Saturday 5 March 2022

Prayers March 6th 2022, Lent 1,

God our creator who goes before us

You draw us forward in faith

Like a pillar of fire across desert waste

A rock of assurance

As we journey this Lenten time

Speak to us with your words of comfort and wisdom.


Song “Once again”


Prayer and Confession


God of love and forgiveness

Save us by your tenderness

From each deed that is destructive

From each act that grieves you

From each thought that is careless

From each idea that is unloving

From each word that hurts.

Help us to face up to your call on our lives, by creating love and 

goodness, community, society where it has been broken. In Jesus Name, Amen.


We say the Lords Prayer in our own language


Reflection on Luke 4v1-13. 


Lent is named from the Anglo Saxon, Lenten meaning lengthening of days when in the first three centuries of the church a few days were set aside for strict fasting. By the 4th century the preparation time had developed to 40 days. Lent was seen as a time of personal preparation for Easter. In the Roman Catholic Church fasting is still encouraged on Fridays, the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. In the Eastern Orthodox Church not eating eggs, meat and fish is still common, which is why painted eggs are given out on Easter Sunday.


In the stories in the gospels Jesus was led into the dry dusty desert. If you’ve ever been to a desert, you will know how barren it is and yet how awesome that endless sandy, orange and red. Looking at it reminds us of how small we are in this world. Its humbling. We all have these times when we are in an alien place either psychologically or really and we feel alone with no resources. Its frightening.  


Worse than that someone is playing mind games with him. The devil comes to him, equivalent to the Old Testament Satan, meaning adversary, slanderer. "If you are the Son of God (Satan knows Jesus is the Son of God) turn this stone to become bread". Then in an instant he led him up. He says he has all authority. Such power, how terrible! But Satan may be lying! He then led Jesus to the highest point of the temple jutting out from the wall and encourages him to jump because "It is written concerning you that angels guard you carefully". When the devil had finished all this tempting he left him until another time.


So in the temptation story there are three tests: 1) Stone into bread; will God supply Jesus's needs? Will God supply our needs?2) Signs and wonders; self-glorification. 3) Authority over the world. 


The story gives us insight into the devil. He acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one who is to lead his people to the promised kingdom; He accepts the authority of scripture; He is described as lord over the present age; he is a deceiver and so sets out to compromise Jesus' messiahship. As with all tempters he starts with the subtlety of doubt. Jesus' answers to all the wiles of his tempter are to quote scripture back to him. He is tempted to make food and he responds with spiritual food, to perform magical acts for his own benefit, with power the ultimate subtlety, the ultimate corrupter. He chooses each time the choice which would not give him fame, or wealth or power but would be a playing out of the plan for his life and give a satisfaction beyond that of these temptations and gives life.


Its a story of a cosmic struggle between the devil and God. The wilderness is Satan's realm, a place of horror, loneliness. Jesus's wilderness struggle is a foretaste of the coming three years, which will involve an unending assault from demonic forces. As he is sustained and affirmed in the wilderness, so he is sustained through the wilderness of his ministry. People are also tested like Jesus.


If you haven’t eaten for 40 days and are hungry you are open to visions, to the spiritual, both the divine and the demonic. In our own lives we like Jesus face choices. We may feel we have at times entered a desert in our lives. A time of hunger, thirst, dryness. We may choose to fast and pray to give us a clarity. You may choose to go into a desert or be driven there. For many people in our society there is no choice. They/We are in a wilderness. It’s a common experience not just something that happened 2000 years ago. When things go wrong, sickness, worries, the loneliness of wilderness is close to us. We sense beasts. It is a time of polarisation. In the desert we will experience the devil, the accuser,  doubt ourselves and what we are doing. The powers of darkness will test our faith. But we are not alone. Angels will be with us and the wilderness time will pass.


1.    What is a desert really like?

2.    What are the features of wilderness experiences?

3.    What can help us in these difficult testing times? 


We pray for our world especially Ukraine, our country, our families and friends.


Servant Christ help us to follow you

Into that place of quietness,

Where we face beasts and wildness

But we know the presence of angels 

Even in the desert wastes. Amen. 


Song “With all I am”




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