Summary: A SERMON FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT 2009. We reflect upon the free gift of God, more precious and valuable than any other: the redeeming, atoning, justifying act of Jesus.

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Mark 8:27-38 and Romans 3:21-26

’Journeying with Jesus through Lent #2: ‘By the Way of the Cross’’

Sermon Series: Lent 2009

Those of us who like to watch quiz shows on TV may remember a show (in the UK running from 1965-88) from some years ago called ‘Call my Bluff’ (only running in the US from March 29 to September 24, 1965 on NBC*). Here, two teams of three people were given a little-used, very obscure and very LONG(!) word. Then one team would give the other team three different definitions of that word – all three definitions were very convincing – each seemed as though it could be the right definition, BUT ONLY ONE WAS RIGHT! It was for the other team to deliberate, then to decide (often guess!) which was the right answer. Would they get it right, or would they be fooled into choosing one of the two ‘bluffs’? That was the point of the show.

Long, complicated words, that only a few people know the true meaning of. We might call it ‘jargon’ these days. It’s like that entertainment show of even more years ago called (in the UK) ‘The Good Old Days’. This show (running from 1953-83) took place in a beautiful old theatre in Leeds, the audience all dressed-up in Victorian / Edwardian costume, and they came to take part in the singing of old, favourite songs and to laugh at the jokes of the comedians. It was a Victorian – Edwardian music-hall ‘variety’ show, with different singers and comedians having a few minute ‘slot’ to fill, one after the other. But no matter how good and popular the ‘artistes’ might have been, perhaps the real star of the show was Leonard Sachs – the compare! He introduced each of the acts in turn, and he would astound the audience with his use of very long, elaborate words. Each time he used one of these words the audience would respond “Ooooooooooo”!

But enough of nostalgia! Yet isn’t it true that we all come across long, complicated words, that only a few people seem to know the true meaning of. Jargon! Words that, when we see them written or hear them spoken, we either ignore them altogether, or we search our dictionaries to find out what they mean. And isn’t it just as true that sometimes, as we read our Bibles, or listen to the Word of the Bible (we pastors need to take note!), we meet with words that we really don’t know what they mean – or that we ASSUME people know the meaning of? Words we really ought not ignore though, for often our understanding of them are central to our ability to share with other people our Christian faith – our faith in the Crucified and Risen Christ – that we profess. How about some of those words we have just heard from that letter of Paul?

He writes: “… they are now JUSTIFIED by his grace as a gift, through the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of ATONEMENT by his blood, effective through faith.” (Rom 3:24-25a). Now, there are three words to conjure with! ‘justified’, ‘redemption’ and ‘atonement’. And yes, these are words it is important we know the meaning of because, yes, often our understanding of them are central to our ability to share with other people our Christian faith.

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