The Second Sunday in Lent – March 1, 2015
Mass at 11:00 AM. Readings: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38. Pastor George Detweiler will preside and preach.
On the second Sunday of Lent we move from the temptations of Jesus to the first of his predictions of his passion: that he will undergo great suffering, be rejected and killed, and after three days rise again. Peter objects and is called Satan by Jesus.
Jesus then teaches his disciples what all of this means for them and us: that we are to deny ourselves and follow him; that by trying to hang on to – to control – our life, we will lose it. But by letting go of control of it and trusting him we will gain it.
Paul, in the second lesson, says that Abraham was a model of this kind of faith.”No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)
Reading the stories of Abraham, though, gives one a different impression. There are 24 years between the first giving of the promise in Genesis 12, and its restatement in Genesis 17. In chapters 15 & 16 we have stories of Abram’s wavering: the Eliezer, the child of a slave, would be his heir; and then Sarai gives Hagar to Abram for a wife when he is 86, and Ishmael was born.
But God restates the promise and changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah to make the point that God, not Abraham, is the main actor. As in the gospel, it is God’s faithfulness that matters most; it is God who brings life, wholeness, descendants, shalom, even out of death.
Can we rely on God’s faithfulness instead of on our own craft and wiles? Perhaps the stories of Abraham and Sarah give us hope that even our imperfection is enough for God to use.
Bach Vespers at 5:00 on Sunday
Each Sunday in Lent, Bach Vespers presents a three-fold meditation on lamentations with an organ recital, word and song, and a featured concertized work. A reception follows downstairs in the Community Room. All are welcome. This Sunday, sopranos Jolle Greenleaf and Molly Quinn perform Francois Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbrae. Donald Meineke plays the organ recital.
Music for Sunday
Prelude: “Kyrie” from Mass for the Convents – Francois Couperin
Offertory: Cantique de Jean Racine – Gabriel Faure
Communion: Jesus, So Lowly – Harold Friedell
Postlude: “Dona Nobis Pacem” from Mass for the Convents – F. Couperin
#802 Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus
#339 Christ, the Life of All the Living
#328 Restore in Us, O God
The choral and organ music for the Second Sunday in Lent ventures to 17th and 19th century France. Francois Couperin (1668-1733) was a French organist/harpsichordist and composer who served at Saint Gervais in Paris and later as a court composer and musician. The only surviving collection of works for organ is entitled “Pieces for Organ Consisting of Two Masses”. Those are Mass for the Parishes and Mass for the Convents. While each of the movements in Mass for the Parishes are based on existing plainsong chants, the Mass for the Convents are freely composed since each monastery and convent had its own, non-standard, body of chant melodies. At Vespers on Sunday, the music of Couperin continues with the complete Mass for the Convents in recital as well some of Couperin’s instrumental works and this famous third movement of his Leçons de Ténèbres for 2 sopranos and continuo.
Gabriel Faurè (1845-1924) was only nineteen when he composed his beloved Cantique de Jean Racine for choir, strings, and organ. The text, “Verbe égal au Très-Haut”, is a paraphrase by Jean Racine (Hymnes traduites du Bréviaire romain, 1688) of the pseudo-Ambrosian hymn for Tuesday Matins, Consors paterni luminis.
Harold Friedell (1905-1958) was a native New Yorker who spent the overwhelming majority of his life in the metro-New York area and served several of the most famous parishes in NYC including Calvary Church and St. Bartholomew’s in addition to serving on faculty at the Juilliard School and Union Theological Seminary. Friedell’s Jesus, So Lowly is composed in a motet style, meaning verses of strophic text set to semi-strophic music. This motet fits most appropriately with Sunday’s lectionary texts as it meditates on Christ’s coming passion and proclaims the promises of resurrected life.