• Education Forums

Bible Study Guide for Sunday February 21, 2021

February 16, 2021
  • Genesis 9:8–17
  • Psalm 25:1–9
  • 1 Peter 3:18–22
  • Mark 1:9–15

Our Collect for the first Sunday of Lent sets the stage for this time of introspection with its proclamation that God “knows the weakness of each of us.” The readings then relate to this theme by reminding us of Scriptural covenants that require two-way relationships between God and God’s people.

We begin with a Genesis excerpt that, to our modern ears, pleads for major editing. But perhaps the fact that the passage repeats itself so intensely (the word “covenant” appears seven times!) reflects the importance those wise writers placed on affirming the our relationship with God. Understanding the rainbow as a sign of God’s covenant and awareness of our continuing weakness and therefore our need for God’s guidance is a lasting Grace for all of us. Notice also the clear reflection of this two-way covenant in Psalm 25 which affirms our trust (“I put my trust in you”) while at the same time pleading for on-going guidance (“Lead me in your truth”).

That a covenant is a two-way proposition is emphasized further in the excerpt from 1 Peter. He, of course, is now considering the new covenant (e.g., Luke 22:20) instituted by Jesus. 1 Peter writes: “...Baptism ... as a pledge to God for a good conscience,” where I’ve substituted my NRSV Bible's recommendation of "pledge" instead of "appeal" as it appears in our published text. As we state in our Baptismal service, we are Baptized into the household of faith, but we are also pledging to adhere to that household’s rules through our affirmations in the Baptismal Covenant. And again, we can pray Psalm 25 for help along the Way.

Finally, Mark tells us about Jesus’ Baptism. 1 Peter placed it alongside of Noah’s baptism by the flood, both involving a two-way agreement. (Noah responded to God’s offer of a covenant by building the ark (Gen. 6:18) then God affirmed that covenant it in our text for today.) At his Baptism, God affirms “You are my Son.” Jesus accepts that role by submitting to John’s Baptism, then God supports Jesus as he undergoes the wilderness temptations. Note that Mark does not dwell on the details of that experience, but immediately moves onward to the Good News: affirming and renewing a covenant with God.

  • As we look forward to at least the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may never be a better time for a rainbow to appear. What sort of rainbow might that be for you?
  • “Covenant” is a very churchy word, but we do agree to covenants in our secular lives. What is the most important covenant you have made in your life?

Author - Chuck Medler


At "Educational Forums," enrich your spiritual journey by exploring our resources including videos of lectures, essays by priests, and other pieces about our faith, our church, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century.