This week we have moved into Lent, I hope you managed to get your pancakes on Tuesday and I know that many of you received ashes on Wednesday. So now in Lent a time of fasting in the church calendar, are you giving something up or do something extra. I know when I was teaching this was a time when we did a lot of charity work, others try hard to give up chocolate or cakes. But it is also a time to get closer to God and the Church of England has published a booklet Engaging Justice, to guide us through prayer and discussion throughout this season. These can be obtained at church or by whoever delivers this service to you. We have had to buy them so a donation towards the cost would be appreciated. We have many Lent groups throughout the team on different days of the week, so if you would like to attend any of these the details are as follows: – Monday St Maxentius – 1.30pm, Tuesday St. James – 6.15pm, Wednesday Christ Church – 11am, Thursday St Peter’s 7.30pm.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
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.
THE NEW TESTAMENT READING
But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord
LUKE 4. 1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the 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 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 the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
On this the first Sunday of Lent, traditionally we reflect on the “Temptations” of Jesus – his confrontation with the devil. The devil offers short-cuts for Jesus, magic up some food – why go hungry? The offer of all the kingdoms of the world (if you just worship the devil – that is change side completely); do great feats of showmanship both to prove to yourself and presumably to others. At this point Jesus point-blank says “don’t test God – and the implication is that we accept the mystery of God.
In a world where we see power apparently triumphing, where war has come again to Europe, (though it has ravaged Asia and Africa for decades) this description of the confrontation that Jesus faced both on this occasion but as Luke astutely points out it would come back – “If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross and save yourself” – this episode is so important for us.
We want Jesus to step in and demonstrate his power – show he is more powerful than the Romans or the Russians or whoever. We want the problem solved and sorted, and the devil’s preference for force is ok. Crush the enemy! We want a miracle-working Super-hero God for a time like this. We don’t want a Jesus-asleep-in-a-boat God.
And for Jesus the offer of these short-cuts would save him hunger, opposition and crucifixion. The devil claimed he could give him the kingdoms of the world – but note, not the Kingdom of God.
And we struggle sometimes with the idea of a devil or the devil. The Bible is very sparing in what it says. What we glimpse is a real power, at work, even able to control the world, but utterly antagonistic to the way of God’s love. Elsewhere Paul will talk of powers and principalities; some might note the negative destructive energy which is in all of us, and can overrun us, as well as the awful power of a mob or a group or a nation set on a way of aggression, where other human beings are of no worth – where the death of others is a small thing compared to the acquisition of the land or the power or ..
When we see ruthless invasions, when we hear of brutal dictators, when we know that the rich are more concerned to keep their wealth than help the needy, then we get some sense of evil – it is the opposite of God’s path, but it is also found in those who pass by on the other side, who are apathetic for change because it might cost us, who have become so compromised that we have lost sight of right and wrong.
Thank God that Jesus confronted this challenge and chose the way of the Cross that leads to God’s Kingdom, not the way of power and imposition. Which way do we choose?
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by 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, and is seated on the right hand of the Father; he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
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.
In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world
Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land. Bless the leaders, Guard the people, Guide us in our future. May we share the gospel in word and deed and bring glory to your name.
Lord bless our churches we pray
Lord God we pray for our community We pray for our schools, the children and staff.We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others. We pray for Councillors and carers;
Lord bless our community we pray
Lord God we pray for our nation. May our leaders lead with integrity and justice. Give them wisdom and direct their decisions. We pray that ours may be a nation where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped and where all may flourish.
Lord bless our nation we pray
Lord God, we pray for our world, for the war-torn places, we pray for peace; we pray particularly for Ukraine and all those affected by war and violence. We pray that all may work together to alleviate need and to protect this world for future generations
Lord bless our world we pray
Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit. We pray for those we know, .. and those who have no one to pray for them. We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve; From our book of remembrance we pray for those whose anniversaries fall at this time; Susanna Humphreys and Donald Preistley, We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul
Lord bless the sick we pray
accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
God give us grace to grow in holiness, to deny ourselves, to take up your cross and follow you. May the blessing of God almighty the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always. Amen.