Readings for Second Sunday of Lent, March 12

An Invitation to Rebirth

Collect: Second Sunday of Lent

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy; Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever.  Amen

Genesis 12:1-4 .  .  .  This reading marks the beginning of Israel as a people.   Hearing the call of God, Abram (later renamed Abraham), leaves his country and his people, following God into a new life.

Psalm 121 .  .  . Your Presence Till Journey’s End

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 .  .  .   Paul explains how Abraham’s faith, revealed in his willingness to believe and act on God’s promises, makes him right with God.  Now righteousness is received by trusting in God’s Son whose own faithfulness  to God even unto death has become the basis justification by faith alone.

John 3:1-17 .  .  . Jesus invites Nicodemus, a nighttime seeker, to believe and be born again is the way this is often interpreted.  To my mind, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that “you have  to be  it to see it — the Spirit of God is already in Nicodemus.”  To my mind the invitation is to the gospel reader as stated in Mark 8:6: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  I appears to me, in this reading, that Nicodemus is already dragging his cross; he can see.

A Sermon on the Gospel  Carla Pratt Keyes, Pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, preaches a sermon from John 3:1-17 called “Believing in Christ.” How do you preach “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”? How do you preach a Gospel text that has been reduced to the width, height, and sometimes, sadly, the depth of a bumper sticker?