March 5, 2017
Matthew 4:1-11
Romans 5:12-19
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32

Walls and Temptations
Lent 1

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Mary Austin
In this week’s lectionary gospel reading, Jesus faces a time in the wilderness where he is repeatedly tempted by the devil. The temptations that are put before Jesus obviously appeal to the enduring human impulses toward power and greed -- but in the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Mary Austin notes that another common thread in the temptations is a siren call to our sense of self-righteousness... a trait that leads us to divide ourselves from one another as we judge others inferior to us. Moreover, Mary suggests, this tendency separates us from God, because it causes us to “put the Lord your God to the test” and comes between us and our trust in his provenance for our lives. Instead, Mary points out, Jesus’ example calls us to greater humility -- rather than the self-assurance that our society seems to readily reward. Here’s a preview:

Walls and Temptations
by Mary Austin
Matthew 4:1-11

Readers of the Fox News website may believe that construction of a border wall with Mexico has already started -- a headline the other day stated “Trump administration makes first tangible step to building border wall,” and was accompanied by a picture of an already existing structure. What has been built, each day of this new administration, is a border wall between Trump supporters -- who are pleased with the president -- and others who are afraid and angry. 

Trump himself seems determined to draw dividing lines between the people who support him and those who don’t. The president has been using the phrase “enemy of the people,” a relic of Stalin’s Russia, to attack the media in recent speeches. His staff also reportedly excluded critical news organizations from a White House press event.

In this time of high emotion, there are strong temptations for all of us. We come into Lent tempted by stony self-righteousness, which looks like filling bread for us. We see ourselves at the pinnacle of reason, and people with other beliefs as deeply flawed. The temptations to divide, label, and take refuge in our certainty are strong this Lent.  

These temptations offer us a refuge from all the uncertainty around us, but Jesus calls us in a different direction as Lent begins. He offers us a place of hungry humility instead, if we’re willing to go there....
Click here for the full installment.

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