9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
Collect for the First Sunday in Lent
Book of Common Prayer, traditional version
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan: Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, contemporary version
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Last week on Ash Wednesday the Church's year of grace segued into the season of Lent. "Lent," an old English word for springtime, refers to lengthening days. If you're a musician, you know the tempo lento is broad and slow.
Lent was one of the church's earliest observances, beginning with only a few days, gradually expanding into the current forty. Churches that observe the Three Days-Triduum – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter – generally count Lent from Ash Wednesday through Wednesday in Holy Week; others go from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday evening. Because every Sunday is a festival of resurrection, Sundays are in Lent but not of Lent.
Lent emphasize repentance, with somber purples and lavenders Lent's typical colors. Lent also focuses on baptism; just as with baptism, the turn your life around, penitent aspect of Lent is about living bathed in grace as we confess sins and shortcomings, then move in a new direction. Traditionally Lent has been a time of preparation for baptism during the Easter Vigil on Easter Eve or very early Resurrection Sunday morning. Lent is a season for those of us already baptized to remember how in grace God claims us, names us Christian, and in the power of the Spirit sends us into the world to live as good news for all creation.
Today's Gospel Reading
Every lectionary year (A–Matthew, B–Mark, and C–Luke) the gospel reading for the first Sunday in Lent is Jesus' testing by Satan, who traditionally is the prosecuting attorney in Judaism. Every year! This event is that important!
This year's reading from Mark begins with Jesus' baptism we discussed on January 10th. We need to remember Jesus did not receive our trinitarian baptism into his death and resurrection, yet his baptism by John still related to repentance and newness and like our baptism, it signified (was a literal "sign") that affirmed his identity. Sounds like an excellent choice for opening up our journey through Lent!
Jesus goes from John baptizing him in the Jordan River wilderness into deeper, denser wilds. (By the way, Greek uses the same word for wilderness and desert.) Matthew and Luke both specify three of the temptations Jesus experienced; Mark doesn't provide details. Jesus refutes each challenge by quoting scripture.
After being baptized and spending about a month in solitude, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." Mark 1:14-15 Jesus told them and then he showed them.
More for Lent 1
The first reading for today, Genesis 9:8-17, describes God's covenant with Noah, his sons, their descendants, and with "every living thing." This short passage says every living thing three times! God disarms, setting his weapon (rain-bow) in the sky as a sign of covenantal promise; surprisingly, Genesis 9:15-16 tells us the rainbow is so God will remember. As twenty-first century people, inside the church and outside, we often use rainbows with their full range of colors as signs of inclusiveness.
Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." Mark 1:14-15
Mark 1:13 tells us Jesus was "with the wild beasts." Richard Bauckham, in The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (new to me book I recently got on eBay!) points out that elsewhere in Mark's gospel "being with" is the language of love and conveys close friendship. Bauckham suggests Jesus’ presence evokes Isaiah of Jerusalem’s vision of messianic peace that encompasses all creation, with humans and animals living tougher in harmony, with animals neither predators or prey. This Peaceable Kingdom belongs to the many ways the Good News of God's reign comes near in Jesus—and also in us, Jesus' contemporary disciples.
1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Lent during COVID-19
Matthew's and Mark's gospels tell us Jesus answered the devil's challenges by quoting scripture he'd memorized—"knew by heart." How about us?
• What scriptures, prayers, hymns, do you rely on when the going gets rough and tough? When you're confused or uncertain about your next move (pandemic, anyone)?
• What scriptures do you recall when life is glorious and you want to thank and acknowledge God?
• Favorite Easter hymns?
• Have you started spiritual practices or service projects for this Lent?
• Are they the same or different from previous years?
• Jesus said, "the time is now, and the Reign of God has come near." The word here for "time" is kairos, and means an unrepeatable opportune moment. Chronos in Greek is linear calendar and clock time, as in "chronology, chronological." Are you thinking of brand-new or renewed ministries for return to campus?
• Has COVID-19 led to some unique moments and opportunities?