The Revised Common Lectionary, a set of readings used by many churches across a wide array of different expressions of Christianity, offers this season many stories of Jesus encountering people who are seeking: Nicodemus comes to him in the veil of night, he approaches a Samaritan woman at a well, he heals a man born without sight. In these stories, each person is seeking a new beginning, a different life, a deeper faith. What unfolds is an exchange filled with questions and exploration. Often, an unveiling occurs—assumptions are disrupted, a new perspective is revealed, mystery grows.
Like the people in our Lenten scriptures, we are also seeking many things. Throughout the turbulence of the past few years, many of us are asking big questions about our lives and our faith. We hope this series will help us unpack some of those big questions in ways that are honest and faithful. Throughout this season, we hope you will continually ask yourself: what am I seeking? What is God seeking? We pray that these questions will create a safe space to explore—to be drawn more deeply into the fullness of life, into the heart of God.
Seeking: Is this the fast that I choose?
Is this the fast that I choose? As we begin our series, we must examine if our actions match what we profess. As we practice seeking this Lent, what kind of fast will you choose? How will you live your faith? How will you live the questions of your faith?
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
Seeking: Who will you listen to?
Matthew 4:1-11 | Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Seeking the fruit of the garden, Adam and Eve allow the snake’s manipulative voice to become louder than God’s voice. In the wilderness, Jesus defies the deception of the tempter by listening intuitively—to God, to his inner moral compass, to the teachings of his faith. And so, who will you listen to? What sources do you seek for news, information, and media? Whose voices—and what messages—take up too much space in your head? Within the onslaught of messaging we receive, we are invited to choose carefully.
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
Seeking: How do we begin again?
John 3:1-17 | Genesis 12:1-4a
Nicodemus comes to Jesus under the veil of night to ask him big faith questions. Jesus invites him to begin again, to learn a new way of knowing and living out his faith. In Genesis, God commands Abram and Sarai to leave everything—their home, their family, their land—to seek the land of Canaan and begin again. Like Nicodemus, what are the questions we ask in the dark? Like Abram and Sarai, how do we follow God’s calling to begin again?
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
Seeking: Will you give me a drink?
John 4:5-42 | Exodus 17:1-7
In the heat of midday, Jesus seeks out a Samaritan woman drawing water from a well. His command to her is also a question and an invitation into a new way of life: “Will you give me a drink?” This question creates a dialogue between them in which Jesus sees the woman fully; she leaves the well transformed. In the wilderness, the Israelites essentially ask: “Will you give us a drink, God? Will you take care of us, even now?” This week, we might imagine ourselves at the well or in the wilderness. Are we willing to care for our neighbors, seeking to not just quench thirst, but to find living waters that sustain us all?
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Seeking: Who sinned?
John 9:1-7 | John 9:8-41
When Jesus and the disciples encounter a blind man along the way, the disciples immediately ask, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2). They ask a really bad question, filled with assumptions and harmful theology. Unfortunately, the crowd continues to interrogate the man and dissect the miracle of his healing. This week, let us pay attention to the questions we ask. What assumptions do we carry? What is our intent? When seeking clarity or understanding, what are better questions we can ask?
THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Seeking: Can these bones live?
John 11:1-45 | Ezekiel 37:1-14
In Ezekiel’s vision, God asks the prophet, “Can these bones live?” Do we believe new life can come after death? Can we find hope when things are bleak? Can we really trust in God’s resurrection? While we look to God to carry us through the valley, God looks to us to embody hope for others. As we prepare to enter Holy Week, we remember how Jesus began his final journey toward resurrection: by returning to Judea after the death of his dear friend, Lazarus. As we walk through the valley of dry bones that leads us to Calvary Hill, let us seek out the hope that will stir in us and sustain us.
PALM / PASSION SUNDAY
Seeking: Where are you headed?
Imagine you are in Jerusalem when Jesus enters on a donkey. Within the chaos and commotion of that scene, where are you and which way will you go? Will you follow Jesus all the way to the cross? Jesus’ willing surrender to his arrest should always catch us off-guard. As dismayed as the disciples, we ask, “Jesus, are you really headed this way, straight to your death?” Many of our weekly questions throughout the season so far have helped us prepare spiritually for Holy Week. Now we examine if our beliefs have changed our behaviors. Has your path changed? In the midst of opposing forces, which way will you go?
Seeking: Will you wash my feet?
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
In his final night with his friends and followers, Jesus shows the fullness of his love by removing his robe, kneeling, and washing the disciples’ feet. As he makes his way around the room, Jesus comes to Simon Peter who protests, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Like Peter, we may also question if God loves us and will care for us, even at the brink of death. In these final hours of accompanying Jesus to his grave, can we seek a posture of trust? Can we allow ourselves to be embraced and loved—by our neighbor and by God?
Seeking: Why have you forsaken me?
Of all the questions in our series, this one remains the most unanswerable. Jesus’ final lament gives voice to all those who have been forsaken— those who suffer injustice, those who are abandoned, those who are unjustly convicted. Instead of trying to answer this question with logic or theology, we are invited to live it, to sit with it. Sitting with this unsettling question unearths and unveils many more questions: What do we do in the face of unimaginable suffering? Can we sit in the silence of death and trust that God is there? Will we be in solidarity with those who suffer and grieve?
Seeking: Who are you looking for?
Jesus, mysteriously appearing to Mary as the gardener, asks her: “Why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” In the haze of grief, Mary can only see what is right before her—or in this case, what is not before her. It is only when Jesus calls her by name that the veil is lifted and she beholds the resurrected Christ. On this Easter morning, who—or what—are you looking for? Why have you come to the tomb? What kind of Jesus are you looking for? What veils need to be lifted so we can recognize God’s resurrection wherever it occurs?