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Getting Out the WORD - the first sunday in lent
Written by Pastor Bob   
Thursday, 17 March 2011 17:41

the PRAYER. . .

Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us, and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with empty promises.  Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and restore us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING. . .

 

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. . . ." (matthew 4 . 1-11)

 

the DEVOTION. . .

 

Hollywood could have done it so much better. Flashes of lightening! Claps of thunder! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! Meteors!  Then, with a dramatic crescendo, from out of smoke and flame, steps the Tempter! It takes my breath away just thinking of what it could have been. Now, THAT would be a temptation!


Matthew, on the other hand. . . well. . . There’s not much to it. Quiet. Restrained. Not an exclamation mark anywhere. The ‘i’s are all dotted. ‘T’s crossed. A place for everything and everything in its place. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. . . .” It’s more an "inducement" than a real, honest-to-god temptation.


But, then, maybe Matthew knows something we don’t. Like when the times are that we’re most vulnerable! Or when the moments are that we’re most exposed! When we’re most likely take god – god and god’s gifts – most for granted! Maybe it IS when grammar is at its best and all the words are spelled correctly that temptation truly comes!


bob barndt, pastor

 
Getting Out the WORD - ash wednesday
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 00:00

the PRAYER. . .


Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent.  Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

the READING. . .


"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven."      (matthew 6:1-6 , matthew 6:16-21 )


the DEVOTION. . .


Add up Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - and it comes to nearly 4,000 verses!  Nearly 4,000 verses!  And, to be honest, I don't think I'll EVER figure out why we chose to read on this day the twelve verses we do !  There had to be a better passage than this!  Matthew 6 . 1-6, 16-21.  Sure, they echo the "discipline of Lent."  Self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love.  But they make it all sound so self-serving. . .  so mercenary. . .  Whatever we do, we do for the reward?  For what we get out of it?  For what's in our best interests?  "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward. . . ."  What kind of piety is that!?!

 

Nothing about sin. . .  about death. . .  about ashes. . .  Not a single word about any of the things that make this day this day. . .  Ash Wednesday isn't "getting what we deserve."  Lent isn't "getting what we earn."  It's getting what god wants to give!  It's receiving out of the greatness and the goodness of god's own heart!

Today, with a smudge, we remember that we are dust. . .  And with a cross, we are reminded that we are dust for which god is willing to suffer. . .  and to break. . .  and to bleed. . .  and to die. . .  no matter what our piety!

bob barndt, pastor

 
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