Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, January 26

Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, January 26

Once a year, the campus ministry I attended played a massive week-long game of “Assassin.” The object of the game was to eliminate the players assigned to you by spraying them with a water gun (or, for the McGuyvers in our group, an improvised water bottle).  Therefore, if you were playing the game, you were constantly being hunted by someone who wanted to eliminate you. To win, you had to be on guard. What had previously been a insignificant walk to class was turned for one week into a harrowing death trap. Behind every bush and door lurked a potential assassin intent on taking you out of the game.  I’m sure that our fellow students who didn’t know about Assassin thought we were the most neurotic group of people on campus.

This week, we continue our sermon series in the Gospel of Luke by reading about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness by the devil. The idea of a real “devil” upsets the modern mind, which generally prefers to attribute evil in the world to psychology or circumstance.  In scripture, however, we see that evil is tied to a person: Satan. He is described as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31) and actively opposes God, seeking to frustrate the Church and hinder the advance of the Gospel. In the opening chapters of Genesis we see  Satan initiate his work on Earth by tempting Adam and Eve.  In doing this, he attacks them at the core of their identity by reversing the creator/creature distinction. Sin entered through temptation and continues today in the same manner, with Satan, the great spiritual assassin, tempting us at every turn to exalt ourselves over our creator. 

Anyone who has made a new year’s resolution likely knows that temptation can overcome the strongest of wills. Despite knowing this, we often try to overcome the temptations of Satan by the work of our own hands. Though this may be a noble effort, it is futile. Temptation may be averted for a short time through willpower, but it cannot be ultimately put off. It is like the mayor in the movie “Chocolat” who, though having preached against indulgence, is found asleep in the window of the chocolate shop, having broken his Lenten fast and gorged himself with sweets.  We do not have the power within ourselves to overcome Satan and will find ourselves deeper in sin as a result of our efforts.

There is, however, hope. Even more than hope, there is assured victory against Satan. In this week’s passage, Jesus goes into the wilderness and, in his weakened state, does what none of us could do: He defeats Satan. If we should ever hope to have victory over temptation, we must first fall before King Jesus in repentance and belief. And from this posture we fight Satan’s temptations, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and share in the victory that Christ won in the wilderness and secured for us on the cross.

THE WORD

Scripture: Luke 4:1-13
Sermon: Tempting Jesus

SONGS

O Love Incomprehensible (arr. Indelible Grace)
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What a Friend We Have In Jesus (arr. Traditional)
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In the Hour of Trial (arr. Jeremy D. Goodwyne)
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I Need Thee Every Hour (arr. Traditional)
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Song of Preparation: Christian Dost Thou See Him  (arr. Traditional)

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Song of Response: A Mighty Fortress is Our God (arr. Traditional)
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RESPONSIVE READINGS

Confession of Sin

Leader: Mighty and powerful God, you created a perfect paradise and a people to steward the good work of your hands.

People: But we, with our first parents, have marred and poisoned that paradise, inviting the enemy into it and into our hearts.

Leader: But kind and merciful God, the measure of your love toward us is vast. You crossed time and space, took on flesh, and dwelt among us, being made like us in every way, yet without sin.

People: Thanks be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who by his blood has ransomed a people for God!

Leader: And being like us in every way, you were tempted as we are. But as a greater Adam, you withstood the allure of sin to the point of death on a cross.

People: Forgive us Lord, for though we are yours, we do not resist the devil as we ought. We yield to temptation, trampling your precious blood. We are sorry that we do not fight, and we ask for your grace and strength, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Confession of Faith

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

 

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