You are my beloved and with you I am well pleased! Matt 3:17
This is the sentence of the Gospel that immediately precedes the story tonight….and I believe it sets the context for understanding the temptations.
Cosmologists…those scientists who study the origin and evolution of our universe they have pointed out a very important fact for us to consider. And it has theological and scientific impact. They say that the universe has no single center. But rather that the center is ubiquitous….it is everywhere, every place, every planet, every solar system, every molecule and every person.
And I believe each and every one of us already knew that. You see my friends, Faith tells us that what ultimately defines us and gives us our identity and our energy is the image and likeness of God in which we were created.
We are God’s blessed ones, we are the co-creators of this world, and in that we are uniquely essential to it as well. We are precisely what the Gospel said about Jesus…and subsequently about us…you are my beloved and with you I am well pleased. Deep down, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we nurse the secret of being special.
I believe that is not some egotistical tendency or a narcissistic ideology…it is I believe the holy congenital imprint on our soul.
We know, that deep down, we are not merely an accidental being, or conglomeration of star dust, that is nearly invisible on the evolutionary conveyor belt that is destined to flicker for a moment and then disappear forever.
We know we are more.
We feel timelessness, eternity and immortality, in our bones! You are my beloved and with you I am well pleased!
And yet the temptations that Jesus experienced are still being experience by each and every one of us as well. Life is constantly bombarding us with lies about who we are and how we are and what we are.
Yet this season of Lent and those words—you are my beloved— I hope those are the ones that we let ring louder in our lives than the message of the world. As we marked ourselves on Weds…we are dust…not just dust…but Holy Dust…destined, charged, and challenged to create Holy Moments. And yet the temptations of Jesus are still our temptations today as well. If you are so beloved….turn these stones to bread….In essence Satan says to us….if you are so beloved then why is your life so bland, boring
and predictable. Why is your life empty…Why are you poor, or struggling?
To which we may reply….
I may be bland, boring, predictable and even empty,
I may be poor, stuggling and tired…. and still be God’s blessed one. Being blest and special is not dependent on how full or how empty my life or my bank account is at any given moment…. it is dependent on me knowing I am loved by God.
Satan often says to us as to Jesus: Throw yourself down and the angels will bear you up. And Jesus basically says….no thanks Satan, I will walk down the stairs just like everyone else. It is in some ways like Satan says to us: If you are so special then why do you have cancer, or why are you sick or why did your family member die or why do you hurt mentally or physically?
And we say to Satan,…our blessedness….our holiness is not predicated on having VIP status or special privileges that set us apart from others. Just because we know we are blessed does not exempt us from all the painful realities of our lives. We are all children of God…we are all blessed and with us all God is well pleased.
Satan and the world say…if you worship me, all the kingdoms of the world will be yours. The taunt for us is often said….if you are so blessed and loved then why are you not famous? Why did you not get that promotion at work? Why did you not get that job you applied for? Why are you just a nobody that any one will ever know?
To which we can reply, our blessedness will never depend on fame or being a household name…we are loved beyond and above that shallow façade.
This Lenten season, is an opportunity to acknowledge that we have often lived in the lies that the world and that Satan have told us over and over again. Our faith says…you are loved, you are beloved and you are vitally important to this world. You have an obligation to be here, to live being the very best of yourself that you can be, because you are child of God.
I wonder what this season will be for us…Do we know we are loved? Or are we living into the temptation of Satan to believe that we are innocuous dust? I wonder…maybe you do too?
Merciful God, you created us from the Sacred Dust of the earth and
have breathed into us the very breath of life. May nothing take that
breath away from us. May this prayer tonight breathe even more life
into us, to ignite the flames of your love deep within us all. We lift this
prayer to you knowing you are One God forever and ever.
Prayer over the Gifts:
Loving God, in this bread and wine and the offerings here on our altar
and in our hearts all give testament to our profound love for you. As we
pray your blessing on these gifts may we be transformed by the
holiness of one another and challenged to live knowing that we are
your beloved and on us all, your favor rests. We ask this prayer in your
name, one God for ever and ever.
Gracious God, in you we live and move and have our being. The center
of every created thing is simply your profound creative love. Into the
temptations of our lives, we invite your abundant grace to remind us
over and over again that you are the breath that we still breathe. May
our voices share that blessing with our world. In your name we pray,
knowing you are One God forever and ever.