Second Sunday in Lent, Sunday March 6th 2022
Hold Fast to Hope
Readings Genesis 15:1-10, Philippians 3:17-41
Gospel Luke 13:31-end
I am sure that you, like me and many others will have been praying more over the last two weeks. What a strange world we live in.
Tv screens and newspapers full of suffering, torment, war, destruction, and refugees.
Whatever we may think, this is not the way it was ever meant to be, and I hope this sermon touches some of those thoughts indirectly.
Our second hymn, Father hear the prayer we offer, seems to me to have the right words and in the right places and we can draw some comfort from that for all our world citizens, especially those caught up in the conflict in Ukraine.
Father, hear the prayer we offer, not for ease that prayer shall be, but for strength, that we may ever, live our lives courageously.
Feelings of fear and helplessness are normal in a time of crisis like this, but we can still do things to help. It may not end the crisis, but it may help; send supplies to Poland for Ukrainian neighbours, send some money through large charities, and then we can all pray.
I find it hard to listen constantly, to see images constantly, in many ways it becomes a sea of suffering and it is hard , really hard to know how to focus.
I try to just retain a few images; an old lady wandering on the snow filled streets, with a bag, not sure where to go or what to do, an elderly couple with a bag each, clinging to each other…
But you know if we all live in that kind of fear, then how can we help. It strikes me that there are people and a leader in Russia who is more than happy to bring fear to as many people as possible. We are in the family of God and we meet in church today and know that God is with us and will enable us to help our neighbours, today, tomorrow and in the future.
Our gospel reading today is interesting… we hear that some Pharisees come to Jesus and try to persuade him to go somewhere else as Herod is wanting to kill him. It is seldom that the Pharisees are seen to be trying to help Jesus.
And what does Jesus reply… ‘Go and tell that fox, I will keep on driving demons and healing people today and tomorrow and on the third day I will reach my goal. In any case I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day for surely no profit can die outside of Jerusalem.
Very interesting way to use the name of Herod as referring to him as a fox, what is he saying, he’s saying he knows Herod is being a sly cunning and untrustworthy ruler. Jesus has knows Herod will have no impact on the way that he dies.
For surely no profit can die outside Jerusalem.
Jesus wants to continue his work, he wants to continue healing and teaching people and being with all those that he loves in Galilee and then he will finds his way to Jerusalem. He knows that he will not die in Galilee he knows therefore that Herod will not have any part in it. This is a short passage but full of meaning for then later on Jesus says
Jerusalem Jerusalem you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you how often I have long to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you know you are not willing.
Interesting metaphors fox, hens and chicks. Jesus wants to protect all the people of Jerusalem, he would long to gather all those people up as he gathers all of us up and protect us all through his enormous and wondrous wings.
Imagine the angels in the skies the angels with their wings looking after us all at this moment it’s a powerful image and one which shows just how strong and powerful Jesus is. Neither he nor his father will be out done buy such as Herod, not in the day of Jesus or in our own day now.
Let’s remember our hymn again,
father hear the prayer we offer not for ease that prayer shall be but for strength that we may ever live our lives courageously.
If we go back to our first reading which is taken from Genesis…
this is about the covenant that God gives to Abraham, he starts off by saying don’t be afraid Abraham I am your shield you’re very great reward.
But Abraham is not so sure. You have given me no children what can I do? God says to him to look up at the sky and count the stars if you ever could count them that will be the number of your offspring
And here we are today 3000 plus years after this as the offspring and stars in the sky. God gives Abraham reassurance and promises that to Abraham and his descendants he will give the land from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river of the Euphrates.
Just to bring in the reading from Philip Paul’s letter to the Philippians,
Paul says our citizenship is in heaven and that is where it all comes right in the end. We must not worry about those whose minds are set on earthly things alone for to them will never ever be the glory.
Paul finishes by saying therefore my brothers and sisters you whom I love and longing for, stand firm in the Lord in this way dear friends
And so for us today let us stand firm in the Lord it is follow what he asks us to do and remember that we can always say
Father here the prayer we offer not for ease that prayer shall be but for strength that we may ever live our lives courageously
Rev’d Sue Martin
First Sunday in Lent, Sunday March 6th 2022
In the Wilderness
Readings Gospel Luke 4:1-13 Psalm 9, Romans 10:8b-13
I like the title, being in the wilderness There seem to be many times when we find ourselves in the wilderness, or is it just me!!
Wandering, walking through the country, wondering which direction we should be travelling in, seeking God’s call, trying hard to get on with our lives when all around us is caving slowly in.
And then the devil appears. Ever on the watch for a good person to tempt and drive over to his side. Ever the slippery snake, ever the creeping bramble, watch as he makes his way cunningly into lives and then departs.
In Lent, of course, we are asked to give up something, something that we like, something that is like a treat and which gives us some pleasure maybe.
Mmmmm so you’ve guessed. Mine is chocolate. When we get to the end of Lent I will tell you how often I have given in to temptation!
The reading from Luke of Jesus in the desert is very powerful and well remembered. Last week we were Jesus on Mt Tabor as he ascended into the cloud with Moses and Elijah. This week we see Jesus was tempted by the devil from the a high mountain, looking down on the country beneath him. Come fly , you can show everyone that you really are the Son of God, he says. This was at the Mt of Temptation, which is close to Jericho and you can see for miles and miles across the desert.
But Jesus is not even tempted. Why does he need to show people that he is. Has he not told people they have not all heard or able to accept that he is. There is no need for the evidence that Satan is demanding.
God has asked us to have faith.
Jesus tells us to believe in him. That is all we need to do.
If you are also a fan of CS Lewis you may have read The Screwtape letters. A wonderful read with CS Lewis’ magnificent way of empowering meaning into stories
Screwtape is a devil and is training his nephew, Wormwood into the art of seduction and bringing people to the devil and his ways. He delights in finding ways to tempt people on the edge of Christianity.
He creeps and he prowls, he worms his way into peoples lives.
The passage from Peter in compline ‘like a devouring lion waiting to pounce’.
In our 6 weeks of Lent maybe we can be strong, lets resist all temptation when we can, although we are human and giving up anything is hard to do.
We can also do something extra, make a difference somewhere, help where we can.
And we can also find time for ourselves, time to reflect where God is calling, time to find the path that is right for us to follow.
Rev’d Sue Martin