Service for Sunday 28th February – Second Sunday of Lent

Bible Readings for 2nd Sunday of Lent:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 Genesis 17:1-16 NIVUK – The covenant of circumcision – When – Bible Gateway – One of the things I get frustrated about with the Church of England is how we like to cut out the awkward and difficult bits, as in this case, reading the beginning and end of the chapter but passing over the bit in between.  I know I’m not alone in this.  Many biblical scholars much more learned than I am get equally, if not more frustrated.  The passage we have in the Lectionary is one part of a threefold Covenant God makes with Abraham – in our passage, the promise of descendants.  In verse 8 (not included) is the promise of a physical land, Israel in which to live and the promise to be Abraham and his descendants’ God always.  The reference to a physical ‘land’ for God’s people can be seen as awkward, certainly politically, but removing it causes an even greater concern, that God, on order to be universal and appeal to all, is only interested in the ‘spiritual.’  This suits western Christianity – God is important but distant, whereas to the Hebraic faith, God is passionate and close.  The other part of the section the Cof E passes over is the whole ‘sealing’ of this covenant with Abraham through circumcision.  That’s a whole other topic – but one in which, as a fifty seven year old male, I’m with Paul, “the circumcision of the heart is far more important.” (Romans 2:25-29)        

Romans 4:13-endRomans 4:13-25 HCSB – The Promise Granted through Faith – For – Bible Gateway – The Letter to the Romans deals with huge issues not just for Paul’s day but which goes to the heart of our understanding of faith too.  Although a densely worded argument, Paul is trying to say, not just to Jewish readers bit to all of us, Abraham didn’t somehow ‘earn’ his righteousness, whether through keeping the Law or in any other act.  Instead, it was simply his willingness to trust his life to God, a free decision but a bold one, this trust, this faith, this is what was credited to Abraham and which set him apart as the Father of the Jewish and indeed the Christian faith.  Sadly, we can swap status, or intellect, or so many other things and hold them to be what is important in the Church.  Paul reminds us simply but powerfully of how ultimately important faith and trust are to God.    

Mark 8:31-38 – This is the passage we have been looking at today in our Livestream service, part of the wider conversation Jesus has with the disciples at Caesarea Philippi.  I love the way Mark just before this passage takes Jesus and the disciples to Caesarea Philippi to have this conversation, way up north in the lee of Mount Hermon on the Syrian and Lebanon border, beyond the Golan.  Here Jesus asks the disciples, “who do you say that I am?”  Peter responds, “you are the Messiah, the Christ.”  Immediately, Jesus turns south, and so begins the long walk and pilgrimage Jesus makes to Jerusalem and to the Cross, mirroring Jesus words here – to understand what and who the Messiah truly is, you have to be willing to have your thinking turned right around, even upside down, and discover for yourself the way of the Cross.   


Songs in the Service:

  1. “Take up your cross” by Conduit and Chidiya Ohiagu. Love the way these  lesser known artists are getting some airtime as we look for songs on various themes: (1) “Take Up Your Cross” by Conduit feat. Chidiya Ohiagu (Lyric Video) – YouTube


  1. “I, the Lord of sea and sky” by San Schutte:


  1. “Wonderful Grace” by Lou Fellingham and Stuart Townend:


  1. “Oceans” by Hillsong United:


  1. “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder…:”


  1. “The heart of Worship” by Matt Redman:

–         Cover by Laetisia Sembiring: (1) The Heart Of Worship – Matt Redman // Cover by Laetisia Sembiring – YouTube



Readings, Talks, and Prayers:

  1. “Howard’s Talk – Part 1:” (1) Howard’s First Talk – YouTube


  1. “Howard’s Talk with Johnny – Part 2:” (1) Howard’s Second Talk – YouTube


Traditional Hymns and Songs:

  1. “Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee.” This traditional hymn captures well the joy Brendan and his fellow travellers must have felt as they first put their foot down on land in the Americas.  It can also be our experience too at certain times and certain moments in prayer:



  1. “El Shaddai” by Amy Grant. Speaking about the power of God’s grace over the centuries.  Becomes almost the song on the lips of everyone who commits to praying seriously: (1) EL SHADDAI BY AMY GRANT – YouTube



  1. “Legends of the Isles: Brendan the Navigator (Documentary)” (2018): (1) Legends of The Isles: Brendan The Navigator (Documentary) – YouTube


  1. “The Voyage of Brendan” – following the adventures of Tim Severin (historian and sailing entrepreneur) in 1978 who re-enacted the epic journey of St Brendan in a boat constructed as an authentic replica from fourteen hundred years earlier. (Sound – commentary is fine but backing track showing signs of age).  Great though:


The Brendan Voyage 2nd movement, the Brendan Theme, Live at Cork City Hall” by Shaun Davey, performed by Liam O’Flynn on Uilleann pipes (like bagpipes).  Incredibly haunting: (1) THE BRENDAN VOYAGE 2nd MOVEMENT, THE BRENDAN THEME, LIVE AT CORK CITY HALL – YouTube


  1. “Short documentary about Caesarea Philippi: with Dave Stotts” (1) Peter’s Confession at Caesarea Philippi – YouTube

6.   By contrast, “Anchorite Vows”  of James Twyman – who spent a year as a praying hermit: (1) Anchorite Ceremony ~ James Twyman – YouTube


  1. If you are interested in finding out more about a deeper life of Prayer, then a couple of useful resources might be:

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