Lent, a Few Temptations, and a Challenge

2012-10-05 15.51.53As we begin the season of Lent I have a challenge for us all based on the temptations Jesus faced. Satan tempted Jesus with the things we are all tempted by – appetite, control, and power. Of course, Jesus was able to resist these temptations and Satan left him alone “until an opportune time.” We live in a global wilderness. There is no place where uncontrolled appetites don’t ruin lives, the need for control does not oppress many, and a drive for power doesn’t destroy countless people. We are all susceptible to these temptations to one extent or another – as individuals and as faith communities.

So here is my challenge in response to these three temptations.  Don’t think about giving anything up. Instead, for the duration of Lent, commit yourself (individually and/or as a congregation) any or all of the following. Or come up with your own way of facing these temptations and strengthening your faith.

Uncontrolled appetite – Create Healthy Practices

Individual –

  1. Commit to a healthy change (join a gym, a Bible Study, a support group)
  2. Volunteer (in a shelter, at a hospital, in a library, helping an elderly neighbor)
  3. Spend some time every day “unplugged” (start with 10 minutes and see if you can get up to an hour of time without radio, TV, internet etc.)

Congregation –

  1. Do something new in worship each week (music, prayers, décor)
  2. Start or participate in a “hands-on” local mission (shelter, soup kitchen, other local need)
  3. Begin or continue a daily Bible Study or prayer time (gather together for this or members commit to it on their own)

Need for control – Accept and Celebrate Your Strengths

Individual –

  1. Try something new every day (a new food, a new walking route, a new game)
  2. Explore a new spiritual practice (journaling, painting, baking – anything that will center you and connect you with a sense of balance and well-being)
  3. Write a daily affirmation about yourself and your life

Congregation –

  1. Replace committee meetings with a time to worship together
  2. Celebrate your current identity and strengths as a congregation
  3. Worship in a different space (try visiting another congregation, make a change to your current worship space, worship outdoors)

Power – Opening Yourself to Possibility

 Individual –

  1. Start a daily gratitude journal where at least one thing each day has to be        something that you have not yet expressed gratitude for
  2. Forgive yourself or someone else; make amends if possible
  3. Learn a new skill or hobby

Congregation –

  1. Try beginning worship with individuals expressing their own gratitude (We do this in the hospital chapel services and it is a great lead in to lighting the Christ candle in gratitude, in invitation, in celebration)
  2. Let go of something that no longer meets a need
  3. Plan something new for the celebration of Easter

RCL – Year C – First Sunday in Lent – February 17, 2013

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

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