First Sunday in Lent - March 6, 2022

Updated: Mar 14






Page 1

I think the Gospel that we heard today from Luke is probably one that most of you have heard in one form or another…

I want to say from the very beginning that I think that the Lucan story is a story of compassion, generosity, and a deep understanding of the nature of God…

But the whole story does not begin in the Gospel of Luke, it begins in Genesis with two brothers, Jacob and Esau who were anything but examples of love and devotion…

And Jacob has twelve sons who carried on the family attitude of indifference, cheating, lying, and being surprised when they were caught…

Joseph is the favored son of Jacob and despised by his brothers… He is arrogant twit and probably goads them into their behavior…

Ten of the twelve brothers stick Joseph in a hole in the desert and sell him to the Ishmaelites who sell him to the Pharaoh…

Interestingly, Joseph proves to be a great leader and companion to Pharaoh, and he saves Egypt and the surrounding areas from starvation, the eleven brothers along with their father move to Egypt with Jacob, and all settle in the delta land, the prime agricultural land at the time in Egypt…happy to be alive and forming a tight community of non Egyptians…

Now enters Moses and we have the wonderful stories of the plagues and the descendants of Joseph being led out of Egypt by God with a cloud by day and a column of fire by night…

They were given by God manna to eat in the desert and the ten blessings or commandments so that they could know the nature of God and live in harmony on their long journey



In the ten blessings, the people were to recognize the gifts that God had given them, to love God and one another…to live in generosity of spirit and peace…

Did they do it? Occasionally

Did they love God above all else?

Were they compassionate and generous with one another? Not necessarily…

The story of the Old Testament continues as folks struggle with one another and with God…we see it in the war for land under Joshua, in the kings of the Northern and Southern kingdoms, in exile, and finally in the reestablishment of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah…

But the disconnect between God and the majority of God’s people continues… the generosity of God is often ignored and rarely imitated by those in power…

Then something beyond all imagination, beyond generosity and compassion happens in the first century of the common era…

In an occurrence that changed the world forever…God sent God’s son so that we could see and hear and know …know goodness and faithfulness…The world could no longer claim ignorance of the love and nature of God…

Luke tells us a wonderful story of the beginnings of the life of this gift from God… The story is filled with an old man and woman being given the gift of a child, with Mary, a young unmarried woman being blessed with a child that is more than… and an old man named Simeon and an old woman named Anna who had waited for God and who knew…they knew that the generosity and compassion and love of God had arrived in their sight …

As an adult, Jesus is baptized in the River Jordan and full of the Spirit of God is led into the wilderness…

The wilderness may have been a desert; a place of aloneness, a place of prayer but it is a place apart …

The 40 days are over as Luke tells it and Jesus, like the followers of Moses is hungry…… in fact he has eaten nothing for 40 days and is famished… and then the temptations begin…

Note: they are the same things that afflicted the folks that traveled with Moses…

Hunger…in the first story the people are hungry because they do not like to eat manna that is provided by God…

In Luke’s story, Jesus is really hungry. He has not had manna in the desert; he has fasted from all food

The devil, knowing that Jesus is God’s Son, exploits this status by urging him to serve His own needs…

Turn the stones into bread and Jesus, unlike anyone before or after Him answers that the hunger for food is not worth testing God …not worth a loss of trust…faithful obedience is what Jesus chooses…

And then the devil allows Jesus to see what fame and fortune and authority would look like… the only catch is that Jesus would have to worship the devil…worship someone and something other than God

The devil is recalling the story of Moses when Moses went up on the mountain and was gone too long for the comfort of the people and they cried out to Aaron, the brother of Moses… And Aaron made a gold calf from their slave earrings and bracelets and the people worshipped it; they danced around it…they delighted in their apostasy…quarreling with one another and flirting with other gods

But Jesus refuses…he is uncompromising…refusing fidelity to anyone but God the Father

And finally the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and placed Him on the pinnacle of the Temple ….

And the height was great and the temptation to jump was great…The devil promised that God would not allow God’s beloved to be injured…Angels will bear Him up…

Jesus refuses to test the One who loves Him …

In both of the stories…with Jesus in Luke and the followers of Moses in the Exodus there is both the power of goodness and evil…and both are intensely personal

Isn’t that always how it is with temptation and sin…with separation from God…

Jesus is the only one in the stories responding out of His nature as the Son of God…the others struggle to understand; struggle to be faithful; struggle to love God more than themselves

What began in Genesis culminates in the Gospels…making so many truths apparent and the grace of God a forever gift…

That grace impacts us as we walk through this Lenten season; Hickman, Saliers, Stookey, and White, four liturgical scholars commented on Lent in such a way that I believe it to be a response of the grace, compassion, and generosity that we can see in these stories…both the foundation of Israel and the life and ministry of Jesus…

They said that “Lent is not giving up something but rather taking upon ourselves the intention and the receptivity to God’s grace so that we might worthily participate in the mystery of God with us”

intentionality

receptivity

Perhaps that is what Moses’ followers lacked or could not grasp… What is it that we need to do or participate in so that we will have eyes to see; ears to hear; hearts to accept…

repentance

fellowship

prayer

fasting

scripture meditation

acts of piety

acts of justice

concentrating on our Baptismal vows

God in God’s generosity and compassion and Jesus in Jesus’ faithfulness and deep understanding of the nature of God gave all generations a way to walk; a way to live…

Amen





19 views0 comments