I grew in a fundamentalist, Pentecostal tradition with no liturgical observances other than Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. This included the sermons. Preachers preached most only their favorite scriptures. Growing up, I don’t ever recall hearing a sermon from the Songs of Solomon where the lover says to the beloved in (4:5) “Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies.” Nor did I hear one on the beloved’s response to her lover in (4:16) “Awake north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” I guess this was not one of their favorite passages of scripture.
Because we were African Americans growing up in the civil right era, I do recall hearing preaching from books like Amos which says “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” and from Micah which says “what does the Lord require of thee, but to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly before our God.” But mostly, it was the favorite scriptures of the preacher spouting “Turn or burn” condemnations. It is surprising I developed the love for God and church that I did listening to this stuff.
Fortunately for me, my saving grace was a very loving Mother whose unconditional love toward me and others was the closest thing to God on earth that I’ve ever known. Then there was the music that I loved and treasured that took me to a place spiritually and emotionally that I still cherish to this day.
Along the way, I discovered the lectionary; a set of mostly four scriptures assigned for every Sunday in a 3-year cycle. In following it, you cover every major theme in the scriptures; plus it eliminates the need to only preach on your favorite scriptures. Every now and then, some of my favorite passages show up in the assigned lectionary readings. Such is the case for this Second Sunday in Lent.
One of those scriptures is Psalm 121. The opening 2 verses is all the encouragement and guidance we really need for Lent. It says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” (KJV) This passage encourages us to turn to God for the help and guidance we need in our lives and on our Lenten Journey. Not much more needs to be added to that.
Turn your clock forward one hour Saturday night and join us for worship this Sunday at Covenant. I will be preaching on another one of my favorites stories about Nicodemus in a sermon called “Preparing for A New Life.” The assigned scriptural text is also one my favorites: “John 3:1-17.”