Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I will recall

The lessons for the first Sunday in Lent are:

  • Genesis 9:8-15
  • Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Mark 1:12-15
Not much chance for a detailed reflection this past week (work has continued to be crazy) but I do have a couple of thoughts to kick around. Call them notes toward the beginning of a reflection.

In these first Lenten Sunday lessons, the key ideas are covenant, baptism, kingdom -- ideas that really do go together, especially as we learn to read Scripture as a single (but complicated) story. Persons were brought into the original covenant that God made with Israel by birth, or marriage, and only rarely by conversion. Baptism by itself was not all that new, but it became a new sign for the restoration of covenant relationship, the establishment of a new covenant that would be the basis for the renewed reign of God.

If I remember correctly, archaeologists have found suzerainty covenants in ancient documents. These contracts between a ruler and a vassal nation set out, in a form quite similar in some ways to the ten commandments in Exodus, the responsibilities of the vassals toward the ruler, or suzerain, and the commitment by the ruler to protect the vassal city or country. In creating the covenant with Israel, God chose to use a familiar legal structure to describe this relationship. John the Baptist called those already under the original covenant back to their responsibilities, and God's willingness to enter into relationship with Israel. In declaring the coming of the kingdom of God, Jesus reveals that this relationship is entering a new phase, and that, as foretold, it is to be with the whole world.

Just some notes, in a week where I have let myself get too busy. Ah well, let's try for something better this next week.

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