February 14, 2016 – First Sunday in Lent

Lent 1 Feb 14, 2016   Psalm 91, Deuteronomy 6:10-13, 16-17; 8:1-5, Luke 4:1-13 ***************************************************************** As Jesus completes his 40 days in the wilderness, he is very hungry… And here comes the devil, offering up a three-course banquet of temptations, saying: ‘If you are the Son of God command this stone to be a loaf of bread…’ (You don’t need to be hungry…) ‘Worship me and I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world’… (You can have servants bring you breakfast in bed…) And ‘Since you are the Son of God, take a leap from the top of the temple…For it is written – God’s angels will protect you and bear you up… so you will not dash your foot against a stone…’ The devil rolls out his top three temptations – economic power – political power – religious power… Make the material world, the political world, and the spiritual world – the church – all exist to serve your personal needs and desires… (Thank goodness – we’re not tempted by anything like that…anymore…But just in case we ever may be…) Welcome back to Lent. Today is the first Sunday in Lent, our annual journey through the wilderness into closer relationship with God. By ancient tradition, exploring again the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, abstaining, giving… and forgiving… In Lent we remember Jesus, tempted by the devil…And this year I’m a little nervous… that the devil is sounding (actually almost) pretty reasonable, here, to me, at least at first. Saying, “If you are the son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Which sounds alright to me… at first hearing. Jesus is famished from fasting forty days. What harm can there be in making himself a little something to eat? We know he can do this. There’s no law against it I can think of… But Jesus isn’t biting… Even though, we notice – The devil here is not coming to Jesus heavily armed, or making threats… Nor proposing Jesus steal someone else’s bread… No, the devil (perhaps wanting just to get a foot in the door) comes on scene for the first time with a rather reasonable sounding proposal…. And… If we if we don’t know the rest of the story… we might be persuaded…But remembering that I have been fooled by the devil before… I’ve been re-reading CS Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters – an imaginative series of letters from Screwtape, a senior devil, to Wormwood, his junior devil nephew. Lewis writes: “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps… In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.” *** The devil starts off with a rather mild-sounding economic temptation.‘You are the Son of God. You’re in charge. So make this rock a pizza with all the trimmings….’ The back story is well known. ‘Your Father fed Israel with manna, which was called the bread of heaven, forty years in the wilderness. Show your power. Do likewise…’ Later...

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March 9, 2014 – First Sunday in Lent

The Joys of a Christian Community           March 9, 2014                        Susan Goux Good morning, thank you all for allowing me to be here in front of you this morning.  I’m not a preacher, nor do I presume to instruct in religious matters.  What I do is “muse.”  Musing is thinking about things and considering topics that interest me or come into my mind as I have an opportunity to think about them.  Sometimes I even find myself talking out loud about them, with no one else around.  When I was in high school, I used to hear my father talking to someone but no one was around.  He was a very unassuming, soft spoken man, often with his head in a book, involved in intellectual pursuits.  I remember asking him to whom he was talking.  He said he was talking to himself.  I looked a little quizzically at him and with a slight smile on his face he said:  I talk to myself because I like to talk to a smart man and I like to hear what a smart man has to say.  While I agree that this was probably a good answer for him, for me it is more that I talk to myself because I like to have someone who will listen to me.  So you are getting to hear me think and talk out loud. I grew up during a time of change and great growth in the US.  Corporations and government were expanding and reorganizing after the upheaval and trauma of world conflict.  It was not uncommon for families to move around the country as jobs moved or opportunities presented themselves.  Our family moved from California to Panama to Illinois to New York State back to California.  My dad worked in the emerging missile launching and then space program.  I went to nine different schools before graduating from high school.  When Tom and I married we also moved several times until we settled on Cape Cod.  I often wondered and even longed for the constancy and stability of staying in one place; getting to know people for a lifetime of shared experiences.  It seemed this could be a joy.  My extended family was rarely close by.  Telephone calls were very expensive, there was no email, or Facetime/Skype.  I know this is going to an extreme, but remember, I’m musing, it made me think about the people who set off from the East coast to the great American West in stage coaches or covered wagons or emigrated from a country far from America to never see their family again and maybe, if lucky, have one letter a year.  It sounds like a great adventure and many were convinced it was for a better life.  But when you read their stories or diaries, it isn’t so romantic and often quite lonely.  In today’s world where communication can be just a click away and plane travel is within reach, it may be difficult to really imagine what this was like but it is only a “muse” away. It was always a point of interest to me to see new friends and acquaintances with grandparents close by, cousins in the same school, friends they had gone to school with since kindergarten.  I never actually felt left out but rather...

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