The Scripture Readings this week are:
- Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
- Matthew 4:1-11
The Sermon title is Who am I?
Early Thoughts: What is the story of Jesus in the wilderness about? Is it about resisting? About obedience? About self-exploration?
Yes. It is about all those things. In fact, both passages are about all of those things and probably more too -- Scripture passages rarely have one meaning or even one set of meanings).
One of the developmental tasks we all have to do in life is figure out who we are (and who we want to be). One of the developmental tasks in the life of faith is to add a third question -- who is God calling us to be? Is God calling Jesus to be a feeder of the hungry? A miracle worker? A leader/ruler of the nations? Who is Jesus meant to be?
Jesus knows that he is meant to be NONE of these. All three have potential. All three could be attractive (otherwise they would not really be called temptation would they?). But Jesus is clear that he is meant to be someone different. And so he rejects and refutes all that the tempter has to offer.
So who are WE called to be? What temptations get in our way? Is one the temptation to be independent, not needing God? The story of Adam and Eve seems to suggest this archetypal temptation is part of our nature. Is one the temptation to believe that we know better than those who give us advice? Is one the temptation to focus on the wrong thing/person/activity?
It is my belief that we can read the story of Jesus in the wilderness as a type of Spirit-Quest. Many cultures in human history have had a practice where a child who is about to enter adulthood goes on some sort of Spirit-Quest to learn who he or she is. For Children's Time this week we will hear one story of this type of event. I believe Jesus goes out from his baptism to explore who he is and who is will be.
Do we need our own Spirit Quests? How do we stop and listen for the voice of God (either directly or through the tempter) guiding us to determine who we are meant to be?