First Sunday in Lent – Yr C (2/17/13)

10 Feb

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Romans 10:8b-13

Luke 4:1-13

 

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

Those who love me, I will deliver;

I will protect those who know my name

 

Opening Questions

  1. Why might temptation be a good thing?
  2. What is challenged by temptation?

Appointed Passages[1]

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

1 When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.   3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, 5 you shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Arame’an was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7 we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. 11 Then you, together with the Le’vites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.

  • What concept does “the land” (v.1) convey in modern day terms?
  • What benefit comes from being thankful in acknowledging the hardships endured by our ancestors?
  • What does making a gift of the first fruits of our labor to God say about our relationship with Him?

Romans 10:8b-13

8 But what does it say?

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

  • Does a “confession with our lips” ( v.8) need to be open and public, or can it be quiet and private to be valid?
  • How should you measure the degree to which you achieve success at believing in the heart (v.10)?

Luke 4:1-13

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.'” 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11 and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” 12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

  • What was the devil attempting to accomplish in presenting Jesus with the temptations?
  • What do Jesus responses say about his values?
  • What do we achieve by “reality testing” our values?

 

Comment

Today’s lessons provide some useful instruction into actions we might take to examine and strengthen our character.

Jason Sierra in a sermon from 2010 describes the importance of seeing ourselves clearly for who we are as the essential first step in pursuing who we are intended to be.  He uses the concept of nakedness to describe forced visual reality.

In our current culture of relative plenty, many of us pursue pleasures or distractions that make it easy to avoid self-confrontation.  In fact, I believe we should welcome the opportunity to challenge ourselves more directly because such situations can provide valuable information that can help us grow.  Failure brings acute and sometimes painful self awareness.  Viewed in that light, we should perhaps seek failures.  By experiencing more of them, we enhance our self awareness and perhaps even learn to appreciate the strength of humility.

Strong self awareness also provides the opportunity to develop a set of values which become the moral compass to guide our decisions in life.  Self awareness and development of our system of values combine to forge a strong foundation on which we can build enduring relationships with God and others.

Jesus’ actions show us the point of personal strength.  It is to recognize who we are in relationship to God and others and understand how our decisions (our use of power) can enhance or degrade those relationships.

During this season of lent, may our quiet contemplations foster self examination, strengthened character, and the wisdom to enhance our relationships with God and those whom we wish to bring closer.

Quotes for Today:

It is good to be without vices, but is is not good to be without temptations.

Walter Bagehot

 

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill

 

To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.

Felix Adler


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

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