Lectionary preview Study materials: 28 February 2021, Second sunday in lent
for lectionary preview bible study on wednesday, 24 february 2021
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O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Deus, Deus meus
22 Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them; *
but when they cry to him he hears them.
24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
“May your heart live for ever!”
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, *
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
he rules over the nations.
28 To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
29 My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the Lord’S for ever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason 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 all of us, 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. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Jesus began to teach his disciples 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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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.”
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. 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. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 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.”
Study: Lent 2 (B) – February 28, 2021
RCL: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
In our passage, we witness another in a long history of exchanges between God and Abram. Abram listens, receptive and humble as God makes his everlasting covenant. The covenant is a promise that he and Sarai, heretofore childless, will be the forerunners of multitudes – of kings and of nations. This is a spectacular promise, given that Sarai and Abram are way beyond childbearing years. God gives Abram and Sarai new names, signifying their new role as the progenitors of multitudes with Yahweh as their God.
There are many instances in Abram’s life of going off in his own direction and being influenced by fear or the desires of others. He also has an abiding faith in God and follows God’s direction, even when that direction seems improbable and even impossible. Abram’s faithfulness pales in comparison to God’s generosity and grace.
- Recall a time when God’s generosity and promises gave you new direction.
- Our lives can seem small in comparison to the monumental story of Abraham. But God is as generous and faithful to us as to him. How would you describe God’s faithfulness to you today, and your faithfulness to him?
- In our passage, Abram’s only action is a humble acceptance of God’s promise and direction. How do you respond to God’s direction and promises?
Our reading begins halfway through Psalm 22, following bleak moments of despair and death where pleadings and prayers have seemingly gone unanswered. Here is a turning point – an exhortation to praise and glorify the Lord. Why? Because God listens to those who share their pain with him. Because God is indeed with us in all things, even when we can’t sense his presence, even in death. And “us” means everyone, including the poorest and most forsaken among us. All will be heard, remembered, and satisfied throughout all times for those who turn to him. The final verses soar with a promise of deliverance of future generations. Our task is to keep praying, acknowledging that we are in dire need of God’s help and that he is our strength.
- This Psalm asks us to reflect on God’s presence and goodness even when we can’t feel them. If you agree, how would you express this to someone struggling with this idea?
- In our culture, the nature of God has often been described as above or looking down upon us, rather than with us – especially in our pain, our fallenness, our desperation. Describe how you see God being with and for us in hard times.
This passage from Romans is a bit like an ancient bible study on today’s reading from Genesis! Paul lays it out nicely: Abraham didn’t find the old laws the be-all, end-all – he took God at his word. Simply abiding the laws renders faith meaningless. Rather, Abraham’s faith is self-perpetuating, creative, and trusting. God’s promise that he would be “father of many nations” flows from Abraham’s faith. Paul reminds the Romans that God’s promise applies to them as well. And we, too, can take it to heart; faith and trust in God bind us to God’s creative and generative promises.
- How have you seen God do the seemingly impossible in your life or the lives of others?
- It’s easy to think that we must follow a lot of rules and do good things in order to be accepted by God, rather than trusting in his grace. How would you explain faith in God’s grace and promises to someone struggling with this concept?
Jesus is straightforward in this passage – no sugarcoating his fate. He will be rejected, suffer, die, and rise again, he tells his disciples, drawing a reprimand from Peter. Jesus in turn scolds Peter for thinking from a human perspective rather than a divine one. Jesus continues with a similarly difficult message for his followers. Following him means losing one’s life and taking up the cross.
To “follow” Jesus is to deny one’s own wants and desires and do the right thing – the thing given you to do. Jesus didn’t want to die on a cross, but we see that he was confident in the glory of God that was to come, despite the painful costs. Important to consider is that as someone who loved Jesus, Peter was well-meaning in his “human perspective”. Certainly, he shuddered at the thought of Jesus’ suffering and death.
- Recall a time in your life when you were on the receiving end of good intentions and loving advice that held you back from doing what you knew you had to do. Or a time when you’ve been compelled to advise someone away from doing something costly and painful that they felt called to do. Do you sense the tension between human and divine things in this recollection?
- This passage prompts questions about what we value and what we’re willing to give up for those values. When have you been called to give up the pleasures of the moment for lasting things? The popular choice for the more principled one? Profit for honor?