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Bible Study: Lent 1 (B) – February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

RCL: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Genesis 9:8-17

The scale of this interaction between God and Noah is at once vast and intimate. We are reminded of the immensity of Creation, the multiplicity of life within it, and that, although this can stagger our comprehension, God is still beyond that. Yet God is in personal conversation with Noah, with an individual person. This is remarkable, that God so cares about us that God invites us to be in personal relationship with Godself, with God who is capable of cataclysm and mercy, who created the water and set rainbows in the sky.

Relationship requires more than one side. It is important that Noah does his part: Noah listens to God and does his best to live according to what he hears. God says that the rainbow is a sign to Godself, but it is also a reminder to Noah, and to us, that it matters to God when we listen. In today’s collect, we pray that “each one find[s God] mighty to save.” Being in relationship with a mighty savior requires that we start with listening.

  • God works in both cosmic and minute ways. How have you seen God at work in the world, at the scale of the cosmos, and at the scale of your own day-to-day life?
  • God invites us into personal relationship with Godself. How are you practicing listening to God, and what might you do this Lenten season to deepen and strengthen your listening?

Psalm 25:1-9

The Psalmist here articulates a posture of humility before God. The Psalmist puts “[their] trust” in God and asks God to show, teach, and lead them. We are assured that God is gracious and teaches sinners and the lowly.

It is important to distinguish between different stances of humility. The humility in this psalm does not come from an abject self-denial or condemnation; humility is not the same thing as humiliation. This humility is that of the student or one who is led. We, if we are willing to be shown, taught, and led, are indeed capable of following in the paths of the Lord that “are love and faithfulness.” In other words, we are capable of being who we are made to be, that is, people who “keep [God’s] covenant and his testimonies.” But the humility required is based in the remembrance that our capability to follow God comes from God, that any fortitude we possess is a gift.

  • We are assured that God is a gracious teacher. What might God be teaching you in this season?
  • Fear and doubt can often hold us back from maintaining a stance of trusting humility before our loving and forgiving God. How have you experienced God’s love, in spite of ways in which you knew you fell short or missed the mark?

1 Peter 3:18-22

The season of Lent is an important time in the church to think about what baptism means, which this epistle connects to the time of Noah. In Noah’s time, a posture of listening and faithful action in response to God’s will is vital to relationship with God, and that is just as true for us as we reflect on our baptismal covenant. Just as Noah was not saved because he was somehow able on his own to withstand the flood, but instead was saved because of his relationship with God, so too are we not asked to be righteous on our own. Notice that we make our “appeal to God for a good conscience.” The source of our good conscience is in God! Our salvation is based on our relationship with God, with Christ who “suffered… in order to bring [us] to God.”

  • Scriptures teach us about covenantal relationship with God. What is the nature of your personal covenantal relationship with God, and how might you reflect and act this Lenten season to be ever more reconciled with God?
  • Our salvation is in and through Christ. What does salvation in Christ mean to you here and now, and how might you proclaim this Good News by word and example?

Mark 1:9-15

The density of action in these seven verses is astounding. There are sharp contrasts: heavens are torn, but the Spirit descends like a dove; a voice comes from heaven with love and affirmation, but the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan; there are beasts and angels; John is arrested, but the good news is proclaimed. So it can be when we are alive to the work of the Spirit in our lives.

Two millennia ago, Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near,” and our faith is that that is just as true today as it was then. Yet note what he says next: “Repent, and believe in the good news.” Yes, we are living in the fulfilled time, but we have a part to play: We are called to repent and to believe. Both can be hard, and we may be sorely tempted to take some easier path that deflects true repentance or dilutes belief in the good news. We pray in the collect that God would “come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations.” This passage reminds us to be prepared for God’s help to sometimes lead to immediate action, and to deep and lasting transformation.

  • Temptations can come in many forms, some as subtle subversions of faith and determination to persist in right relationship with God. How have you experienced temptations in your life, and how has God provided help?
  • Our baptism transforms us and calls us to ongoing transformation. How is God calling you to transformation today, in this Lenten season?

This Bible study was written by Phillip Lienau, a seminarian at Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

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Christopher Sikkema


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