Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16); Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Genesis 9:8-17 (Psalm 25:1-10); 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
For the people in Noah’s day, there was no scientific warning of a natural disaster, just a crazy man building an ark.
As I write this, the kitchen table is shaking. If our table is shaking, I worry that the church’s beautiful stained-glass windows, desperately in need of repair, are also shaking. The parsonage is attached to the church and shares the same foundation. Seven feet away all hell is breaking loose. Several blocks of businesses that have served this neighborhood are being knocked down by giant backhoes and inflated real estate prices to make way for towering apartments.
Sometimes I’m watching TV news and reach the point where I cannot take in all the violence and destruction. So I turn off the television and try to get involved in something that will take my mind off the news. God, however, does not have that option. God does not have a remote control to change the channels. God cannot move to the suburbs or close a door to hide from the violence. God’s eyes are not averted. God’s heart is not numbed.
How far had Lazarus traveled along the way of clarity, truth, and reality in those four days?
Chang Lee survived two brutal wars in his mother country, Korea. He lived through the dangers posed by Japanese bombs, Chinese howitzers, North Korean minefields and American carbines. But he did not survive an encounter with a mugger in the hallway of his own apartment in the U.S. He was brutally stabbed, and died at the age of 80. Chang Lee’s family were members of the parish I served in Queens.
The Hebrews’ stories brought their lives into balance. Moses believed that remembering where they’d been, how they’d come into the land God promised, and what God had done for them would keep them faithful. So he said that in offering the first fruits of harvest, “You shall make this response before the LORD your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.’” Their story was a confession of faith, a community story that cast their thanksgiving into a framework that provided boundary and purpose to their lives together. It was a creed. Tell it again and again, Moses urged.
In an account in which only Satan, wild animals, and angels are with Jesus, the reader is also present.
The Tempter will return again and again. But we are never left alone.