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Bible Study: Lent 5 (C) – 2013

March 17, 2013

Isaiah 43:16-21

After reading this section from the prophet Isaiah, I find myself immediately struck by verse 19. The prophet writes, “I am about to do a new thing … do you not perceive it?”

This is a feeling I am all too familiar with. We trust that God is always re-creating and re-forming the world so that it may be more in the image of God. I know this to be true and certainly believe it, but I still find myself missing the ways God is working in the world and in my life. Our call as Christians, and indeed my call, is to remain in prayer, connected to God. In this, we can see more clearly when – not if – God is making things new.

  • How can you connect more fully with God’s actions in the world?
  • What helps you tune into God’s work so that we can participate in and continue this work as God’s followers?

Psalm 126

The language of harvest as a metaphor is one that we are used to seeing in Scripture. There are parables, stories and great teaching moments that all use the harvest to communicate their message. In Psalm 126, I find great comfort once again in this metaphor.

Verse 6 reads, “Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.” The psalmist’s words about the nature of God and our work help me to remember that when I struggle and when I feel as though I am failing, God promises a harvest of joy for me and for those around me. It is true for all of us as followers of Christ. We may not always see the end that we work toward, but because we trust in God, we know that in the end our dedication to God’s call for our life brings not only joy but also abundant life.

  • Recall and describe a time or several times when you felt the joy and peace of God.
  • How can you celebrate and share the joy you have received from following God with others who may not have experienced this?

Philippians 3:4b-14

In the beginning of this reading from the letter to the Philippians, Paul lists all of the reasons he has to be confident and boast in the flesh, in worldly achievements. He was circumcised on the correct day, a strict follower of the law, and even a persecutor of the church. Yet, he is then quick to point out that even with all of these things on his side, he counts them as loss or rubbish or even garbage. He counts them as this because of knowing Christ and knowing that in losing the things of the flesh, he has gained Christ and has come more fully into the life of Christ.

How true this is for our lives, too! There are so many things in this world that give us a sense of pride and confidence. We know how to be successful on this earth. Yet, as Christians, we are called to something more – to a more full life of service to God. In this we gain not worldly ideals and status but we gain Christ and his love.

  • What gets in the way of your connection to God?
  • What helps you tune into God’s movement in the world?

John 12:1-8

The contrast between the faithfulness of Mary who anoints Jesus’ feet (most likely foreshadowing his impending death) and the false piety of Judas is stark. Mary uses expensive oil, and a lot of it, to show her dedication and service to Jesus.

Judas, on the other hand, claims that the oil should be sold and the money should be given to the poor. Judas, though, is the one who will betray Jesus and even the author of John makes it clear that Judas’ intentions are not what they seem. Jesus, of course, notices this and returns the attention of the reader and hearer to Mary’s faithful actions to honor and serve him.

Let us remember that, as followers of Christ, we must constantly re-align or re-adjust our lives and wills to that of Christ’s. Our motives and intentions may even be good but it is about more than that. This life as a Christian means that our whole selves, our souls and bodies, are to be given to the will of God.

  • This call is typically easier said than done. What small steps can you take to begin to further incorporate Christ into your life?

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Christopher Sikkema


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