God’s unconditional promise of peace and unconditional love is enacted through our baptismal identities and we, with God, remember the goodness of all of God’s creation and our calling to care for all of God’s creation.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
First Sunday of Lent, Year B
Texts: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
I can’t quite describe the feelings I had on Ash Wednesday, but it felt different to be sitting at my dining room table, placing ashes on my forehead, and remembering that I am dust and to dust I shall return.
Maybe the feeling was sadness? Sadness that was connected to the grief about everything that has been lost and everyone that we have lost over this past year?
Maybe the feeling was comfort? Comfort from acknowledging our imperfections and the need of repentance? Comfort from being seen and loved for who we are?
Maybe the feeling was joy as we heard God’s promise or the feeling was relief? Relief from experiencing and knowing God’s power to create life out of dust and return life back to God’s creation?
I’m guessing all of us were consumed by different emotions as we marked ourselves and/or our family with ashes and proclaimed remember…
The psalmist today also proclaims remember. But this time the psalmist is calling on God to remember…
Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions.
Remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
The psalmist reminds us of times and places, situations and experiences we have been in the wilderness and have cried out to God saying, remember us!
It makes me wonder what Noah and his family experienced during the flood while they were in the Ark.
A story that many of us heard in our youth, takes on a new meaning as we learn about violence, destruction, genocide, and natural disaster. The story of the flood leaves us asking more questions than we have answers for as to why God would wipe out almost all of creation, exchanging violence for violence.Our questioning might feel similar to questions that we often ask God. Wondering if God is with us in the midst of suffering and violence or not? Questions that we ask as we try to discern God’s presence and actions in our world and in our daily lives.
In our first reading for today, we hear the covenant, the promise, that God makes with Noah and his family and all of creation after the flood. God’s promise is a promise of peace to never again wipe out the earth. God then says that God will make a sign of the covenant by placing God’s bow in the clouds. A sign for God to remember the promise that God makes with all of creation.
When God makes this promise with humanity, a transformation happens and God who once was angry at what God created is transformed to see the unconditional love and goodness that God’s creation had from the very beginning.
God says again and again, I will remember. I will remember. And in this covenant, God promises to do the heavy lifting in this two-way relationship between God and all of creation.
The bow, that we understand to be a rainbow in the sky, is also thought to be a reflection of a bow as a weapon that symbolizes God laying down God’s weapon and exchanging it for peace and love.
By hanging God’s weapon in the clouds, God changes God’s mind and promises to enter into a relationship of peace with all creation. Looking to the headlines and in our own community shows us why we and God need to be reminded of humanities goodness. The bow then is a remember for God about the beautiful creation that God has created and a reminder for us of God’s promise of peace.
This promise doesn’t end in this covenant, but the arch of the rainbow leads right to the incarnation of Christ. God entering human flesh and showing us through Christ’s ministry and death on the cross that God was very serious about the promise of peace and unconditional love.The promise is sealed as the arch of the rainbow connects God’s promise with Noah and all of creation with the promise that God makes in the waters of baptism. God enters into human flesh and enters into new creation, one filled with God’s mercy, justice, and steadfast love.
At the river Jordan, Jesus is baptized and voice from heaven proclaims, you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased. Then the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan, with wild beasts, and the angels waited on him.
In the wilderness Jesus is tempted and Jesus is transformed. Much like what happens to us when we are in the wilderness journey experiencing temptation from evil structures and forces that hold us back from loving and caring for our neighbors.
During lent, we fast by listening to who God is calling us to be in this particular season of our life so that we can be transformed daily and enter into our communities with the renewal to care for all of creation as God has intended us to do.But we before we get too far in this journey, we take a moment to pause and remember.
Remember that we are created in the image of God, and baptized as God’s beloved. Remember that God has made a promise that God will remember God’s creation. Remember that in our baptism God transforms us to be agents of healing and wholeness.
How do we remember? By enacting rituals, marking ourselves with ashes and remembering that we belong to God and remembering our pain, grief, and failures. And by marking ourselves with water, remember that God’s goodness and promises are enacted in our very own lives.
This is what I think Jesus was hinting at as he began his public ministry and proclaimed “repent and believe in the good news”
Daily, we hold both a cross of dirt as we repent and remember God’s mercy and a cross of water as we love and remember God’s good news that comes through God’s steadfast love and peace. Constantly sealed with a cross we bear Gods imagine for the glory of God and we are promised an eternal life, love, and relationship with God.
So on this Lenten journey, I invite you to revisit and remember your baptism daily. After you brush your teeth or wash your hands or before you join for worship, mark a cross on your forehead and proclaim to yourself and/or your family:
Remember you are beloved and you belong to God.