St. Mary's Church

Second Sunday of Lent

Second Sunday of Lent

27 Feb 2021 • General news

Genesis 17. 1-7, 15-16

17When 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. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I 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.

15 God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I 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.’

Romans 4. 13-end

13 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. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

16 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, 17as 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. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ 19He 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. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith* ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 23Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Mark 8. 31-end

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. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But 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. 35For 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. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those 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 thought 28 Feb 2021

When Abram was 98 years old... so says our reading from Genesis.

When I started to ponder on the readings for this second Sunday in Lent, this phrase really a leapt out at me.

Abram was 98 years old when Yahweh appeared to him and made a covenant with Abram that he would be the Father of many nations, and it was about 2 years later when his son Isaac was born to his already elderly wife, Sarah.

It can be easy, especially when you are younger, to feel that by the time you reach 30, your life should be organised - career, life partner, home, maybe kids or pets, and certainly when I was a teenager 40 was over the hill and the least said about 50 the better!

So much of our twenty-first century culture is based on looking “young”. There is a whole cosmetic industry dedicated to make up; hair dyes and all sorts of other products including plastic surgery, to help those (with money) look younger for longer.

The magazines and adverts on our television screens, feature models who look young and slim and “perfect” and it can be difficult not to feel that you just don’t measure up.

I want to challenge that view though, “For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart..” 1 Samuel 16:7.

I believe that the more we can accept ourselves for who we are, be honest about who we are - both the good qualities and those characteristics we would rather pretend aren’t part of us, then I think we can both be more open with God and with each other.

The LORD knows us and loves us, for who we are, in our heart, not how we are perceived.

If we take Abram as our example, few people would have looked at the old man, and determined not only that he had such a critical vocation for the LORD, but that he would become the Father of many Nations, through his Grandson Jacob and all of his sons and grandchildren. An ancestor that some of our Jewish neighbours can still trace back to so many centuries later.

This pandemic has been at times very tough for many of us, and certainly many of us have people and places that we cannot wait to be allowed to visit again, but I believe that even in these strange times, God has a role for us, something that we each can offer to him, while we sit on our sofas or arm chairs and watch the world go by.

We never know when we might be called upon to use our money, time or talents to make a difference in the world, and the one thing we should never do is count ourselves as “past it”.

Something simple like holding people up to God in prayer or writing a little note or calling someone on the phone can make a real difference and it is in ways like this, that we can offer ourselves in service to one another.

I made the somewhat difficult decision this year, not to “give up” something for Lent, there are so many things I am missing, that my obvious things to fast from like chocolate or crisps, or even the odd glass of wine, feel like treats I need at the moment, but I have set aside time to do some additional bible study, and I am trying to be better at writing letters or postcards to people, or to send little gifts to people I haven’t seen in so many months, to remind them that I still care.

However you have chosen to spend your time this Lent, I hope that you may draw closer to our LORD, and that, however the world looks, when Easter Sunday arrives, that we each can rejoice and sing that our LORD has risen again.

Amen.

Intercessions, St Mary Walsgrave, 2nd Sunday of Lent, 28 February 2021 [prepared by Sue Morton]

Let us pray to Almighty God through his son, the Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ

In this season of Lent, we are reminded of your time in the wilderness and how it shaped your earthly ministry

  • ofacing choices
  • owrestling with temptation
  • oexperiencing times of testing

We thank you for that time which reminds us of your humanity and tells us that you are one with us.

In the wilderness of pandemic life todaybe present with us, O Lord

Lord Jesus Christ

We give thanks, that you came through the wilderness time, stronger and more sure of the path to take and more confident of your ability to take it.

We pray for those experiencing similar times of testing.

We pray for those facing difficult and demanding choices which might entail pain and self-sacrifice or letting go of cherished dreams.

We give thanks for the many key workers in health services, education, agriculture and fishing, supply and delivery services, so many more.

In the wilderness of pandemic life todaybe present with us, O Lord

Lord Jesus Christ

We especially pray for suffering people, young and old alike: their suffering aggravated or brought about by the pandemic because of:

  • o Financial problems
  • o Unemployment
  • o Mental and physical exhaustion at work and at home
  • o Illness
  • o Loneliness and sadness
  • o Interruption of friendships and community activities

In the wilderness of pandemic life today be present with us, O Lord

Lord Jesus Christ

We pray for your Holy Spirit to touch those suffering in body, mind or spirit, to be with them in their troubles.

We continue to pray for Bill Brown, Mary and Roger Carradine, Margaret Davoll and Tony Thistlewood.

We pray for those who have died recently. Lord, you promised to comfort those who mourn. Thank you for the gift of eternal life.

In the silence, we pray to you in the power of the Holy Spirit, remembering especially our beloved family and friends departed from us, safe with you in your eternal Kingdom.

PERSONAL PRAYERS

In the wilderness of pandemic life today be present with us, O Lord

Lord Jesus Christ

Be with us as we continue to pray for strength and courage in the days to come and to do what you would have us do.

In the wilderness of pandemic life today be present with us, O Lord, Amen