1st Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 & Psalm 91
It isn’t always easy to tell our truth – especially when it involves confronting those who have much more power than we do. But we are not powerless, unless we think we are. And we are soulless if we deny the truth of what we know.
We have been watching this battle of the Titans in Canada – the struggle between those who exercise power, and those who defend the truth and the rule of law – play out on our news media over the last few weeks. What’s interesting to me is that I see a shift happening in public consciousness. We are not as a society so willing as we might have been in the past, to overlook the manipulation by our government of the facts of a matter to suit the interests of the party in power. We have become more sensitized to the truth and the evidence of truth-telling than was possibly ever true in the past. I believe we are rediscovering our principles as they relate to governing our country, and starting to demand more integrity from our politicians.
The writer of Deuteronomy reminds us that we are indebted to God for the wealth of the land we inhabit, and that we must offer thanks to God for the fruits of the land that sustain every civilization.
I am reminded of our hubris, our pride and arrogance in our own accomplishments, as we, fascinated by our technological advancements, move ever further from an appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation.
But the psalmist reminds us that we need only turn or return to God for our status as God’s beloved to be re-affirmed. Aligning ourselves with God’s power, we need not be afraid to speak truth to power. In fact, we are called to do so, for the greater good of all creation. If we do not speak the truth about the evil that is going on around us, it will never be confronted, and therefore never changed.
People of God, we are never alone. God is with us – God’s great love surrounds and supports us – and the power of the good that is God is within us just waiting to be called on in times of need.
In this season of Lent let us examine ourselves for principles and integrity. Have we thought through what is important to us and lines up with the teachings and example of Jesus? Do we line ourselves up with those with integrity, or those who act from political expediency? Which voice are we listening to – the Holy Spirit’s prompting, or the demands of the world around us.
Don’t be afraid, people of God, for God is with and within us.
Hymn VU p.808 “On Eagle’s Wings”
2nd Scripture Reading: Romans 10:8b-13 & Luke 4:1-13
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved.”
Jesus, the good shepherd, cares for all the sheep. He made no distinction between men and women, fishermen and tax collectors, children and their parents. His love was and is, unconditional and available to all, just for the asking.
But that is not the way of the world is it, people of God? We make distinctions every day, and every day we struggle with our prejudices and our preconceived notions about who people are, and what they are like. In that vein we have made terrible mistakes – mistakes that Jesus would not condone. We have made women and children second-class citizens, demonized the LGBT members of our communities, and mistreated our indigenous peoples.
At this time of Lent it is appropriate to lament the mistakes of the past, and to resolve to listen more closely to the words of Jesus the Christ who loves each one of us as if there were only one of us.
And we remember that Jesus was a man – a human being with all the characteristics each of us embodies. That means he had to heal himself first of the evil that resides within each of us, before he could begin the healing ministry that was to be his hallmark.
The story in our reading from the book of Luke this morning is of the temptation of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness as he prepared himself for his mission. The story we know would be quite different had he failed any of those tests.
I believe that every detail of the life of Jesus is loaded with meaning for those of us who try to follow him. We are tempted too. We must learn to fight temptation – the temptation to devalue our relationship with God – our spiritual nature. And the temptation to go along to get along – even in the face of clear wrong-doing.
We live from our wounds. Not only are we tempted, but we fail. We are beaten. We are guilty. We feel diminished or unloved or unloveable. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Until Jesus came, most people did not know the reality of God’s great love for us. We did not know that forgiveness and healing from guilt and self-hatred were there for us – indeed are our reality once we are able to accept the healing Jesus offers.
Through this season of Lent and on to Holy Week and Easter, we will journey with Jesus toward the cross, and the resurrection. May this be a journey of healing for each of us as we follow in his footsteps.
Hymn #358 VU “When Jesus the Healer”