Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on March 8, 2009

Here are the passages for March 8th, 2009, the Second Sunday in Lent (Year B). All links are to the TNIV via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

It's not especially "liturgical," but I feel that it's important to note that March 8th is International Women's Day. Since the PC(USA) is a denomination the supports the full inclusion of women in all roles of ministry, some pastors may wish to make note of this event in some way. Perhaps the role Sarah played in God's plan (as mentioned in the scheduled Romans passage) could be appropriate?

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
  • As God makes the covenant with Abram, Abram's name is changed to Abraham. There are several such passages in Genesis where a name is changed to something new, and it is clear enough that this is a significant event. What is the special significance of this name, especially in light of the fact that the original name, "Abram," is not only so similar, but means something rather similar (as seen in the footnotes), as well?
Psalm 22:23-31

Romans 4:13-25
  • This passage is a direct commentary on the Genesis passage read earlier. What new insight does Paul have, if any, that would not have been possible for those who knew Abraham's story before the time of Jesus?
  • Paul makes much of the fact that, being nearly a hundred years old, Abraham was "as good as dead." This is natural enough to our ears, since few people today live to be as old as that. Genesis tells us that Abraham lived to be 175 years old by the time of his death, and this kind of "higher than currently normal" age is not uncommon in the Genesis stories. Leaving aside the issue of whether we take such accounts of "inflated" age literally, do you think Paul did? If so, why might he have said that 100 was "as good as dead," given that Abraham still had nearly half of his life ahead of him?
  • Why is Paul so interested in using Abraham as an example? Why all this language about fatherhood and offspring?
Mark 8:31-38
  • It's understandable enough that Jesus would have different intentions for his ministry than Peter did, but did Jesus have to call Peter "Satan" when rebuking him?
  • What does Jesus have in mind when talks about forfeiting one's soul? How does he imagine that people would do so? What actions should his followers undertake to ensure that this doesn't happen? What actions do they need to avoid?

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