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This first Sunday of Lent we hear again the famous episode of the temptation of Christ. No matter which version of the story we read (and this time we are reading Matthew 4:1-11), each version takes place between the baptism of Jesus and the full expansion of his mission and ministry. It is an interlude, out in the desert, between two phases of Jesus' life. In that liminal place, that place betwixt and between, Jesus has to confront fundamental questions of human life and the spiritual journey: the needs for comfort, security and power. Each time he puts them in perspective. Each time he reminds us that we are more than a collection of our needs and wants.
Sin and temptation: not things we are often comfortable talking about, although we know they are certainly still part of our experience! Sometimes they present us with stark choices, but often they can be very subtle. Sometimes they are enticing or exciting, sometimes strange and fearful. But of all the things we are not in charge of in this life, we are reminded that there is one thing we are in charge of: ourselves. This first Sunday of Lent we are encouraged to take some time, to pause, to step away and consider the big picture of our lives: where are you going? Where do you want to go? What has been distracting you from what counts? What do you really need for this journey?
By the Rev. Peter Antoci, Associate Rector for Adult Education and Formation, St. Columba's Episcopal Church
Ilya Repin, Follow Me, Satan (Temptation of Jesus Christ) 1903
Sin and temptation: not something we are often comfortable talking about, although we know they are certainly still part of our experience! As your eye takes in this impressionist painting, notice the diffuse nature of the colors and the lines: sometimes the line between right and wrong is blurred indeed. The Tempter is the least defined element in the picture. Most of the time our experience of temptation can be quite subtle, no? What else do your eye and spirit notice?
Peter Gabriel, Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ, 1989
The tones and rhythms of this piece seem to suggest intensity and movement, they invite us to an unknown destination. Some if this is enticing, some exciting, some strange and fearful. What else do your ear and spirit hear?
Lent reflections will be posted weekly, via our weekly email and also here online. These will include a written reflection on that Sunday's Gospel passage, as well as visual and musical meditations. Check back for next week's meditation.
Image: Public domain / Wikigallery.org