Genesis 2: 15-17, Matthew 4: 1-11

  • 3
    university community. As we move into Lent we are being invited to listen more deeply
    for our purpose in this place at this time, sharing with each other what we have been
    learning together over the past few years from our experiences both with Odawa and with
    Edge. We must keep learning and not be tempted to measure ourselves by the idolatry
    that lures us into believing that success can only be measured in certain ways, by size,
    power, wealth and ownership of property and land.
    As Jesus found strength from those words of scripture “Do not put the Lord your
    God to the test’, we too are given the courage to live into a life of faith where there are
    not easy answers. The life of faith is most often lived in this in between place between
    belief and questioning, doubt and trust. In the wilderness experience, some liken it to
    what it feels like coming upon the edge of a cliff, wondering what choices are left to
    move forward. Surely this is a powerful place to kneel down and pray.
    Those who have been aware of what has been happening in the life of this
    congregation may know that we have been putting our hopes in the work of a group in
    the United Church called, Edge, which took it’s name at least 15 years ago because there
    were so many congregations that seemed to have come to the outer edges of their
    capacity to minister through the traditional ways and through questioning their mission,
    were imagining new ways in which God was and is calling them to live out their faith. At
    this edge we are wondering what theologies we have to let go of, what structures, even
    what buildings that would signify what it is to be ‘church’. We are all being invited to
    share our imaginings of how we can share God’s hope and life-giving love in our day.
    This group called Edge has worked diligently to help our church and several other
    congregations in southern Ontario to find other partners, real estate companies that would
    help us to transform our physical space into new possibilities such as affordable housing.
    Unfortunately, they have found that at this point in time there has been no expression of
    interest which brings us back to the same cliff and an apparent roadblock in our own
  • 4
    desire to be useful and sustainable. I have no magic bullet or solution of course, but I do
    know that this Lenten journey will be for us a rich time for soul searching, conversation
    with each other, being honest about our feelings, inviting us into a richer life of prayer as
    we open ourselves both to God’s healing and leading.
    Certainly, on a broader scale, our entire nation of Canada and the many Indigenous
    nations are wrestling with profound questions about identity, about what it means to be a
    society, to care about each other, how listen to each other’s needs and dreams respectfully
    without a hidden agenda of ‘winning’, no matter what and what ‘reconciliation’ looks
    like. Both individually and collectively we are trying to discover that balance between
    caring for the earth, respecting the limits of creation, facing the realities of climate
    change and developing an economy that is capable of sustaining and caring for the needs
    of all of us, especially those who are most vulnerable or voiceless.
    Jesus’ final words of scripture that he spoke to the Tempter who promised him all the
    kingdoms of the world and their splendor (ie gold, oil and investments) may offer us
    some wisdom in this time when priorities are dramatically shifting – “Worship the Lord
    your God and serve only him.” Through prayer and meditation, Jesus would continue to
    learn what it meant to empty himself of his own desires for power, control, wealth and
    prestige and to simply trust in God his Father who would enable him to be a human
    vessel of that deep well of God’s grace and love.
    And so with many troubles in our hearts and minds we begin our own Lenten journey
    remembering that we are all in the wilderness together, in that pendulous state between
    certitude and suspicion, between truth and distrust, between identity and lostness—but
    with the good and steadfast company of Jesus and the angels of heaven.
    Final Blessing
    Whatever wilderness the Spirit has brought you to:
    walk in boldness, as a beloved child of God
    walk in peace, under the shelter of the Most High
    walk in faith, knowing Christ walks with you. Amen.