This year, the prescribed old testament readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (our worship readings for Sunday mornings) show God at work among God’s people. Making promises, providing in times of need, and raising up leaders from unexpected places all feature in these readings. How might these readings – and our accompanying songs – carry forward into how we view God’s relationship with us today? In this first of a series of five posts, we’ll explore some themes for the first Sunday in Lent.
On March 1st we’ll hear about God providing food for Adam and Eve, forbidding the tree in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve eat from it anyway and their sin is laid bare for all to see. In the same way, any parent provides good things for their child and eventually, that child will test the any boundary. God provides, but sets limits. We think we know better and are tempted to break those limits.
Yet, God continues to provide good things for us. Water springs from the earth and falls from the sky. The plants grow and we have food to eat. God puts people into our lives who love and care for us. While the story of eating from the tree of knowledge reminds of our sinful nature, it also serves as a relief. We may break the rules (commandments to love God and love neighbor), but God will provide for us anyway. The songs we will sing during traditional worship this week, pick up these themes and give us a way to sing the good news we have read.
Music and Worship
The gathering hymn, The Glory of These Forty Days, serves at least two purposes. It invites us into the disciplines of the season of Lent. Also, as we are about to read about the good gifts God gives us, this hymn has us pray that God would strengthen our spirits with grace and give us joy to see God’s face – two more good gifts.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, the hymn of the day, is the quintessential hymn about God conquering all that would stand between us and salvation. God, the mighty fortress with sword and shield, fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit. Singing this as the hymn of the day reminds us that God will always grant us the kingdom, regardless of our response to sin and temptation, because God’s Word (that’s Jesus!) will forever abide. Talk about gifts that last!
Finally, we send each other out with Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer, knowing that our temptation to sin has not ceased. Throughout this hymn, we sing of those great gifts of God given to us in the sacraments: the bread of heaven feeding us now and evermore and the crystal fountain in which we are washed and claimed by God.
God gives good gifts and sets limits. We break those limits through our sinful nature. God continues to give good gifts and set limits. It’s a cycle of life, death, and rebirth that is in, with, and under our words and actions every time we gather. As a time of catechesis (a time of learning about our faith), Lent invites us to consider the many ways God continues to come to us, regardless of our shortcomings.
I hope you’ll join me on a journey this Lent. Watch here each Thursday for continued exploration of these themes. Until then, God’s abundant grace guide and keep you.