Between Sundays for Week of February 27, 2023
On Ash Wednesday, Pastor Hoffman invited us to share the questions that we wonder about through a Question Box in the Narthex or through our website. Each Sunday morning during the season of Lent, we’ll spend some time Going Deeper with some of these questions in our conversation following worship.
This week, one of the questions we received provided a natural tie-in to our reading that we heard in worship on Sunday morning from Genesis 3:1-13a: In a message a few weeks ago, Pastor Amy mentioned Lutherans understand sin as a “collective” sin? What does this mean? Together we talked about our understanding of “sin” as anything that separates us from God or causes us to turn away from God and neighbor and turn in on ourselves. Collective sin refers to the sin – the separation – caused by communities and systems where oppression and injustice towards others is baked in because our systems are created by humans!
This week’s text from Genesis tells the story of our first sin and Pastor Amy invites us to consider the questions voiced. In these questions — from the serpent and then God — we hear a common pattern. The questions asked aren’t seeking information, but both serve a purpose. The question that serpent asks seeks to divide; to sow distrust, sabotage relationships, and put others on the defensive. In the questions that God asks, God is seeking to restore the relationship that has been severed; to bind us more closely with our Creator; to build connection.
When faced with the ways we turn away from God and neighbor, it’s easy to find ourselves, like Adam and Eve, hiding, alone, ashamed, feeling fully exposed, vulnerable, and afraid to raise our voice to answer the call of God’s voice. At the heart of this first story, we receive a picture of a Creator who longs to be connected us, and will do anything — even send Jesus — so that we know God’s desire to be eternally bound to us.
Wednesday, March 1 begins the start of our mid-week Lenten programming with soup suppers at 6 pm and Holden Evening Prayer at 7 pm. Visit our website to read about Bethlehem’s Lenten theme and share in gatherings where we lean into the questions of faith together.
What is the point of the questions we ask? Are we interested in the answers? Or do we ask because we already know the answers? Are we trying to divide and sabotage relationships? Or are we seeking ways to build connections? In exploring the very first questions asked in scripture, Amy invites us to reflect on the purpose of God’s questions of us.
It’s not too late to extend your Lenten practice with a daily devotion delivered to your inbox. Barn Geese Worship produced this year’s devotion called “Ask” and it connects with our worship theme this Lenten season. Each day of the devotional offers multiple ways to engage questions – reading a short scripture passage, reflecting on a question, prayer in the form of a question from you to God, and a practice activity. Sign up to receive it in your daily email. Contact the church office if you’re having difficulty signing up!