The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Introduction to the readings for Lent 1, Sunday, March 5, 2017

The season of Lent begins with stories about testing and trusting.  In our first reading, we are plunged into the story of the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve are given clear instructions about what is needed for them to be safe.  Listen with care to how these familiar words speak to your heart on this first Sunday in the season of repentance, reconciliation, renewal, and risk.

Genesis 2: 15-17; 3: 1-7

“The tree of knowledge of good and evil”

“The Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you shall eat of it you shall die.”

Continuing on in Chapter three, verses 1-7: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’ 

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Here ends our first reading from the ancient texts.  

Let us continue to ponder its meaning as we share together in the responsive psalm.

 

Psalm 32 (VU 759) “Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven”

 

Our gospel reading for this morning comes from the author of the book of Matthew.   In keeping with the theme of journey during Lent, Jesus enters into the serious work of refining his trust in God as he comes to terms with his desert landscape and its ensuing challenges.  Listen deeply for what draws you in as we listen again to another well-known conversation from scripture.

Matthew 4: 1-11

“The temptation of Jesus”

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 

But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan!

For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.”

 

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Our sung response to the reading is found at VU 23 “Joy Shall Come”