March 3rd, 2017 by Christopher Caudle
Happy Lent. We begin our journey to the joy of Easter by following the way of Jesus.
Last year, I shared this short video that artistically depicts the 40 days of temptation Jesus endured at the beginning of his ministry. As you watch it, notice Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. The artist includes many images that connect to Jesus’ later teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the foreshadowing of Holy Week near the end of the video is also very good.
This weekend, the scriptures have us stop in the garden and the wilderness as we face the reality and the unreality of temptation.
Temptation is certainly real enough, as Adam and Eve will sadly testify, but temptation traffics in much that is so obviously unreal- fantasy, imagination, trick. Whether it be the falsely advertised results promised by Satan under the tree, Satan in the wilderness, or Satan in our ear, this obvious reality rooted so deeply in unreality confronts us as all as we each fall-in behind the Christ.
Jesus takes us on a particular path towards Easter; a path that includes all the areas of real life, his life primarily. And now through faith, our life as well.
This path, as Lent reminds us, is the way of the cross, a singular event that casts its shadow and its glory across the paths of all who walk with him as friends and disciples.
Faithful and unfaithful followers have imagined these twin temptation stories for millennia, comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of our first parents in paradise and the promised one in the wild. Imagining the contours of the deception and the thinking of the tempted are other approaches. Or the extremes of failing in an umblemished world but success by an unblemished Savior.
This Sunday, we will open one window on the work of Jesus in temptation as we consider Jesus’ approach to unfinished business. How do temptations spring from the unfinished business in the world, in our own lives, and in the lives of neighbors who don’t yet know Jesus?
As we enter Lent, take advantage of the several ways we are committing ourselves as individuals and a parish to draw near to God in worship, prayer and the word. You may use our Daily Devotional and you may borrow a Bible or a Book of Common Prayer from the church if you do not yet have one. Other opportunities are listed in the weekly bulletin and in upcoming events emails.
The prayer which began our Ash Wednesday service is worth reflecting on as we travel together towards Easter. It is on page 264 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
See you Sunday,