Welcome to Lent. Welcome back to Lent. Welcome to the longest Lent-ish season that many of us have experienced!
For most preachers and faith communities around the world, a lockdown in response to the global pandemic occurred sometime during Lent last year. For some of us, it feels as though Lent never ended in 2020. Perhaps you never returned to in-person worship, or perhaps you haven’t received (or celebrated) Communion in a full year. Maybe this is the longest that you’ve gone without a baptism, or an in-person funeral, or any number of the other markers of pastoral ministry.
It’s been a year. And it’s been a long one. And it’s OK if you don’t know what to do about Lent, since it feels like last year’s never ended. And yet, if you are serving a call where weekly preaching is expected, you still have a sermon to write. So let’s take a look at this week’s Revised Common Lectionary texts in light of the impending anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you might expect from action-packed Mark, this week’s Gospel includes the baptism of Jesus, his temptation, and the entire text of his first sermon. If you already preached on Jesus’ baptism in early January, this might not be the central sermon text for you. But if this passage is your focus, what do you make of the voice that comes from heaven? It utters many of the same words that we heard last Sunday for Transfiguration. What does it mean for you and for your community that Jesus is the beloved Son of God?
There is hopeful news in the passage from Genesis this week. After a devastating tragedy, God promises never to afflict the world in such a way again. Could the covenant between God and Noah perhaps reflect a promise between God and all of us? Now that we’ve lived through a year of a global pandemic, is it possible that God will protect us from any future destruction in a similar way in the future? Yes, of course, many diseases have afflicted humanity since the time of Noah. But have any of them been repeats? Maybe the Genesis passage can remind us that God’s ultimate plan is for us to prosper, and not to be brought to harm. What can we look forward to after the current struggle? What will our rainbow signify?
Perhaps you’re preaching a series for this Lent. Please share your ideas with the group! Maybe you’re following the Psalm or the Epistle reading this week, or for the season to come. Which passage speaks to you and your community this week?
Wherever you are in your preparations for preaching, liturgy, and worship, please share your questions and ideas below! Many blessings to you in your ministry this week, and for the coming 40 days… plus Sundays 🙂
Katya Ouchakof is a hospital chaplain and paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA). She is feeling blessed that her chaplain gig gave her access to the COVID vaccine a few weeks ago, and is praying that her loved ones and all other vulnerable people are able to receive theirs soon.
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