Reflections for the Week of Sunday February 28, 2016 Third in Lent

Scriptures: Ex 3.1-15; Psalm 63.1-8; 1 Corinthians 10.1-13; Luke 13.1-9.

Ex 3 tells of Moses encountering God in the burning bush. God tells Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and that His name is YHWH. In Ps 63 David worships God and says His love is better than life. In 1 Cor 10 Paul looks back on the great events of the Exodus. Lk 13 tells of two disasters in Galilee and that failure to turn to God leads to disaster.

Escape from Slavery

Ex 3 when Moses encounters God is the beginning of the great event in Israel’s defining story, the Exodus. God is being faithful to His covenant promise to Abraham to bring Israel out of bondage (Gen 15.13,14). God says His name is YHWH, an ineffable tetragrammaton probably derived from the Hebrew verb ‘to be’ meaning existence–God exists and possesses existence in Himself, and all existence comes from Him. The Christian journey toward Christ is like the Exodus. It begins with an encounter with God as real, and the realization that His love is the essence of life. In Ps 63 David says, ‘In the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy’ (v.7). It is in worship that we know God and find joy. In 1 Cor 10 Paul recalls the Exodus as a spiritual journey where passing through the Red Sea is like baptism and the manna God gave His people is like the Holy Eucharist. Paul says that the water they drank from the spiritual Rock was from Christ who was with them on the journey. In Rm 6 Paul says that we have died with Christ in baptism when we go under the water (either by immersion or symbolically by sprinkling) and have been raised to new life, resurrection life, with Christ as we emerge from the water. Our ‘old man’ born into the slavery to sin in Adam has died with Christ and our ‘new man’ in union with the resurrected Christ is born anew spiritually. Our old life of bondage to sin has died and a new life of freedom from sin and death is given by the Spirit of Christ. Rm 6 says we are no longer under the law (6.14) which condemns us as sinners but are under grace. In Lk 13 Jesus says that some Galileans who perished in disasters were no worse than others, and that if His hearers did not repent, they also would perish. Repentance means to turn from one’s present course of self-sufficiency and pursue a different course, a life int the Spirit. It means to turn from one’ s old life to a new life in Christ. But how do we do this? “With man it is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Mt 19.26). It is God who saves us and all we can do is call on Him and trust Him for our spiritual new birth. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rm 10.13). “We are saved by grace through faith and this is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2.8-10). The Holy Spirit in us as the result of grace gives us faith that Jesus is Lord (i.e., that He is God the Son) and that God the Father raised Him from the dead (Rm 10.9). This is saving faith. This is a milestone on the Christian journey (our personal exodus) leading to the Promised Land of faith in the Triune God which we call eternal life (Jn 17.3). This is the heart of Lenten Reflection. It is these gospel truths on which we should meditate during Lent to prepare our hearts in gratitude for the great event of Resurrection Sunday when new life is given through God the Son. He came for our sake, to reveal God the Father and to send God the Spirit and to fulfill the work of the Triune God to redeem us from our alienation from God and our bondage to sin and death.

Memory Verse: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1.15).

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