New Revised Standard Version
Scripture Summary For the 1st Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 1)
by Rev. Shelley
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7: Throughout Lent this year the O.T. readings give us birdseye summaries of the great stories of faith and God's plan of salvation. On the 1st Sunday of Lent we're given the story of two Adams. The first man-Adam- and Eve are put in a perfect setting of bliss and abundance. Yet even in the midst of “every need and desire met” they press for more. They take what is not theirs to take. They overstep their place in the circle of life. They disobey God. We all do the same, and continue to bear the tragic results.
Psalm 32: This penitential psalm reminds us of our need for God's forgiveness for sin. The Psalmist acknowledged that forgiven sin leads to happiness. God then becomes a hiding place, preserving the Psalmist from trouble. God then is able to instruct in wise living and discernment. The unrepentant continue in misery “but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord”. The forgiven ones can shout for joy.
Romans 5: 12-19: St. Paul gives the best news ever. Our ancestor's sin brought the DNA of sin (disobedience or “missing the mark” or rebellion) into our makeup. We in turn, show our resemblance to our forebearers by continuing to sin. Death and condemnation are the results. But, thanks be to God, Jesus Chris has brought about a new story. It's a “much more” story. If sin reigned before, now “much more” has the grace, justification, life and righteousness of Jesus brought these attributes to all.
Matthew 4: 1-11: We always begin our 40 days of Lent with Jesus' 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. Our Lord always goes before us. He endures all of the temptations that we are called upon to endure. Yet, unlike our earlier ancestors in paradise, He does not give in to the tempter's words. He counters with the words of Scripture and full dependence on the Spirit. These can be our strategies as well.
Scripture Summary For 2nd Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 8)
by Rev. Shelley
Genesis 12:1-4a: A new name. A new purpose. Abram, at ninety-nine years old was about to begin a new life. God appeared to him, and told him that his future would be glorious. He would become a father and the ancestor of a multitude of nations. Kings would be his descendants. All of this would begin with the newly named Abraham and Sarah and the baby that would be born to them in their old age. Notice how many times the word “I” appears. God will be the one who will bring this about.
Psalm 121: The Psalmist looks up, asking the heavens where his help will come from. But he already knows. His help comes from the Lord. He, therefore, can turn his attention to others. Can they turn to God for help as well? Yes. This is a God who's on duty 7/24. The Lord made heaven and earth and has access to all the resources of both. God will bring the help that each of us needs.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17: St. Paul links Abraham to his great descendant Jesus by that little word “faith”. Abraham wasn't given these glorious promises because he was circumcised (he wasn't at this point). He wasn't given these promises because he kept the law (Moses wasn't born yet). God calls Abraham the father of the faith because he believed what God told him and staked his life on it. We are the spiritual descendants of Abraham when we have faith in the resurrection and live our lives out of this reality and promise.
John 3: 1-17: In this famous passage the religious leader Nicodemus visits Jesus at night for a chat. He compliments Jesus, but Jesus immediately takes the conversation to a deeper level. Jesus here gives Nicodemus a radical vision of what an encounter with God will be like. It will be a new birth. It will change everything. Anything less than this will never allow us to see God's kingdom (verse 3). The coming of Jesus into the world opens up this possibility and shows God's great love for us (verse 16). This revelation will take the kind of faith that moved Abram to leave all and follow God's leading.
Scripture Summary For the 3rd Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 15)
by Rev. Shelley
Exodus 17:1-7: The Israelites are still journeying through the wilderness - complaining as they go. "We have no water!" "Are you trying to kill us?" They cry to Moses, and Moses cries to God. Moses is then given an unusual command. “Strike the rock at Horeb, and out of it will come water for the people to drink”. St. Paul sees this as an early picture of Christ – the rock that will be struck and living water will burst forth – enough to nourish us all (I Corinthians 10:4).
Psalm 95: The psalmist invites all people to praise the Lord in worship and song. There are many reasons to do this. God is great. God is greater than any king. The lands and seas are in his hands. So are the people; they are the sheep of his pasture. But after the invitation comes the warning. Today is the day to listen to God. Do not provoke God, like his people did in our Exodus reading. Their complaining led to God's anger and a life of hard desert living for them.
Romans 5: 1-11: St. Paul continues his dense and intricate argument about believers being justified by faith. Christ does the work and we reap the benefits. This brings about peace with our creator and a life of reconciliation. Even suffering can then be endured, opening up a life of character and hope and an outpouring of God's love.
John 4:5-42: This is another long story that John seems to favour. Here it is an extended encounter with a Samaritan woman. Once again Jesus is breaking the rules by speaking alone with a woman; especially one who is a despised foe of his people. But the gospel is always breaking artificial barriers. Jesus turns this ordinary request for water around to a life changing conversation and conversion. This woman and her entire village are brought to the “water of life” and become believers.
Scripture Summary For the 4th Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 22)
by Rev. Shelley
1 Samuel 16:1-13: There are many ways to be blind. God commissioned the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the new king of Israel. It was a dangerous mission as Saul still reigned as king. Scared, yet obedient, the prophet arrives at Jesse's home. Yet he is blinded by the stature and attractiveness of the elder sons. God sees the human heart, however, and chooses David, the youngest.
Psalm 23: This is probably the most famous of all the Psalms. David's image of the Lord as our shepherd appeals to our need for security and serenity. David undoubtedly used his own care for his flocks as a basis for his poetry. From still water to darkest valley, the Shepherd will provide and protect in all circumstances. Maybe this week would be a good opportunity to ponder this psalm before you begin each day. This morning we will sing one of the many well known hymn tunes for this psalm, rather than saying it.
Ephesians 5:8-14: If we have been given the light of Christ, St. Paul invites the reader to live in this light. How does light manifest itself in a life? By living a life that is good and right and true. So wake up and let Christ shine on you and through you.
John 9: 1-41: The disciples ask the same question that the Pharisees ask when they see the blind man; “Who sinned? We hear the answer “no one” from Jesus' lips. He is much more interested in what He is going to do about it. He heals the blind man. Rather than rejoicing with the poor man that his misery is over, the religious leaders demand an explanation. (Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath). The man can't explain anything. He simply knows “once I was blind; and now I see”. That is enough for him. It is also the one thing that no one can dispute.
Scripture Summary For 5th Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 29)
by Rev. Shelley
Ezekiel 37: 1-14: “The leg bone's connected to the hip bone...dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones”. Here's the Scripture passage that gave rise to the gospel spiritual. Ezekiel, the prophet of the Babylonian exile sees no hope for the Hebrew people to return to their land. They're dead and dry. Yet, when God commands him to prophesy to these bones, a miracle occurs. The bones rise from the grave....and live.
Psalm 130: The Psalmist cries out from the depths for the Lord's mercy. The poet counts on God's willingness to forgive. If God did not forgive, then none of us could stand. The psalmist is willing to wait for his answer; longing for it even more earnestly than the night watchman waits for the morning's dawn. The psalmist knows that God offers this hope to all; and he therefore encourages all people to depend on God's steadfast love.
Romans 8:6-11: Paul here contrasts the life energized by the Spirit of God and the life lived out of fleshly desires. Set our minds on fleshly habits (anger, jealousy, envy, pride) and we will live a deathly existence. Live out of the Spirit within you (the Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead) and you will live a righteous life filled with peace.
John 11:1-45: In our last long Lenten encounter in the gospel of John, we see that Jesus' good friend Lazarus has died. His sisters both question (rebuke?) Jesus for not being there and possibly healing him. Jesus is moved by their grief and his own. He answers their questioning with an unexpected response. Jesus summons Lazarus from the grave. And he comes out – still in his burial shroud, but now alive. This miracle caused many to believe.