February 18, 2018

Covenants begin after disasters, Enemies and suffering abound in this week’s passages. Jesus emerges from the wilderness and proclaims the kingdom come!


Genesis 9:8-17 – Sometimes called the “rainbow covenant,” after the devastation of the great flood, God puts his “bow” in the clouds as a sign of his covenant with Noah, his family, and all creatures. The bow, both a weapon of war and a device for hunting, is transformed into a sign of peace – could it foreshadow the prophets’ “swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks?” After our floods (crises), how do we claim the sign of God?

Psalm 25:1-10 – The one who prays, “do not let my enemies exult over me” is in a tough spot. First, he has enemies; second, they are in a position to humiliate him; and third (reading on), he sees them as “wantonly treacherous.” People of the 21st century could identify with the psalmist and track with him in his prayer to be led in the right paths. There is also an opportunity for the preacher to name those shamed by their ‘wantonly treacherous enemies’ and a challenge to both identify them as well as work with them toward their well being.

1 Peter 3:18-22 – Peter delineates Jesus’ suffering for since once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. He portrays Jesus in heaven with angels, authorities and powers all made subject to him. That is a radical reordering of the experience of humans “subjected” to power and authority in a variety of harmful ways. Peter’s vehicle (vessel) for understanding is the Ark, through which a handful of people were saved by water, presaging our baptism. The preacher might explore how our baptism ushers us into a new community, where even power and authority are subject to the risen Jesus.

Mark 1:9-15St. Mark offers the most concise of gospels, telling in the briefest form of Jesus baptized, hurried into the wilderness, emerging from there overflowing with the good news of God’s kingdom. (More than one cynic has said, Jesus gave us the kingdom and we gave Jesus the church!) The preacher might explore what that proclamation of God’s kingdom means in this nascent moment.