Today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. If you look carefully, you will notice that the Sundays during Lent are "in" Lent and not "of" Lent (c.f., The Second Sunday of Easter, for example). Because all Sundays, including the Lenten ones, are Feasts of Our Lord, all Lenten abstinence (except the A-Word) is dispensed during these Sundays. Thus, they are are in Lent but not of Lent.
This First Sunday in Lent is always concerning temptation, and specifically Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. We heard today the original temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Coincidentally, today is Evolution Sunday, so it presumably was a challenge for preachers to work eveolution into the sermon today. I didn't preach, so I was off the hook!
We also heard from Paul's letter to the Romans, following up on the lesson from Hebrew Scriptures, comparing Adam with Jesus. And of course the Gospel was Matthew's account of the temptation of Jesus. I'm tempted to relate each of the temptations to one of the ways we are seperated from God, the world, and each other, but I'll refrain. I do find it interesting that in Matthew, there seems to be the implication that the temptation was intentional or deliberate: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Neither Mark nor Luke have the verse in quite the same way, and of course John does not mention the event. I find the suggestion compelling. Do you suppose Jesus knew what was to happen? Or was it just Matthew's way of introducing what was to happen? I'm reminded of the movie The Last Temptation of Christ, which was, at the time, a highly controversial midrash on what Jesus might have been thinking on the Cross about just giving it all up and living out his life. I saw it in college when it first opened - this would have been in 1986 or 87, and didn't see it again until last year. Either times have changed or I have, because at second viewing I couldn't find that much bothersome.
There was a really cool coincidence today at Evening Prayer. This evening the First Lesson was from Deuteronomy 8, vss. 1-10. What's neat is that we began reading Deuteronomy back at the beginning of the Eighth Week of Epiphany, omitted this year because Lent began so early. But I was delighted to actually read the passage, given what the Gospel is for today as well. Those lectionary authors are pretty smart!
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.