Worship at Home for Sunday, March 6, 2022

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent. Join us in prayers for the mending of the broken places in our lives and our community.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Dorcas Monday at 7pm.
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Lent Prayer Worship at 6:30 on Wednesday
  • Chancel Choir practice after Lenten Worship
  • Flower orders are due by March 21

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16,
Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13

 

 

Sermon: Temptation and Testing

How many of us like taking tests? Honestly, most of us do not. My late husband used to joke that he liked being tested. He would say I want to be tested so that I can show how well I mastered the material and just how smart I am. Okay genius, it is good to know that you can solve complex mathematical problems better and faster than anyone else. Congratulations on your A’s. For him this sort of testing was an ego boost.

Then came another kind of testing which he dreaded. Those words, “This may be cancer. Let’s run some tests to find out.” This conversation with his doctor lead to a series of tests that he passed in very bad way. Yes, you have cancer. Yes, it is the worst type of cancer. Yes, it has spread to your lungs etc. This led to more trials and tests. He hated these tests. These tests led toward the hardest time in his life and mine.

Jesus is being tempted and tested in the Gospel lesson today. These temptations and test are given by everyone’s least favorite test giver, the devil. Think back on the worst worded exam questions that you have ever had. The questions that left you wondering which answer was the right one. Sometimes in a test more than one answer looks right. The devil phrases the questions to make it appear that the right answer is the wrong one.

Life is filled with questions. We need the Holy Spirit, a strong prayer life, community, and knowledge of scripture to guide us to the right answers. As humans we often get the answers wrong. Fortunately, God is willing to allow us to make corrections. Those corrections might take a long time to make. The Hebrew people had to wander in the desert for 40 years to make right the wrong answers they made when Moses was on the mountain. Deuteronomy 26 has a liturgy that the people were to recite when presenting the first fruits of their harvest in the new land. Thanksgiving, offerings, and celebration are one answer to the question what we (the Hebrews) are to do when we have settled in our new land.

Now you might be asking today how did we get from story of the Transfiguration last week to the story of Jesus being tested and tempted? I wonder how we know the temptation story, since there are no witnesses. The Transfiguration was witnessed by Peter, James and John who heard the voice from the cloud saying that Jesus was God’s Son.

The time of desert happened before the disciples were called. Jesus had just been baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan. Then according to Luke while Jesus was praying the Spirit dove out heaven and filled Jesus. Then Jesus heard, “You are my Son, whom I love: with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) These words were for Jesus only. I wonder what questions Jesus had about this news. Do you think Jesus told Peter, James, and John about his baptism and time in the wilderness as they walked down the mountain, since Peter, James and John were now in the know about Jesus’ identity?

Did Jesus explain about the testing that he experienced? Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit enters the wilderness for 40 days of prayer and fasting. (These 40 days remind us of the 40 years spent in the wilderness by the Hebrews.) During these 40 days the devil questioned, tested and tempted Jesus. To make matters worse, Jesus was very hungry. So, the first test of temptation was to turn stones to bread. Then power over the nations in exchange for bowing before the devil. Finally, temptation was to test God’s care for Jesus. Through prayer, the Holy Spirit and knowledge of scripture Jesus passed these tests, but the devil would be back.

Have you ever been through a time that the testing and temptation felt relentless? A series of medical tests and procedures that would not stop. Times in life when things just keep going wrong like an old country song filled with tales of loss and woe. A time of your own wilderness journey. What temptations did you face?

One temptation is to believe that no one cares, not even God. There is often a temptation to hide from others and break relationships. When the fabric of our lives feels completely torn asunder, then it is time to remember that Jesus’ has been there too. That other people have walked lonely valleys of trials and temptations. We need to remind ourselves that God cares and so do other people. We need to reach out in love to mend the hurt and broken pieces of our lives.

When we are tested is the time to look for the promises of God. Deuteronomy begins with a promise of harvest after the 40-year journey through the wilderness. There will be fruit in this land. There will be celebration. There will be hope. These fruits of hope are to be presented to God with a spirit of worship, thanksgiving, and prayer. Then there will be celebration with everyone. Yes, everyone the aliens, the Levites, all who reside in the land will unite in celebration.

So, when we are tested and tempted, it is time to recall the promises of God. To remember that Jesus was tempted too. Jesus is and will be with us when we are tempted. Jesus can restore our relationship with God and with one another so that all may celebrate together at the end of the wilderness journey.

 

Prayer: God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, to You we give thanks. Give us the strength to get through the tests and temptations we face. Help us to restore the broken relationships in our lives. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Porter and the family of Anne Pletz who passed this week, for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.

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