Our Lenton Season
Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.
Annual Lenten Bible Study
Around The Lenten Circle
February 18, 2024 - March 24, 2024
View and download the materials below:
During Sunday School @ 9am Phone & Video conference. All Sunday School will join together for this study.
Lent is a period of preparation before celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter
March 17, 2024 • Fifth Sunday of Lent • Year B
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts."
Reader: Christ Jesus, we come together to spend time listening to your words.
All: Open our ears so that we may hear your message.
Reader: We believe in you, but want to trust you more.
All: Help us to know your presence with us.
Reader: We pray this all in your name.
Last week we reflected on the interplay of faith and works, specifically how God’s love is freely-given grace that we can’t earn. We also discussed themes of light and darkness, and were challenged to live our lives in the light, rather than hiding our deeds in the dark.
1. Share an experience of receiving a blessing or an unexpected grace last week, something that you didn’t do anything to “earn.”
2. Share about an event or news story that came to your attention that involved a good work being done in the light or an evil deed that came to light after being hidden or shrouded in secrecy.
LISTENING: JEREMIAH 31:31-34
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more
Yet Jeremiah believes in a Lord who does not abandon his people but continues to forgive their sins. This God, he declares, will find a new way to make his laws known, not by writing them on stone again, but by placing them within their hearts. They won’t have to look externally to learn and memorize a list of rules, but will be able to know what is good and just from feeling within themselves. No one will need to teach them how to know the Lord because they will recognize him in all that is good, true, merciful, and beautiful.
Jeremiah’s words in today’s reading are addressed to his fellow countrymen. They have found themselves in exile in a far away land after their country was attacked, and their capital, Jerusalem, was destroyed. The people would have been despairing, wondering if they would ever see their homeland again and if God would “take them back” as his people. They had, after all, broken their covenant with God over and over, disobeying the Ten Commandments (written on stone) as well as many of the other laws that were in place to organize a just society. Those with wealth and those in power had cheated the poor and neglected the widows, orphans, and immigrants-the most vulnerable of their day-in pursuit of their own comfort. Jeremiah saw their exile as a punishment for such sins.
1. Share about a time when you have experienced what felt like a defeat and/or exile which caused you to wonder if God was still with you.
2. Have you had an experience of betraying a loved one only to have him/her continue to love you and “take you back”? Please share.
3. When you need to make a choice and there is no written rule telling you what to do, how do you access God’s laws “written upon your heart”?
REFLECTION: JOHN 12:23-25
In Jesus’ day and time, almost everyone who heard him would have had farming experience or at least been exposed to the farming life. It meant that Jesus could use examples and images from agriculture that would be easy for most people to understand.
For those of us in today’s world who haven’t had the experience of planting seeds, we have missed out on this amazing miracle. A person buries seeds-that appear to be dead-into the ground. Nothing seems to happen for a long time. Then, one day the person wakes up to see living, green shoots sprouting out of the ground. The seeds weren’t dead after all!
Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus wants us to believe that a similar cycle happens when humans experience death. When we experience the death of a loved one—or a death of any sort—it may seem impossible to imagine that new life can come of our pain. That is when we need this reminder from Jesus. Not only do we know that seeds appear to be dead before sprouting again, we have the example of Jesus showing us that death does not have the final say. We may not want to let someone or something in our life go, but we can do so in an act of faith. We can choose to act in faith, to act despite our feelings of pain and hopelessness, trusting that God can bring new life in some unforeseen way out of death.
1. Think of an example from your life of experiencing new life after a death (the death of a loved one, or the death of a dream, a lifestyle, or a relationship).
2. In what area of your life are you still awaiting new life after a death?
3. Share about a time when you were asked to let go of something valuable in your life which led to a greater gain that you couldn’t have foreseen at the time.
All: Gracious God,
Thank you for the reminders from prophets like Jeremiah that nothing we can do will cause God to cease loving us.
Help us to trust more and more that even in times of loss or apparent death, you will bring new life.
We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, who passed through death to bring life. Amen.
Copyright © 2024 Ann Naffziger. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Published by The Pastoral Center / PastoralCenter.com. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner