2nd Sunday before Lent

Holy Cross, Binstead                                                                                        St Peter’s, Havenstreet

7th February 2021

2nd Sunday before Lent

Year B

 

Collect

Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth
and made us in your own image:
teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and your likeness in all your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things,
now and for ever.
 

 

Proverbs 8.1,22-31

                   Does not wisdom call out?
                        Does not understanding raise her voice?
                   “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
                        before his deeds of old;
                   I was appointed from eternity,
                        from the beginning, before the world began.
                   When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
                        when there were no springs abounding with water;
                   before the mountains were settled in place,
                        before the hills, I was given birth,
                   before he made the earth or its fields
                        or any of the dust of the world.
                   I was there when he set the heavens in place,
                        when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
                   when he established the clouds above
                        and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
                   when he gave the sea its boundary
                        so that the waters would not overstep his command,
                   and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
                        Then I was the craftsman at his side.
                   I was filled with delight day after day,
                        rejoicing always in his presence,
                   rejoicing in his whole world
                        and delighting in mankind.”

 

Colossians 1.15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

John 1.1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Reflection by Rodney

 

I wonder if you have noticed the sharp change of tone in our readings this morning, the Second Sunday before Lent.  At Christmas we celebrated the birth of a baby, a common enough human event, but all through Epiphany we have been reading about the ways in which it was revealed to those who were prepared to hear that this very human event was not common-place at all.  Shepherds, alerted by angels, came to worship the child; as did wise men, alerted by a star; Simeon and Anna proclaimed him as the promised saviour when his parents took him to the temple; John the Baptist acknowledged him when he asked for baptism; Mary and the waiters at the wedding in Cana recognised him as one who could miraculously transform the ordinary into the special.  These stories from the first three gospels are all telling the same thing – what seemed so human, a birth, was time and again recognised as so special; a birth that bridged earth to heaven; a child who was fully human but also fully divine.  This is the story told by Matthew, Mark and Luke.

 

John’s story, however, as we read in the gospel for this morning, is quite different because it starts, not on earth with the birth, but in heaven at the very start of creation – in the beginning.  It tells us that the Word was there right at the outset, and was with God, and was God, and that all things were created by him.  But, having established that the Word is undoubtedly fully divine, John continues by telling us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and, so that we may be in no doubt about who the Word is, he tells us that He was in the world, yet the world did not recognise him, he came to his own, but his own people did not accept him.  John has reversed the order taken by the first three evangelists and, starting in heaven, he identifies the Word as fully and indisputably divine and, only then, as the one who became flesh and was rejected, and so fully and indisputably human.

 

Paul, in the extract from his letter to the Colossians selected as the epistle for today, takes much the same route – starting by asserting that in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and continuing that through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, on earth and in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.  In other words, Jesus is the bridge that brings together in his person earth and heaven, humanity and divinity, fully man and fully God.

 

So why does the lectionary give us these particular readings at this moment in the church’s calendar, when our thoughts are turning from Christmas towards Easter?  I think because the readings through Epiphany have all been leading towards one conclusion – starting on earth, with the birth, they all point towards the heavenly origin of Jesus.  And the readings for today assert that very conclusion – namely that Jesus embodies in his person both the divine and the human.  Son of God and Son of Man, he expresses both God’s all-powerful love and our human vulnerability.  It is, of course, that love, that brings light and hope into the world and that can reconcile us to God, that we shall celebrate at Easter.

 

John assures us that the hope that Jesus brings into the world is like light brought into darkness – a light that changes everything and that the darkness cannot overcome.  During this strange time through which we are all living, we may often find ourselves feeling that we are in a dark place but over the next weeks of Lent, and then at Easter, the weekly readings will remind us how Jesus too endured dark times, alone in the desert, rejected and betrayed, falsely accused and misunderstood, unjustly condemned and cruelly executed.  Yet the darkness did not overcome him, and the power of God’s love prevailed over all things, even death – bringing hope and light to each of us, no matter what our circumstances.

 

So, let us remember and be thankful that this is the day that the Lord has made, and let us rejoice, and be hopeful, and be glad in it.

 

Amen

 

 

Post Communion Prayer

God our creator,
by your gift
the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise,
and the bread of life at the heart of your Church:
may we who have been nourished at your table on earth
be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross
and enjoy the delights of eternity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

Colossians 1.15-20 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
John 1.1-14 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Proverbs 8.1,22-31 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Post Communion (2nd before Lent) ©  1980, 1986 Mowbray, a Cassell Imprint: Prayers for the Alternative Services comp. David Silk
Collect (2nd before Lent) ©  Oxford University Press: The Book of Common Worship of the Church of South India