Revd Linda Whetter's Sermon for Lent 1, Sunday 6th March 2022

Lent 1 Yr. C. 

 

Deut. 26:1-11

Rom.10:8-13

Luke.4:1-13

 

‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.’ (Luke 4:1-2)

 

Today,     we come to the first Sunday in Lent with a Gospel depicting Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil . And as I pondered what to write today, I thought of  all Christians  throughout the world who  will be  preparing for Lenten devotions  just  like us. And I wonder what you may be setting  aside to do so.

 Of course,  we are not forced to, but God doesn’t try to force  anyone  to  worship Him either.  He simply invites us into a deeper relationship with Him.  It’s up to us if we accept His invitation or not. Lent  brings us the invitation,  Lent  invites  us to cross over the threshold into a season that  remind us where we have come from and where  we are going. All the readings today remind us of this and I think that this is a  valuable  insight.

 Sometimes  the temptation  is for  Lent to  become  overly focused on our past, the things we have  done and left undone and as a result fear, self-doubt, guilt, regrets, disappointments, or wounds diminish  our life, but that is not what Lent is all about. Lent offers us the opportunity to pause,  look at the way our lives are going,  our companions what our present journey is costing us, whether it is worth it and  what  will  we leave behind if we  turn to a new route.  And  Luke’s depiction of Jesus’ wilderness wanderings  is important, Jesus comes to us in the wilderness because that is where we all are and  Luke opens by  emphasising Jesus’ reliance on the Holy Spirit. The emphasis on    Jesus’ reply  to the devil’s goading, quoting  words from Deuteronomy (6.13):  ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’-  is a powerful reminder  that  the devil uses the holiest of places and quotes Scripture to lead Jesus astray, serves as a warning to all of us.

Scripture can be misused and so can the church. It is very easy to jump just because the suggestion seems to come from good quarters; we all need to  resist the temptation to allow powerful ,persuasive voices drown out the word of God. And I think that is a good image to hold on to throughout Lent, because while God never changes,  it is easy to forget our need of a Saviour,   believing   in our own self sufficiency, the influence of others, rather  than  in God’s  Word, goodness and  grace.

Our lives depend on God. We would not exist unless God willed it.And  is why In Lent we are meant to lay ourselves bare – to hide nothing from  God from whom  nothing is hidden. To examine our hearts and minds. Lent may be a penitential season, but    Lent  is not meant to be a time of punishment. It is meant to be   a gift from God to  each one of us, to  deepen our relationship with Him. Quite simply  we are called to live our lives daily in the direction of God and called to set that compass bearing every day. With the best will in the world, I imagine that you like me,  do not always manage to do   that.

 

We are all tempted; we all fail, we all sin. Sometimes we might wonder if there is an exit from the wilderness  but none of us need face the wilderness alone. All of us need to hear, like Jesus, the voice of the Father that  loves us.

 

As  we begin our journey together through Lent, may the images in the closing  chapter of our reading from Deuteronomy, reminding God’s people of their  roots,   rest in your hearts.  The Israelites were to   enter the land, worshipping God with their first crops,  in celebration   that it was theirs by God’s saving grace alone.  And, so whatever you may have put to one side to prepare for Lent whatever may be occupying  your hearts and minds, I will leave you  with some words from Henri Nouwen:

 

You are not what you do, although you do a lot. You are not what you have collected in terms of friendships,   and  connections, although you might have many. You are not the popularity that you have received. You are not the success of your work. You are not what people say about you, whether they speak well or whether they speak poorly about you. All these things that keep you quite busy, quite occupied, and often quite preoccupied are not telling the truth about who you are.

I am here to remind you in the name of God that you are the Beloved Daughters and Sons of God, and that God says to you, ‘I have called you from all eternity and you are engraved from all eternity in the palms of my hands. You are mine. You belong to me, and I love you with an everlasting love.’

 

May that   knowledge rest in your hearts,    grant you   a Holy Lent and  lead you into a  deeper  relationship with God The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit, our strength and our redeemer.

 

 

Amen.

 

 

 


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