Based on the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary, Lent Year B
Have you ever been changed by a promise?
Sure you have. We all have.
Maybe it was a girl whose pinky-sworn friendship strengthened you to slay the dragons of childhood. Maybe it was a partner whose promise of faithfulness gave you the courage to build a chosen family. Maybe it was a community whose tender vow to embrace you gave you the vulnerability to grow.
And definitely it was the God who searched your heart and knew it completely, all of its little joys and great sorrows and haunting mistakes and glorious triumphs, and then said in a voice that cracks mountains and causes rivers to flow:
God forms God’s people through promises—the fancy church word for this being “covenant.” And while technically covenants are supposed to be a two-way street, with both God and us promising something, the truth that we learn over and over again through scripture and through our own experience is that God is by far the more faithful party in these arrangements. While humanity breaks its word again and again, God’s promises never fail.
And that unbending divine faithfulness? That changes us.
Throughout these forty day, “Promise Us” traces the promises God makes in the Hebrew Bible to folks like Noah, Abram and Sarai, the promises God makes to us, and how those promises shape who we are, and who God is. This isn’t just a preaching series, though you’ll find a preaching commentary here. It isn’t just a resource for liturgical elements on this theme, though you’ll find those too. This series is an invitation for your entire church community to center itself on God’s promises throughout the forty days of Lent, through everything from a personal Lent devotional to devotions for committee meetings to children’s sermons to ideas for adult ed classes. This series invites your entire community to immerse itself in the culture of covenant for the forty days of Lent.
Say it aloud: “Promise us.”
Hey, that was good! Now do me a favor: say it in the voice of one issuing a challenge.
“Promise us,” the same way a blackjack player says, “Hit me.”
“Promise us,” the same way the poet says, “Batter my heart, three-personed God.”
“Promise us!” the same way a kid playing tag yells “Come and get me!”
There it is. That’s the stuff. We want playfulness, that yearning, that sincerity suffusing this phrase for you and your community throughout this series. Because the joyful longing truth of it all is that God is coming to get us. Every time we draw away, break our word, fall short, God draws closer, creates new covenants, seeks, yearns, knocks, and finally, enters into flesh…even knowing what we’re going to do about it. And that unconditional love is the only thing that can truly turn us around.
“Promise us.” It’s not just a plea for comfort, but for transformation.
“Promise us.” Because the transforming power of God’s promise is what it takes to stand at the foot of the cross, and trust that when we turn around, we’ll see the empty tomb.