Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Collect for theThird Sunday in Lent Book of Common Prayer
We’re approaching the midpoint of Lent, and the lectionary brings us increasingly challenging texts. Or so it seems anyway. Our OT reading comes from the end of the section of Isaiah commonly referred to as “Second Isaiah,” inviting the exiles to uproot themselves and return to their homeland. Commentator Patricia Hull at Working Preacher suggests with reading’s emphasis on nutriion, preachers might consider the economics of food and water today. In the NT reading from his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds his audience not only to follow his example but also to learn from the mistakes of their ancestors and avoid idolatry, a great opening for us to consider what 21st century idols lure us away from God.
In this week’s gospel, Jesus uses the stories of two accidents to remind his followers that human suffering is not related to human virture or the lack thereof–it is not divine punishment for sin. Nonetheless, those who fail to repent are placing themselves in peril. The parable of the fig tree, which closes out this reading, offers a reminder of God’s ever present grace, available for all of us.
Tough texts, preachers. Where are they calling you, half way through Lent? Do you have questions? Insights? Thoughts for a children’s message? Join in the conversation and let us know where these readings (or otthers) are taking you.
*So sorry for the late posting; I am out of town at a workshop without my laptop, and fatigue conspired with my iPad to keep me from getting this up last night, and this is the first time I’ve had a chance today!