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                    St Clement Church Community First Sunday in Lent Service

                          

 

Good morning, Everyone

Welcome to our service on this the first Sunday in Lent.                                                                  Today’s Gospel reading is about Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. Temptation is something we all face at times, but it appears in different guises because we are all different and different things tempt different people. During this Lenten season may we not only follow in Jesus’ footsteps but also look at what temptations face each one of us and what they tell us about us as individuals.

With love                                                                                                                                                          Liz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Let us pray

Let us be still for a moment as we draw near to worship God … let us remind ourselves why we are gathered together today … Listen, God speaks even through the background noise of the world around us.

Lord God, in this short time of worship, open our ears and eyes to see your vision for our church and our part within it. Teach us, hear our prayers and enable us for service wherever you may take us, to your praise and glory.

Amen

Hymn:  393 Lead us heavenly Father, lead us

 A prayer of Penitence

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy                                                                                              Slow to anger and of great kindness.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins                                                                                   nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth                                                                                       so great is his mercy upon those that fear him.

Holy God                                                                                                                                                      holy and strong                                                                                                                                             holy and immortal                                                                                                                                               have mercy upon us.

As far as the east is from the west                                                                                                       so far has he set our sins from us.

As a father has compassion on his children                                                                                                so is the Lord merciful towards those who fear him.

Bless the Lord, O my soul                                                                                                                          and all that is within me bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul                                                                                                                           and forget not all his benefits.

Amen

Let us pray the Collect for First Sunday of Lent

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

Readings

Deuteronomy 26. 1 – 11                                                                                                                               Romans 10. 8b - 13

                                                                                                                                          Hymn: 420 O Jesus I have promised

Gospel of Luke 4. 1 - 13

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.                                                                                                         

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.                                                     He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.                                                                                                                                                          The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’                                                                                                                                     Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”’

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I please.                            If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’                                                                              Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you.’ And “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’                                                                                                                                     Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’          

When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

(This is the Gospel of our Lord      Response:    Praise to you, O Christ)                                                                                                        

Reflection

Today’s Gospel reading must be one of the most well-known readings for Christians. Jesus overcomes the temptations in the wilderness. He makes it possible for us to overcome our temptations. Be like Jesus and say ‘No!’

I wonder if that is how you see this story, if that is what you were taught or what you came to believe. It’s often a theme underlying Lent and a common approach for dealing with temptation in our lives. Just say ‘No!’ and if you can’t, try harder!

But, is it really that simple? Is that all there is to this story?

Jesus goes into the wilderness immediately after having been baptised. Remember what happens at His baptism? The heaven opens, the Spirit descends and the Father declares, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ The Father claims and identifies Jesus as his own, just as he does at each of our baptisms.

After His baptism Jesus enters the wilderness with the Father’s words echoing in His ears. His identity and relationship with the Father are a given before He goes, even before He faces or responds to the first temptation.  Whether Jesus says yes or no does not determine His sonship, His belovedness or that God is well-pleased. They already are the reality. Jesus can neither earn them nor lose them and neither can we.

 The temptations and struggles in the desert do not determine how God sees Jesus but how Jesus sees himself. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ begins the devil’s temptation of Jesus, It is less a yes or no question about making bread but more a question of Jesus knowing himself and knowing for himself.

In struggling with His temptations Jesus begins to know himself to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. The truth of His Father’s words is confirmed through the temptations in the wilderness. The truth no longer echoes in His ears but in His heart, in the depths of His being.

The temptations call forth in Jesus the confirmation of His baptismal identity and it is that identity by which Jesus overcomes the temptations. The devil fails but ‘he does good.’ The devil unwittingly tempts Jesus into knowing and experiencing the truth about himself; His sonship, His belovedness and His Father’s pleasure. Jesus’ identity and relationship with the Father is no longer only words spoken from heaven but a truth and reality experienced in the wilderness.

So, what is temptation? Is it a simple question of saying yes or no or could it be much more than that?

Could temptation be about learning more about us?

Could our response to temptation be more about a diagnosis than a judgement?

Could it be that temptation is necessary for our salvation, wholeness and restoration?

Could it be that instead of only asking what we will do with our temptations we should also be willing to ask what we are willing to let our temptations do with us?

Or, could it possibly be that temptations are the disguises for the good that the devil unwittingly does?

If we think about temptation in a much wider form, it offers a different way of engaging life and our faith. It tells a very different story about temptation than the just say no story. BUT, it neither changes nor distorts the story of Jesus in the wilderness. It IS the story of Jesus in the wilderness.

Our temptations, struggles and wilderness experiences offer an opportunity to become more whole, more integrated, more fully ourselves. That’s what they did for Jesus and it’s what they can do for us. We tend to focus on the person, thing or situation that is tempting us but it’s really about us. Our temptations say more about what is going on within us than what is happening around us. That’s why ‘just say no’ is an overly simplistic understanding of today’s Gospel reading and an inadequate response to temptation. Temptation is less about a choice and more about our identity and direction in life.

Who am I? Where is my life headed? We answer these questions every time we face and respond to our temptations.

Look at what tempts each one of us. What causes each of us to stumble and fall? Who are the people who push our buttons? Where do each of us get caught and trapped? What circumstances call forth a response other than the one each of us would like it to be? This is NOT about the people, situations or things. This is about each one of us and discovering what fills and directs our lives. What’s going on in each one of us? What does each of us see?

So, what if this Lent, we follow our temptations? I don’t mean we just say ‘Yes’ and give in to them. I don’t mean we just say ‘No’ and turn away from them. What if we follow the learning they offer us? Where would they take us? What would they give us?  They would give us back ourselves. They would return us to the truth of who we are, daughters and sons of God, beloved children with whom he is well pleased.                                                                                                               That’s the gift of temptation and the good the devil unwittingly does.

Amen                                                                                             

Affirmation of our Faith

Let us affirm our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God

Do you believe and trust in God the Father?                                                                                                        I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of the earth and heaven.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?                                                                            I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,                                                                                     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,                                                                                                   born of the Virgin Mary,                                                                                                                            suffered under Pontius Pilate,                                                                                                                      was crucified, died, and was buried;                                                                                                             he descended to the dead.                                                                                                                           On the third day he rose again,                                                                                                                    he ascended into heaven,                                                                                                                                he is seated at the right hand of the Father,                                                                                            and he will come judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?                                                                                           I believe in the Holy Spirit,                                                                                                                             the holy catholic Church,                                                                                                                                 the communion of saints,                                                                                                                                     the forgiveness of sins,                                                                                                                                the resurrection of the body,                                                                                                                            and the life everlasting.

Amen

Hymn:  333 All my hope on God is founded

 

Intercessions

Gracious God, you call us to worship today and remind us that Jesus refused the temptation to worship the evil one. Rather than receive the glorious kingdoms of this world, he endured first the time in the wilderness and ultimately the pain and suffering of the cross. Help us during our Lenten journey to fix our eyes on him and daily pick up our own crosses.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Almighty God, your Son Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world and their authority and splendour if he would worship the devil rather than you. Help those who govern and rule those nations today to resist the temptation to use evil, violent and corrupt ways to bring about their personal desires rather than ruling with justice, mercy and benevolence.

On this, the first Sunday in Lent, our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine; may they hold fast in their belief in the sovereignty and freedom of their country. We pray for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian forces and for peace.                                                                                           

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God, help us during this season of Lent to follow the teachings of Jesus. May we make time in our busy lives to pray, to offer the hand of friendship to strangers, to help those in need and to be more tolerant, patient, understanding of differences and loving as we follow in our Lord’s footsteps.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, friend of those in need, your Son Jesus can free us from our burdens and heal our bodies and spirits. We pray for those still burdened, those seeking healing, those in need within the church and the wider world. We pray for those who are lonely, those who feel threatened, those in despair and those who feel they have no one to turn to or who cares for them.

We remember before you members of our own community and those known to each of us. Ken and Diane, Margaret, Ollie, Brian, Helen and Roger, Daphne and Dave.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, we pray for all who have died, those known to us – we especially remember Julian today, those who have died in the conflict in Ukraine and in other war-torn countries and especially the innocent children. Give comfort and courage to those who are grieving for their loved ones.

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Give us, Lord, the blessings of a holy Lent, true journeying in Holy Week and a holy and glorious Easter. Give us time to receive your teaching and to amend our lives, give us faith to be open to the graceful filling of your Holy Spirit, and finally give us leave to come to your eternal joy.

Holy God, Holy and strong, Holy and immortal, have mercy on us.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us.

Our Father who art in heaven,                                                                                                      hallowed be thy name:                                                                                                                         thy kingdom come;                                                                                                                            thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.                                                                                        Give us this day our daily bread.                                                                                                  And forgive us our trespasses                                                                                                     as we forgive those who trespass against us.                                                                                   And lead us not into temptation                                                                                                   but deliver us from evil.                                                                                                                For thine is the kingdom                                                                                                               the power and the glory                                                                                                              for ever and ever.                                                                                                                                Amen.

 

The Temptation of Jesus by Yasmin Morgan

In the hot desert heat, Jesus’ sandals wore thin on his feet.                                                          Hungry, tired and in despair a nasty voice filled the air.                                                                    ‘If you’re really this hungry, turn these rocks into bread.’                                                                                                                But Jesus refused to the voice in his head.                                                                                         ‘Flee from me, Satan! I’m following God’s will!’                                                                             But again, he returned with a notion to kill.                                                                                     ‘Come on, be a man.                                                                                                                         Jump off this ledge, you know you can.’                                                                                          But again, Jesus returned with stately grace.                                                                                   ‘Turn away Satan, don’t show your face.’                                                                                           Satan scowled and hissed once more.                                                                                             ‘I will give you all the kingdoms of the world                                                                              if you will only follow me.’                                                                                                              And Jesus replied, ‘Stop your tirade, it’s nothing but a plea.                                                       You will NEVER defeat me.’                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

The Peace

God will speak peace to his people                                                                                                     to those who turn to him in their hearts.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Amen

 

Hymn:  413 Now thank we all our God

 

May the Father’s hand                                                                                                  keep us from stumbling,                                                                                                  the footprints of Jesus                                                                                                    give us confidence to follow,                                                                                                                 and the fire of the Spirit                                                                                                                    keep us warm and safe                                                                                                                           in our walk with God this day.

Blessing

Let us go

                                  

 

 

 

                                  

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 


Page last updated: 4th March 2022 3:06 PM