Sunday, February 17, 2013

1st Sunday in Lent - No Pain, No Gain!

As we enter into the season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert: 40 days of self-emptying, 40 days of self-examination, 40 days of reflection - on not only of our past life, but of our life to come.

In our frailty, our human-ness – we all fall down.  We all sin in “what we have done and what we have failed to do.”  But in our faith, - in our trust in the power and mercy of God – we return to the Lord and seek reconciliation with Him and with all our brothers and sisters.  For we believe in the Lord.  We trust in Jesus.  We seek salvation in God’s love through his Son, Jesus Christ, to whom he gave all power and honor and glory.

Jesus is our Lord, our Good Shepherd who “leads us into green pastures” and “beside still waters.”  It is through Him that we find salvation.  It is in Him that we see the perfection of God’s love.  It is with Him that we journey into the Kingdom of God and Life Eternal.  He is our Alpha and our Omega, our beginning and our end.  And it is in this that we declare that Jesus Christ is Lord!

We remember that at the Jordan, God spoke, saying, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.”  God’s claim of Jesus as His Son was a challenge to the spirits of evil.  Satan needed to tear down this Divine Declaration; to take away the credibility of Jesus and thereby show the fallibility of God: To prove that Jesus was powerless, dis-honorable and disgraced – un-worthy of the title, Son of God.

As we see in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus met each of these challenges and overcame the temptations of the devil.  He proved the he was the Power, the Honor and the Glory of God – worthy Son of the Father.

God’s promise to us of Life Eternal in His heavenly Kingdom is not without pain or suffering as we see in Jesus’ suffering.  As we each declare that Jesus is Our Lord and Savior, we also challenge the spirits of evil. 

Satan tests each of us - for the strength of our conviction - as believers in Jesus Christ.  It is only through the Love of God and our Trust in Jesus - that we meet these challenges – these temptations – that seek to turn us away from God’s ever present Love and Mercy.

·         When we meet hardship, pain and suffering in this life – do we seek to offer our suffering up to God: to find comfort in His Love?  Or do we turn our back on God; accusing Him of failing us, doubting His Love for us by allowing us to suffer and feel pain?

·         Are we tempted by the fleeting things of this world that seek to possess us and make us slaves or do we cast aside the distractions of this world to seek Peace in the Kingdom of Everlasting Life? 

·         Are we impatient for our reward by seeking power and glory in this world?  Or is God’s grace sufficient for us?  Is it His love we seek - to sustain us as we await the heavenly Kingdom or is it power and glory in this world that fills our desires? 

·         Do we yearn to “Lord it over others” or do we love others with the same love of God, - as we are loved; seeking to lift one another up as His precious children?

·         Is it God’s love that fills us and satisfies all our needs or is it the need for immediate gratification that brings us true happiness?

Unlike Jesus, who was given all honor, power and glory, – we are flawed and fragile beings - needing the Love of God to lift us up and hold us in His embrace: 
·         In the Father’s Love - we find Forgiveness and Mercy for our failings and sins
·         In His Son, Jesus, - we seek strength and courage to resist temptations
·         In His Spirit, - we are filled and sustained by His grace
So we might be saved: to Live with Him in Peace for ever and ever. ~ Amen

Deacon Don Ron

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