Reading: Matthew 4:1-11
This morning in our Gospel lesson Jesus goes into the wilderness.
I came up with a new title for this story.
Jesus moves into the wilderness.
Picture the day you
- Moved into your new home
- Moved your child in their first dorm room or apartment
- Moved into you new office or cubicle
It’s a big day.
An important day.
Now in order to have a successful move, you need boxes.
A lot of them.
Boxes really are helpful.
You get to carry a lot of things you need.
Like this one.
But what would happen if you didn’t have a box to help your move?
What would it look like if
- -you moved into your new home with no clothes, no toys (don’t tell the kids!)
- -you moved into your new office with no computer, pens, paper, calendar
- -you moved your child into their dorm room, hand maybe a few bucks for dinner and said, “well good luck, kid.”
Suddenly the move doesn’t sound as exciting.
Instead of joy you are left with questions like:
- What will I wear?
- What will I eat?
- How can I work?
- Or (worse yet) where are all the kids toys?
It’s amazing how things change in the Gospel.
At the end of chapter 3, Jesus is baptized, God announces, “This is my boy! My beloved son!”
It’s a special moment between parent and child.
And then we get moving day.
And it sounds like God the Parent just leaves Jesus all on his own in the wilderness with no boxes.
Nothing for the trip.
And guess who is waiting for Jesus?
The bad guy.
And it looks like Jesus has to face the wilderness and the devil alone.
Let me ask you a question,
Have you ever felt like you have to face your wilderness all alone?
Do you feel that way now?
Or do you know what it is like to start a new phase in your life,
A moving day, if you will,
And you feel totally alone?
No boxes around?
Because Jesus certainly faced it.
It is tough.
It is scary.
This is where the Devil makes his move.
Because that’s his move.
Catching us at our weakest,
Trying to convince us that God does not have our best interest in mind.
So Devil thinks he’s got this.
But the GOOD NEWS is that the Devil doesn’t have this.
Because God does not leave Jesus to fight the Devil alone.
The Good news is that God DOES give Jesus a box of gifts to fight off temptation.
This box includes:
Jesus uses the Word of God to battle the Devil.
Jesus finds strength in the Word.
Think of that for a moment.
Think of a card or email you have received from someone that gave you encouragement or love at a moment you needed it.
Your friend’s WORDS helped you.
And when the Devil tries to pull the same trick he did back at the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, trying to use God’s own words, Jesus says, “Get out of here!”
The box also includes community.
In this case a community of Angels who come and serve Jesus, wait on him as he goes through the wilderness.
Yes, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness,
But our Gospel NEVER says that the Spirit LEFT him there.
God never leaves Jesus.
God is there for every challenge Jesus faces.
So The Devil doesn’t have Jesus.
And the Devil doesn’t have us.
We all have our battles with the Devil.
And God is there with us.
Offering us our own box.
And our box also includes:
The Word. (Holy Bible)
And Jesus’ Father, OUR FATHER, has the Words that will help you.
Remember these powerful words said at every baptism:
“Child of God, (you are) sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”
The seal goes wherever you go.
The seal is a sign that GOD is with you.
If you need more than a cross on your forehead, God also has the meal.
“This is MY body and MY blood given FOR you.”
Take it with you.
In and through the good and bad times.
And it also includes Community.
If you find yourself in a wilderness,
We will be with you.
Because as a community of faith, that is what we are called to do.
Be there for one another.
Let me tell you how this Community helps those who are in the wilderness,
And recently we put boxes to good use when we sent boxes to our college students,
And it made an impact
(Read thank you’s)
You can read more in our newsletter…
And sometimes the BOX itself can be good news.
Back when Hurrricane Florence hit,
The residents of Cape Fear Apartments, just a few blocks from us were evacuated.
And the apartments have undergone 18 months of work.
And now that work is almost done,
And the residents are finally coming home.
And we can help.
What does one need for a good move?
Lots of them.
And I invite you to join me as we work with the Harrelson Center and Catholic Charities,
And give the people boxes!
If you have good quality boxes,
You can make a resident’s move joyful.
You can make a difference in their lives,
As they have been in their wilderness for 18 months,
And now it’s time to come home.
And Sometimes a box is enough to make a difference.
And that is the difference a life with Christ is like.
For even on our moving days,
WE have the word,
WE have the Spirit,
We have a community
We have God.
And God gives us what we need to see it through.