Sunday is the Second Sunday in Lent, as we continue on our Lenten journey at St John’s and celebrate Communion together on the first Sunday of the month. We also offer Wednesday and Thursday Lenten worship experiences next week, so that all might have the opportunity to dive more deeply into Lenten spiritual practices.
On Sunday, our Scripture texts are Genesis 17.1-7, 15-16 and Mark 8.31-38. My sermon, “God’s Promise,” is rooted in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) promise God made to Abram. If you read Genesis Chapter 17 closely, you will see that there is a lot of naming going on: Abram becomes Abraham, and his wife Sarai becomes Sarah. At the same time, God takes on a new name too: El Shaddai (God Almighty).
The Bible first identifies God by the name Elohim (“God,” which appears 2,500 times in the Old Testament), yet in Sunday’s reading, God becomes known as “GodAlmighty.” Why does this matter? Well, just ask some of our church members who have known a God Almighty, who “made a way when there was no way.” Come here some stories of HOPE and salvation that will change your heart, if not your mind, about why these ancient biblical details matter in 2015. If all else fails, come hear a rendition of El Shaddai sung by Christian singer Amy Grant, that may reach you in new ways as you deepen your faith in a future that is not just up to you alone.
Lent is a time for turning toward God anew, and for living into the hope that with God, all things are truly possible. Nothing is impossible for God! This Lenten season, we invite our church members and friends to “GIVE” (rather than “give up”!) HOPE to each other, and to our wider community.
Each day for the 40 days of Lent, you are invited to find some way to GIVE HOPE to someone else – recognize someone’s effort, share a kind word of encouragement, offer a compliment, post an inspiring photo on Facebook, pledge a tithe to the church, make a donation to The Open Shelter. Be creative! During the process of offering hope to another, may you be blessed with an increased sense of hope in your own life.
St John’s HOPE journals are now available for you so you may record the “40 DAYS OF HOPE” we are creating during this most holy time of the Christian Year. We hopeyou will be inspired by what a difference you can make in someone else’s life, merely by offering them some hope.
We also invite you to share the ways in which you have FOUND HOPE through your faith in Christ and your involvement in the mission and ministry of St John’s. Write two paragraphs (or two pages!) describing the challenges you have faced, and how you found hope at St John’s and share them by March 27. We will share your stories in our church publications during Lent and Eastertide (“Hope Found”), so all might be encouraged through this faithful endeavor. Our two seminarians, Nick Knoblauch and Foster Pinkney, will share their stories of hopefound and faith fulfilled during their journey with St John’s, as each is training to spread that hope from this generation to the next. Please join us in sharing your story!
Forty days is a long time to journey to the cross with Jesus, but journey we must. And on Easter morning, when we celebrate the greatest HOPE of all, we will have a special reminder of this Hope for all who attend worship. So the next time someone asks, “Got Hope?” You can reply, “Why yes, I do! Would you like some too?”
With abundant hope for our transformative future,