Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Sunday in Lent

Most excellent sermon this morning! Sometimes everything fits together... old knowledge, new information, additional questions, sudden insights. When that happens I get a chill.

Our celebrant this morning compared the stories from the Old Testament (Genesis 2: 5-17, 3: 1-7) and the Gospel (Matthew 4: 1-11)

Adam and Eve, sucked in by the serpent's promise that they could "be like God." And Jesus' encounter in the desert... where the three temptations were really the same thing. Turn these stones into bread... (transmute elements) Jump from the pinnacle... (defy the law of gravity) and become the ruler of the world (take God's throne.) It was this conscious (and different) response on Jesus' part that set him on his path to a different kind of ministry: that he accepted his human limitations, and agreed to cooperate with the Father.

She suggested that the desire to be like God is at the crux of most, if not all, of our problems as human beings. As her spiritual director advised her to remember: "God is God and I am not." Meditating on that, rather than focusing on what you can give up for Lent, unless that giving up points you to that understanding, is at the heart of the Lenten message. Especially this first Sunday in Lent.

Learning to cooperate with God, rather than escaping or thinking we can overrule Him is the unexpected, counter-intuitive way into freedom. She urged us to "put ourselves at God's disposal". Interesting choice of words... disposal.

Of course she was talking about the power to use something or someone, rather than a kitchen appliance for eliminating garbage, but so much of our language can be metaphoric. How many times do we "bewail our manifold sins" and as a result consign ourselves to the garbage heap? It would seem that too much emphasis on sin only creates more sin. Everything in moderation is my motto for Lent. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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