To what does your mind turn when you hear that it is the first Sunday in Lent? Perhaps it means nothing to you. I always remember my dear father faithfully giving up his half teaspoon of sugar in coffee (he didn’t take sugar in tea) every Lent. But is that the sort of thing Matthew 4: 1-11 encourages, telling us the story of Jesus’ 40 day fast and temptations in the wilderness? Isn’t this about something much bigger? Hadn’t Jesus been led by God’s Spirit to wrestle with what it meant to be named God’s Son (3: 17)? What power did this confer? How should it be used? Should he try to meet everyone’s needs by miraculous deeds that would compel them to faith? Who is this Jesus for us?
And beyond that, doesn’t this passage face us with the personal question? Each of us has been named a child of God at our baptism. We have been baptised/washed with God’s love? Lent offers us a time to reflect on who we are, and how we are to relate to other people who are equally God’s beloved. It calls us to allow ourselves to be changed by God’s love, not just to give up some rather insignificant indulgence for a few weeks, although such a fast might help concentrate our minds on the real challenges. God is with us, in all life’s trials and temptations, and God loves us.
Let us leave behind fear.
Rev Rosalind Terry