On the first Sunday in Lent, our morning’s worship last week was led by Mr Paul Bishop, who was welcomed by Sue Fox. Sue directed our thoughts to the unfolding horror of the situation in Ukraine for which special prayers were said later. After some words of greeting we sang “All Heaven declares the Glory of the risen Lord” as our opening hymn.
The temptations endured by Jesus in the wilderness was the theme of our service and after our opening prayers of praise and thanksgiving, Ron Lucas read from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter four, telling of Jesus spending forty days and nights in the desert before he embarked on his ministry of service to God and mankind.
In his sermon Paul said Lent is often regarded as being a time to give up some of the things we enjoy, but Paul directed our thoughts to the agony of Jesus as he was tempted by the Devil in three ways. After spending forty days and nights without food Jesus was hungry and the Devil came to him and tempted him to turn the stones into bread. “Man cannot live by bread alone but needs every word that God speaks” was the reply. Leading Jesus to the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Devil invited him to throw himself down saying that God will ask the angels to hold him up. Jesus replied, “The scripture says, do not put the Lord your God to the test”. How many times have we been taken to places where we have been tempted, asked Paul. The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world saying, “All this I will give you if you kneel down and worship me”. Jesus told Satan to go away with the words “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!” so the Devil left Jesus and angels came and helped him. We all succumb to temptations, said Paul, and temptations can make us question our motives. Jesus resisted these temptations, and he was without sin and we are encouraged by the words of Jesus who, if we say we are sorry, says “you are forgiven”.
Paul led our special prayers for the men, women and children of Ukraine and reminded us that the large majority of the population was Christian. May there be a speedy resolution to the present conflict.