Today's Lectionary Text
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, so that the devil could test him. After Jesus had gone without eating for forty days and nights, he was very hungry. Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to turn into bread.”
Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say:
‘No one can live only on food.
Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off. The Scriptures say:
‘God will give his angels
Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!’”
Finally, the devil took Jesus up on a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms on earth and their power. The devil said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say:
‘Worship the Lord your God
Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came to help him.
Here we are in the early days of Lent 2021. It’s been said by some that we’ve been in perpetual Lent for a year now. While it may seem so because we’ve been forced to give up so many things that are “normal” to us – from Easter worship together to Advent and Christmas traditions and everything in between. But it is well to remember that one of the reasons we observe Lent is found in the passage from Matthew 4 that is quoted above.
After his baptism, Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit. There he remained for forty days, facing hunger, thirst and temptation. When we observe Lent with fasting and spiritual disciplines, we are trying in some small way to emulate that time in Jesus’ life. Sometimes we get so caught up in remembering that we can’t eat chocolate (or in my past observances, drink soda) during Lent that we forget how small those things are in the larger scheme of our lives. It becomes about us rather than about God.
If nothing else, perhaps this past year has taught us that our “giving up” of something we enjoy for Lent is not such a big deal in the face of the year’s losses of so many people and activities. Lent should, perhaps, be more about focusing on what God is doing and has done for us? So, how we observe Lent this year might require a little more thought than in the past.
What if we simply observe God’s goodness to us each day in this Lenten season? Keep a list of “God things” to which we add at least one thing each day. In that way we must try to see God at work in our lives each and every day. Have conversations with God. Remind ourselves that Jesus came to show us the way through whatever wilderness we may encounter – including the wilderness of pandemic.
--Rev. Robbie Fall, retired elder
Prayer for Reflection
Help us, O God, to focus on what you have done and are doing for us through your Son, Jesus Christ, during the Lenten season. Amen.
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