Lent Two – Year B

Sermon Title: LENT TWO 2015

Date: 1st March 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: Second Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Reading: Genesis 17:1-7,15-16, Ps 22:24-32, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38

Do we dare to believe?

Do we dare not to believe? Have doubts?

Let’s look at the story of Abraham and Sarah very briefly this morning.

What we heard is the covenant given to Abraham: that he would be ancestor of a multitude of nations; he will have a name change (from Abram to Abraham; the covenant extends to Abrahams’ offspring; circumcision for the males was a sign of this covenant; and Sarai renamed Sarah will bear a child.

“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred year old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” Genesis 17:17

Abraham fell on his face and laughed.  I wonder what you would have done!  The same??

“To fall on one’s face in the Hebrew Bible is to take a posture of obedience or worshipfulness, as at Genesis verse 3, (which we heard this morning) when Abraham’s falling appears there to be a sign of assent to the covenant.  (As the story unfolds) in verse 17, the falling is joined with laughter, and obedience mixes with incredulity.  It is as if Abraham’s body knows what to do upon hearing this news, but his mind can’t quite catch up.”   [i]

I wonder if we are a bit like Abraham as we live out our Christian faith.

We believe and yet we ask for help with our doubts and chuckle to ourselves that all of this is a bit too amazing.

In Mark’s gospel Peter said “you are the Messiah” prior to Jesus openly telling his disciples that he was going to be crucified and die and rise again.  So you can imagine and understand why Peter (and probably the rest of the disciples thought it) said ‘no way!’ Messiah’s don’t get killed by the authorities.

“Any new leader, any prophet, any teacher with something fresh to say, might end up being crucified. [The disciples] must have known that by following Jesus they were taking risks.”[ii]

“Then [Jesus] 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.” Verse 31

This is how Jesus understood his vocation and the disciples and us are to follow in his steps.

It’s difficult for us to believe God’s point of view that highlights to us what is really important in life and in the world.  It challenges our very way we see ourselves and our neighbours.

The early disciples continued to follow and believe in Jesus even if they thought what he was saying was incredulous!  A mixture of belief and doubt!  Maybe having a chuckle that this guy is incredible but can we really believe what he is suggesting??

Like Abraham we ‘fall on our knees’ in prayer and praise and yet I wonder if there are parts of us still that laugh like Abraham at a promise we in our limited human lives think is impossible.

My hope is that during this time of Lent, we can risk looking at our faith and acknowledge to ourselves, if we have just gone along with being a Christian because that’s what I’ve grown up with, but have been fearful to question, to think about what we really believe about this Jesus, the Son of God.

I am a cradle Anglican and I remember many years ago, hearing a study on Jesus and was blown away by thinking ‘gosh, he really is the Son of God’!! What have I believed in these years before? I believed with the community of faith but then I began to understand more of what being a Christian, a follower of Jesus meant for me.

Do we dare to believe?

Do we believe that God who ‘promised to make all things new’, will help us with our deficit? Or do we say, it’s been like that for the last 10years and so nothing can change.

The promises of the Gospel are foolishness in the eyes of the world.

Throughout Lent this year as we are in our season of discernment for our lives together in this parish, remembering ‘parish’ is not just who comes to church.  I am inviting a number of parishioners to speak to us of their impressions of St Paul’s and what they are discerning as a result of our listening together for seeds of hope.

Our second speaker is: Kelly Murray (a new parishioner)Questions:

  • What were your first impressions of St Paul’s
  • What have you found helpful?
  • What has surprised you?
  • Have you found anything unhelpful?
  • As we are in this time of discernment, what are you discerning so far?

[i] Cameron B.R. Howard from Working Preacher website

[ii] Tom Wright ‘Mark for everyone’ page 110