First Sunday in Lent
In teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus shares this: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (or as the NRSV version of Matthew 6:13 states, “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one”). Yet in our Gospel reading this Sunday we hear how Jesus was led up into this time of temptation by the very Spirit of God to whom we pray. Did God lead Jesus into these trials and temptations? While we pray and often try to live so that we ourselves are not led into such times, what purpose could the Spirit have for Jesus to face those three very human temptations and trials: hunger, mortality, and power?
In her recent book Grounded, Diane Butler Bass, who has written passionately about the twenty-first-century church’s changes, notes a shift in many believers’ understanding of God. Rather than a deity that is removed and above the world, Bass sees our contemporary connection to faith as a connection to a God in our midst, a God who grounds us, much as Acts 17:28 suggests, “a God in whom we live and move and have our being.”
If this is so, perhaps this God brings Jesus into the very stuff of life where God is already present. God is present in our need for daily bread, our struggle with mortality and the cliffs of life, and our desires for power (over the kingdoms of the world). Yet it is important to note that God brings Jesus into this time not to leave him there alone, but to walk with him through the trials and bring him through the temptations. So, if our path takes us into the wilderness, let us look for a God grounded in the struggles, temptations, and trials we face, and let us remember that we are never left to face these alone.
Janel Rice, pastor, Calvary Moravian Church