We Are at War

by Fr. Mark Kurowski | MySpiritualAdvisor2019

#WeAreAtWar is the podcast for March 10, 2019, the First Sunday in Lent. Jesus runs toward the devil to start Lent. Why would he seek him out? Why seek out temptation? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke #Luke4 #Temptation #Lent1 #Police #Fire #Ambulance #FirstResponders #CoastGuard #FEMA #SpiritualWarfare

Full Text of Podcast, Open Here (For Our Deaf and H/H Brethren)

For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   3/10/2019  The 1st   Sunday of Lent.

Please pause this audio and read Luke 4:1-15.

         The difference between us and first responders is that we run away from disaster, crime, tragedy, and they run toward it. We have seen it over and over again. Fire fighters run into burning buildings. Police run toward the scene of an active shooter. FEMA runs toward the storm, the earthquake, the raging wild fire.  Every single one of them are running to save lives.  We place a high priority on saving lives. Even in the face of disasters, we will do whatever, at whatever cost, to save a single life.

         Today, we celebrate the First Sunday of the season in the Christian Church Calendar called Lent. We shroud our churches in purple cloth and vestments. Purple is not just the color of royalty, but it is also the color of repentance, fasting, and humility. We deny ourselves the remembrance of our Baptisms by emptying the holy water fonts in our churches. We stop singing the Gloria and the Alleluia to remind us of the Great 40 Days.

         Ah, yes, the 40 days. These are our 40 days. They are like the 40 days of Elijah when he was being hunted by King Ahab. Elijah went up on Mount Horeb and he encountered the living God. Remember, it is the passage where we find the Lord in the “still small voice” or “the sheer sound of silence”? Like Elijah, we encounter God in the self-imposed silence to intentionally listen for the Lord during these 40 days.

         It is the 40 days of Moses, when he went upon Mount Sinai and received the New Tablets with the Ten Commandments and renewed the Covenant which was broken before he ever got down from Sinai the first time. Like Moses, we renew our commitment to the Old and New Covenants these 40 days.

         It is the 40 days which mirrors the 40 years of the people of Israel as they wandered the desert awaiting God’s deliverance into the Land of Israel and Judah. They fasted, prayed, complained, were chastened, established their commitment to worship, were given the sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sins, and experienced a relationship of covenantal love by God toward his people. We, also, who are wandering in the wilderness of cultures that do not understand us, nor increasingly accept us. We await deliverance at the Second Coming. We also await our own personal deliverance at the Easter Vigil.

         It is this period of deliverance which is brought to mind by Jesus’ 40 days in the desert being tempted. The passages from Deuteronomy which Jesus quotes are the same ones given to the people as they wandered in the desert.  We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, especially the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.  In these 40 days, we recommit ourselves to the word in Scripture and to the Word who is the great wisdom of the universe, who will be sacrificed on Good Friday.

We shall worship only God. We shall worship not our smart phones, not our facebook likes, not our twitter comments, not our cars, our homes, our pics we share profusely, not our hobbies, clubs, not our political parties or views, not food, not anything.  We will not worship anything that would get in the way with our relationship with the One who gives us life.  These 40 days give us a time to ask what it is that is leading us away from the Lord and get rid of it.

We should not tempt the Lord our God with contests that prove the Lord’s fidelity to us. You know what I mean, with our countless, “if the Lord loved me he would or he wouldn’t have allowed,” or the “if you are real, Lord, then you will do exactly as I say for this situation and not what you know better to do…” and there are more, I am sure. This 40 days gives us a chance to get rid of these ways we tempt God by placing ourselves above him, asking him to dance our dance, sing our song. We serve God as he serves us. Simply, we need to get in our lane for the mission of God.

This brings me to the startling truth of Jesus and the Spirit.  He was conceived when the Spirit came over Mary. The Spirit was upon him at his Baptism. The Spirit will be with him after these temptations as he heals people. Yet, what I want us to see is this: Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for the 40 days. It didn’t just happen by chance. There was no, “well, looky here!, the devil!” No, that is not how it happened.

Like fire fighters that run into the burning building or a wild fire, or police who go toward the active shooter, or the Coast Guard rescuing someone in a storm, or FEMA workers rescuing earthquake victims when tremors are possible, the Holy Spirit took Jesus into the desert on purpose. The desert was seen as the barren, god forsaken, place where the devil and his evil spirits were.  So, when Jesus is taken to the desert it was for the sole purpose to take on temptations. If you notice, it says, “When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed.”

Jesus was led by the Spirit to take on every temptation because we experience every temptation. He ran into the burning building. He went to the front lines of the war. War? Did I say “war”? Yes. I did. We are at war. We are at war and we are the ones who have the more powerful army. Oh, sure, the devil wins battles. He wins a lot of battles, but we know that these 40 days will lead us to the liturgical celebration of the victory over the grave. We are on the winning side of this war.

We are in the war to be generous in the face of selfishness. We are to stand with the confident strength of kindness in the face of cruelty. We are to stand on the principles of our faith in the face of lawlessness and crazy incantations of redefinitions of life. We are to take service to others, even those who hate us, because to give to others when they hate you is love. Just as those who hated our Lord enough to beat him, spit on him, unjustly convict him, and kill him, we are to use the evil in this world against itself.  Even as they were killing him, he was saving them.

We, too, in this forty days, are to run into the fire of temptation and face our demons. With the power of the Holy Spirit wrought through Jesus Christ in our Baptisms, our Confessions, our Anointing, our Communion in the Eucharist, our reading of Scripture, our service to the outcast, criminal, and poor, our life of generosity, and our life of commanding rebuke of evil in prayer, we are to stand in the Power of the Living God. We run into the fire of the desert of temptation because it is about saving life, eternal life.  We run into the hard work and the persecutions because we are on God’s mission. We are on the mission to refine ourselves to be the examples that give glory to the Lord. We, like Christ, will then go on to heal others and invite others to follow him. When we do, then we will bring others who will have their lives saved for eternity.

So, the 40 days are more than just about chocolate. Who has given up chocolate again this year? It is more than just giving up facebook or other social media. The 40 days are about being trained for spiritual warfare on the mission to love the world in the face of its constant and fire hose volume amount of cruelty and inhumanity. The 40 days are a spiritual boot camp to be trained to go forth to heal, convert, and be on a mission for the living God to save the world.  We are the first responders of faith. We are the ones who are to go where others will not. We are the ones to love the poor, the outcast, the lonely, the criminal, the unlovable. We are the one who run toward the fire. Amen.

This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated.  My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2019.

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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Executive Director

Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian