Good morning folks!
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday and we observe the 6th and final Sunday in Lent.
Click here for a Palm Sunday worship resource for families.
Video #1- Sharing Congregational Gifts
Video #2 – Self-isolation Sunday School Songs
Video #3 – Pastor Paul’s message
Lenten Reflection 6: 40 Days – In the Wilderness (Luke 4:1-2)
On this sixth Sunday of our 40 day journey through Lent, we consider our sixth 40 day story from scripture: 40 Days – In the Wilderness
In Luke 4, we read these words:
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.
Today marks the final Sunday in Lent – only 6 days remain in our 40 day journey. It is also Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We find ourselves drawing nearer and nearer to the final days and hours of Jesus’ life. We are, perhaps, particularly weary from the journey this year. And, we enter into the commemoration and celebration of this familiar story of death and resurrection of Christ with hesitation because, despite our hope, we wonder how it will feel to walk this path towards the cross and the discovery of the empty tomb alone, in our homes, isolated from our community.
Our final 40 day story comes from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, not the end. The 40 days that Jesus spent, alone, in the wilderness. He fasted from food and water. He was tempted.
This year, we have all been called into the practice of fasting in a very real way. While many of us may not enter into this particular discipline of the Christian life very often, we have all been asked to give up certain aspects of our daily lives – to restrict our movements, our gatherings, our regular routines. When we abstain from certain things – when we fast – we feel the loss, deeply. Especially if we find ourselves fasting from the very things that nourish us and give us life.
When Jesus neared the end of his forty day fast in the desert, we are told he was famished – hungry, starved, ravenous. His physical reserves had been depleted and his body longed for food and drink. And, all throughout this progressively weakened state the enemy whispered in his ear – tempting him to feed himself, to worship falsely, to test God. Jesus resists this temptation. He relies on the word of God revealed in Scripture to guide him. He relies on the companionship of the Holy Spirit to direct him as he seeks to find his way through the wilderness.
Like Jesus, we may be feeling famished – longing for those things that we are fasting from. And, perhaps, we find ourselves tempted as well – to fill the void, to turn towards false worship, to put God to test to see if God’s care for us is real.
The burdens of these days are heavy. The fasts of these days are beginning to wear on each one of us. May we, like Jesus, seek guidance in Scripture and companionship in the Spirit. May we accept that this “forty day fast” will come to an end, and when it does, we will look back on what has sustained us and embrace that which nourishes us and gives us life with renewed appreciation and joy.
As we snuff out our final Lenten candle and enter into a time of silent reflection, ask yourself:
What might God be calling you to let go of, to pray for, or to give that will sustain you in the wilderness of fasting and temptation?
A prayer that was sent sent to the office from Dave & Marion (author unknown):
A Prayer in the Time of a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.