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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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First Sunday in Lent Year C RCL February 17, 2013

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm  91:1-2,9-16 Romans 10: 8b-13Luke 4:1-11

In our first reading this morning, the people of God have almost completed their forty year journey in the wilderness. They are on the verge of the promised land. Moses is about to die, and he is giving the people instructions on how to conduct their community life.

Moses tells the people that, when they have entered the land of Canaan and they have settled there and planted their crops and the harvest has come, the people should take the first fruits of the harvest and offer them to God. Moses says. “This is the land that God is giving you.” This implies that God is constantly giving us gifts. We, in turn, are called to return the first fruits to God. This means that our returning a portion of God’s gifts to the divine Giver is not an afterthought. It is the first thing that we do. This is what we do when we prayerfully consider our pledge for the coming year.

In our epistle, Paul is reminding us that God is near, that Jesus gives us the gift of new life, and that we are called to proclaim the good news that this gift of new life is available to everyone.

Today we read Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus. He has not yet begun his ministry. He has been baptized. The Holy Spirit leads him into the wilderness. The Spirit also sustains and supports him throughout this experience.

Jesus knows that he is going to begin his ministry. It’s going to be a big job. This time of testing in the wilderness is something we can all identify with, especially when we are about to embark on a challenging task. We question, “Who am I, really? Can I do this? How will I carry out this mission? Am I good enough to do this? Will I succeed? Or will I fail? What are my values? What is the compass that I will use to guide me? Where will I turn for help?”

Luke states that the devil is the tempter. Some people have a problem believing in the devil.  The wise scholar Fred Craddock gives us these thoughts:  “In whatever images or concepts, Scripture agrees with experience that there is in us and among us strong opposition to life, health, wholeness, and peace. Being committed to the way of God in the world does not exempt one from the struggle. In fact, it is those who are most engaged in the way of God who seem to experience most intensely the opposition of evil. If Jesus struggled, who is exempt? Nor did the presence of the Holy Spirit mean the absence of temptation. Rather, the Spirit was the available power of God in the contest.”

Jesus is alone and he is hungry. Why not turn these stones into bread?

The wilderness in that area is full of stones. Jesus could feed himself. He could feed everyone.  This is not a bad thing, to feed people. There were many people in those days, as in these, who could use a good meal. Jesus could open the world’s largest soup kitchen.

The tricky thing about many temptations is that they aren’t asking us to do something bad. Feeding people is not bad. But it isn’t what Jesus is called to do. Later on, he will feed large crowds, and that is fine. But we do not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Beyond the physical feeding, Jesus calls us into close relationship with him and with God so that we can listen and hear every word that comes from the mouth of God, and follow God’s leading.

Then the devil shows him all the kingdoms of the world. If Jesus will worship the devil, that is, the forces that oppose life, health, wholeness, and peace, all these kingdoms will belong to Jesus.  This is the temptation to turn to worldly political power. Jesus’ home country was occupied by the Roman Empire. To be able to control that empire would certainly be handy. He could free the people. But that is not the course Jesus is called to follow. He answers, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” As we place God at the center of our lives and serve God, it may be that we will be helping to free people from tyranny, but the use of political power is not our first priority.

Finally, Jesus is tempted to jump off the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. The scriptures say that God’s angels will come and rescue him. This would prove he really is the Son of God. It would be a great public relations stunt. But that is not what Jesus is called to do. He says No to this temptation as well.

Throughout our lives, and, especially when we are about to take on a major challenge, we will be tempted to veer off course. Many times, it’s not that we are tempted to do something bad or wrong, but rather something that is less than the best we are called to do and be.

This morning we have the great joy to be celebrating the baptism of Nicholas Alexander Sturgeon. As you know, Nick is about to begin serving in the United States Marines. He has thought long and hard about this vocation and will soon be leaving for Basic Training, a challenging and demanding experience.

This baptism is our way of formally welcoming Nick as a member of the Body of Christ. All of us are members of our Lord’s risen and living Body. We are called to carry out his ministry here on earth. We are his arms reaching out in love, his voice speaking words of strength and comfort and his hands offering healing and forgiveness. Today our Lord gives us the example of  his courageous struggle to figure out how God wanted him to carry out his ministry. Every temptation offers a chance to miss the mark, to choose a lesser course, and every time Jesus centers on God’s love and guidance so that he can find his true direction.

May we all follow in the footsteps of Jesus our Lord. May we always seek God’s guidance and grace. May we help and support each other.

Nick, God will be walking with you every step of the way. You have our love and support. God bless you.    Amen.

 

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