood at that point and tried to get Jesus to wash his hands and head. Jesus said that one who was bathed was clean except for their feet—just the dirt and grime of the day. This wasn’t baptism, this wasn’t an act of purifying or cleansing—it was simply an act of kindness and serving, and Jesus called them to serve one another with kindness as he had served them.
Psalm 57 is about a cleansing that purifies. A psalm attributed to David, the psalmist desires to be cleansed from the blot of sin, knowing they have gone wrong, and desires a new and clean heart before God, to be set right.
In this Lenten season, as we journey with Jesus to the cross, we are reminded that this world resorts to violence every time to solve its conflicts. It resorts to power and dominion over others. The way of Christ calls us into community, into hope, into serving one another with kindness. It calls us to gather with Christ and others, to seek a different way instead of the violence of the world. It calls us to look to the ancestors of our faith and their trust in God when the world seemed against them. The way of Christ reminds us that the regimes of this world rise and fall, but the reign of God’s love, the beloved community of faith, endures forever.
Call to Worship (Psalm 27:1, 13-14)
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
I believe I shall see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Holy One, we confess that in our fear, we turn to the ways of this world over Your ways time and again. We turn to leaders who promise power and domination over others, instead of Your commandment to love one another, to bless one another, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We seek comfort in the familiarity even when it oppresses us, because we know it oppresses our enemies, too. Forgive us for our violence, for the harm we inflict upon ourselves and others generation after generation. Help us to break the cycle and to turn to You and Your ways. Help us to lay down our way of violence and pursue peace. Call us into Your ways of love and justice, a way of hope and healing, so that we might end humanity’s destructive and evil ways. In the name of Christ, who laid down his life for us and went to the cross, we pray. Amen.
Jesus has traveled our path, worn our shoes, rode the same tracks. Jesus’ own heart beat and bled for the world. Jesus cried out in grief and anguish, pain and loss, and still deeply loves us. We are loved by a God who knows our pain and suffering and struggle. Bring it all to Jesus, for he knows what it’s like, and loves us, and calls us to love one another. Amen.
God of Creation, as the days lengthen in the Northern hemisphere, we see signs of You all around. The snow is melting, the ice releasing its grasp. Shoots are breaking forth from the cold earth and buds are preparing to open. Even in the midst of war and grief, Your life still takes hold, and has deep roots. May we be open to You. May we nourish the roots of Your life in us, knowing that You have made us into a new creation, a new life that takes hold in us. Everything old has passed away, everything has become new, as the Apostle Paul once wrote. May it be so in us. May something new take hold of us this season and not let us go, so that we might live more fully into Your life that you dreamed for us, a new life that begins now and lasts for eternity. In Your name we pray, Great Creator. Amen.