February 18, 2018: Wrestling with our own demons: Addiction

Posted on : Feb 15th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

What are you giving up for Lent?

I’ve never found giving up something for Lent to be a very useful practice.  That’s because the things we usually give up are insignificant compared to the really important issues in our lives.

The concept of giving up something for Lent came out of the tradition of trying to focus our spiritual lives on the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice (death).   Giving up chocolate, sweets or alcohol doesn’t do it for me, especially when I know I’m going right back to them as soon as Lent is over.

For me, Lent is more about getting ready or preparing myself to receive the gift of being raised into New Life in the season of Easter.  An agrarian image is that Lent is like plowing the field, tilling the soil, getting the earth ready to plant the seed which will then be buried by the weight of the soil, then waiting for the gift of life to break forth from the ground.

A more contemporary image is from one of my favorite “God Is Still Speaking” writers, Emily Heath.  Emily offers this image of what Lent means:

Lent is the time when we are asked

to look at our lives

and get rid of what is not working.

Now, that is a lot more meaningful to me than giving up chocolate, sweets or alcohol.  So, I chose that as our Lenten Theme for this year’s worship.

This Sunday we begin our Lenten journey with the traditional parable of Jesus encountering “the devil” after fasting in the wilderness for 40 days.  The contemporary question posed in this ancient story is: “What are the demons that we wrestle with in our lives?”

Clearly one of the most powerful demons that we are wrestling with right now is Addiction.  As many of you know, about a month ago I was on a fabulous Caribbean cruise with 5,200 other gay men.  For some, these cruises are a week-long circuit party.  The drug use is way over the top.  On that cruise, a former TV actor died form an overdose.  His death was truly a tragic story.  Sadly, he is only one of thousands of Americans who are dying from addictions.

Friends, Jesus didn’t die so that we could kill ourselves.  Jesus died so that we might live.  How do we re-message the Lenten story so that we experience Lent as a pathway to new life?  I think a good place to begin is by looking at our lives and getting rid of what is not working.

We’ll focus on that this Sunday as we begin our journey through Lent.

Blessings to each of you!

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 4: 1-11

Jesus is tempted by the Devil

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Having fasted forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to Jesus, “If you are the Child of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But Jesus answered, “It is written,

            ‘One shall not live by bread alone,

            But by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said, “If you are the Child of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

            ‘God will give the angels charge of you,’

And

            ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

            Lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to the devil, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Sovereign your God.’” 

Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showed him all the nations of the world and the glory of them; and the devil said to Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to the devil, “Be gone, Satan!  For it is written,

            ‘You shall worship the Sovereign your God,

            And God only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came and ministered to him.

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