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Wilderness: Spiritual Practice (2014-0214)

. 3 min read

2016/02/14 Christ Church,
Mountain Top; Lent 1, Scout Sunday
Call to Worship, Psalm 91.1-2,
9-16
Children, Deuteronomy
26.1-11
Additional
reading, Romans 10.8b-13
Message, Luke 4.1-13
There is so much here:
      Temptation
& sin
            Lust
of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life
            Wealth,
sex, power
      Fears
            Heights!
            Failure
            Death
      Abstinence
            Practice
of fasting, and various kinds
      Scripture
            Its
power against evil
            Its
ability to clarify when we are confused
            “It
is written” – answers already there! (Lectio)
            Invitation
to MEMORIZE
                  “In
him the memory took the place of books” (32)
                  Life of Antony, by Athanasius
      Son
of God
            About
privilege and power … or holiness and serving?
      Spirit
            Jesus
is both “led by the Spirit” and “tempted by the devil”

Focus on one thing in the text:
WHERE
      “in
the wilderness”
      “into
the wild” (MSG)
Over and over in the Scriptures,
the people of God as a whole and men and women of God individually are led by God
into the wilderness. “My father was a wandering Aramean.”
Wilderness in our experience:
      Romantic
– early dates with Robin. Happy Valentine’s Day!
      Male
bonding – spring break hiking trip with dad, summer canoe trip with Jesse,
Scout camp outs
      Danger
– copperhead on the trail, hunter out of season
     
Butch Courage
The secondary WHERE: ALONE
“Resurrect Me”, Jon Foreman
I tried to drown the pain with a
friend of mine
It didn’t seem to help
She’s got a pretty face with the
wedding lace
But I’m still waking up with my
self
Over and over in the Scriptures,
the people of God as a whole and men and women of God individually are led by
God into the wilderness. And, it is not a safe place. Abraham and his son Isaac
on a three day wilderness journey in which Abraham expects to sacrifice his
son. Hagar and Ishmael dying of thirst. Moses thinking his life was over.
Israel watching an entire generation destroyed through attrition and judgment.
Elijah wishing he were dead.
      Now,
it’s Jesus’ turn to endure the wilderness, and to be alone, for forty days and
forty nights. He lies down, alone. He wakes up, “with my self.” He is
face-to-face with evil in its most appealing form. His natural desires for
food, recognition, success, ambition, are being undermined and turned against
him. Even holiness is turned against him – the devil quotes Scripture!
      What
happens for Jesus is what needs to happen for us when we are in our wilderness.
He learns to accept natural desires without allowing it to control his life. He
learns to pursue holiness without becoming obsessive.
Egyptian monastics, the Desert
Fathers
St Anthony (story told by St
Athanasius)
Accepting natural desires without
allowing them to control us:
The ascetic must always acquire
knowledge of his own life (37).
Pursuing holiness without
becoming obsessive:
Therefore let us also pay
[demons] no heed, treating them as strangers to us, and let us not obey them,
even in the event that they arouse us for prayer, or talk to us about fasting.
Rather, let us devote ourselves to our own purpose in the discipline (51).
The victory is not ours, but
belongs to Jesus:
The Lord, who bore flesh for us,
… gave to the body the victory over the devil, so that each of those who truly
struggle can say, It is not I, but the grace
of God which is in me.
(34)
Resources:
“Resurrect Me”, Jon Foreman, on
the Summer EP and Limbs and Branches LP

Athanasius. Translated by Robert
C. Gregg. 1980. The Life of Antony and
the Letter to Marcellinus.
New York: Paulist Press. (Originally written
around the year 356).