Scripture Reading for March 13, 2011

Genesis 2:15-17 
 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

Genesis 3:1-7 
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ 2The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ 4But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,* knowing good and evil.’ 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Matthew 4:1-11
   Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.   He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4But he answered, ‘It is written,  “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’
   Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,  “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
     Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
   Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; 9and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God,  and serve only him.” ’
   Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

____________________________________________________

The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lencten,” referring to the lengthening of days as Spring approaches.  The narrative about Jesus’ temptation in the desert is traditionally read on the first Sunday in Lent.   Lent’s 40 days (Sunday’s aren’t counted) correspond to the 40 days that Jesus is said to have been in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.  

Questions:   

  1. What are your personal ways of observing Lent?
  2. Why do you suppose that Jesus’ ministry is said to begin with a period of temptation?
  3. Do you believe that God tests human beings?
  4. Which of the three temptations of Jesus seems most threatening to you?                    

    

Rev. Dr. James  Gertmenian 
Senior Minister

Read Jim’s sermon delivered March 13, 2011

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6 Responses to Scripture Reading for March 13, 2011

  1. jennikaija says:

    Observations during my life tell me that the temptation to be given power over all others, as Jesus was offered by Satan, is the most threatening to the world and all living creatures. Throughout humankind’s recorded history, the thread has been the grasp for power over others that has resulted in the horrors of war and unspeakable devastation. Whether it is in the home where one family member believes ruling over others is their right, where wealth is used to dictate society’s rules, or where military might prevails over all. It is easy to conclude that Satin’s temptations have been winning. Taking honest heed of the simple but powerful reply of Jesus, to worship and serve only the God of righteousness, has come to be my guide.

  2. Perhaps Jesus ministry started with temptations because his was a “Hero’s journey.” I think each of us has a hero imbedded in our souls which seeks to emerge throughout our lives. I believe God doesn’t “tempt” but “invites.” Truly, only God knows this heroic yearning within us, as God is the Ultimate Witness to our lives.

  3. Ron pqalosaari says:

    None of the temptations seem frightening to me on a literal level. Notice how easily Jesus handles them, but the first seemingly the less spectaculr is the most insidious as the other two involve public displays of power but the first invites Jesus to make his ministry one of meeting phyical human needs first. Jesus will direct his followers to be aware of the need to serve others physically and spiritually combined. A church must not turn into a social service ministry alone because it has to meet spiritual needs while also meeting physical needs by service, not spectacular trickery or “miracles.”

  4. Jane Thompson says:

    For me, the observation of Lent is not about giving up bad habits, pleasures or my favorite rice krispie bars. Rather, it is about adding in. Adding in more time for reflection, prayer and compassion. To be present to the meaning of Lent requires me to tackle very difficult concepts like darkness & injustice, the use of power, the ways I move when fear surrounds me or whenI am in a period of suffering.
    Most of all, it teaches me again & again, to keep my eye, in the midst of everything, upon the hope & promise of redemption.

    As to temptation at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, I know that personally, I find sometimes my growth is preceded by a loss of “innocence.” In other words, being confronted with gut wrenching temptations, or coming to terms with the awareness that there is some darkness and evil in the world takes away the childlike assumption that I will not be touched by hardship or that the bad stuff is “somewhere out there” I am no longer lulled into a passivity or comfort associated with innocence and must now grow into discernment, endure some pain and work toward adding goodness where there is darkness.

  5. Tom Anderson says:

    How do I observe Lent?
    In a word, not well.
    I think about giving things up, I pick up a Lent reader, but not much happens. In recent years I have been more aware of the Lenten season. Some years I have gone to Ash Wednesday service and some years I have gone to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services – all are moving. The first year that I let someone wash my feet I was very touched. To receive an individual blessing from someone I respect and admire is a tremendous gift to receive.
    The sadness of Good Friday is profound. It has come to stand in for all the deaths in my life, and does cause me to examine again the meaning of my years on this earth.
    At some point during Lent I start my garden by planting seeds indoors under lights. Seeing those seeds sprout is always a wonderful affirmation of life and the power of God. If we were not loved by God such things would not happen. Seeds sprouting is a very worldly manifestation of the power of life over death.

  6. Cynthia Callanan says:

    Why does God test human beings?

    I believe that God is helping us hone our discernment skills. When intuition or a little voice tells us to do one thing and not another, how do we know that we are making the right choice? Those in the Bible stories or on the campaign trail who say that God spoke to them telling them to do this or that have heard their intuition or that “little voice” urging them along. Yet both of these stories from the Bible indicate that the little voice might very well be the voice of Satan.

    Human beings need to develop our skills to discern what is right and true, what is good for us and our loved ones and community. As children we are born vulnerable and trusting. We follow the lead of our caregivers until we get burned the first time. Then we begin to develop a “mind of our own”, deciding for ourselves which choice to make. As parents we nurture our children as they grow, guiding them in these decisions to help them develop these discernment skills. Eventually they will be on their own.

    We all know that wisdom is not magically bestowed at age 18, and some of us are still working on “growing up” well into middle age.

    God is helping us to grow into our best selves, by helping us discern. God was a loving parent to help Jesus hone those skills before starting his ministry. God is a loving parent to us all.

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