Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday: February 15, 2024

There is an ancient custom of spending Lent as a time of preparation for baptism or the renewal of baptismal vows. To that end one of the themes in the season is a review of Redemptive History. Taking a quick walk through the Hebrew Scriptures helps us see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the context for how the early church understood these events. This pilgrimage shows up in the first lessons and Psalms for the Sundays in Lent. For Pathways through Lent this year we will look at those passages as aids to our own 40-day journey.

The first Sunday in Lent always includes something from the first chapters of Genesis—the “primaeval” part of the story, before the calling of Abraham and the accounts of the Children of Israel. God is the creator of the good world. Evil has entered the world like a cancer. God has set in motion a master plan to get rid of evil and to restore the good creation. The Flood provides an image of God washing away the evil and saving alive a remnant of the good creation.

After the Flood, Genesis provides a powerful note of comfort: God promises never again to destroy everything. Like a warrior setting down deadly weapons, God sets his “bow in the clouds.” Genesis 9: “I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature . . . ”

A rainbow is like a drawn bow aimed at the heart of God—a creative way to portray that God will take the curse of evil on himself, and not “take it out” on the creation. 1 Peter refers to the Flood as a preview of baptism: “And 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 . . . ”

Jack Reiffer
Pathways Editor

Links to the appointed readings for today