|Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2019||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 7, Year C||June 2, 2019||The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, John 17:20-26|
|Easter 6, Year C||May 26, 2019||Easter 6, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
First Sunday in Lent, Year C
Sermon Date:March 10, 2019
Scripture: Luke 4:1-13
Liturgy Calendar: First Sunday in Lent, Year C
At the end of last week’s gospel, Jesus was aggravated with the disciples because they had failed the test of casting a demon out of a young man, and Jesus scolded them for their failure to do so.
The disciples would face more tests.
Every year during Holy Week, we remember Peter’s spectacular failure of denying that he even knew Jesus, not once but three times!
The season of Lent is the time in the church year when we take on spiritual spring training, so that when we find ourselves unexpectedly taking a discipleship test, we’ll be prepared for the test and able to pass it.
Jesus, through today’s account of his own temptation in the wilderness, provides us with a great discipleship study guide, laying out everything we need to pass any test that we disciples will face in this life.
The discipleship study guide includes the following information.
First, go where the Spirit leads.
Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. Throughout scripture, the wilderness is a place of testing and spiritual growth. God led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years before they ever got to the promised land. In those years God tested them and shaped them into the people of God, a necessary formation if they were to live holy lives in the Promised Land once they got there.
Our temptation is to save ourselves from the challenging wildernesses in our lives by simply refusing to enter into those wildernesses, or to leave the wilderness when the going gets tough, but if the Spirit is leading us in the wilderness, the study guide reminds us to follow. The Spirit will be with us to sustain us, as the Spirit was with Jesus.
Second, know scripture.
Jesus answered every temptation that the devil threw at him with a quotation from scripture. Jesus had steeped himself in the stories of God’s love, he knew the psalms inside and out, and when he was put to the test, he could just scroll right through scripture to remind himself of the right answer for the question before him.
I’m not talking about cherry picking from scripture, knowing only certain stories and verses that fit your own world view. I’m talking about knowing the details in scripture of the great arc of love of God for all of creation throughout time, knowing the words, so that even in the worst times and the hardest tests in your life, those words and stories come to you, even unbidden, bringing insight and comfort, giving you strength.
An example—when I worked for Hospice, an ancient old woman who was over in the nursing home in Colonial Beach lay in bed in her shadowy room, where she waited for death. She had nothing to say. But when I read the psalms to her, she responded, and no matter which psalm I read to her, she could say every word with me—from memory! Those words, deep in her heart and soul, were sustaining her as she waited to die and to go on to the Promised Land.
Third, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
The heart of discipleship is the ongoing process of growing in love for God. No matter how much we love God, we can always love God more. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” is the most important point on the study guide. When God is our deepest hunger, our greatest longing, our most passionate love, our wildest joy, then we never need to fear any test, great or small, expected or unexpected.
So disciples, in this season of Lent, pray and listen.
You will hear the Spirit’s invitation to enter the wilderness. Go, because it is in the wilderness that God will shape you into the disciple that God means for you to be.
Open your Bibles. Read slowly, drink deeply and learn about God’s love for you spelled out from even before the beginning of creation.
And most important of all, be intentional about loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Loving God alone and completely frees us to love all people and all things as God would have us do.
In the end, your love for God and God’s love for you is all that will ever matter in your life as a disciple.
And secure in that love, you can face any test, as Jesus did, with courage.