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Worship, Prayer and Bible Study Resources for the First Sunday in Lent

Year C, Purple

The Season of Lent

Lent 1


Jesus has just been through the wonderful experience of baptism and received the approval of God for his chosen course of ministry. Then just when all is going really well he is faced with some difficult choices.

It is worrying when people tell you that they hear voices inside their heads, it can be associated with a range of conditions, with some nasty outcomes. However we all have ideas which can be good or bad and we are all placed in situations where opportunities present themselves and we have to choose between good and bad things. This is just the situation which we are told Jesus faced in the wilderness. We can imagine that in the same situation we would have wondered whether it was not a good idea to make some bread miraculously to deal with the hunger. It would also seem rather a good idea for Jesus to have some spectacular stunts to help prove to the unbelieving masses who he really was. Of course this would not then have been a ministry of service and suffering, it would be using his position for himself, avoiding the restrictions of his human incarnation. Ultimately to make such choices would have enabled him to choose a path which would avoid the experience of the cross.

Jesus knew that bits of scripture could always be used to back up the wrong choices, scripture can be used wrongly to justify just about anything. Fortunately Jesus knew enough scripture to recognise that this was not God's way for him. Israel had been in the desert for 40 years because they let God down, Jesus is there for 40 days, but he comes out triumphant over temptation, trusting in God and obedient to the call which God had made of him. The power which Jesus has inside him will be directed towards fulfilling the role of the servant, not playing to the crowds for cheap approval.

You and I might not have the same degree of temptation which Jesus faced, but we all have challenges and face difficult choices about the standards by which we will live. Our task as Christians is to weigh up these decisions as Jesus did and resolve to do the right thing. It will not be easy, battles may be fought and lost, but we do know that the same Spirit which was at work in Jesus is at work in us and we will ultimately share the victory which Christ won for us.

Opening Verse of Scripture    Psalm 91:1

They who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. CW

Heavenly Father, your Son battled with the powers of darkness, and grew closer to you in the desert: help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer that we may witness to your saving love in Jesus Christ our Lord. CW

First Bible Reading   Deuteronomy Chapter 26 v 1 - 11

Moses spoke to the people, saying: When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, ‘Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.’ When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.’ You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house. NRSV

Second Reading Romans Chapter 10 v 8b

What does scripture say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ NRSV

Gospel Reading Luke Chapter 4 v 1 – 13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”’ Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’ Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. NRSV 

Post Communion Prayer

Lord God, you have renewed us with the living bread from heaven; by it you nourish our faith, increase our hope, and strengthen our love: teach us always to hunger for him who is the true and living bread and enable us to live by every word that proceeds from out of your mouth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. CW

Temptation of JesusCommentary

In Luke Chapter 4 we read about Jesus being led into the desert for 40 days where he fasts and is tempted to use his ministry in tests which would have reminded Hellenistic readers of the threefold categories of vice: 1. love of pleasure, 2. love of possessions and 3. love of glory.

The biblical symbolism is even stronger. Peter denied Jesus three times, he was also taunted three times on the cross.

The forty days of wandering in the desert without food would also recall the wanderings of the prophet Elijah (1Kings 19:8) and Moses who went before who fasted for forty days before writing the words of the covenant (Ex 34:28). Perhaps most significantly it recalls the wandering of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years. The people had been called ‘God’s son’ but they had tested God repeatedly (Num 11:13, Acts 7:39-41) and they had longed for a more pleasurable past and a more secure future. In Deuteronomy 8:2 we read that the whole wilderness experience was also God’s way of testing, to know what was in their heart, how they would behave, whether his laws were important to them. The forty days therefore connects Jesus with the most significant and important people and events in thew history of the Jewish people

The passage from Luke shows that unlike Israel, Jesus has a heart that will be obedient to God. The wilderness experience expresses the deepest and most honest examination of the heart. If you have been in a desert you will have been aware of how remote it feels, away from the gaze of others and removed from the distraction and noise, a place to focus intently on the inner. It is in these conditions, sharpened by hunger, that Jesus passed a test and made the decision to be faithful to God. Jesus quotes scripture ( Deut 8:3, and 6:13) to assert that human life is defined by more than physical subsistence. The episode concludes on top of the temple in Jerusalem, the place where Jesus will eventually end his life on a cross, it is here that Jesus makes plain that he will serve the source and giver of life, not the deceiver.

Jesus has had an uplifting spiritual experience and immediately he has a testing time in the wilderness. That in itself will resonate with many people, the undulating nature of human existence, the highs and the lows. Our Christian faith does not shield us from the ups and downs. Jesus is in the wilderness and he is faced with temptations. We know from the Gospel writers that there were three temptations
1. To turn stone into bread

2. To pursue worldly glory and authority through political power

3. To perform a miracle by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple

We might not be tempted to turn stones into bread, but bread is symbolic for the material stuff we need in life like food and money. Jesus was offered a short cut to possessing material blessing. Reminiscent of creation all Jesus has to do is speak to create bread from stone. This is a temptation of human greed and Jesus was tempted by it and had to face that temptation and recognise it for the futility which is was. What good would it be to him to have all the wealth in the world, if he was not mindful of the need one day to give account? Of course human greed is an age old temptation for material wealth. Jesus undersatands that wealth does not bring happiness in this life or the next. This was true then it is true now. Jesus knows about human greed and the dangers of it.

Jesus emerges from the desert having rejected models of the Messiah which he could easily have persuaded himself were in keeping with God’s plan. There was the temptation for Jesus to conform to contemporary expectations but he will have none of it. Gone are any notions of violent or military ruler, the zealot vision of God’s kingdom which would be symbolised by a sword. Jesus has turned away from any notion of kingship which seeks personal glory or satisfies his physical desires. Instead he has chosen the way of the servant, the path of peace, (1:79, 2:14, Acts 10:36). As he emerges from the desert he goes to the synagogue at Nazareth and reads from the book of Isaiah a statement that will define him and his ministry.

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Christians will not be surprised at all at the temptations. Jesus shows us what human nature is like and calls us to follow his example and be different. To seek to give rather than receive, to choose service rather than power. Jesus takes human tendencies to be selfish and stands them on their head and he tells us that if we really want to be happy in ourselves we must seek the welfare of others. The ability to think of others and consider the consequences of our greed, these are lessons which must be learned by everyone if we are ever to be able to live in peace with one another and creation. We must learn to be different. This is what Lent is all about. Lent is a time when we are called to think through our inner values and attitudes. We seek to have the mind of Christ in the judgements which we are called to make.

The passage today gives hope to all of those who face difficulty. Jesus went into the wilderness, but he did not go alone. Neither do we go alone as we walk in dangerous places. God is with us as we seek to walk in his ways. When we walk with Christ , the Spirit of Jesus comes with us to give us strength to make right choices and live in the knowledge that this mortal life is but a brief moment in God’s time. Our lives will be filled with many challenges, but we face those challenges not with the power of one, but with the strength of our Lord.


In the passage from Luke, we see Jesus doing battle with the Devil. Jesus is tempted, challenged and made to engage in spiritual combat with evil possibilities. Our human lives too are a battleground, each one of us is conflicted, seemingly surrounded by beasts and angels, every one of us has weaknesses which expose us to the powers of evil. Biblical writers have used many different types of language and descriptions to describe this conflict. The writer to the Ephesians speaks about having to put on the armour of God for battle, in Romans the apostle Paul tells us that whilst he wants to do good things, so often he ends up doing the bad things he doesn't want to do. Each one of us aspires to do great things, we are full of dreams and high ideas, yet so often we disappoint ourselves and don't meet up to our own expectations. We really don't need to come to church to remind ourselves that we fall short of God's ideal, the truth is that we can't even hit our own low standards, let alone God's!

How easy it is therefore to pile on the guilt at Lent. All the food we have consumed since New Year which we were going to stop eating. More importantly all the good ways in which we might have behaved to be better Christian people. We all know the error of our ways and so perhaps Lent should be more affirming. I have memories of sitting in draughty old Anglican churches reciting the confession which drums into the praying person just how dreadful they really are

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, We have offended against thy holy laws, We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, And there is no health in us: But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders; Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults, Restore thou them that are penitent, According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord: And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

It really is depressing, 'there is no health in us' - 'miserable offenders.' Obviously we are all worms, not worthy, it is almost Monty Python. Contrast this with the Jesus who lifts up the head of the woman caught in adultery and sets her free from her captors. Are these the words which our Lord would expect to be on the lips of his children? I see human beings made in the likeness of God. The image of God is poor in all of us, but we can never be worms. Moreover, telling people how dreadful they are, so that they will turn to God and seek salvation, this is not an encounter with the Good News, it is a threat. Jesus loved people into the kingdom, he never delighted to make them feel worse then they felt already. The ministry of Jesus was about him raising up people who were low in self esteem, and putting them back on the road to recovery. If we study the words of Jesus we find that threatening words were only ever used for the self-righteous and those who pointed the finger at the guilt of others.

This Lent, let us not be reminded more than we have to that we fall short of God's ideal. Let us not focus on our own shortcomings, rather upon the saving grace of Jesus. He was surrounded by beasts in the desert, he was challenged to decide how he would live his life, and he choose well. In the life of Christ is all humankind saved, not by our efforts to become acceptable and winning God over. Charles Royden

Let the enemy rage at the gate,
let him knock, let him push, let him cry,
let him howl, let him do worse;
we know for certain that he cannot enter
save by the door of our consent. -
Francis de Sales 1567-1622



  1. Lead us heavenly Father lead us  (Mannheim)

  2. Forty days and forty nights

  3. As the deer

  4. Through all the changing scenes of life

  5. Lord of the Church (Londonderry Air)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian. If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

God of wilderness and water, your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. Guide us through this season, that we may not avoid struggle, but open ourselves to blessing, through the cleansing depths of repentance and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.

I pray that you may advance in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, and show forth his mind in conduct worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Gelasian Sacramentary

Loving father, today we start Lent. Over the next six weeks, with your help, we are going to prepare for Easter. From today we are making a new start with a bigger effort to be more loving and kind. Help us to show concern for the less fortunate, the hungry and the poor, and especially help us to speak to you more often. We ask this through your Son, Jesus, whose death and resurrection we will be thinking about in the next few weeks. Tony Castle

O Lord and heavenly father, who hast given unto us thy people the true bread that cometh down from heaven, even thy Son Jesus Christ: grant that throughout this Lent our souls may be so fed by him that we may continually live in him and he in us; and that day by day we may be renewed in the spirit by the power of his endless life, who gave himself for us, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. FB Macnutt. 1873-1949

As the days lengthen and the earth spends longer in the light of day, grant that I may spend longer in the light of your presence, O Lord, and may those seeds of your Word, which have been long buried within me, grow, like everything around us, into love for you and love for people; to become a visible declaration of your Lordship in my life. Grant, Father, that this Lent there may be a springtime for my life in Christ.  Dick Williams.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we, lamenting our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Lord, Jesus Christ, help us to fashion in these Lenten days a season of inner redemption and holiness. Again and again, may we use these days to come quietly into your presence ever open to your prompting, ever ready to serve you and ever ready to reflect your coming Easter glory. Amen

Teach us, O God, so to use this season of Lent that we may be drawn closer to our Lord, and in fellowship with Him may learn to hate sin, to overcome temptation, and to grow in holiness that our lives may be strengthened for your service and used for your glory. We ask this is Christ’s name. Amen

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow Him; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Gracious Father, your blessed son Jesus Christ, came from heaven to be the true bread which gives light to the world. Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Methodist Worship

Additional Resources

Jesus tempted Juan de FlandesA Picture Paints a Thousand Words
 Juan de Flandes
Hispano-Flemish, active 1496 - 1519

 Juan de Flandes was of Flemish origins. He is first mentioned in 1496 in the accounts of Isabel the Catholic, Queen of Castile. In 1498 he is described as court painter, and he remained in her service until her death in 1504. By 1509 he had settled in Palencia, where he was commissioned by the bishop, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, to paint eleven scenes from the life of Christ to enlarge an existing sculpted retable in the cathedral of Palencia.

What do you think the Devil look like? The Bible doesn’t tell us very much, the Apostle Paul wrote "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). The First Epistle of Peter warns: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the Devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The Devil was not shown in early Christian art, he starts to get more popularity in medieval art around the ninth century. He gets cloven hooves, an animal body with lots of hair, a pointy tail, pointed ears, and of course the horns! These images come from the world around Christianity as Christians rejected pagan gods of the Roman world. The Greek god Pan, the god of fertility, was half goat and half man with unbridled lust and carnal appetites. His goat horns and cloven hooves became easily associated with sin and made a great model for artists. In the same way the Devil's pitchfork appears to have been adapted from the trident wielded by the Greek god Poseidon.

In the painting today we see the Devil disguised as a monk carrying a rosary, obviously quoting scripture. We are not easily deceived, we know an impostor when we see one! We can see those horns and the pointy beard and when we look closely at his feet protruding from under his habit, they are webbed, he looks like a gargoyle! This combination of the body of an animal is typical to illustrate that Satan is beast not human. The feet were usually cloven hooves but a 15th century German wood cut of Saint Bernard Vanquishing the Devil also had the devil with webbed feet. In Paradise Lost, Milton would use the webbed footed toad as a symbol of evil pouring poison into the ear Satan. No wonder witches loved them. 

There were three temptations of course, in the picture you can see Satan with a large stone, clearly tempting the hungry Jesus to turn it into bread. Look closely and you can see the other two temptations as well. On the left of the picture the two are on top of the mountain where Jesus is shown all the kingdoms of the world and offered power, on the right you can see Jesus on a high tower where he is tempted to throw himself off and test God.

Of course the artist has not used a desert scene, like much of the art which we see the painters have tried to bring the biblical stories up to date and use the growing popularity of art to convey biblical truths making them relevant to theiraudience at the time. The challenge for us is how to do the same.


This is the time of year when we remember the importance of forgiveness, seeking God's will in our lives and trusting him for the future. At this time many people will be encouraged by the words of scripture from the Psalms which reassure us that God really does forgive us and include us in his love. There are no sins which can separate us from God, we are already forgiven

Psalm 137:11

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.


Looking back, looking forward
Lent is a time of reflection, a time to look back on the journey we’ve been through over the past few months and years. A remembrance of the past. It’s absolutely an opportunity to look into ourselves and see the things which we’d like to change through the grace of God, but it’s also an opportunity to look into ourselves and see the glory that is within us, perhaps buried deeply, but there nonetheless. And as we see the things we’d like to change, and see, however dimly, the glory that is within us, we can perhaps begin to catch a clearer glimpse of what Christ has called us to be. Rather than be negative and see all the failings of our past, we should be positively encouraged and look forward with excitement to what might lie ahead on our journey with Christ. One of the reasons Jesus was able to resist temptation is because He was crystal clear about His purpose and destiny, His mission on earth and His desire to fulfil the Father’s will. Overcoming temptation for Jesus was not so much about knowing what not to do; it was about knowing what should be done. Jesus recognised His temptation as a distraction from trusting (and worshiping) the one true God. As Tom Wright writes,
‘He maintained a single minded devotion and His allegiance to the Father overrode immediate bodily desires; it ruled out the easy but costly short cut to vocation (to be the Lord of the world); it forbade him, by seeking ‘proof’ of His status, to challenge the word spoken at His baptism.’

Paul indicates in his passage in Romans that Christ had indeed become Lord of the whole world, but not by the tempter’s route but by living out the calling and ministry His Father had ordained for Him. We are regularly tempted, not merely to wrong belief or wrong actions or words, but to miss out on the best that God has for each one of us. Luke places the temptation of Jesus immediately after God’s words of affirmation to Jesus at His baptism and the description of the ancestry of Jesus which is traced back to God Himself. Jesus is part and parcel of God’s active engagement with our world and our salvation history. From this moment on it is clear that Jesus understands and accepts fully His calling as he rejects the false and seemingly easy paths offered to Him. From this moment on there can only be the path that leads to the pain and shame of the cross and ultimately the glory of the resurrection and ascension. From this moment on, the world will start the process of renewal and transformation which Jesus declares in the synagogue at Nazareth immediately after His temptation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Good News will be preached to the poor and afflicted, liberty will be proclaimed to the captives, sight will be restored to the blind, the oppressed will be freed, and the year of the Lord’s favour (the time when possessions are restored to their rightful owners) will be proclaimed. The journey of salvation has truly begun.

One of the prayers we use on Ash Wednesday invites us to use the time of Lent as a time of holy observance, a time that is different from the rest of the Christian year, a time to reflect on the purpose of our own spiritual journey. It’s also a time which leads inexorably to the cross and the resurrection beyond, a time to look forward to an Easter which gives the ultimate meaning to our lives as the stone is rolled away and the world looks into an empty tomb. From Lent we look beyond to Easter. As we look into ourselves in Lent, we see the temptations we have succumbed to, we see the things in our lives which we need to repent of, see the things in our lives which we need to get sorted out, the things that need to be renewed, but beyond all those we are able to see the God who is in each one of us through the glory of a resurrected Christ. Sometimes we just don’t spend enough time looking, and stop before we see His glory in our inner selves. Sam Cappleman


We often think of temptation as negative, things that we’ve succumbed to, rules we’ve broken. And if we do succumb to temptation we can think that God is going to punish us for it, make us pay in some way or other. But that’s probably not the right way to understand the concept of temptation. As Christians we’re called to the privilege of loving and worshiping God and reflecting His glory in the world through the glory that is in us, through our transformed lives in Him. That is, in part, the message of the Transfiguration we read in last week’s readings. God has called each one of us, and has a path and a destiny planned out for every individual in his care, the absolute best way for each one of us to be and live. When we fall into temptation and sin therefore it’s not that God is going to send down a thunderbolt to punish us, it’s more that we are settling for second best – something less than God has ordained for us. Falling short of the mark, missing the target - which also happens to be one way to translate the word sin. Rather than a punishment from God, it’s more like some self-inflicted punishment. And we’re often quite good at punishing ourselves when we think we have sinned. Sin is a part of all of our lives and none of us are strangers to temptation. Like Jesus, we are most vulnerable to the twisting, distorting forces of evil at those times where we are also most open to God. If Jesus had not been so consumed with passion for the hungry, the oppressed and those who have not experienced the transforming power of God, the devil's proposals to Him would not have been the least bit tempting. But He was, and the resources that He had in those stark wilderness days can be ours as well. Sam Cappleman



Lent is the time in the church year where we are offered space for reflection and repentance. Sin is a part of all of our lives and none of us are strangers to temptation. Like Jesus, we are most vulnerable to the twisting, distorting forces of evil at those times where we are also most open to God. If Jesus had not been so consumed with passion for the hungry, the oppressed and those who have not experienced the power of God, the devil's proposals to Him would not have been the least bit tempting. But He was, and the resources that He had in those stark wilderness days can be ours as well.

The temptation of Jesus was for the sole purpose of distracting him from His ultimate goal and purpose in life, which was to die on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for humanity. As he tries to distract Christ from this goal Satan tempts Jesus in three different ways. He tempts Him to concentrate on His physical needs, he tempts Him to take moral shortcuts, and he tempts Him to focus on Himself rather than His Father God. Temptations which assail us all from one time or another.

Jesus was able to resist temptation because he was clear about His purpose and destiny and was able to focus on knowing and doing the will of the Father who had sent Him into the world. For Jesus and for every Christian, overcoming temptation is not just about knowing what not to do, it’s about knowing what we should be doing, about the fulfilling to the best of our human ability the purpose and destiny God has marked out for each one of us. Lent offers us a time reflection when we can draw near to God, through fasting, reading and prayer so that we can know more certainly what that purpose and will might be for our lives. One of the prayers we use on Ash Wednesday invites us to use the time of Lent as a time of holy observance, a time that is different from the rest of the Christian year, a time to reflect on the purpose of our own spiritual journey. It’s also a time which leads inexorably to the cross and the resurrection beyond, a time to look forward to an Easter which gives the ultimate meaning to our lives as the stone is rolled away and the world looks into an empty tomb. From Lent we look beyond to Easter. As we look into ourselves in Lent, we see the temptations we have succumbed to, we see the things in our lives which we need to repent of, see the things in our lives which we need to get sorted out, but beyond all those we are able to see the God who is in each one of us through the glory of a resurrected Christ. Sometimes we just don’t spend enough time looking and stop before we see His glory in our inner selves. Sam Cappleman 


At sometime in our lives each one of us has probably had one or more desert experiences - times of loneliness, disillusionment, emptiness, and spiritual dryness; times of change, decision, transition, and struggle. Times when we wonder what God’s calling, and our faith, are all about. Times when we seemingly have no other option but to wait until God’s direction for us begins to unfold. Jesus begins his ministry with exactly this experience. A time of loneliness, reflection, discernment, transition and struggle. Thankfully, the Spirit of God that accompanied Jesus in the wilderness accompanies each of us in our desert experiences too. And just as for Jesus, our desert experiences, however painful, can be a time of discovery and growth. A time that draws us into God's presence, offering us an opportunity to discern once again what it is that God is asking of us each in this short, earthly journey. A time, as Evelyn Underhill writes, ‘ when we can have a secret correspondence of the soul.’ Sam Cappleman


Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States. On this day in 1861 he was sworn in as President, just as the American Civil War was about to begin. He is one of the most respected of American presidents, but he could have given up at the time of any one of his many failures and negative experiences: In 1832 he was defeated in state elections. In 1833 he failed as a shopkeeper and was in debt. 1836 saw him have a nervous breakdown. In 1849 he was disillusioned at not being offered a government post, and he left politics for a time. In 1855 and also in 1858 he was defeated in his wish to be elected for the U.S. Senate. He experienced personal tragedy as three of his four children died young. On finally becoming president, he was let down by some of those he had appointed to positions of trust.

Let us pray

Father, into your hands I place my successes. Into your hands I also place my failures, and I pray that, through your spirit, I may face the challenges of life with courage and determination. Help me to think anew and see things more broadly than in terms of “success” and “failure”. Lead me always to trust and place myself confidently in your hands. Amen.


First Sunday of Lent. Deuteronomy 26: 1- 11; Romans 10: 8b – 13; Luke 4: 1-13
The passage from Deuteronomy, describes a harvest pilgrimage and serves to remind people of the exodus from Egypt as the event which turned the Israelites from being a collection of people, a series of tribal families, into a nation. ‘A wandering Aramaean’ stood at the centre of Israel’s confession of faith from the beginning, and this serves to invite us to trace our faith back to the experience of being foreigners in the desert. It is a creed which contains an important insight, and which is picked up again in Luke’s Gospel, that the wilderness is both a testing place and also a place for new beginnings. In our thankfulness for nourishment, we are reminded not to externalise evil, it exists within us. Everything is grounded in God’s love. God does not pull up evil by the roots, as we pull out a weed in our own garden, because the roots guarantee our own freedom as we make our own desert journey.

In Paul’s letters, Jesus is frequently referred to as ‘Lord’, and this is probably to distinguish him from the many gods of the pagan religions to be found in the Roman empire at that time. In the passage in Romans, God’s powers are exercised through Jesus as God’s representative and things which were quite traditionally said about God were quite properly said about Jesus. In Paul’s thinking, the focus is on Jesus’ stewardship of a ministry and mission delegated to him by God, and shown in his life and death. The confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ can be thought of as both an individual commitment and also a recognition of Jesus’ lordship over the Church membership as well. Christian discipleship has always lived ‘in the Lord’ and, in New Testament terms, shares the same conflict over which Jesus’ ultimate and universal lordship is assured.
The Gospel reading set for today really places Jesus’ earthly ministry in that universal context. Luke saw the whole life of Jesus as one of temptation, which comes to a head in the passion. In the Bible this is the 'testing' of Jesus, the Son of God, for his fidelity. The agent may be either God, as n the wilderness wanderings, or Satan, as in Job. The immediate background for Luke’s account is the wilderness temptation of Israel: Jesus succeeds where Israel fails, particularly in the supreme temptation of a testing God, and so fulfils Israel’s history. It is this larger picture in which following Jesus as a Christian has to be understood. The call to ‘embody Jesus’ comes to the Church in the ‘wilderness places’; but the final harvest is universal and cosmic. It offers us a vision which draws us towards a more humane world in which we endeavour to live and struggle against sin and evil in ourselves and in our communities. We are not ‘like God, knowing good and evil’ in any final or absolute sense. Rev Peter Littleford.

Prayers for Sunday

Loving God - when we get tired or hungry - when we feel angry or lonely - help us to stop and think a while - instead of getting nasty or mean - help us to think about - what Jesus would do - and to remember what you ask us to do - and that you can help us do it. - Help us to walk each day with you - and to make this world a better place - we ask this in the name of Jesus - Amen
Loving and Compassionate God, you know that the battle of good and evil rages within and around us, and that our ancient foe tempts us with his deceits and empty promises. We pray that you would keep us steadfast in your Word and, when we fall, raise us again and restore us through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was tempted as we are tempted - but resisted the wiles of the evil one
Father, in those moments when our weaknesses and our strengths are tested, fill us with your holy presence that we may always remember whose we are. Keep from us the temptation to give up on seeking to do your will, and shield us from the despair that doubts your goodness. Help us to remember that you are the one who is able to move the rock aside, the one who gives new life
O Lord our God, listen to the voice of your church, calling to you from the desert of this world. Protect us with your strong hand and outstretched arm, that, nourished by the bread of your word and fortified by your Spirit we may proclaim the good news of your love to all people in word and deed, even as Jesus showed us. We ask it in his name. Amen

Hymns for Sunday

(Hymns and Psalms)255 Crown him with many crowns, Colours of Day (On notices), 260 Jesus is Lord, 463 To God be the glory, I’ll go in the strength of the lord (On notices).

A modern parable.
A man fell into a pit and he couldn't get out.
Buddha said: "Your pit is only a state of mind."
A Hindu said: "This pit is for purging you and making you more perfect."
Confucius said: "If you would have listened to me, you would never have fallen into that pit."
A new ager said: "Maybe you should network with some other pit dwellers."
A self-pitying person said: "You haven't seen anything until you've seen my pit."
A reporter said: "Could I have the exclusive story on your pit?"
A Tax Inspector said "Have you paid your taxes on that pit?"
A Local Authority Officer said: "Do you have a permit for that pit?"
A realist said: "That's a pit."
An idealist said: "The world shouldn't have pits."
An optomist said: "Things could be worse."
A pessimist said: "Things will get worse."
Jesus seeing the man took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit, because a pit is an awful place to be -particularly the pit of created by the power of sin and temptation. Jesus is one who has managed to avoid the pit and who seeks to help us out of the pit. Do not dwell in the pit - Do not accept the pit - Rather reach out your hand to the one who has stretched out his hands for you - and who still reaches out for you today. Reach out to Christ - and through Christ - reach out to others around you and let the know that there is a better life to be had - a life that is given freely to all who desire it.