View Full Version : Lent 2A (March 20, 2011)
March 10th, 2011, 12:48 PM
I'm finishing up my Sermon on the Mount series on Lent 1A, so I won't actually begin a Lenten series until March 20.
This year, I'm going to be focusing on the Gospel texts, and frame our lenten journey in terms of "Encounters with Jesus." Each text (at least up until Palm Sunday) deals with a different person who was changed when they met Jesus.
This will be a relief to me, as I'm much more at home with narratives and storytelling... prior to the SOTM series, I preached a series on the Twelve Prophets... so I'm definitely ready to return to some narrative!
I'll carry on with a theme that I'll begin this week - that it's not enough to simply know the beliefs and doctrines... we must be changed by Christ.
Somewhere along the way, I'm going to play with a word game on the spelling of altar and alter... i.e., the altar is where we come to get altered. :)
Anyway... this first week I'll choose the John text... the passage on Nicodemus - John 3:1-17.
What are some of the life transformations that are evident in this narrative?
March 10th, 2011, 03:14 PM
I was just working on my sermon for the 20th. This is the selected passage for the Ashes to Fire journey - I expect we'll have a few fellow travelers.
On first glance this passage seemed virtually unintelligible to me until we get to the familiar John 3:16 (and 17). So I've spent a fair amount of time reading and questioning and studying.
I always believe that when reading the gospels we have to identify with the Pharisees (as the righteous religious people of the day). Nicodemus makes it easier because he's sympathetic.
I want to make sure to note the specifics of him being respectable/educated and coming at night to contrast with the following week (where the woman at the well is anything, but and meets Jesus at the brightest part of the day).
Ultimately the question is about Kingdom and what it means to be in/gain access to, the Kingdom of God. I hope to contrast what Nicodemus expected (and what we often expect - the righteous get in on their righteous/pious works) with what Jesus teaches - only those who look to Christ will be healed/saved. I'm going to extend the pericope to verse 21 and its natural ending point - using John's commentary in vv16-21 to speak about how we condemn ourselves when we hold back part of ourselves from God. Nicodemus was curious, but reluctant to give us his comfortable lifestyle (we see it takes him the entire book to really commit). I've noticed that most in our congregation have no understanding of holiness/sanctification as we understand it. I hope to make the "kick" of this sermon an invitation to give everything to God.
In that vein I'm toying with re-imagining the "born again" motif. Hopefully this won't get me killed. (I used the NIV Application commentary for much of the previous paragraph, but Feasting on the Word for the homiletical structure I'm toying with). I'd like to play with the notion of what a baby might think if it could reason in the womb - what are the downsides of coming out (fear of the unknown, comfort in the known, risk, etc) and also what would the baby miss if it stayed in (love, growth, purpose, beauty, meaning, etc). We have to be risk takers for Christ - we have to be willing to give up our comfort and predictability for obedience to God's call.
That's as far as I've got so far.
Perhaps we talk about the ideal of conversion (I think we'd agree that salvation and sanctification could come at once), but the reality that our lives often get in the way of full commitment. I want to stress that there's something more than a static faith and something bigger than a cycle of failure and forgiveness.
Do you think this passage supports this (especially in vv16-21) as much as it seems to me?
March 17th, 2011, 08:46 AM
Genesis 12 small group discussion guide (http://crossview.info/index.php/2010/09/26/crossgroups_43/)
Romans 4 small group discussion guide (http://crossview.info/index.php/2010/04/14/crossgroups_29/)
Matthew 17 small group discussion guide (http://crossview.info/index.php/2011/01/16/crossgroups-connection-guide-9/)
March 17th, 2011, 09:42 AM
IF I were to have prepared a little something on this text in 400 words or less, it MIGHT run like this:
He was too old to sneak around at night, it was silly to wrap his cloak around himself and skulk through the dark streets. He walked quickly, pressing his hand against the small leather bag at his waist, to keep the silver coins silent in the dark night. The walk home would be more quiet, with the coins nestled in the rabbi’s pouch. He was curious, but cautious. Nothing could draw attention to his intrigue with Jesus.
A man of wealth and education and postition, it was politically and socially dangerous to associate with zealots and revolutionaries. To sit at the feet of a street preacher in the light of day could be disaterous, a betrayal of his birthright.
His birth was everything. By his birth he had been given his place; not only in his family, but also in the world. His birth had been his fortune, his education, his marriage, his success, his happiness. He had lived his whole life swimming in the depths of his birthright. At times it threatened to drown him, and at times it held him bouyant over the turmoil of other people’s lives. But Jesus word’s troubled him. How could he turn away from his first birth to be born again?
What Nicodemus had a hard time accepting was easier for poor men to understand.
A fishermen knew that to be born again in Christ was to be offered a new life.
A dirty tax collector knew that to be born again in Christ was to be made clean.
A leper knew that to be born again in Christ was to be healed.
A woman with a past knew that to be born again in Christ was to be made whole.
For Nicodemus to give up his first birth and to submit to new birth in Christ was sacrifice, it was death.
What Jesus was really telling him was what God expects of his children. Many of us come to Jesus out of the abundance of our birth. The days and nights of Lent put our resolve to follow Jesus on the line. Is it time to recognize that the priveliges of your birth, the life you have been given are making it hard for your to follow the rabbi of self-sacrifice? Allow God to lead you in these days, as you make due with just a little bit less.
March 17th, 2011, 10:07 AM
Here's what I've come up with for John 3:1-21.
I'll be working from this to prepare for Sunday.
March 17th, 2011, 11:14 AM
Anyone have any good worship songs/choruses that go with Ps 121?
I'm toying with "Mighty to Save (G)" into "Your Name (A)"
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