Over the past 20-plus years in my own faith journey, the Bible’s anthropology has taken primacy for me over its theology, providing a crucial reason for the importance of covenant to salvation. René Girard’s work proposes that what has “saved” us as a species—thus far—are the false gods of our own unconscious creation.
Lent began as a time of preparation for the covenant of baptism. The Year B Lenten readings very much ring out this theme of covenant, starting this Sunday with the covenant with Noah and its interpretation in 1 Peter as the covenant of baptism. The coming weeks feature the covenants with Abraham and with Moses and finally the covenant written upon our hearts in Jeremiah 31. Developing the theme of covenant might be an edifying way to let these Lenten scripture readings prepare congregations for Holy Week—especially the high drama of the Easter Vigil, centered on the waters of baptism.
"Religious commitments are no longer taken for
granted as part of North American people's lives," says Scott Kershner of Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. "So space opens up to
ask very basic and interesting questions."
On every Lenten journey many people stumble over the paradox of the Christian story. Jesus’s death saves the world, and it ought not to have happened. It fulfills prophecy, but it was the work of sinners.
Imagine someone who, because he is not driven by fear of death, is able to undergo an absolutely typical lynching at human hands and to do so deliberately—showing that death, rather than being definitive and powerful, is no more than a frightening mirage. Christ calls the bluff of the lynching, enabling humans to be less driven by fear and a desire for revenge.
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