Second Sunday in Lent (March 20, 2011)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Gen. 12:1-4a; Ps. 121; Rom. 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17
This week we met with our Jordan Advisory Committee, a group of community leaders who provide wise counsel for MCC’s work in the country. We also hosted several other visitors and survived a hard drive crash on Daryl’s computer. The winter rains are over and spring is here to stay it seems.
The hotspots in the region this week were Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. The U.N. Security Council voted to implement a no-fly zone over Libya so that Col. Gaddafi cannot use the airspace to fire on Libyans. The Libyan government subsequently said it would halt military action. In Bahrain, at least six persons were killed when government forces clashed with anti-government protesters. In Yemen, the president declared a state of emergency after gunman killed dozens of anti-government demonstrators. There were also protests in Jordan and Syria. Meanwhile, Egypt is set to vote Saturday on constitutional reforms, which some say do not go far enough in limiting the president’s power.
The Common Lectionary readings for this Second Sunday in Lent challenge us to trust God for the journey.
In the Old Testament reading, God calls Abram to leave his country, tribe and father’s household in order to journey to an unknown land, where God promises to bless Abram and to make him a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3) In Middle Eastern culture such a dramatic separation from family is rare. And yet Abram goes as God has instructed him.
The psalmist trusts God to be his helper, keeper and protector. “The Lord will keep you form all evil,” assures the psalmist, “He will keep your life.” (Ps. 121:7)
The Epistle reading says that Abraham’s right relationship with God was the result of trusting not trying. “But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness,” Paul writes (Rom. 4:5).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells a Pharisee named Nicodemus that eternal life springs from believing (trusting) God’s Son (John 3:13-17).
How difficult it seems to trust God when the earth is shaking in Japan and the nations around are in turmoil. And yet, in who else or in what else can we trust? With the psalmist we are confident to say, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” (Ps. 121:8)