Peace School - Sunday's story is Jesus being tempted in the desert. This is the first example in the gospels of the devil (Satan). Just as we personify God (personifying goodness, love, justice, shalom, etc.) so that we can attempt to define God, we do the same with evil. We personify what's wrong with the world.
In this Jesus story, the devil is tempting Jesus in three different ways. One is to make bread out of stones so that he doesn't have to know hunger. The second is to force God to save him from a suicidal fall. The third is to worship the devil, and in doing so gain power over all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus turns each down with a quote from the Old Testament.
This story has been written about by many theologians and scholars. I personally find meaning and inspiration in the view that Jesus had to spend time in the desert to find himself - just as the Hebrews did after leaving Egypt, and just as King David did to escape King Saul, and just as the prophets Elijah and Elisha sometimes did. The desert is a place of "fasting" from society to intentionally listen for God and to clarify one's calling. For Jesus, as he's beginning his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing and discipling, he had to give up three common temptations of most people, and especially charismatic leaders:
1.) Power is not for selfish gain - power should benefit everyone, and we should exercise self-control and self-sacrifice.
2.) God is not to be tested - we are to trust/fear/love God, but not test God.
3.) Gaining the world is not the goal - a relationship with God is.
May we all turn down the temptations that seek to undermine our life, let alone our relationship with God, let alone our relationship with all people and creation.
May our children keep wrestling with their opportunities to follow good or evil, and may they wrestle in "desert" experiences with their calling and true identity.
Explore - Here's an activity,"God is Here," as we learn about Jesus and the disciples on Jan. 31, and as we wonder about the power of God through Jesus. What do miracles mean to us today? We are entertained by miraculous stories in cartoons, comic books and movies such as Star Wars. Can we envision miracles through Jesus and all he stood for and worked for in his ministry?
Reflect - Learn more about Jesus in the desert and his ministry:
Jesus in the desert (Shine On 180)
Jesus brings good news (Shine On 182)
Jesus calls disciples (Shine On 184)
Jesus and wedding at Cana (Shine On 186)
Pray - this season of Epiphany we'll be focusing on Psalm 23. Probably the most well known of all the Psalms.