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Call to Worship....
The Journey Begins
L  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
C Come, let us turn to the Lord, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.
L  “I will lead the blind by a road they do not know.
I will turn the darkness before them into light.”
C You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
L  “My sheep hear my voice.
I know them, and they follow me.”
C He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
L  “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
C Oh, send out your light and your truth; let them lead me.
In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you.
~*Hymn of Praise                       # 25                 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You
Invocation        (the Lord’s Prayer) Merciful God, your Son was tempted as we are, \\ yet without sin:  Be with us in our weakness, that we may know your power to save; \\ through Jesus Christ our Lord.—Church of the Province of Southern Africa, An Anglican Prayer Book, 1989 (London: Collins, 1990), 166.
\\ This week we will speak in unison:
Turn to the Lord; repentant, seek his face,
For God abounds in steadfast love and grace.
They shall not perish who in Christ believe,
But everlasting life they shall receive.
*THE HOLY CITY   Rick Irish*
Responsory Psalm ... Psalm 25:1-10
L  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
C O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.
L  Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame.
C Let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
L  Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
C Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
L  Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
C Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
L  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
C He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
L  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
Our  Offering to God    Proverbs 3:9  Honor God with your substance and with the first fruits of your produce.
Prayer of Dedication     Gracious God, who gave Jesus Christ and who with him has given so freely to us, receive  these our offerings and enable us, with all our gifts, so to yield ourselves to you that with body, mind, and spirit we may truly and freely serve you, for in that service we find our deepest joy.
~*Hymn of Prayer                      Seek Ye First
     Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
     and all these things shall be added unto you.
Allelu, Alleluia!
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word
     That proceeds from the mouth of God.
Allelu, Alleluia!
Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find.
Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.
Allelu, Alleluia!
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
     and all these things shall be added unto you.
Allelu, Alleluia!
Pastoral Prayer  From the day of our baptism, temptation lurks, Lord Jesus Christ.
The old evil foe desires us for destruction, and lures us with false promises that glitter in our grasp.
This Lenten road is treacherous; one misstep and we are prone to perish.
But God so loved the world that he gave you, his only-begotten Son, that all who believe in you may not perish, but have eternal life.
Let your Holy Spirit lead us to firm and confident faith in you, Lord Jesus Christ, that our sins may be washed away by your perfect obedience.
As you came to suffer for our sake, sanctify the suffering of those in any kind of need, and be for them a strong rock of refuge, a mighty fortress, a sure and present help in trouble.
Send your holy angels to strengthen the weak and the weary, and keep their feet from stumbling.
As you joined us in our life—and even in our death—so join us now, we pray, on this Lenten road.
Hold your cross before us every step of our way, and give us grace to take up our own crosses at your bidding, and to follow you.
Lead us, at length, from this desert place to the glory of our eternal home, where we shall worship the Lord our God forever and ever.
~*Hymn of Praise                       # 149               Rock of Ages
Scripture Reading.. Matthews 3:13—4:11
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.
14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he consented.
16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
    1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.
3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Message          THIS LENTEN ROAD            The Road To The Wilderness
A dozen-and-a-half centuries before the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, the Children of Israel made the same kind of journey.
The similarities are striking.
Too striking to be merely coincidental.
Jesus came to the wilderness from the waters of his baptism.
Led by Moses, the Children of Israel likewise passed through water on their journey; the Red Sea had divided to let them pass through.
That may be a picture of your own baptism—with the enemy, /the/ enemy, pursuing you in order to see you done to death (eternal death, in this case).
Your way out is through water, which leads you … to the wilderness, where once again the enemy awaits.
The Children of Israel complained constantly about the wilderness … what they had to eat there, and what they didn’t (does that sound like “Command these stones to become bread”?),
what they had to drink and where it came from (does that sound like, “… lest you dash your foot against a stone”?), what their future held (and doesn’t thoughts of “the promised land” mirror the devils honeyed promises: “The splendor of the world can be yours if you will fall down and worship me”?).
I suppose Jesus had a lot to complain about, if he had wanted to complain.
He came to the wilderness not from slavery in Egypt, but from the glory of his heavenly home.
John the baptizer was right in pointing out that, on his own, Jesus did not need to go through all this.
What lay ahead, Jesus knew, was hardship and rejection ... and eventually even suffering and death.
But the outcome would make the ordeal worth it.
As much as the Israelites complained about their experience in the wilderness, ever since that time God’s people have always looked back on the Exodus wilderness experience as the high point of the Old Testament.
It was there, in the wilderness, that God molded them from a cowering collection of slaves into a mighty nation.
It was there that God gave them the Ten Commandments and taught them the importance of living by them.
It was there that they learned to rely on the Lord their God and to worship him alone.
At Jesus' baptism a heavenly voice proclaims, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
Immediately Jesus is led into the wilderness "by the Spirit," not for a few quiet days of rest and reflection, but so that he might "be tempted by the devil" (v.1) ~/~/~/ Once Israel had established her covenant with God she, too, found herself tested by the harshness and hardships of the wilderness.
~/~/~/ Matthew specifies that Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights before the Devil "came to him" with his series of tests.
"Forty" was a number commonly used to denote any long period of time.
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