Consecration of Revd Dr Helen-Ann Macleod Hartley
as the 7th Bishop of Waikato, February 22nd 2014, 1pm.
Dear Friends in Christ
E te whanau a te Karaiti
CS Lewis' introduction to his book "The Screwtape Letters – Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil" quotes Reformer Martin Luther: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." In our Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent we meet Jesus in the wilderness, having been led there by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil (Greek: slanderer) and, after his forty day fast, famished from a lack of physical nourishment Satan (Hebrew: accuser) arrives on the scene mentioning bread.
We read this account of the temptations of Christ and we remind ourselves of His triumph over them. An account which almost seems like a sports commentary with banter going backwards and forwards between Jesus and the devil which Jesus wins 3-0. Scriptural quotes are traded off against each other as Jesus repels the "slanderers'" attempts to trap Jesus with three types of temptation that we all know very well, so well in fact that they are like old friends: 1. Physical cravings 2. Fast track success but with costly consequences and 3. Insecurity concerning our identity and roles in life. These temptations and indeed all temptations lure us away from the privilege and invitation to know and love and worship God. They make us lower our gaze, shorten our sights and settle for second best or worst. Temptation leads to that missing out on what God wants to offer us, life in full abundance. Let us not miss out, we are children of God and as we proclaim each week we are indeed forgiven and can be at peace.
Lent is a season for self-examination, reflection, repentance and prayer. If you give up anything at all this Lent then give some time. Time is so precious a gift, so give some up and give it to God. Let us pray for a holy, life changing and life challenging Lent as we each consider the who we think we are, what we have become and the person we are in Christ destined to be.
The message of today's scriptures from Genesis, Romans and Matthew can all be summed up by another quote of Martin Luther's; "So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!"
Blessings in His service,
February 15, 2014