Archive for March 8th, 2014
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]
Types of Temptation: My Own, My Circle, Strangers
Stone to Bread
We want to blame the devil but we do a good tempting ourselves. We know our own weaknesses and lust without much struggle.
We live with the assumption that if no one knows, if no one else cares, if no one speaks up, then it’s just not that bad.
Living under the radar is directly about are relationship with God.
There are those in our circles of influence: Those in our family, community, in the church or other groups who know our actions and see our deeds, and know what’s going on, but we point out each other’s sin and brokenness and keep each other’s silenced by mutual leverage.
We will mind our business and stay out of yours because we want to be perceived as “good Christian folks”
We don’t want to be tested ourselves so we don’t put each other to the test.
Jesus is taken to a mountain top experience and sees the global perspective of personal choices.
We want to find the lowest price on our clothes, tools and toys but don’t tell us about the people working for pennies to make the prices so low.
We don’t want to connect our little sins with the folks who are certainly guilty of bigger sins. A sin maybe a sin, but the consequences aren’t the same.
What do we learn about Temptation
1. It is a real experience for us all, including Jesus
2. It most often comes when we are at our weakest moments.
3. It reaches every level of our experience.
4. Spiritual Retreat can be a good context for being prepared
5. Scripture is the first defence
6. We can be angels or devils to others, offering nurture and support or torment and pain.
If we pray, “Do not lead us into Temptation..” then we ought not “Lead others into temptation either.”
RETREAT ( a Lenten season of practicing being lead by God instead of ourselves, our friends and fears. )
I have a micro retreat in the next five minutes. Don’t look at your watch, allow me to be the time keeper…
Spend the next five minutes prayer for God to strengthen you in the face of your sin, weakness, struggles, fears and failures.
Spend the next five minutes reading scripture for your support
Spend the next five minutes thinking of ways you might minister to someone who has been torn by sin and separation
Then together we will pray for strength and power and trust.
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.
The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality.
John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ,
The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past,
The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church.
The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people. In our life time, the church will become something new.
Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers?
It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church. It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith
One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say, some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ.
Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over. It continues.
Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future.
Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!