Watching for the morning of March 9
The First Sunday in Lent
Adam and Jesus. The old Adam and the new. Failure and faithfulness. Death and Life. The First Sunday in Lent each year takes us to the narrative about the testing of Jesus in the wilderness. In the background of that great struggle to tear down the one God had declared his “Beloved Son” stands the narrative of our first parents who blithely abandoned the tree of life, trusting the word of the serpent rather than the voice of God.
And so death entered the world. Humanity reached for divinity and grasped mortality. Our access to the tree of life was closed by angels bearing flaming swords. With the door shut behind us, the path before becomes one of fratricide and murderous revenge; labor in childbirth and sweat in the fields. Life comes to hang on the thin thread of crops and the eternal struggle with weeds. The relationship between men and women is distorted. Angelic beings sleep with human women, crossing boundaries that ought not be crossed. And suddenly the floodgates of heaven are opened to wash the world clean.
But it is not made clean. Humanity resists God’s call and command. They build a tower rather than go forth to tend and people the world. Empires rise and, with empires, slavery. Hunger drives the Egyptians to sell all their lands to the crown – and clever Joseph’s descendants who came as honored guests are turned to slaves. Humanity created in the image of God become beasts of burden and beastly overlords.
God help us.
And so there is Moses and Sinai and the prophets speaking of a new path. And then there is faithful David who one day lets others do the fighting and stays home to steal a wife (and hide it with murder). It is downhill from David. Assyria. Babylon. Persia. Greece. Rome. Empire after empire claiming the faith and allegiance of the people, taking their sons and daughters and lands and crops. And the world becomes sweatshops and death camps and slavery and human carnage. East of Eden.
Until that child is born. Until that man walks out into the wilderness and the devil cannot defeat him. His trust in God is not broken. He remains faithful. The new Adam/ the new Man – the truly human one. Ever united to the will of God. Ever governed by the Spirit of God. Whom empire would crush but cannot crush, for God opens the grave. He is the beloved one. He is the rebirth of humanity. He is the dawning reign of God.
15For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.
19For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5)
It is why we journey towards Easter, why we seek to live into Easter, why “if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation.”
The Prayer for March 9, 2014
Almighty God, Holy and Faithful,
who guided Israel in the wilderness,
and sustained Jesus in the days of his testing:
uphold us in our times of trial.
Strengthen us by your Word
and empower us with your Spirit
that, standing in Christ,
we may share in his perfect faithfulness
The Texts for March 9, 2014
First Reading: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – With his question, the serpent disrupts the simple trust Adam and Eve had in God, and they seek to be “like God” knowing what is noble and what is not.
Psalmody: Psalm 32
“Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” – The poet celebrates the forgiveness of God, describing the corrosive power of unacknowledged sin – and the liberating power of God’s mercy.
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19
“Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” – Paul contrasts Adam and Christ. Through Adam sin entered the world and with sin death. In Christ, grace now governs and with grace, life.
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Having been honored by God’s declaration that he is God’s beloved son, the demonic spirits test that claim, trying to show Jesus unworthy of the acclaim. But Jesus shows himself the faithful son. Where Israel showed themselves faithless in the wilderness, Jesus remains faithful.