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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: The First Temptation of Christ Edition

I have not read Reframing Hope yet, but it's on the top of my to-read-asap stack. Having checked out the discussion yesterday, I'm wondering how/if those of you have read it are taking the the wisdom of the book with you into the next 40-days-plus-Sundays. In other words, as you accompany Christ through the sometimes difficult days of this Lenten season, what gives you hope?

We are leaping the lectionary (instead of leaning into it, I guess) at my church this week, and beginning Lent with an exploration of the 23rd Psalm. As we follow Jesus into the desert these next 40 days, we will be meditating on these words and how they have resonance for us any time we walk through a dark and seemingly lonely place. How about you? Which of these texts is calling you? The first temptation of the Earth Creatures? The first temptation of Christ? Or Paul trying to make sense of it all?

Also, would love to hear your Ash Wednesday ideas/traditions. We are having an acapella service this year for the first time, and the simplicity and perhaps starkness of voices alone seem like a fitting way to enter the season.

Finally, any particular themes, spiritual practices or intentions leading you and/or your flock into the season? The comments are open.

Fascinating art (who IS that child anyway?) found here. Links to texts for this week here.


  1. My preferred reading of Jesus in the Wilderness is that he is on a spirit-quest, a time of discernment about who he is called to be. COincedentally, I think this is the key question in the church today--who are we called to be (as individuals, congregations, communities...). And what tempts us away from living into that call?

    It also strikes me that some similar questions around identity can be found in the Genesis passage.

    My early thoughts can be found here

  2. Good thinking, Gord. I know you think of these as your early thoughts, but really, that seems like a pretty decent sermon (or outline at least) as is. Love the idea of the church being on a spirit quest!

  3. I am holding onto Chrysostom's hermeneutic principle for unpacking the Gospel stories -- all of them -- that in each we are to look for "plots" (that is, agendas) and "temptations" because every story is another temptation of Christ.
    Some of them are more obvious than others. And Chrysostom most truly had "a Byzantine mind." But I've found the approach very fruitful. And it segues nicely into one discernment tool (among many).

  4. I've never preached the temptation in the wilderness, so I'm sort of excited about that. My very early (but not written down like Gord's) thoughts are also about identity as children of God and the things that pull us away from our true identity. I was also going to pair this with Genesis, another one I've never preached.

    The rest of Lent I'm going to stick with the gospel stories of "Encounters with Jesus" so I might see if that theme can give me a new angle on this one, too. I'm not too worried about that, though. I'm OK with treating this week more as the intro into Lent in general and then the next weeks as the meat of the season. More later afte I ponder.

  5. A blessed Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday to the RevGals! I'm happy to be back at blogging after a good but intense stretch of events and travels. I'll be posting art and reflections regularly at The Painted Prayerbook throughout Lent--have an Ash Wednesday reflection there and will be offering something for the Lent 1 gospel lection shortly. The imagery of Jesus in the liminal, threshold-y space of the wilderness always grabs me, and I love the brief but beautiful detail of how the angels come to minister to him in that place.

    This will be my fourth journey through Lent at The Painted Prayerbook, so I'm curious to see what new treasures I'll find in the Lenten landscape. I'm also doing something new this season--posting Lenten reflections at my Sanctuary of Women blog. I would be delighted to have your company at either or both places during this season!

    Many blessings to you during the coming days, and may angels attend you in the wilderness and beyond.

  6. Jan, thanks for the Fat Tuesday reminder. Is it too late for pancakes?

    Great ideas, folks. Keep 'em coming...

  7. One year I was able to use a beautiful photo of a mosaic pavement...with Jesus and the "wild beasts"...the idea was the recapitulation of the Eden experience, the animals all lined up to be renamed and given their proper could work with that quite a bit!

  8. Thanks, Juniper--definitely not too late for pancakes! My husband and I have a pancake date tonight...

  9. I'm going to use this video somehow.

    I'm thinking about how the wilderness weighs on him over the course of 30+ days, how the crap of life ways on us and makes us so much more susceptible to temptation, to forgetting whose we are and letting that be enough (more than enough really). Then temptation/the Temptor comes and offers a false way out of the wilderness, false hope, false power, false nourishment, false safety, false identity ("IF" you are the Son of God when his version isn't right).

    Rejecting the temptation is, a la David Lose on Working Preaching, lodging our identity in God.

    What I need to work on the most, I think, are identifying the real life ways we are tempted tocreate our own identity instead of letting ourselves be identified as God's children. I think. Still working.

  10. I like this! I haven't been working on Sunday yet, since I want to get Ash Wednesday done first, but I really like where you're going with this.

  11. this week we have the baptism of 2 year old twins, and a golden wedding anniversary of a couple in the congregation, so lots of visitors expected. I usually look at Lent as a whole, but that hasn't happened yet, and I think I will need to look at this week on its own, then look for Lenten theme for this year.
    thinking of including the Baptism of Jesus as well as the Temptations - and look at identity. am wondering about identity theft, which is what the tempter was trying to do to Jesus.

    the verification word is hating - it feels like a bad omen, now it has given me a new one! realach

  12. I'm going back to the basics this week and talking about sin. That's what struck me most reading the texts. It seems appropriate for the beginning of lent.

    I'm typically preach from one text,but I am going to try my hand at preaching from all texts. Temptation in the garden, temptation in the wildnerness and how Paul connects the two - looking at how sin is treating "God as less than God" (from the Interpretation commentary).

    At this point, it looks like this will be the only Sunday in Lent I am preaching. In my search for a first call, I've been reassigned to a new synod (South Dakota). My lenten journey will include getting to know a new place and hopefully a new congregation.

  13. Hello RevGals,

    I used to be a member over on my old site Pilgrim Blogs Progress.

    I have a new site now and would like to renew my membership. I have been away from blogging for a while but I am back now - I have missed you!


    Sharon Guy

    PS tried to use the email link but my email didnt recognise it.

  14. I am excited to finally be less overwhelmed by church, and able to participate in sermonizing on Tuesday! I mostly stopped by to make sure you all had seen the beautiful video about Jesus in the wilderness, but SheRev already posted it. Some early writing about how I'm using it (and connected to Ash Wednesday) are up at my place.


  15. I love that video! I'm doing all 3 services this Sunday; for two of them, I preach a "regular" sermon, and one is family/kid friendly. I need to watch it again to be sure, but I think the video will stand on its own for the latter; there are layers of images to capture the imagination of all ages...which is quite amazing, given how simple it is. As for the others, I think I'll be going with the identity question as well (one I ask myself very often). Thanks for all the ideas here that have gotten me going on this!

  16. We are doing a series we're calling "Choices on the Way"--each week looking at places or times when people had to discern whether to go forward or back (or somewhere else!) because they could not stay where they were. We've put a huge crossroads signpost in the sanctuary, and each week the signs will change, with the opposite direction arrows having the words we are using to describe the story. This week it's Genesis 2/3 (the garden) and the words are Entrance and Exit. We're thinking about how the choice to eat from the tree is both an entrance AND an exit...and leads to other possibilities and choices down the line.
    Next week is Genesis 12 (go, Abram, go!) and the words are Familiar and Unknown. You get the idea. There are footprints all over the sanctuary walls, taking random's very cool.
    anyway, the series goes off lectionary after next week so I'll be all alone out there in non-lectionary land. But the liturgy we're writing for these may be useful to can find them at

  17. I've been following Tuesday Lectionary Leanings as I prepare entries for So it is only fair to share back. I just watched the video, twice make that three times, and really like it. But, you do have to know the story to "get it." So if you show it, especially if you show it to children, I'd tell the story and wonder with other worshipers what those 40 days were like. THEN show the video.

  18. Hi Carolyn, good to see you! I have often checked out and appreciate your blog - keep up the great work.


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