First Sunday in Lent- Fr. Chris- March 6, 2017

First Sunday in Lent

March 6, 2017

Every year on the first Sunday in Lent, we find jesus_praying_temptation. In the first temptation, Jesus is enticed to turn stones into bread. Jesus is hungry after 40 days of fasting and turning stones to bread will alleviate his own present hunger. At the root of this temptation is the lure for Jesus to use his authority as the Son of God to meet his personal needs and desires ahead of all else. The desire to satisfy ourselves is a huge temptation we all face, and will become especially significant for Jesus during his crucifixion. In just a few short weeks, we will hear once more as he is encouraged by the onlookers to satisfy himself by saving himself as he hangs from the cross.

This brings us to the second temptation: the great leap forward, the temptation to test God by jumping from the top of the Temple. The idea behind this leap is to create a sort of cross avoiding display. In this way, it is like the first temptation. What I mean is that if Jesus would become the talk of the town and all would flock to his message, then who would crucify the guy angels saved from falling from the Temple? The temptation is also for Jesus to test God in order to deliver Jesus from death in Jerusalem. This time from falling and the next from the cross… Again, Jesus will face this temptation once more.

Finally, the third temptation: the desire for power. The great tempter states that he will give all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus on the condition that Jesus worships him. This is an enticement for Christ to be great. However, it is greatness for the sake of self and not God’s glory. You see we should remember that temptation is never to be what we are created to be. No, temptation always strikes in us the desire to be recognized as great, as powerful, as someone worthy of praise through less than holy ways or the complete opposite with the temptation to be less than what we were created to be. In Jesus’ temptation, the tempter entices Jesus with power over all the kingdoms of the world, and certainly Jesus could do a lot of good with his worldly greatness, but it wouldn’t be the same greatness that fully brings glory to God… It wouldn’t be the same greatness that shows God’s love and grace through Christ’s self-emptying.

And so, what we find is that Jesus is tempted to create bread that would not eternally satisfy, avoid death by putting God to the test, and gain great power and worldly splendor for himself. These temptations would have brought wealth, fame, and glory… But it would all be fading. Temptation is often not the offer to fall in humility and service to God and others, but the offer to rise for self. Our challenge is to remember what it means to rise in glory. The tempter in Eden did not ask, “do you wish to be like the serpent?” No, he asked “do you wish to be like God?” True temptation is to be something other than living into the fact that we are created in the image of God and therefore seek to be made holy in his image.

This is perhaps why we have the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness each year on the first Sunday in Lent… Jesus sets an example of holiness that we seek to imitate. Because what we are called to is about more than an emotion, a moment, or a look. Or as the classic rock band, Boston, put it… “It’s more than a feeling…” That’s right; the holiness that God calls us to strive for is more than a feeling… It is about being… being in the presence of the living God… being Christ’s hands and feet in the world to continue his work of reconciliation… being holy through God’s grace as our creator is holy. Simply seeking after the look or feeling of holiness is too easy and tends to be about ourselves. Whereas, seeking to be holy through Christ is difficult… it feels vulnerable because we risk being transformed.

That is where the wilderness comes into play. The wilderness throughout scripture is where people go to meet God and rely on God and are thus transformed, not by their own power, but by the grace of God. Therefore, this is where our Lenten journey comes into play. This time is set aside for us to reconnect with our Savior and offer ourselves up to God as we prepare to fully celebrate the life-giving moment of Christ’s resurrection. Yes, we will fail at times, even during Lent, but there is grace in all things. Lent is the time for confessing our failures and redirecting our steps to the way of Christ. Lent is a time set aside for self-examination, for reflection, for turning back to God.

This Lenten season is a time for intentionality and seeking to continually be transformed more fully into the image of Christ that is within each of us. Therefore, do not just seek to look and feel holy but seek to be holy. Do not just look like you are fasting, but really fast. Do not just look like you are taking on a spiritual practice for growth, but live and do a spiritual practice through which you will grow. Do not just act penitential, but be penitential.

But I will warn you… As we saw in today’s Gospel lesson, it is not easy. It is also a little risky… Risky because when we seek to not just look or feel holy, but truly seek to be holy… we are changed, transformed. This practice of seeking to be holy through Christ changes the way we see the world… it changes the way we see the stranger and each other… it changes the way we see ourselves and our relationship with our Lord. And through it all, we find ourselves growing closer to the God who created us and loves us so much that he sent his only Son to live, to be tempted, to die, and to rise again so that all might know that love. And so, this Lent, I urge you to use this season for transformation… do not just seek to look or feel holy, but this Lent seek, by the grace of God, to be holy.

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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