Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Today is the second Sunday in the Lenten series, “Living the Baptismal Calling.” Today’s focus is on the second baptismal question: “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
Today is also the beginning of Daylight Saving Time for most of the United States.
Two weeks from today marks the first time we observe what we now call “UMCOR Sunday.” The former designation was One Great Hour of Sharing. The title was changed by General Conference in 2016 to reflect that all funds raised for this day in United Methodist churches are specifically to offset the administrative costs of the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
For Your Planning Team: Living Our Baptismal Calling
In This Series
This past Sunday and during this week, you’ve set the pattern for the life and work of your congregation throughout this season. You gather in worship on Sunday to hear and respond to one of the baptismal questions grounded in the Scriptures and then continue with at least two additional opportunities for follow up on that baptismal calling (one on one and in formation group gatherings) throughout the week. You may also have had a Courageous Conversation event that models and helps advance work on what it means to be “in union with the church which Christ opens to people of all ages, nations, and races.”
Keep these patterns going strong this week and in the weeks to come!
Today’s gospel account of the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, “a person sent from the Pharisees,” sets an important backdrop for the work involved in living out the second baptismal question, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” Accepting the freedom and power God offers requires something of us. Jesus first tells Nicodemus it requires being “born anew.” Today, we might call it “a reboot.”
Nicodemus cannot accept this metaphor. It makes no sense to him. Part of the good news of this encounter is that Nicodemus’s inability to accept the first metaphor didn’t stop Jesus from trying to offer him something more. Jesus offers a second metaphor, the story of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. We don’t see how Nicodemus responds to this at this point in John’s narrative. But it seems both this second story and the subsequent events in his own life and the life of Jesus led him to become a disciple of Jesus (see John 19:39).
Accepting the freedom and power God gives is the first part of this week’s challenge. The second part is using that freedom and power for the purposes for which God gives it: to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
As last week’s service did, this week’s service offers multiple opportunities for worshipers to embrace the challenges of this baptismal question. Once again, the question is built into the acts of entrance, this time following a processional singing of two songs that embody both verbs of the question (accept, resist). “Wade in the Water” calls us to accept, to welcome, to come on in. “Go Down, Moses” reminds us of our calling to use that power to resist and offers us the model of one who has done so, placing the singing congregation in the place of those who cheer on his acts of resistance.
We pick it up again in the response to the sermon in which, like last week, people are invited to write down in two cards how they will seek to accept and resist during the coming week. Individuals keep one card for themselves and give the other to another to check in with later during the week. Again, too, we’ve built the baptismal question into the framing of both the prayers of the people and the dismissal. We’ll continue to do so throughout Lent.
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino