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LENT 1

LENT 1

 

Gen 2:15-17,3:1-7 Rom 5:12-21 Matt 4:1-11

 

It is a simple and basic message that the Lectionary offers this week. We are all tempted to go our own way, to ignore God’s guidance and direction and to hide our sin and brokenness when we fail. But, God’s gracious and extravagant offer is forgiveness and right relationship with God, guidance and a pathway to life, if we will only confess our shortcomings and receive God’s restoration, and then follow God’s ways. The three sins which have always afflicted human beings – greed for wealth, lust for power and unlimited satisfaction of our human appetites – also afflicted Christ, and in his overcoming, we find inspiration and guidance for our own lives. The challenge, in today’s world of unconditional acceptance, is to have the courage and integrity to acknowledge our brokenness and destructiveness, and admit that we need both forgiveness and empowerment to become creative, contributing human beings who embody God’s reign.

This Lenten season isn’t simply another opportunity for self-improvement through personal study or small group work. It prepares us for the biggest party of all: the celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Our Lenten worship services may take on a muted tone – in stark contrast to the joyful celebration of Easter Day. Flowers might be absent from our church, our worship music restrained and decorations removed.

In our Second Order Holy Communion liturgy we recite the Trisagion rather than the Gloria (“Glory to God in the highest…”), and we avoid singing hymns using the word ‘Alleluia’ which will be kept for Easter Sunday.

To grow closer to Christ we need to take time out with our Father, to reflect and pray. Too often Lent becomes the church’s busiest time as we add extra services and study on top of our full parish programme.

In the set gospel for the first Sunday of Lent we accompany Jesus into his forty days of silent retreat in the desert where he resists temptation [Luke 4:1-15].

 

This first Sunday in Lent gives us the opportunity to confront these temptations head on, and make the commitment to follow Jesus in the Lenten disciplines for the next few weeks. May our times at church and the Lenten disciplines we have chosen be oases in the desert, providing moments of refreshment, realistic self-examination and intimacy with God. And may our worship today empower us to do the work of becoming more Christ-like.

 

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Genesis 2: 15-17, 3:1-7 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

The First Sin and Its Punishment

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ 2The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ 4But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

 

Matthew 4: 1-11 The Temptation of Jesus

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying 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.” ’

7Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; 9and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’

11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

 

 

Acknowledgements: ?John Van de Laars, http://sacredise.com/lectionary/2014/02/lent-1a/

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