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Think Differently: Seven Perspectives on Lent

Revised Common Lectionary Year C

First Sunday in Lent:

March 6, 2022

Highlighted Text: Luke 4:1-13 

Ancient Lens: What can we learn from the historical context?  

Jesus, still wet from his baptism in the Jordan.

Jesus, with the affirmation of the Father still ringing in his ears, 

“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, is led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days before beginning his public ministry.

The traditional Mount of Temptation is surprisingly close to Jericho. For thousands and thousands of years people have wanted control of Jericho. It’s an oasis boarded by the lifeless Dead Sea. It’s a breadbasket in the middle of the vast Judean wilderness. Jericho is rich in people, water, fruits, and vegetables. If you go, be sure to try the dates and bananas and kabob.

Jesus, full of the Spirit, chooses to fast and pray for 40 days on the next hill before he starts his public ministry. I suspect he could hear the laughter from Jericho. He could smell their cooking, see the crops growing. I suspect it gave him quite an appetite.

Fasting and prayer are always paired. They’re the ancient spiritual practice for getting serious with God. The spiritual practice for testing your allegiance and your motivations. Fasting removes the filters and brings up all the good stuff and all the junk. Fasting is roto-rooter for your soul.

Jesus fasts and is famished. This is where Jesus is tempted.

 

Modern Lens: How does this touch our heart, life, emotions, thoughts and relationships today?

Luke 4:3, NRSV

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

The devil slides in and questions Jesus’ identity. The devil does the same to us. 

If you are a good parent… a good friend… a good spouse… a good child…

If you are a good Christian… If you are a beloved child of God… 

Those are questions of the tempter, the accuser, the one who seeks to confuse and destroy. This is not the voice of God. Jesus knows which voice is which. Do we?

Jesus has no doubt who he is. He’s the Son of God. He was just reminded at his baptism. The question is, do we know who we are? Do we claim it and use it to anchor our life?

 

Luke 4:3, NRSV

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

The devil knows who Jesus is and double-dog dares Jesus to prove it. Prove who you are with a display of your power. Command. Fix. Force the situation. Turn a stone into bread. You’re hungry. Serve yourself. Satisfy your appetite. Who’s going to know? What will it hurt?

It’s simple, practical, diabolical.

Imagine the devil turning to you. Ok, so you’re a beloved child of God, use your power to command. Fix and force. Serve yourself. Satisfy your appetite. Be the god of your needs. What will it hurt? But it doesn’t stop there.

 

Luke 4:3, NRSV

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

Use your power to command, to fix and force and satisfy by turning a good gift of God into something it was never meant to be.

A stone was never meant to be bread

Work was never meant to be identity and security
Love was never meant to be lust, abuse, pornography, prostitution, enmeshment
Excellence was never meant to be perfectionism
Food was never meant to be gluttony and over-processed junk

Church was never meant to be shaming, segregation, and nationalism

This is the heart of temptation- questioning our identity, misusing our power, taking a good gift of God and turning it into something it was never meant to be. 

 

Luke 4:3-4, NRSV

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Jesus responds to the accusations of the evil one with scripture. The Word made flesh responds with the word of the Lord. 

We find life in the oasis or life in the wilderness by the creative, life-giving word of the Lord,

not the destructive, death-dealing accusations of the devil.

The Lord names us and claims us beloved children

The Lord empowers us to use our power for justice and the common good

The Lord helps us respect and honor the creation and each other

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

 

Lisa Degrenia

Lisa Degrenia is an ordained pastor currently serving Coronador Community United Methodist Church. Lisa studied at the University of South Florida and received her Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. She’s served congregations in Largo, St. Petersburg, DeBary, and Sarasota.

 

In addition to serving as a pastor, Lisa enjoys leading retreats, photography, theatre, travel, and writing. She is indebted to the many wonderful mentors and teachers in her life, including her mother who first gave her a love for words.

Lisa met her beloved husband Ed on a trip to NYC and they were married ten months later. They are blessed with two grown daughters, two sons-in-love, one new grandchild, and two dogs. You can find more of her work at https://revlisad.com/.

Sermon Resources

Key Quote

We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are.

Thomas a Kempis

Key Illustration

Ever go to the refrigerator, open the door and stare. You’re hungry but you don’t know what you want. So, you nibble on something, but it just doesn’t do the trick.

You close the door, you’re still hungry, at least you think you’re hungry. You could be bored, stressed, sad, exhausted, thirsty, lonely…

You walk away, but a few minutes later you’re back. You open the door again hoping something new has magically appeared. You nibble some more of this and some of that, but you’re not satisfied.

Hunger is a good gift of God. It’s built into us to remind us we need something- food and water. Without hunger, we will die.

There’s a deeper hunger which is also a good gift of God- a hunger in our souls. As the hunger in our stomachs reveal we need food, so the hunger in our souls reveal we need something. That something is a someone, Jesus, the Bread of Life. – Lisa Degrenia

Additional Sermon Resources

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Adapted from Psalm 63:1, 3, 4, NRSV

ONE:

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

ALL:

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

I will bless you as long as I live.

I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

 

Prayer of Confession

Jesus, forgive my false following

my misplaced priorities

my misuse of power

my mistreatment of your good gifts

 

Forgive me for believing destructive voices

Forgive me for using you instead of loving you

 

Reorder my consuming

Feasting on your presence

You are my bread, my drink, my life

Nurture true faith and trust in me

Time of silent confession

– Lisa Degrenia, www.revlisad.com

 

Assurance of Pardon

Jesus knows the wilderness of our need
Because he’s been there before, he will not hesitate to go there to find us
Because he’s been there before, he can lead us out

In the name of Jesus, we are found and forgiven

Glory to God, Amen.

– Lisa Degrenia, www.revlisad.com

 

Benediction

Beloved of God,

Go now in peace, filled with the Bread of Heaven

Go now in power, filled with the Holy Spirit

Go now to love and serve as Christ. Amen.

– Lisa Degrenia, www.revlisad.com

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