Sermon Sunday March 5, 2023 Second Sunday in Lent
Lessons: Genesis 12:1-4a
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3: 1-17
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Read Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!
In the Dr. Seuss book, Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please
Go Now! We have a huge mysterious figure ordering
Marvin to go.Does this story sound familiar to you? How
does in compare to today’s lesson from Genesis? It sounds
eerily familiar, doesn’t it? While Marvin is given the
opportunity to go by dozens of means, how did Abram go?
Remember Abram, whose name is later changed by God to
Abraham connotating the new relationship between God and
Abraham and God and Sarai or Sarah, whose name is also
changed by God? Perhaps Abram went by camel? Perhaps
he went by donkey? Perhaps he went by boat? But is how he
went the key? Abram will you please go now and you’ll just
have to wait and see! And Abram went. He went because
God told him to go!
This action on Abram’s part seems immediate with no
questions asked. What a guy, right? He just picks up
everything, and because Abram picks up everything, so does
Sarai, and they go! We might ask ourselves though, what
isn’t said in today’s O. T. lesson between God telling
Abram and Sarai to go and the going itself! We can hear
Sarai saying, “We’re doing what?” “Who told you that?”
What did you eat for breakfast?” Are you feeling okay?”
Let alone what Abram might have said in the interim.
How does Abram know he is the one chosen? Why does
God want Abram to leave and go? How is Abram supposed
to move his entire household? I would also want to know if
there was a lag time between God telling Abram to go and
when he, Sarai, Lot, and their entire household finally went?
This was a big order, and if you have ever left behind
everything that you have known, which many of us may
have, it is not an easy thing to do. We leave behind family,
friends, and all of the familiar places that make somewhere
feel like home. Abram sure seems to have a whole bunch of
trust in this God that tells him to pick up and go!
Today’s Psalm, Psalm 121 fits in well with our lesson from
Genesis. This psalm has traditionally been known to be what
is called a Song of Ascent—most likely sung by groups of
pilgrims on the move, on the way to Jerusalem. Going up to
Jerusalem. This psalm speaks about the trust that those who
are on the journey have in God.
While it might not be an obvious question that would come
to mind from today’s Epistle from Paul to the Romans, this
lesson sparked the following thought. We have been talking
about our trust or our faithfulness in God in these lessons.
But what about God’s trust or faithfulness in us? Huh? We
might ask! That certainly seems to come from left field, but
let’s explore that a little bit though. Keep in mind the totality
of today’s lessons as we explore.
God chooses Abram for his covenant with the Jewish
people. God promises Abram blessings, many descendants,
and land. God makes the first move in the relationship with
Abram. This is a gift from God. Abram has done nothing to
deserve this. But Abram responds to God’s love in
righteousness. God was faithful to Abram. Abram is the one
that God chose, and Abram responded, and he went. Paul
suggests that Abram is a model of faith in this way. Abram
trusted God, no matter what, but God trusted Abram to
respond, and to respond as a new person, a person living life
in loving response to God’s great gift!
A similar theme runs through today’s Gospel lesson. Again,
the faithfulness of God to us may not be the first thing that
runs through our minds when we hear this Gospel of John’s,
especial this Gospel of John’s. How many times have we
seen signs, especially at football games, for some reason,
especially at football games, that say simply John 3:16? That
is, of course, the famous phrase that says “For God so loved
the world that he gave his only Son…”
What popped out this time was the line that says, “The wind
blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but
you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it
is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus
seems to be more confounded than ever with this line, after
having been confounded by a whole series of seemingly
incomprehensible phrases said by Jesus.
Yet this phrase about the Holy Spirit seems to embody not
just our faithfulness in God, but God’s faithfulness in us.
What faith for us to recognize the movement of the Spirit in
our lives, but what faithfulness God has in us to trust that we
will recognize the Spirit and its movement in our lives!
Still, Abram was no great saint, and that made God’s
faithfulness in Abram (and in us) even more remarkable!
Abram denied that Sarai/Sarah was his wife not once, but
two times. Once he denied her to Pharaoh, and once he
denied her to the king of Gerar.(Which means pilgrimage,
combat or disupute.) Also, the history of Abram lets us
know that even though he was chosen by God, that didn’t
mean that his or Sarai’s lives were a bed of roses. Imagine
how Abraham and Sarah must have felt about Hagar and
Ishmael leaving, or the potential sacrifice of Isaac? No, just
because God chose Abraham and Sarah, it didn’t mean it
was an easy life!
So, as an old friend of mine always used to say, what does
any of this have to do with the price of fish? In other words,
what meaning does any of this have for us?
First of all, how do we know when God, when the Spirit,
speaks to us? We listen. We listen through other people. We
listen through our life experience. We listen through God’s
word in the Bible. We listen through prayer. We listen
through events happening in the world. We listen in the
stillness of the wind or its roar. We listen in that small inner
voice. We listen through the tradition, history, and
inspiration of the Church. We listen through the holiness of
others and everyday life.
How do we respond to God? Do we respond in faithfulness
to God? Do we respond affirming God’s faithfulness in us?
Do we respond to the love and grace that God grants us as a
free gift? Do we respond by moving, by going when God
tells us to go? And by the way, movement doesn’t have to
necessarily mean we physically go from one place to
another. It can be a movement of attitude as well. It can be a
movement of taking action on something. It can be a
movement of repentance, of turning ourselves to God in this
But, this also isn’t just an individual movement. When the
Holy Spirit came, he came to a community and not just
individuals. The movement of the Holy Spirit gave birth to
the Church, the Body of Christ, us as a community!
How do we respond as a community in faithfulness to God?
What are we asked to move to as a community rather than
just living out our lives in one space, one attitude, one way
of responding to God? How do we show God that his
faithfulness in us is not misplaced? Do we as a community
respond like Marvin? Do we as a community respond like
Abraham and Sarah? Do we as a community respond as the
Spirit asks us to? Amen.