Date: 29 Feb 2000
Time: 19:31:36

Comment

Dear Friends,

I will be preaching both a children's sermon AND an adult sermon on this text (actually, vss. 9-13 only, in the Episcopal lectionary...). I am wondering how to use the idea of going to a place "apart," where we sometimes can feel scared (wild beasts) and sometimes can feel not so alone (angels waiting on us...)...

Anyone else out there challenged by the task of breaking this open for children's understanding???

Judith in NH


Date: 01 Mar 2000
Time: 03:08:15

Comment

JG in Wisconsin to Judith...

I've got one quick thought on the subject of temptation.

If you don't feel the devil tugging at you, it's because you're headed in his direction.

Hope it helps.


Date: 02 Mar 2000
Time: 06:51:18

Comment

Isn't there a children's book about "a Monster In my Closet" or something like that. If I remember it correctly, it is about a child who kept insisting at bedtime that there was a monster in his closet. he was afraid of the dark, of course. In the end, it seems that he makes a friend out of the monster and discovers that those who are different can be ok. Maybe one of the biggest temptations in our world, even for children is to make fun or be afraid of those who are different than them. Often children are pushed to that by the peers, but if they go aside and think about it alone, they may find a new friend instead of that horrible person they thought was a monster. I realize this is too much sermonizing on the story for children, but maybe that or a similiar children's story may be the way to go about testing. Joy


Date: 03 Mar 2000
Time: 04:02:42

Comment

The Spirit tossed/expelled/threw Jesus intothe wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days.

God led the people of Isreal into the wilderness where (for other reasons) they were tempted for 40 years.

Is it the Spirit of God that leads us into Lent as a time of testing or temptation? And if so, does God give us angels to wait on us so that we may pass the test? Why?

There also seems to be three disctinct actions here; Baptism, which leads to testing, which leads to proclamation of the good news of God when the testing is passed. There must be some kind of life-analogy that we can build on here.

Jonesy


Date: 03 Mar 2000
Time: 13:04:13

Comment

Dear friends,

I appreciate your input on presenting this material in a way that children can find approachable. The simple topic of "testing" hadn't occurred to me! (duh) I esp. like the idea of helping children to see that God is with us even when we feel tested, pushed, challenged -- even when the "wild beasts" are there. I will check out "Monster in the Closet." I'm also thinking that "Where the Wild Things Are" may have some jumping-off point for kids.

Seems to me that the trick is to get their attention with stuff they're familiar with, then lead them to ONE "new" idea about our corporate/individual relationship(s) with God. More than one idea will probably lose them...

Judith in NH


Date: 03 Mar 2000
Time: 13:39:49

Comment

The language of the Spirit "driving" Jesus suggests 2 different images to me: One is a cattle-drive kind of being driven or chased with a bull-whip; the other is more like being driven by a motor from within. Either way it has such strong connotations to me of being pushed, of not having sufficient self-will to resist. . .

Janice, Ks


Date: 05 Mar 2000
Time: 22:45:28

Comment

The continuation of last week's transfiguration in this week's lesson of baptism leading to wilderness sojourning for 40 days again expresses for me Jesus reliving the covenant history. Jesus' relationship with the sacred covenant past is so opened that he relives that past and/or he recapitulates it and/or it breaks forth eschatologically into his presence. The Kingdom has come in this very hour when the most religious perceive the "otherness" of God to be absent if not "over there"! After all, the promised land had been "lost" for a very long time. I am reminded of the Hasidism interpretation of the crossing of the Red Sea or the sea of death in quest of life. Baptism may be like Moses stepping into the "Sea of Death" while watching the Egyptian army close in on evry side...And the water comes to his ankles. He steps again and the water comes to his knees. While sensitive to the closing army he steps again and again and the water keeps rising to his belly, chest, and finally his nostrils. Sticking his nose as far out of the water as he can the man of courage-in-spite-of-nonbeing-death steps again and the waters part. Perhaps the new Moses/Joshua who leads to the immanent coming of the promised land in spite of despair/death baptizes us in the processes of continuing death/life dynamics rather than an isoloated ritual event that once done is over with. "Living tradition" or "tradition that lives", I believe, such that Jesus experienced, opening up the past and future in the present eternal now is especially needed in the this age of radical change and future shock.. when/while the waters continue to rise....and then there are the temptations in the 40 days/years of the wilderness preparing us for the promised land. The faith of Moses to step again was relived by Jesus/Joshua in the way to and through Calvary. PaideiaSCO in north GA mountains


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 00:54:21

Comment

For the children's message I'm thinking of using "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. What are the temptations on these kinds of days, and what gets us through them because we cannot escape them. clw in co


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 04:01:50

Comment

While we're on the wavelength of children's literature, what about the scary-in-the-night poem by Shel Silverstein, "Whatifs"? Such anxieties/beasts will ring true for adults, too. Can we count on God to send angels to minister to us when those tempting, frightening voices haunt us?

Yell"Arose!"nTx


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 14:13:19

Comment

Mark certainly is a writer who gets to the point and moves on, no colorful details of Jesus' encounter with Satan. But I think Mark is saying that in the great and consmic battle Jesus has had with evil (Satan, the evil one, temptor, etc.), Jesus has won! Victory is God's and Christ's, and Jesus returns to announce this good news - that now, here, at hand, is the new life we want with God. Yes, we have fears, faults, monsters in our closets, anger, and such, and we may not fully understand all the time - as the disciples fail to fully understand. But in the larger sense, God's love has prevailed and does prevail. We can give thanks and live out of that truth. When Jesus comes back and begins healing, preaching, teaching, it is like "mopping up" operations, and the "demons " know it. Jesus the Christ wins, love wins. JZ in CT.


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 15:10:38

Comment

Jonesy,

Taking off on a tangent from your thoughts: The Spirit "drove" Jesus into the wilderness, almost as if Jesus was not in control (Janice in KS - great image of the cattle drive...do you live near Dodge?), then in the desert, he exerts his control through that testing time with Satan. BTW, Mark doesn't say that Jesus fasted, so if we're true to Mark, it's hard to push the idea of Lenten fasting too much from the Gospel alone. Certainly I'll talk about fasting, but as part of that "testing" experience.

Similarly to Jesus, the Church is "driven" into Lent. It's something we'd really rather not do, etc. We know we need to, but the Spirit has to push us to do something that we may think of as heroic, when actually it's simply what needs to be done, to bring us to deeper fidelity to Christ.

Metz in Indiana


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 18:27:02

Comment

Verse 10, "the Spirit coming down on him in the form of a dove"

I am thinking about a tile for my sermon like: "No 3-D glasses required." Starting off with an illustration on a movie I saw with 3-D glasses. Then talk about the Holy Spirt actually being seen in the form of a dove. It's connection to our baptism and Christ's divine neccesity to go to calvery since we are now connected to Him and Him to us. And concluding with the H.S's power in our lives, as we go through the season of lent. RevRon


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 20:05:33

Comment

Dear friends,

I am thinking about and reading up on the Gospel -- specifically vss. 9-10. The Interpreter's Bible (volume 7 , pp 653) stresses the sequence of events in Jesus' experience. It says, "...the gift of the Spirit follows the 'anointing,' as in I Sam. 16:13: 'Then Samuel...annointed him...and the Spirit of the lord came upon David from that day forward.' In the apostolic church the Holy Spirit's coming followed baptism (e.g. Acts 19:5-6)."

It would seem that this point might prove fruitful for a 1st Sunday in Lent sermon. Like Jesus, we are FIRST baptised and THEN we receive the Spirit. We may encounter challenges, but we are subsequently reassured/comforted by God's presence.

We perhaps must claim our baptism, and intentionally live into our baptismal vows, before we are able to sense the assurance of grace. Not that grace isn't there!!! It's just I was thinking: maybe a Lenten message is that we are called to focus more specifically on our call by God at baptism so that we CAN KNOW the grace which is ours...

Just a thought... What do you all think?

Judith in NH


Date: 06 Mar 2000
Time: 21:20:14

Comment

Mark moves swiftly through the events, baptism directly to being driven into the wilderness of temptation. Isn't it true that temptation is always at the Christian trying to get us to forsake our faith? Satan is always on the tail of the believer. The more we try to be a Christian, the harder we are working for the Kingdom, the more we are being attacked with temptation and the power of Satan. I have had several clergy friends whose actual health has been attacked. One friend became ill when entering his church. It was something about the building, which lasted. We must not under-estimate the power of Satan. Several years ago I saw the results in a community where a youth shot his mother and cut off his father's head putting it on the kitchen table with candles around it. The kid was a Satanist. It terrified the community. I had one church member sitting at his front door all night with a baseball bat. Jesus experienced what we all experience. Jesus goes on to do ministry we assume overcoming temptation, although Mark does not say so. He urges us to repent/change direction toward God's will and away from temptation. Mark's message is that baptism and temptation go hand in hand. The title of my sermon is, "Temptation is Biting at Your Heels!" Philip in Ohio


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 02:10:51

Comment

To answer Joy,

The book you are referring to is There's a "Nightmare in My Closet" by Mercer Mayer. There's also another wonderful monster book titled "A World Full of Monsters" written by John Troy McQueen, illustrated by Marc Brown. Hope this info is helpful. Rev. Sophia in PA


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 12:10:27

Comment

All of the children's books are great resources for sermons. I preached "Where the wild things are" for my congregation and reminding them that we go to where the Wild Things Are, and may be the wildest thin yet there's something that lures us back to the love of God. PSinIA


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 12:10:49

Comment

All of the children's books are great resources for sermons. I preached "Where the wild things are" for my congregation and reminding them that we go to where the Wild Things Are, and may be the wildest thin yet there's something that lures us back to the love of God. PSinIA


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 13:19:18

Comment

Why do we have Lent every year? It is a time for renewal, and we need renewal because temptation and testing are all around us. Lent offers a time for us to reflect on those times as well as how the angels tend to us. I think I need to acknowledge my (our) "backsliding tendencies" and how grace still comes. Just wanted to share a bit of joy. Last summer/fall I mentioned a yound woman named Esse and her struggles. She has continued to come to church nearly every week. A couple of months ago she even stayed for "coffee hour". Last Sunday she was one of the ushers at church. Still fighting a lot of "demons" but able to function much better. In some ways I see in her a model for fighting and prevailing against wilderness struggles. Please pray with me that she continues to feel God's love through us. Deke of the North


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 15:26:57

Comment

I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I can't help but comment on the Spirit "driving" Jesus into the wilderness. The Greek word actually means "to be thrown." So a better translation is "And the Spirit immediately threw him into the wilderness." Does that mean the Spirit was not present with Jesus in the wilderness? I don't know. I do like the temptation, though, and for me it stresses the humanity of Jesus. The fact that he actually WAS tempted is amazing, as he was just declared to be the Son of God. How could the Son of God be tempted by anything? Of course, he was triumphant over the temptation, which is also important.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts from an intern. Jason in Texas


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 16:24:06

Comment

Based on when Mark was written and to whom, i.e. Christians facing persecution and the lions, by refering to the 'wild beasts' the Christians who were being ripped to schreds would be strengthened knowing that Christ has been there already. How it goes with Christ is how it goes with us. Todd, Pastor in Wisconsin.


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 17:20:25

Comment

And the Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness ....

To be alone ... lured, impelled, overcome ...

to rest in the presence of his Father, to learn his Father's will for his ministry ...

to be tested by Satan, to face the darkness and uncertainty of the years ahead, to face the possibility of failure ...

... the angels waited on him .... the comfort of knowing with pure faith the meaning of the coming days.

with boldness he sets forth what he had received in his prayer, his retreat in the desert ...

The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come near (it is within us), repent, and believe the good news.

tom in ga


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 17:28:48

Comment

I'm using the title: Walking Wet in the Wilderness. My intent is that the baptism is the fortification and affirmation necessary for Jesus to do battle with the evil all around - not just in the wilderness of the temptation, but the wilderness of the world where human hurts, scheming by the religious leaders, etc. The same is true of us - we live on the edge of the wilderness. Remembering our baptism, seeing it as fortification, encouragement, affirmation that the evil one has no power over us makes it possible for us to enter those wildernesses into which life or the Spirit throws us. We go with the presence and the power of Jesus' victory, and as ambassadors of His peace and mercy.

MB in Sandusky


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 19:19:57

Comment

I like the discussion about claiming/remembering our baptism. My concern is that I don't preach it as some kind of magic that gives me/us exemption from temptation or wilderness experiences. Also, I appreciate the comments and corrections on the "driving" image. A 3rd driving image that came to me was along the line of a chaffeur-driven limo. I may be stuck here, that I seem so caught on the word, the images of being driven. (And no, not close to Dodge; closer to KC, actually). Thanks so much, everybody, for sharing your thoughts and questions and ideas.

Janice in Ks.


Date: 07 Mar 2000
Time: 19:40:12

Comment

Hi. It's early in the week, but I wanted to thank folks for last weeks postings - I incorporated several of your points into my sermon. I used the Charlie Brown and the clouds as an opening - and added others along the way. So, thank you for taking the time to post your wonderful ideas.

I am doing a sermon series, following the lectionary, and calling it "The Journey to Jerusalem." Last week was part 1, The Glory. This week is part 2, the Temptation. I think it is wonderful to go from the mountain top experience to the wilderness experience, which is typical of many a spiritual journey. I remember a book I read in seminary - "In the Name of Jesus" which talked about the three temptations - by Henri Nouwen. He labeled them "The temptation to be powerful, the temptation to be spectacular and the temptation to be relevant" and he matches them with the three temptations faced by Jesus in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, Mark doesn't spell them out as clearly as other Gospels, but I might go here anyway. Just some early musing. P.S. Did Doug in Riverside go to Fuller in Seattle? If so, then hello from Jude in Wash.

Jude in Wash.


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 00:46:02

Comment

Dear Fellow Clergy,

I am planning on focusing on Jesus' exhortation to "repent."

Looking at the need for us in our lives, as Lent provides the opportunity, to take a look at our lives. What do we need to change to enable a healthy life, reflecting God's will in the physical, emotional and spiritual realm?

What u-turns have we made in the past in our personal lives? Was it something the doctor told us or the dentist that motivated us to change how we ate or brushed our teeth? When have we been traveling in our vehicle and realized that we missed the desired turn -- any u-turns to get back to our desired travel route?

What might that sign on the highway be saying to us, the one that says no u-turns allowed? When has it been necessary to ignore it and turn?!

Changing our way of life, it is important. I'll be inviting the people to look at the necessity of u-turns in our lives.

Also, I'll be inviting the people to remember how they have experienced Lent in the past. How many remember the change with the lunch menu at school because it was Lent -- no meat, just fish? How many have done the ceremony with the ashes on the forehead?

Chuck in IL


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 01:22:28

Comment

Hi! All of your remarks have been so interesting to read. One thing I noticed is the reverse order of Catechism and Baptism. In many churches one learns about the faith and gets ready and prepared to take Baptism. However, it seems in Mark that Jesus gets baptized first then goes out into the wilderness to learn how to face the harsh world and to take on God's power just as we take on our Baptismal vows to face the world... just some thoughts on this. Wonder what church would be like if we baptized people first then teach them all about faith in Christ? But then again, Christians never stop learning about Christ... --Erich in CT


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 02:51:24

Comment

Dear friends,

Re baptising THEN teaching about Christ, well, in more than a few denominations that is exactly what happens when infants and young children are baptised.

Anyone interested in learning what the world's foremost ecumenical body has to say about infant AND believer baptism might want to read pp. 4-7 in the book, "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry ( Faith and Order Paper No. 111) published in 1982 by the World Council of Churches.

Judith in NH


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 03:11:55

Comment

Hi all: Haven't read any of your comments yet. These are my early thoughts. After Jesus' baptism, he still had to prepare for his ministry. He spent 40 days in the wilderness doing that--facing temptation, etc.

Why is is that we Christians sometimes talk about being born again through baptism as if that is an end unto itself. Isn't it a beginning? A beginning of life that will require further preparation--our own wilderness experiences--as we prepare for lives of ministry?

I think of the Native American and African cultures which include a rite of passage (into manhood) that involves going into the wilderness. Are there other rites of passage, other cultural experiences that we can relate? What might we need to face, after our baptism, that will continue our preparation?

As you can see, these are quite unformed thoughts. Hope you have some helpful reflections for me. Thanks! Pam in San Bernardino peejaymo@prodigy.net


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 04:00:13

Comment

Hello folks,

When I preached on this passage a few years back in the three year cycle (and before I discovered this excellent web site!) I used the song, "The Cat's in The Cradle" as a connection point to verse 11.

It seemed to me a powerful moment of being witness to the relationship of God the Father with His Son.

So often in our lives today we hear of parents who are unable to present at significant "rites of passage," or events in their children's lives. Isn't it powerful then to hear of God's seemingly human reaction of pride almost to His Son's baptism? Even more significant is that He was there and he was happy for what was happening--and He wanted us to know!

Isn't this then hopefully what we all want to hear from God then when we get to heaven?

I can just see God turning to the hosts of Heaven and saying, "This is me/you my Son/daughter with whom I am well pleased?" Then turning to me/you and saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant, come for I have prepared a place for you, enter into My Rest!"

An interesting point about all this was that I shared the song with the words typed out, as the majority of the congregation was over the age of sixty (just around the age that when their sons and daughters were listening to this song, they had proably told them to 'turn the music down') In anycase they certainly could identify and relate to the words of the song and it seemed that the message of hope of God's love and grace impacted them significantly when presented in such a manner. So if any of you could use or adapt such an idea feel free, hope it can help you and the people with whom you share these ideas.

Now, however, I will in turn continue to read your suggestions this week as I would like to do something different with this passage this time around!

Pastor Dave in BC Canada


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 04:04:10

Comment

Hello folks,

When I preached on this passage a few years back in the three year cycle (and before I discovered this excellent web site!) I used the song, "The Cat's in The Cradle" as a connection point to verse 11.

It seemed to me a powerful moment of being witness to the relationship of God the Father with His Son.

So often in our lives today we hear of parents who are unable to present at significant "rites of passage," or events in their children's lives. Isn't it powerful then to hear of God's seemingly human reaction of pride almost to His Son's baptism? Even more significant is that He was there and he was happy for what was happening--and He wanted us to know!

Isn't this then hopefully what we all want to hear from God then when we get to heaven?

I can just see God turning to the hosts of Heaven and saying, "This is [me/you] my [son/daughter] with whom I am well pleased?" Then turning to [me/you] and saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant, come for I have prepared a place for you, enter into My Rest!"

An interesting point about all this was that I shared the song with the words typed out, as the majority of the congregation was over the age of sixty. Just around the age that when their sons and daughters were listening to this song, they had proably told them to 'turn the music down'! In anycase, those folks certainly could identify and relate to the words of the song. It seemed that the message of hope of God's love and grace impacted them significantly when presented in such a manner.

So if any of you could use or adapt such an idea feel free, hope it can help you and the people with whom you share these ideas.

Now, however, I will in turn, continue to read your suggestions this week, as I would like to do something different with this passage this time around!

Pastor Dave in BC Canada


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 11:56:28

Comment

Dear friends,

The idea that baptism is the beginning of the journey is powerful, and to my mind, absolutely on target. It would seem that Christ presented this model to us. He didn't merely say, "Well, my Father is pleased with me, thinks I'm okay, so I guess I'm "in" the club. I made it. I'm there."

Instead, Christ spent his life for us -- teaching, healing, preaching. In the Gospel According to Mark, this approach to living into baptism is clearly illustrated.

Incidentally, in the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church), the Baptismal Covenant it says, "Let us join with those who are committing themselves to CHrist and renew our own baptismal covenant." The idea that we are all "in it" together, as a process, not as a one-time event, is very strong here. And in the covenant itself, there are five questions. These questions ask that 1.) the person continue in the apostles' teaching, etc.; 2.) that the person resist evil and sin, etc.; 3.) that the person proclaim the Good News by word and example; 4.) that the person seek and serve Christ in all persons, etc.; and 5.) that the person strive for justice and peace among all people, etc. (These are shortened versions of the questions -- but they give an idea of the action and involvement required)

So -- this is all a long-winded affirmation of the idea that baptism is a "beginning of life that requires further preparation." I think it's a very important point and I am glad that Pam in San Bernardino raised it. Certainly makes preaching this Sunday's Gospel a lot easier!!

I wonder what others think about this?

Judith in NH


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 15:50:04

Comment

This week I think I want to focus on the old covenant (Noahic) and the new covenant (in Jesus). The partnership of all creation (All people and all creatures are God's covenant partners!!! As an early posting on the Genesis page states), the unconditional nature of the covenant in the old covenant contrast to our arrogant human-centredness and abuse of nature and point to our need for forgiveness and renewal, which is provided for in the new covenant, into which we enter through our baptism. Just as Jesus began his earthly ministry through baptism, so too do we begin. But, we are still in need of that same forgiveness and renewal that we needed before baptism. The links of water in both covenants fits in there somewhere. The wilderness experience invites us to enter into our own wildernesses in order to examine our attitudes, our thinking, our actions, our very lives. Lent is the perfect time for such reflection and new beginnings (again the link to baptism) in the light of "the cosmic, communal nature of God's redeeming activity" (Homiletics topic: Wild Beasts). Exploration of what it means to be "united with Christ" through our baptism, and to be partners with Christ and all creation in this new covenant should lead to the invitation to renewed discipleship as we move towards the cross and resurrection. Deke of the North: I loved your comment about "the need for restorative justice over retributive justice". My land needs very much to hear of such a radical idea, and then we might have some hope for reconciliation! I've only discovered this site in the last few weeks, and want to thank you all for providing such marvelous inspiration and resources. As someone in a very remote, isolated and sparsely populated "parish" of about 350,000 sq. Km (I think that's over 200,000 sq. miles) resources are literally 100's or 1000's of Km away and dialogues of any depth theologically are cherished. Outback Aussie


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 17:30:23

Comment

I would like to explore the wilderness time as times of darkness in our lives. Times which we can not avoid but that we need to go through. A kind of "Dark Night of the Soul." I liked the comparision of Jesus coming down from a mountaintop experience to a wilderness experience as typical of many spiritual journeys. These wilderness times can help to prepare us for what may lie ahead. Could Jesus' wilderness experience have been a spiritual wilderness?

I'd appreciate any comments. I have found this site very valuable in sermon preparation. Thanks for all the great insights.

Lois on the border.


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 17:51:49

Comment

Dear friends,

The question of a wilderness as spiritual in nature..? Yes, I'd say. Seems that in order for us to break through to an understanding of Mark's broader meaning we need to look at wilderness as metaphor. Surely, part of the Christian journey is being in that dark, scary place, the place of questions and uncertainty. We know that Christ (and his followers) experienced this.

I would guess that there are a lot of ways in which we, today, encounter this spiritual wilderness. What about the fact that we seem to be isolated as Christians in a world that pretty much rejects what our faith teaches? This can lead to feeling as if one is stuck in a wilderness, alone and without much help. And sometimes in our personal faith journeys we get to a place where God may be silent or seem absent. This can feel like a wilderness of tears to me. Many times, too, I have watched others in pain or in doubt or in anger or in fear and it seems as if they're struggling along in a wilderness...

Spiritual wilderness, full of wild beasts... it is definitely there, and most of us have been there at one time or another. I think it would preach...

Judith in NH


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 19:33:02

Comment

In regard to Janice in KS concern about not suggesting that our baptism somehow gives an exemption from temptation consider the Confession of 1967, in the Presbyterian Book of Confessions.

"The new life does not release a man from conflict with unbelief, pride, lust, fear. He still has to struggle with disheartening difficulties and problems. Nevertheless, as he matures in love and faithfulness in his life with Christ, he lives in freedom and good cheer, bearing witness on good days and eveil days, confident that the new life is pleasing to God and helpful to others"

Confession of 1967, 9.23

CEC in CA


Date: 08 Mar 2000
Time: 23:34:37

Comment

08 MAR 00 Hard to resist the "driving" imagery... I'm w/ Janice's 3rd image, the Holy Spirit driving us and dropping us off (shoving us out, Jason? Thanks for the reminder to check the Greek) in the desert. Can have a little fun with the most common car model mentioned in the Bible (e.g. Acts 1:14, "the (disciples) in/with one *Accord*"). And there is the "Driver's Test" many of us had in High School--not meant to humiliate and flunk us but to best prepare us for driving. Who has the ad campaign "Drivers wanted/needed"? I'm hoping it's BMW because I have as my "water cup" in the pulpit a mug that someone gave me with the BMW on it and my people now know that it stands for "Baptized Men & Women", and here we go... "Driving wet", from baptism to the rest of life. Oh, and if you're in the habit (as I am) of praying for "the leading of the Holy Spirit", get ready! Fasten your seat belt. Good preaching to all, in Christ. Peter in CA


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 02:55:35

Comment

This is a great passage for the weekend of our annual chuch camping trip. About 20 of us will actually stay at the camp, others will come out for the day or a picnic. We'll have a 6:30 a.m. communion service Sunday on the intercoastal waterway before I race back to civilization to preach indoors at 9 and 11. Were gnats among the wild beasts in the wilderness? kbc in sc


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 14:38:02

Comment

It is a little difficult to understand Jesus' temptations - I mean, after all, he wasn't oriented to his false self as we are, and after all what power did the Devil really have over him?

Matthew and Luke at least give us some indication of the type of temptation, but Mark leaves the nature of his testing a mystery. We are left with our imaginations.

I guess the place to begin is wondering what it is like to spend over a month by yourself in total solitude. We know what happen to Saint Antony of Egypt when he headed for the caves - the Devil tried to seduce him sexually, he was filled with terrible loneliness, and he seemed to have physically wrestled with the bad angel. What happens to our thoughs when we are unable to fill them with practical and important matters of daily living? My guess is that at least for a time he must have felt abandoned by God perhaps filled with his own uncertainty and fear of the unknown (at least that was what he must have felt as truly man). Your thoughts are requested. Thanks.

Tom in GA


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 14:38:40

Comment

It is a little difficult to understand Jesus' temptations - I mean, after all, he wasn't oriented to his false self as we are, and after all what power did the Devil really have over him?

Matthew and Luke at least give us some indication of the type of temptation, but Mark leaves the nature of his testing a mystery. We are left with our imaginations.

I guess the place to begin is wondering what it is like to spend over a month by yourself in total solitude. We know what happen to Saint Antony of Egypt when he headed for the caves - the Devil tried to seduce him sexually, he was filled with terrible loneliness, and he seemed to have physically wrestled with the bad angel. What happens to our thoughs when we are unable to fill them with practical and important matters of daily living? My guess is that at least for a time he must have felt abandoned by God perhaps filled with his own uncertainty and fear of the unknown (at least that was what he must have felt as truly man). Your thoughts are requested. Thanks.

Tom in GA


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 15:47:58

Comment

Would suggest great reading on the topic of the wilderness and what it means: Ulrich Mauser, Princeton Theological Seminary / [retired?, "Christ in the WIlderness"

to Outback Aussie like you, we are surrounded by square miles of "wilderness," ours is the Atlantic Ocean. The temptations here abound. The Bahamas were settled by prisoners, pirates and that mentality still persists. We get what we can, sometimes any way we can. Anything that is "loose" (unanchored, unattended) is claimed as your own. The temptations are to make your own way, instead of waiting on the Lord. That may be why Jesus had to be driven into the wilderness, to make sure that he understood the way of the Lord. If he had gone straight from baptism to ministry, he would have been surrounded by the Judeans and Jerusalemites who later repudiated him, instead of the Galileans, especially the women who stuck with him through to the end. (I think some of this last thought came from Lane’s commentary on Mark.)

God Bless us all in our journey into the desert…or should I say, through it.


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 15:48:30

Comment

oops Doug in Bahamas


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 16:06:03

Comment

Just a couple of random thoughts....

I am struck by the way the Spirit works in this passage. In the baptism, we have the Spirit all feathers and softness, descending in a moment of affirmation and blessing for Jesus. And then in just 2 verses, Jesus is being tossed into the desert by the same Spirit! There are connections with the work of the Holy Spirit in my life that I will draw upon for the sermon - also encouraging the Lenten discipline of following the Spirit's guidance, even to the cross. They key is that it is God's Spirit that is in control, not we ourselves. It's that old wind thing - blowing where it listeth, as it were.

In re. v.13, it simply states that Jesus was "with" the wild beasts - I'm not sure there are the negative connotations of monsters, etc. that we associate with the "wilderness". I think we in America read it that way because of our cultural understanding of the wilderness as something frightening, something to overcome or conquer. Since the Greek does not have commas, is it possible that the sentence could be translated "he was with the wild beasts and the angels, [and they] waited on him"? I appeal to the better Greek scholars among us for help on this. I know that in some non-canonical literature there is a story of the animals accompanying the Holy Family in their flight into Egypt following Jesus' birth, protecting and feeding them. It's a weird story, and probably legendary, but it's worth thinking about Jesus' relationship with the animals. Anyone who has kept a pet will find a connection to this passage through that.

Outback Aussie: thank you for your contribution; you have much to teach us about the "wilderness" [outback!] May you be richly blessed in a difficult (and often lonely) ministry.

Shalom, Bo in KY (USA)


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 18:03:44

Comment

The youth pastor gave his first sermon a few weeks ago in our church. He was talking about the power of forgiveness, and the practice common in Lent of giving things up which we like, but also turning away from things that are bad for us. In response, a 7 year old in our congregation decided to make a change in her life. Getting ready for bed that evening she told her mom, "Mommy, I know what I'm going to give up for Lent. I'm going to give up arguing with you!" The two are particularly close in personality!

All week long her mother reports the little girl would start to argue with her, but stop mid-breath, smile and say "O.K. mommy." Mom says, "It's been HEAVEN!!!"

Momma also said she just didn't have the heart to tell her that, Lent doesn't start until NEXT week!

Colorado Synergy


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 18:27:09

Comment

My sermon title this week is "Home Free?" I wish I could print it with Home Free behind one of theose big red circles with a slash across it, like the no smoking signs. Noah and co. landed on tne mountaintop, had a whole new world in which to build a life....no trials or tribulations ahead.....??? Jesus was baptized and acknowledged by God as Son...he must have it made, too, right?? When we are baptized, and acknowledge the saving grace of God in our own lives, from there on we have NO PROBLEMS, right??? WRONG! This is where the temptations and trials really start! But with the Holy Spirit to guide,angels to minister, and Jesus example to show us how, we can overcome these temptations.

RevJanet in CNY


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 19:00:04

Comment

I'm thinking about some persons in my congregation who have descended "the mountain" expereince and now find dryness and temptation. Ironicly, a feeling of the Spirit's absence can be (according to this text) a sign of the Spirit's "leading". Fodder for thought... Mike in WV


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 19:06:32

Comment

Just some thoughts, actually not related to much of what’s here but anyway ...

My main thought is about Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, and his time spent there ... paralleled with our faith journey ...

Jesus is baptised - then where does he go, what does he do. - Does he engage in acts of power? No, he goes to the wilderness! He goes to the lowest point on earth! Jesus goes into the depths ... (put that alongside our own journey ... often that is where we go - to the depths.

Jesus goes on this journey to the wilderness, and all that that implies ... During Lent, we also go on a journey of the soul.

What about the destination? What about the jouney?

The destination is God ..we are journeying towards God The journey is as important as the destination, and we make the journey with God

Like those in the Scriptures who undertook literal journeys ... like Abraham ... we must be willing to journey into the unknown, but we do not go alone.

Early Christians were called people of the Way.

Lent is both about stillness in one sense and also being on the move in another.

The journey for Jesus involved going into the desert and staying for 40 days. The journey for us is 40 days ..

A friend of mine went to the holy Land a few years ago ... she left the UK at 6 am and was in Jerusalem for tea .... Somehow that was too fast. Pilgrimage in earlier times took weeks or months. Our Pilgrimage needs to take time ... 40 days

it can be too sudden , not time for things to to seep in. Our society likes instant solutions .. instant spirituality. Lent is a reminder that this takes time.

Most of the verbs in this gospel are passive, or things done to Jesus, or descriptions of where he was ... rather than things he actively does. He was baptised the Spirit descended on him a voice came from heaven The Spirit drove him out he was in the wilderness he was tempted he was with the wild beasts the angels ministered to him

What does this say about our journey through Lent?

Rev Ev in UK


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 22:43:57

Comment

Looking at how thgis experience was for Jesus to to impress potential followers.... it was a persons affirmation. Jesus needed to hear it...there would be more tough times ahead.... We need to have that word of support as well.... Mark paints the picture it with so few words.... Our worship team chose great music...(we'll sing On the Wings of a Dove")..perfect match to both OT and Gospel. in our song book it says.... ( on the wings of a dove joe ferguson 1. noah he drifted on the sea many days he searched for land in various ways, troubles he had some, but he wasn't forgotten, he sent down his love on the wings of a dove chorus- on the wings of a snow white dove, he sends his pure sweet love, a sign from above, on the wings of a dove. 2. when troubles beset us, when evils come the body grows weak and the spirit grows numb, when these things beset us, he doesn't forget us, he sends down his love, on the wings of a dove 3. when jesus went down to the river to pray, he was baptized by john, in the jordan that day, when these things were done, god blessed his son, he sent down his love, on the wings of a dove.)

The Spirit drove him... in the wilderness..... recalling that this is not the desert as we know it... more like scrub brush, range land...actually teeming with life and the potential for life.... it is where we do business everyday. He was tried, tested... and he was with wild beasts... were these the beasts of the peaceable kingdom? were these the beasts within us...a metaphor for the conflicted times and distractions from spiriual life? what wild beasts do we have to face....?

...and the messengers of God served Jesus..... reminding him and (com-fortus)strenthening him.... whatever the need for that period.... and beyond.

to support the texts...we are using he gift of songs with "Come out the Wilderness" "Change my heart o God, and We've Come this Far By Faith"

Looking forward to this sunday as I hope you all are.

pastordon elmira,ny donaldhoff@aol.com


Date: 09 Mar 2000
Time: 23:32:44

Comment

09 MAR 00 Well, there was the commercial last night--"another" auto company entreats: "Drivers wanted"--not BMW, but Volkswagon. Is Jesus the "driver" or the "driven" (into the wilderness). Does God want "people in control", who refuse to "give up the wheel" (living in the LA area I see the cacooning commuters who think the road is their's alone)? Or is it "passengers wanted"? Well, thank God the Spirit is with us... now, in our preaching, in our ministry. Power to you. Peter in CA


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 00:14:41

Comment

Insightful Friends-- A few thoughts...

Proposition: When the heavens are torn open, it is, as with the transfiguration, a momentary rupture of the dimensional boundaries. As humans, we move through a 4-dimensional universe which is part of a much more vast cosmos. Current physics (string theory) suggests that there area at least 11 dimensions. God exists in, with, through and under (to slightly modify Luther's formula) all these dimensions. "The heavens," are often beyond our comprehension simply because they are beyond our senses and experience. Yet, heaven is not some distant, future reality waiting for us "up there" or "out there." It really is the realm in which "we live and move and have our being," right here and now. We just don't have the equipment to perceive it yet. You can tell the caterpillar all about the glories of the air, but until he has the wings to ride the currents, it all sounds like a fantasy. That's an oversimplified analogy of what we're living through. In at least 2 instances, God pushes back the curtain. I'm suggesting that the baptism of Jesus is one of those instances.

Proposition: One part of the life and ministry of Jesus is for Jesus to fulfill an empty bit (perhaps the only or final empty part) of God's learning. God enters the world as Jesus in order to fully know what the human experience is all about. God gets to know hunger, thirst, lust, pain and the nearly overwhelming desire to ease one's own situation regardless of the cost to others. The learning experience begins in earnest with the trial in the desert. The real temptation Jesus faces is, perhaps, the temptation to say, literally, "to hell with all this," then to use his power to satisfy his own needs, even at the possible cost of rupturing the dimensional boundaries which cocoon us mere humans for now. He does not do that. He does, however, end the ordeal by "taking a meeting" with a few angels–– the beings who regularly cross dimensional boundaries as part of their ministry.

Proposition: The upshot of all this is the announcement that the kingdom of God or as Matthew calls it, the kingdom of heaven, is "at hand" or "within reach" or, more pointedly, "right here." Have you noticed that when the Gospels, the Good News describe the message of Jesus, the Good News that he is preaching is always just that: "the kingdom of heaven is right here."?

Conclusion: Baptism, then, is a sign of God breaking through all the barriers to touch us with heaven, to open our eyes with a promise. In the baptism of John, it was all about our repentance and our desire to change. In the baptism of Jesus, who does not need to repent or change in any way, except, perhaps to grow in experience, baptism becomes all about what God is doing and what God has already done. N'est pas?

Ah well... just some food for thought. But think of this... isn't it really a kind of transforming news... isn't it really a piece of Good News that changes EVERYTHING? THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS HERE. NOW. LIVE WITH IT. LIVE IN IT. LIVE LIKE A CITIZEN OF THAT KINGDOM. Taste and see the goodness...

So... if any or all of this is too "out there" for any of y'all, well, guess I'll just wait "out there" until we find our meeting place.

Blessings, Steve in Orange


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 03:27:10

Comment

Dear Steve in Orange:

Is that Orange, CA? You don't sound so far out there, at least not to me. I am curious about this string theory and the 11 dimensions (this is new stuff for me; I am somewhat dense when it comes to physics). Do you know of a good source that wouldn't speak a foreign language? I don't think this will help me with where I want to go with this sermon, but I sure would enjoy doing some reading and reflection.

I'm continuing to pursue thoughts about testing in the wilderness. Defining what our own wilderness experience might me is a challenge since we each go through life by a different path. Also, I'm glad Mark doesn't spell out the specific temptations/tests as the other gospel writers do. It makes it easier to think about Jesus facing his own testing as we must.

I'm still looking for stories that might help develop my ideas. Anybody have any suggestions?

Pam in San Bernardino


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 04:33:30

Comment

Jesus hears his baptismal call - in Mark, it appears as a private experience, affirming what he will need to know for the rest of the journey. I see the next couple of verses as a summary of the rest of his life - he is tempted, is surrounded by "wild beasts" ( shades of so many Psalms!), ministered to by angels, and preaches the good news. It is our of his sense of being the "beloved" that he finds the strength to go on, to continue toward the cross.

Ash Wednesday is the hardest day of the year for me. My congregation - my family - comes forward to receive ashes. As I say to each one, "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return," I see Bill who lost his wife to cancer this year, Marilyn whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack, Mary and Joyce, both dealing with inoperable cancers, Randy - a young father with bladder cancer. There are some who will not be here this time next year, just as there are some missing this year. The words choke in my throat, and I see tears in the eyes of some as they come forward.

How do we deal with such knowledge - that we live in a world so full of death and dying? That we, ourselves are well along the path toward the grave? Isn't that, at least in part, what this passage is all about? Out of the waters of our own baptism he has also called us his "beloved." Through the wilderness, the times of testing and trial, whether surrounded by wild beasts or ministered to by angels, it is the knowledge that we are God's beloved that enables us to cope, that gives us hope, that even enables us to respond with joy. Apart from this knowledge, this calling, this benediction, there is no "good news" to proclaim.

Gary in New Bern


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 04:35:05

Comment

Jesus hears his baptismal call - in Mark, it appears as a private experience, affirming what he will need to know for the rest of the journey. I see the next couple of verses as a summary of the rest of his life - he is tempted, is surrounded by "wild beasts" ( shades of so many Psalms!), ministered to by angels, and preaches the good news. It is our of his sense of being the "beloved" that he finds the strength to go on, to continue toward the cross.

Ash Wednesday is the hardest day of the year for me. My congregation - my family - comes forward to receive ashes. As I say to each one, "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return," I see Bill who lost his wife to cancer this year, Marilyn whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack, Mary and Joyce, both dealing with inoperable cancers, Randy - a young father with bladder cancer. There are some who will not be here this time next year, just as there are some missing this year. The words choke in my throat, and I see tears in the eyes of some as they come forward.

How do we deal with such knowledge - that we live in a world so full of death and dying? That we, ourselves are well along the path toward the grave? Isn't that, at least in part, what this passage is all about? Out of the waters of our own baptism he has also called us his "beloved." Through the wilderness, the times of testing and trial, whether surrounded by wild beasts or ministered to by angels, it is the knowledge that we are God's beloved that enables us to cope, that gives us hope, that even enables us to respond with joy. Apart from this knowledge, this calling, this benediction, there is no "good news" to proclaim.

Gary in New Bern


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 04:36:57

Comment

Jesus hears his baptismal call - in Mark, it appears as a private experience, affirming what he will need to know for the rest of the journey. I see the next couple of verses as a summary of the rest of his life - he is tempted, is surrounded by "wild beasts" ( shades of so many Psalms!), ministered to by angels, and preaches the good news. It is our of his sense of being the "beloved" that he finds the strength to go on, to continue toward the cross.

Ash Wednesday is the hardest day of the year for me. My congregation - my family - comes forward to receive ashes. As I say to each one, "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return," I see Bill who lost his wife to cancer this year, Marilyn whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack, Mary and Joyce, both dealing with inoperable cancers, Randy - a young father with bladder cancer. There are some who will not be here this time next year, just as there are some missing this year. The words choke in my throat, and I see tears in the eyes of some as they come forward.

How do we deal with such knowledge - that we live in a world so full of death and dying? That we, ourselves are well along the path toward the grave? Isn't that, at least in part, what this passage is all about? Out of the waters of our own baptism he has also called us his "beloved." Through the wilderness, the times of testing and trial, whether surrounded by wild beasts or ministered to by angels, it is the knowledge that we are God's beloved that enables us to cope, that gives us hope, that even enables us to respond with joy. Apart from this knowledge, this calling, this benediction, there is no "good news" to proclaim.

Gary in New Bern


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 04:51:11

Comment

It all started out as a fun outing in the country - just the two of them, father and son. Tommy, as full of energy as any seven-year-old could be, thrilled at the prospect of having dad all to himself for a weekend. The sky was blue and large, the forest full of the spicy fragrance of hemlock and juniper. As dad unloaded the car, he warned Tommy, "Now, stay by the camp. It's easy to get lost around here!" But Tommy wasn't listening. There was so much to see, and every inch of his was straining to explore. Just one step, and another, and another. He saw something interesting - a bug, a fungus, a squirrel. Then he turned back. He could no longer see the camp. He began to try to retrace his steps, but it is hard to find where you have been in the deep woods, and so easy to end up going in circles. Panic began to set in. His walk broke into a run, his tears into a cry: "Daddy! Daddy!" But there was no answer. He ran until he could run no further. The darkness was just closing in, when he heard a familiar voice in the distance: "Tommy! Tommy! Where are you?" Soon warm arms embraced him, and tears softly wetted his hair. "Tommy, I kept calling to you, but you kept running away. You had to stop running, so that I could find you."

Is there a voice that is also calling us - calling us out of the deep woods? A voice that we have always known, which calls us from our baptism? The voice of a heavenly Father, who searches for us in the wilderness, who longs to put his arms around us and cover us in his tears? "I kept calling to you, but you kept running away. You had to stop running, so that I could find you."

Gary in New Bern


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 06:19:04

Comment

My part of the world has been suffering from floods lately, not to the extent of those in Africa, but still causing loss, people are seeing everything they have be washed away or ruined.

At the same time we are seeing the desert bloom and Lake eyre come to life.

Water here at the moment brings both life and death. The water itself brings the wilderness experience, it is not until after the water's pass, and the hard work begins that the new life can be experienced.

In many ways the land is living out the story of Jesus' baptism, it is washed(baptised), it becomes imersed and hidden(wilderness), and then blooms with new life.

It's a good touch point for us here, but needs sensitivity obviously.

Sally in Aus.


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 13:46:15

Comment

For anyone whose insterested. Desmond Tutu's speech"Justice, memory and reconciiliation" can be found at www.newsandevents.utoronto.ca/bin/oo216a.asp.

Merm in Canada


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 14:25:46

Comment

To Lois on the boarder: Isn't it in our "wilderness times" that we fall on our knees and turn to God for help? Isn't it when we are hurting the most that we spend more time in prayer? Isn't it when our child is ill, our partner is in crisis that we turn to God's Grace for help? If you have such an experience to share with your congregation they will be able to relate immediately. For those who are in the middle of their "wilderness times" it will help them to look for the Rainbow and fell God's face shining upon them.

Peace Rev WWM


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 15:18:25

Comment

Dear Friends, Oddly enough I envey Jesus being able to get away for 40 days. I wonder how many of us, and our congregations, wish God would make us run away to a place of quiet and inner cleansing.

L. in Illinois


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 16:27:11

Comment

TO Gary in New Bern,

In reply to your Ash Wednesday comments, the symbolism of the ashes can also be lived out. I go back to Genesis - God bent down, scooped up a handful of dust, and breathed life into us. It's out of the ashes of our lives and experiences that God forever bends down, scoops us and breathes life into us.

Snow in Idaho


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 16:45:07

Comment

I'm not quite sure if anyone can use this story, but feel free to if you can. A couple of years ago i was camped in a dry, rocky creek bed several hours drive from the nearest outpost or homestead. The road out here is not really a road, its just a rocky, dry creek bed that, for several of us who know the area, passes for a road during the dry season. Its very remote and rough country and not too many people venture through it So I guess this passes for wilderness. For me it's a place of solitude (rather than loneliness) and peace and beauty - a welcome change from the busyness of the patrol ministry. As i lay in my swag (a kind of canvas bedroll with a mossie net) on the roofrack of the 4wd (it's safe up there away from snakes & crocs) i felt a sense of contentment that comes from a good meal cooked over the campfire and a quiet beer as i contemplated the beauty of the shadowy bush and the night sky, and marveled at God's creation. There's little of man's creation out here. It didn't take long to drop off to sleep. Even the cry of the mournful Curlew seemed a lullaby.

Then, about 3 in the morning I was awakened to a terrible noise. At first i thought it must have been an earthquake. The peace and contentment of the previous night disappeared in a cloud of anxious fear. No one really knew where i was. My only contact to the rest of the world was a flying doctor radio (HF radio) which gave me a link to VJY Outpost Radio with its base 1000 or so km away. I had dealt with mad wild buffalo, vehicle breakdown, dozens of punctures, fires, snakes, vicious attacking dogs, crocodile-infested creek crossings and a mob of other threats, but not out of a deep sleep at 3 o'clock in the morning.

But, no, it wasn't an earthquake. It was the 'wild animals'. A mob of wild donkeys, with their hooves clattering against the rocky creek bed were charging through within a few feet of where i had been sleeping. This discovery had an amazingly calming effect on me. The 'stampede' posed no threat from my 'retreat' on top of a very solid and secure 4wd. Interestingly, the local indigenous people call the donkey the 'Jesus animal' from its Biblical involvement and the sign of the cross on its back!

It seems to me that my perception of the 'wilderness' changed as the conditions changed. Well resourced with food and many of the luxuries of life in the bush possible today with fridges, comfortable camp chairs and even an inner spring mattress under my swag, it is a place of peace, a place where I find it easy to find God. The strongest temptation seems to be to linger longer! However, when something happens to fracture that tranquility and peacefulness or resources necessary for living (not just comfort) are not available, it becomes a place of threat and danger and even death. It took the appearance of the wild 'Jesus animals' to rescue and reassure me, even though they had been the initial cause of this frightening situation.

Outback Aussie


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 17:04:12

Comment

L. perhaps that's what we need to do more than anything (understanding that the number 40 in scripture doesn't mean a literal 40, but rather a very long time). We need to follow the spirit's "driving." When we pastors take care of the needs of our spirit, maybe our parishioners will understand how important self care is. We pastors have the luxury of flexible schedules. What's stopping us from being driven to the desert, facing the essential testing in the midst of our own peculiar wild beasts, to finally be waited on by angels???

I really like the exhortation from the book of common worship for Ash Wednesday: "I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God."

Shalom, Larry cny


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 17:09:49

Comment

I have been recently diagnosed as diabetic. This is particularly hard since we are in the time of the year when lots of chocolates go on sale from Valentine left overs! I'm thinking about buying a big box of chocolates (75% off) and taking that in for the children's sermon and talking about how tempting that is for me. Then I may ask "what tempts you" and later tieing this in with the sermon.

miamisburg mike (Ohio)


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 19:43:23

Comment

On being thrown out into the wilderness. Perhaps you caught the story of the 11 year-old girl in Ohio who jumped into feezing water to save two grown men who had capsized a canoe. Her mother tried to wade out and reach the men but couldn't do it. In an interview on the TODAY Show the mother said something to the effect that she has always told her daughter to take care of herself first, but she never listens, she is always wanting to help other people. The young girl then siad that God gave her the courage to jump in the water.

Is Lent like this? Does the world tell us "Don't go there," while the Spirit gives us the courage to face the challenge?

And on testing/temptation. In our collegial text study someone mentioned that "testing" is given with the hope that you pass while "temptation" is given with the hope that you fail.

Jonesy


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 20:24:41

Comment

Great comments this week. Here are some thoughts that may or may not be related.

It seems that there is certainly a threefold pattern to the text here. The descriptions that I am using of the three characteristics of what is happening here are adoption, preparation, and proclamation. If our goal is to be transformed in Christ's image, than this pattern is as true for us as it was for Jesus.

The danger for us and our congregations is to only experience one or two of these characteristics rather than all three. Some folks stop with Baptism, thinking that they have arrived at the kingdom with no other requirements. Others spend all their lives in preparation without ever understanding what they are preparaing for (proclamation). Still others try to jump from baptism to proclamation without any sort of preparation, leading to failure.

Lent is a time for us to focus on preparation--both for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but more importantly for our duty to proclaim that resurrection power to the world.

You know, I haven't been real big on three point sermons but it may be a good week to put aside my biases and use that structure. :-)

jay in tennessee


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 20:29:37

Comment

One other thought on being driven (tossed) into the desert. I wonder if the spirit has to drive us because we are so reluctant to enter times of preparation and reflection. This may be my own issue, but it seems like we often avoid preparation because it causes us to ask questions about ourselves and God that we would prefer to avoid. In a culture that narcotizes itself with non-stop media (radio in the car, at work, etc.) to avoid self-reflection, perhaps the spirit HAS to drive us into the wilderness or else we would never go.

jay in TN


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 20:30:14

Comment

One other thought on being driven (tossed) into the desert. I wonder if the spirit has to drive us because we are so reluctant to enter times of preparation and reflection. This may be my own issue, but it seems like we often avoid preparation because it causes us to ask questions about ourselves and God that we would prefer to avoid. In a culture that narcotizes itself with non-stop media (radio in the car, at work, etc.) to avoid self-reflection, perhaps the spirit HAS to drive us into the wilderness or else we would never go.

jay in TN


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 21:59:56

Comment

Sunday is my first service as an interim in a very small, aging congregation. I've always thought of the angels "ministering" by bringing physical sustenance to Jesus. What if they actually "served" by whispering in Jesus' ear, "Don't forget your baptism. Don't forget that you are the beloved child of God." Maybe that's how they sustained Jesus. During an interim time with differing visions and differing longings, maybe we need to whisper in each others ear, "Remember, you are the beloved child of God." Lois in Oakland


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 22:09:51

Comment

I'm always a little suspicious when I hear, "what this word REALLY means in the Greek is _______" As if you have to know Greek in order to REALLY understand the Bible. As if the translators didn't REALLY know that this word means "threw him into the desert" instead of "drove." The translators aren't fools. Any word, Greek or English has a range of meaning. And I don't think we should pretend like we preachers have an inside track on what the Bible REALLY means just because we know a little bit of Greek.

Sorry, you just hit one of my hot buttons. Larry, cny


Date: 10 Mar 2000
Time: 22:55:41

Comment

Pam in San Bernardino-- Yes, that's Orange, California. ;-) As far as good reading in physics in lay language... "First You Build A Cloud," by K. C. Cole is quite good, as is her book "The Universe and the Teacup." Several months ago, Ms. Cole also did a series of articles on String Theory which appeared in the L.A. Times. I'm sure you can access them online. I have been told that Dr. Hugh Ross has also written quite extensively in this area. I have ordered 2 of his books, but since I have not read them yet, I can't say one way or another how useful they might be. I do know from hearing him speak, that he has an agenda to use science to "prove" the validity of scriptural cosmology. I trust, however, that his science is sound. Blessings, Steve in Orange


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 01:21:01

Comment

Observation from our trip to Israel 2/99 Immediately following his baptism, Jesus went out into the wilderness to fast and pray. In the 4th century the Byzantine Christians built a monastery up the hill side near Jericho. At the parking lot at the base of the mountain, a Palestinian was selling trinkets and coke. Near there, the modern day Arabs have built “Temptation Restaurant” as an oasis and tourist trap. The temptations include costmetics made near by from the dead sea chemical, glass and pottery, expensive jewery and all manner of tourist souvenirs as well as a full service restaurant. “Temptation Restaurant, Jericho, Hello, may I help you?” my button from there says. Even more tempting is the new Casino built just down the road. Our guide said the main customers are Israeli Jews visiting a Palestinian Casino. Sin makes interesting bed fellows. Sue in Cuba, KS


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 03:34:02

Comment

Larry, cny: I agree we don't have to be Greek or Hebrew scholars to really understand the Bible nor should we think we have some inside track on the Bible as preachers.

Like most preachers I simply don't have the time to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar on every text of the Lectionary. However, don't you think we can appreciate the ministry of those who do or are. If translators REALLY gave us the full meaning of every word we would all need wheelbarrows to carry our Bibles around in! As preachers our message surely must be enriched by our increased understanding of what the original authors intended to say. This is not to swell our heads into thinking we have an inside track on the Bible, but rather to enrich our preaching. I appreciate and cherish greatly the responses and information provided to me by others both on this web site and in the commentaries. I can not get enough when it comes to enhancing, expanding and challenging my knowledge and understanding of Scripture. It helps me to grow personally and this makes me a more effective pastor and preacher. God's gives each one of us gifts for ministry and through those gifts we are all interdependent. Our various gifts enrich each other's ministry. We all have a part to play in the work of God's kingdom - even Greek and Hebrew Scholars!

Outback Aussie


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 04:16:46

Comment

to Lois in Oakland... been there as an interim to an aging congregation AND been there in Oakland (CA?) too. High St.PC Is that where you are? Give blessings to the congregation and esp to Lydia G! Doug in Bahamas


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 05:27:09

Comment

Hello All!

Just some thoughts sparked by Pam in San Berdoo, Jay in TN and many others, the process of initiation/preparation/action seems common to just about any discipline we begin. The elation of starting (at a new school, etc.), the hard slog (relearning a new spin on what you thought was true through papers/reading/etc.), then on to begin actually doing the job (ie, graduation).

By looking at the parallel we can claim common ground with anyone who's made a decision and worked it through the action step. We "take it home" when we connect this familiar process to the higher meaning and greater outcome of the Christian journey.

We are baptized in joy, but enter the desert stripped of faith taken on the authority of others which is no longer "our own". While we wander amid the wild animals and tempters we come to a faith of our own, and are reborn into new life with Christ on Easter. Yes, the journey is dangerous, but equal to the threat are the angels on this path, and they do whisper, and if we listen, we do remember; our transfiguration, our baptism, our call.

Blessings from the bootheel of Missouri! Rick L. in Sikeston (Hi, Pam!)


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 05:38:43

Comment

I don't know why, but I've just posted my first sermon ever, having just finished it (5pm Saturday, Australia time) - I don't know why, but I think it's partly to demonstrate how helpful all you guys are. No doubt those who can bother reading it (and why should you - you've your own to worry about!)will recognise your words!


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 05:39:15

Comment

I don't know why, but I've just posted my first sermon ever, having just finished it (5pm Saturday, Australia time) - I don't know why, but I think it's partly to demonstrate how helpful all you guys are. No doubt those who can bother reading it (and why should you - you've your own to worry about!)will recognise your words! John in Oz


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 05:39:25

Comment

I don't know why, but I've just posted my first sermon ever, having just finished it (5pm Saturday, Australia time) - I don't know why, but I think it's partly to demonstrate how helpful all you guys are. No doubt those who can bother reading it (and why should you - you've your own to worry about!)will recognise your words!


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 05:42:39

Comment

Crumbs it's not there, nor did I sign my note! John in Oz


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 14:23:36

Comment

Aussie, I do agree with you. If the preacher can say something about the range of meaning of the word, then I have no problem with it. But I've heard too many sermons where the preacher said that the translation of several words in the text was wrong; it really means something else. To me, that is an abuse of pastoral authority. The underlying message is that lay people can't understand the Bible because the translations are not trustworthy. Larry cny.


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 16:26:52

Comment

I have titled my sermon "The Desert Way". It focuses on Jesus' immediately begin sent into the wilderness after the Holy Spirit came upon him. It is a focus on what we need to do during Lent. Rev. Barb in MO


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 16:27:47

Comment

I have titled my sermon "The Desert Way". It focuses on Jesus' immediately begin sent into the wilderness after the Holy Spirit came upon him. It is a focus on what we need to do during Lent.

Rev. Barb in MO


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 16:53:32

Comment

Martin Luther actually did say that it is impossible to truly understand the bible without knowing Greek and Hebrew. (Oh, I'm Lutheran, by the way) I wouldn't go as far as Luther, but I would say that it is very important for those who preach it to have some understanding of the original language. For me "throw" vs. "drive" isn't a big deal. I happen to like the imagery of throwing better than driving, so I'm glad I had the knowledge to read the Greek and find out that "throw" is one possible translation of the word. Don't know if this makes sense, but I thought I'd add to the discussion. Jason in Texas


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 17:24:41

Comment

In a world where the word meanings change in a nano second, we need to be careful with how we use them. I like to make my congregations stretch alittle with using the word plays. If you have ever driven the 5South at rush hour in Los Angeles, you would know that 'drive' and 'to be thrown into' are synomous. We know that the original meanings of words have changed. Shall we use gay as an example? We don't have to argue that there is one meaning according to the original Hebrew or Greek. Let us remember that they are tools of communication. I use the Greek words as images to illustrate the possibilities of God.Good discussion this week. By the way, you in Orange, where did you go to school? PSinIA


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 22:31:22

Comment

I am struck that both last week's story (Transfiguration) and this week's include a voice from heaven saying "This is my Son, the beloved with whom I am well pleased". After each of these powerful heavenly attestations of his glory, Jesus does not linger (neither on Tabor or at the Jordan), but rather immediately (Mark's great ubiquitous word!) embarks on a difficult phase of his earthly ministry (to the wilderness to wrestle with Satan, to Jerusalem to suffer and die). In this is a model for our own Lenten journey; not to sit complacently knowing we are God's beloved children, but venturing forth each day seeking how best can we serve those God has put in our paths. Not an easy task -- but then, neither were the tasks Jesus took upon himself to carry out for our sake.-- Willie Allen-Faiella, Gulph Mills PA


Date: 11 Mar 2000
Time: 22:36:28

Comment

Hi Friends,

A letter arrived in the mail rcently with fire engine red letters across the back - URGENT.

Upon opening the letter this note was found. "Urgent message to all who purchased my new learn at home guide entitled "Learn to Fly in 6 Easy Lessons". It has been brought to my attention that I failed to include a seventh chapter entitled - "How to Land an Airplane". I am so sorry! Please look for this addition under seperate cover. Again, my deepest apologies."

This story reminds me of baptising and then teachig the faith as an afterthought or at least after process.

My sermon title for tomorrow is "Making Coveneant - Living in Covenant" I find these to be very different things. We in America make covenants very easily and fail to live into many of them.

I don't beleive anyone that really wanted to learn to fly would buy into a 6 easy mail-oredr lesson book. I also find it hard to believe that folks who rush into any-old church for one of us to "Do their Kid" in baptism is very serious about learning to fly with us either.

What do you think?

The Sheepdog in New York


Date: 12 Mar 2000
Time: 04:09:15

Comment

Sheepdog,

I do hope that you aren't implying that all churches that baptize infants encourage people to "rush into any old church to 'do their kid' in baptism." That would be quite a caricature, and I do not know of a single pastor who encourages such behavior.

It seems to me that what many of our churches do in baptism is claim God's promised presence and grace--a promise that I believe extends to children in the covenant community--and then nurture them in that faith so that they will one day profess it for themselves.

While I wouldn't read too much into the Mark passage at hand for its modern-day liturgical and Christian education implications, our practice of infant baptism (followed by a later profession of faith) doesn't seem at all inconsistent with it.

B in KC


Date: 12 Mar 2000
Time: 04:30:41

Comment

Hi B in KC,

Sorry if the Flying lesson thing smacked of infant baptism criticism. I am a United Methodist Pastor, and have baptized hundreds of babies - my own 4 included. I believe and practice the family training and nurture of the extended congregation / greater church family.

I was attempting to communicate some of the frustration I have felt - perhaps others too - in those who take covenant lightly. I personally struggle with this as a growing edge. God's grace is always here for us, but wouldn't it be magnificent if every promise made before an altar were kept?

Sorry if I crunched your toes or misrepresented my position.

Still writing and discerning on a Saturday night.

The New York Sheepdog


Date: 12 Mar 2000
Time: 04:31:07

Comment

Hi B in KC,

Sorry if the Flying lesson thing smacked of infant baptism criticism. I am a United Methodist Pastor, and have baptized hundreds of babies - my own 4 included. I believe and practice the family training and nurture of the extended congregation / greater church family.

I was attempting to communicate some of the frustration I have felt - perhaps others too - in those who take covenant lightly. I personally struggle with this as a growing edge. God's grace is always here for us, but wouldn't it be magnificent if every promise made before an altar were kept?

Sorry if I crunched your toes or misrepresented my position.

Still writing and discerning on a Saturday night.

The New York Sheepdog