Psalm 51:1-12 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your
abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and
cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you
are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born
guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be
clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the
bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my
iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within
me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (NRSV)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He
fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and
said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of
bread." 4 But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6
saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so
that you will not dash your foot against a stone.' " 7 Jesus said to him, "Again
it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the
world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you
will fall down and worship me." 10 Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for
it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.' " 11 Then the devil
left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. (NRSV)
It seems like just last week we were singing Christmas Carols and we were. Yet, here
it is the first Sunday of Lent already. The first Sunday of a new season in
the life of the Church, the first Sunday to begin something new or give up something old.
We have just 40 days and 40 nights in which to prepare for Easter Sunday.
Jesus sets the example for us. He had been baptized by his cousin John and the holy
spirit came upon him and he had heard the voice of God saying this is my beloved
son, with whom I am well pleased. Jesus had received a special blessing. But right
after that the same spirit led him out to the wilderness for a bit of soul searching.
Jesus went into the wilderness to prepare himself for what was ahead.
Soul searching is what Lent is all about. Just like Jesus, we are all being sent into the
desert for the next 40 days and nights, to contemplate the direction of our lives We
are being asked to prepare for Easter Sunday by examining our hearts and our minds. We are
to walk in Jesus shoes, for just 6 short weeks. We are to live our lives, through
his life And maybe at the end of that time of soul searching we will have a real
sense of what Easter is all about.
Most of us avoid soul searching because it seems like such a dark and foreboding
task. To look deep into your soul can be threatening isnt it like the
wilderness, where the air is thick and its hard to see. You could be tripped up by
something that you dont see and dont want to see. Like anger or hatred or fear
So, most of us avoid that darkness, we would rather stay in our daily routine. We would
rather focus our attention of the demands that our lives put right in front of us, the
everyday basics. It makes us feel safe, we arent threaten by the unknown.
But how many of us really would say that our daily routines are enough. How many of us
would say that we are totally comfortable with our lives and who we are. How many of us
really feel safe and secure. Who among us would say that our relationship with God is just
as we want it, and who among us would say that their daily routine is enough to foster a
deeper relationship with God.
But wading through the muck and mire of the wilderness with Jesus, that dark and
foreboding unknown waiting to trip us. Is that what is required? Being trapped is a dark
and threatening place for 6 weeks? Is that what Lent is about? Is that the only route to a
deeper relationship with God?
I think we have made some assumptions about the wilderness. We see it as dark Jesus
lived his life in the middle east the wilderness that Jesus went into is the
The desert isnt dark and foreboding, it is warm and bright and sunny. The air is
fresh and clean, the sun sparkles as it hits the sand. And even though the desert is an
arid place flowers bloom abundantly with only a tiny bit of rainy encouragement
In the desert you can see where you are going, you wont get tripped up. In the
desert your soul can bask in the sunlight can be refreshed and gain strength. The
sun is so bright that there are barely any shadows it will feel secure. It is so
quiet in the desert, that you can hear Gods voice.
That Dark and foreboding place that is the wilderness of your daily life. That is
where you find the routines that dull your senses, the frustration of your busyness, the
struggles that overwhelm you the fears that hold you back, the anger that keeps you
The desert of soul searching is a sunny place where the littlest bit of rain produces
growth. The wilderness of our daily life is a place where spiritual growth is stunted by
the darkness of daily worries.
Jesus went into the desert and what did he find? The shadows were lifted and he began to
understand. He could see clearly who he was how he was to relate to God. Why - it
was so quiet that he could hear Gods voice. Jesus discovered his strength and his
trust in God, He came to terms with his love for God. He heard again the words of
scripture, commanding him to love and worship God. He discovered that he could resist any
temptation for the sake of that relationship.
Jesus made a conscious decision to go into the desert he wasnt pushed or
pulled along he was led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus must have known that during his
ministry he would face many challenges and temptations. The only way he would be able to
resist and overcome them was to find a personal and immediate connection with God. He
followed the holy spirit into a time of soul searching and self-reflection, and his soul
was renewed and strengthened.
During lent you have the opportunity to walk in Jesus footsteps and follow the holy
spirit into the desert. You are invited into a time of personal reflection and soul
You are invited to be renewed to gather your strength. You are invited to a warm
and sunny place, that will allow for great growth. You are invited to find out who you
really are A person of great integrity A person of courage and strength -
who can resist any temptation - A person loved by God.
It is your decision stay in the darkness or follow the holy spirit into the light.
It is a pivotal decision your life depends on it.
Lent is the time to step out of the dark and deafening routine of life. The time has come
to go out into the sunshine of the desert, to see the beauty of your soul, to hear the
wonder of Gods voice. What will you decide to do with the next 40 days and 40
nights? Will you be prepared for Easter? Amen.