3.25.2012

SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT Year B

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16  •  Psalm 22:23-31  •  Romans 4:13-25  •  Mark 8:31-38






Some days I am overwhelmed by the faith shown by folks.


In scripture, we saw it last week when we read the end of the story of
Noah and the baptism of Jesus. And we see it again this week as we
read the story of Abram/Abraham and see Jesus teaching folks about how
he was going to be killed.


All of these people are showing a deep trust in God. They are each
facing a grim scenario, and yet they believe that, live or die, it is
the right thing to do.


Wow.


And in every day life, people trust in unproven medical techniques,
people have faith in unproven political leaders, people put their
lives on the line to fight for ideas they believe in.


I don't know that I have that in me.


I like to believe I am faithful...and courageous...and willing to step
out and trust God in dire circumstances. And I am not sure that is
true [and I am not anxious to test myself].


We see the first person account of Abraham in the passage from
Genesis, and then in Paul's letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome
we get his retelling and commentary on the life and actions of
Abraham. He had been a man who faithfully followed God and believed
that eventually God would fulfill His promise to make Abraham the
"father of many nations". However this became less and less likely as
Abram and Sarai's fertility were slipping away day by day. And yet, he
stayed faithful and so did God. Paul makes it sound quite majestic and
courageous: "Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become
"the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous
shall your descendants be." He 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. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of
God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,being
fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness."


Believing even in the face of completely contrary circumstances...wow.


And then we find this interesting story from the gospel according to
Mark. It begins with Jesus telling folks that he will be killed and
rise again...and then the disciples want to talk him out of this crazy
thinking...and he lays down an intimidating mandate for his followers:
"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take
up their cross and follow me. For 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. For what will it profit them to gain
the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in
return for their life? Those 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." Jesus draws a high contrast map explaining the kind of faith
necessary to be one of his followers. He sets the bar high so that
those choosing to follow him understand the possible consequences.


Yikes.


How faithful are you?
In what (or whom) do you place your faith?
Are there ways you would like your faith to grow or change?


God, guide us all
as we attempt to be faithful
to you.
Faithful in small things
on easy days
when little is requested....
and faithful in big things
on hard days
when our lives are threatened.
Guide us, Dear God.
Amen.


© matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

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