THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
FIRST READING: Genesis 9:8-17
Comment: “The rainbow, sign of God’s covenant”
Our Hebrew Scripture lesson tells of God’s promise to Noah and to future generations never again to flood all the earth. God establishes this covenant with a sign–the rainbow that is seen in the storm clouds. This covenant is made with the whole creation. It signifies God’s purpose to preserve and save the world, not to destroy it.
A prayer for forgiveness and guidance and an expression of trust in the Lord.
SECOND READING: (The Epistle) 1 Peter 3:18-22
Comment: “Saved through water”
This reading from the New Testament speaks of the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. In the story of Noah’s salvation a prefigurement of our own salvation through the water of baptism is perceived. Portions of this letter are thought to have been originally composed for use in a service of baptism and Eucharist on the eve of Easter. Such a purpose would explain the association of the themes of Christ’s death, baptism, and his triumphal resurrection. It is uncertain who is meant by the spirits to whom Christ preached after his death, but this activity may signify God’s intention for the salvation of all.
THE HOLY GOSPEL: Mark 1:9-15
Comment: “The temptation of Jesus”
The gospel is the story of Jesus’ baptism followed by his temptation in the wilderness by Satan and his proclamation of the coming kingdom of God. As Jesus comes up from the water, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and a voice from heaven tells him that he is the beloved Son. The Spirit then guides him out into the wilderness, where ancient Israel also met its temptations. Here Jesus has his first encounter with Satan, and then goes forth proclaiming the nearing reign of God: “Repent, and believe in the good news.”