Epping Anglicans. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Ever a key Lenten theme. Guilt over yielding to temptation and guilt over successfully resisting it. Such easy comfort. I could slide into ill discipline, avoid the challenge of resisting temptation and call Lenten fasting merely a medieval hangover. But as I learned more about faith and personal responsibility, I realised all that was a cop-out. Temptation, Lent, and fasting had to be explored. I soon learned that early Christians might have fasted for forty hours between Good Friday and Easter but forty days of self-denial and prayer were unknown until very much later.
Related Sermon Illustrations
Background: See my explanation of our Lenten Series for the outline and plan. I hope those of your reading this blog have figured out that many people have their fingerprints on it. Love me some crazy! This post here has all the Sunday sermons for the series. Our point is to mark this Lenten Season as a time to set aside the important things we will need for the big, joyful, mysterious celebration of Easter so that we will be ready and new and special on that day. I know that you all know about Easter. Easter is a big, bright, joyful special day. We say Alleluia! This big celebration is coming but it is not Easter yet. We are now in the time before Easter.
I wonder what your response would be if the same question were posed to you as was posed to the disciples. Who do people say that I am? Who do people say that Jesus is? Some people who are troubled by the Christian faith or antagonistic probably characterize Jesus as a purveyor of judgment and condemnation.
I am so honored to be standing before you today, this third Sunday in Lent. So, here I am. And I am going to challenge myself by attempting to connect the dots between the reading from Exodus—the Ten Commandments—with the Gospel passage in which Jesus rants in the temple in Jerusalem. And I hope to do this under the theme St. James has taken on for this Lenten season: Listening. That is listening to God, listening to Jesus, listening to each other, and listening to ourselves.