On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
Readings and Psalm
- Genesis 9:8-17
The rainbow, sign of God’s covenant
- Psalm 25:1-10
Your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Ps. 25:10)
- 1 Peter 3:18-22
Saved through water
- Mark 1:9-15
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness for forty days
First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17Today’s reading is the conclusion to the flood story. Because of human sin, the Lord destroys the earth by flood, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Yet divine destruction gives way to divine commitment. As in the first creation, God blesses humanity and establishes a covenant with all creatures.8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10Your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Ps. 25:10)1To | you, O Lord,
I lift | up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be | put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph | over me.
3Let none who look to you be | put to shame;
rather let those be put to shame | who are treacherous.
4Show me your | ways, O Lord,
and teach | me your paths.
5Lead me in your | truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all | the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compas- | sion and love,
for they are from | everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and | my transgressions;
remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your good- | ness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and up- | right, O Lord;
therefore you teach sinners | in your way.
9You lead the low- | ly in justice
and teach the low- | ly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast | love and faithfulness
to those who keep your covenant and your | testimonies.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22As God acted through Christ’s suffering and death to bring us to God, so God acts through baptism to save us from a sinful existence. This spiritual cleansing marks our new life in Christ.18Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Gospel: Mark 1:9-15The Spirit that comes upon Jesus at his baptism sustains him when he is tested by Satan so that he might proclaim the good news of God’s reign.9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”