March 10, 2019

March 10, 2019

March 10, 2019
by Gary Grogg
Scripture:  Luke 4:1-13

The lectionary text for this first Sunday in Lent is the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  It is a story rich in images and metaphors with plenty to catch our attention. Most of the temptations that we face are not as obvious as those Luke records Jesus facing.  They may be more insidious.  Yet the temptations of Jesus at their root are the ones we face day after day – physical, spiritual, and social. 

Decades ago a young comedian named Flip Wilson had a favorite line – “the devil made me do it.” How convenient it would be to blame all our bad decisions on someone else – like a personal devil.  When our daughters were young we had a woman who cleaned our house for us occasionally.  Whenever something was broken by the kids, they would quickly say, “Delma did it.”  Personal responsibility is difficult. 

By the time you read this, our denomination will have made some decision about an issue that has been before us for years – will we accept all persons into our faith fellowship as full participants.  The temptation may be to take an easy way out, rather than struggle with what it means to be truly Christ-like in our behavior.  As one raised in the “Bible belt” and steeped in the provincialism of the South, it has been a struggle to find that place of seeing all persons as the creation of God.  First it was race, then sexual orientation, and finally other faiths.  It has been and is a journey. 

However, it is the final verse of the text that haunts me – “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.”  Ask ourselves “when is the opportune time” for temptation to rear its head?  Just when we are feeling good about ourselves and filled with hope, the tempter comes to rob us of our joy and peace.  Yes, it was when Jesus was “full of the Spirit” the temptation came. 

Faith is a journey and victories over evil in our lives and the world are short lived.   
Like it or not, we all have one traveling companion on our journey in life that will never leave us until we have entered the nearer presence of the Holy One – evil. 
To ignore the presence of evil is to be sure to fall.  To embrace the presence is to forfeit our hope for abundant life.  To resist the temptations by having a vital relationship to the Holy God , and to opening ourselves to the presence of the Creator’s Spirit is to live in unity with all creation. Then it is possible to overcome evil with good. 

Prayer:  Holy One, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  May your intended community come and your will be done, in this world and in all that is to come.  For yours is the presence and the power and the glory forever.  Amen