Who likes to suffer? We are rarely willing to suffer for our wrongdoing and even less willing to suffer for doing what is right and just. Set in the context of the full letter, today’s passage presents the idea that when we suffer for our conduct in actions of justice, we, like Christ, receive assurance of God’s blessing and favor.
Today’s reading recalls Noah’s survival by his righteousness while weaving together Christ’s suffering, Noah’s experiences, and baptism. This association results in a link between God’s covenant with Noah to have humanity’s best interest at heart and the baptismal covenant, which the passage describes as “an appeal to God for a good conscience”—that is, to act righteously—in light of Christ’s resurrection.
In our baptism, we vow to respect the dignity and worth of every human being, which charges us to give up complacency and to work for equality and equity for all human beings. In this way, we may suffer along with those for whose rights we fight. This suffering gives us powerful levels of empathy and compassion—spiritual tools that help us undo injustice in our world. Today’s reading reaffirms and strengthens God’s covenant through Noah: God not only has our best interest in mind; we are baptized into a good conscience that brings us closer to God and may lead us to suffer for righteousness.
The season of Lent and our baptism into new life with and for God compel us to give up our privilege and to become discontented, to see others differently than much of the world sees them, and to work toward justice for the marginalized. Our empathy and compassion empower human rights and social justice movements all over the world, past and present.

Compassionate God, may we be willing to suffer with others for righteousness. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 1:9-15

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Lectionary Week
February 12–18, 2018
Scripture Overview

The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 9:8-17. When in loss have you experienced a new beginning?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you remind yourself of your covenant with God?
• Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you given up privilege in order to work for justice?
• Read Mark 1:9-15. When did you last hear God speak these words to you: "You are my . . . beloved; with you I am well pleased"?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.