Home Service Sunday 26th February 2023

Service 26th February 2023

First Sunday of Lent

Prayers of Approach

God our stronghold and deliverer, you are the only Lord, our God, and we trust only in you. Jesus you were tempted in the wilderness, but you chose another way. You were obedient to your Father. You challenged the evil one and reign victoriously. We bow before you today and sit at your feet, worshipping only you.

Jesus Christ, our wonderful Lord and Saviour, who when tempted in the desert, resisted, in the world, but not of the world: we worship and adore you. When tempted by bread, you chose the word of God. When tempted to be spectacular, you chose humility. When tempted by riches and power, you chose servanthood. Lord Jesus Christ, we worship and adore you.

When we get things wrong, we place our trust in you, Lord. When we feel lost and alone, we place our trust in you, Lord. When we are scared and hurting, we place our trust in you, Lord. When we face the unknown, we place our trust in you, Lord, relying on your endless love. Amen.

Hymn Praise to the holiest inn the height (R&S 103)

Readings: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

Romans 5:12-19

Matthew 4:1-11


Todays’ readings are about a holy and forgiving God and his wayward and weak human creations. In Genesis 2 and 3, the sad tale is recounted of the failure of Adam and Eve to be God’s agents on earth. In Matthew 4 and Romans 5, Jesus is able to do what Adam and Israel did not – obey God without hesitation and without self-interest. In that way, Jesus, the new Adam and new David, began a new race of people who restore the cracked image of God and reflect the character of God as he intended.

In our three readings, we are invited into a relationship with the God who speaks to us and calls us into an understanding of who we are in him. Genesis 2–3 shows the consequences of ignoring that voice. Romans 5 is the link between Genesis and our Gospel reading and reminds us that the Jesus we meet in the temptation narrative is the one who undid the effects of Adam’s choice, enabling each of us to voice God’s praise. Jesus showed that, faced with temptation, he could be trusted to do the right thing; how will we respond when we are tested, and who can we trust when facing life’s challenges?

Hymn Seek ye first the kingdom of God (R&S 512)


Have you ever been tempted to do something you know is wrong? If you know for certain that it is wrong it makes it easier to resist, but the thing about temptation that makes it so dangerous is that a real temptation always has an element of good sense, it is plausible and appealing. After all, surely Eve could be praised for wanting to stretch the limits of her and Adam’s potential. To learn, to be able to make their own decisions, to be independent and self-reliant is a sign of growing up and is something every parent would want to see in their children. And surely wisdom for the human race is a sensible step forward?

The darker side is that the seeming good sense of temptation masks the fact that doing or saying or thinking a particular thing is just plain wrong. In Adam and Eve’s case it went against God’s instructions and destroyed their trusting relationship with God. As is typical with temptation what initially looks so attractive ultimately causes only misery and confusion. It’s something that we can all identify with – something that seemed such a good idea at the time turns out to have painful or embarrassing consequences.

The ‘Thought for the Week’ in ROOT’s magazine’s resources for worship poses some interesting questions and other ways of looking at the story.

For women and victim-survivors of abuse, the Genesis reading can be challenging. Eve is often presented as the ‘temptress’, too easily persuaded by the serpent and, in seducing Adam, forever held responsible for original sin. But what if we look at this as a coming-of-age story, and view Adam and Eve as young people? Did the serpent ‘groom’ Eve, was she an innocent victim? Did she and Adam just trustingly accept what they were told, not understanding the consequences? Or perhaps the serpent was the teacher, introducing them to the ‘knowledge’ that goes with the adult world? After all, he was right – they didn’t actually die! Is this a lesson in disobedience, or choice and growth?

This isn’t in any way to downplay Adam and Eve’s disobedience but to try to better understand it. Many cultures have a ‘rite of passage’ for adolescents moving into adulthood in which there is a tradition of elders teaching and accompanying young people as they take their role in the adult community. Did Adam and Eve try to grow up too quickly before God had prepared them for it?

The situation for Jesus is in some ways quite similar, yet in other ways very different. After his baptism Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he is tempted by Satan. The temptations focus on Scripture, worship and putting God to the test. In rejecting them, Jesus affirms the voice of God in Scripture and the call of God in his life. Once again the temptations seem to have a great deal of sense to them. If you are the Son of God; ‘turn these stones into bread…’ feed not only yourself but the world?; ‘Throw yourself down…’ (angels will lift you up) it will prove who you are!; look at all the kingdoms of the world – I’ll give them to you if you worship me. The implication is that Jesus can rule for good, for the benefit of all humanity – at first glance a seemingly good pay-off.

Jesus however, is much better prepared (older?) than Adam and Eve. He is able to see the temptations for what they are and to use the teachings of scripture to refute them. And these are not ordinary temptations. The Greek word for ‘tempted’ can also be translated as ‘tested’, the point being that this isn’t an account of being tempted with chocolate during Lent! At the start of his ministry, Jesus faces a test of his core values, his wisdom and his nature. Will he use his power to satisfy his own needs or to meet those of others? Will he show off by putting himself in danger? Will he abuse his position to gain wealth and glory? Jesus’ answers help us when we face a test of our courage and choices: ‘It is written’ – each time he looks back to collective wisdom for guidance. Trust in God, and choose to do what is right, not just what brings you rewards.

Young or old, new or mature in our Christian faith, Lent is an invitation to enter our personal wilderness and renew our relationship with ourselves and our calling. Can we trust ourselves to make good choices and do the right thing? Can God find us trustworthy? And do we trust God?

Hymn Jesus the Lord says, ‘I am the bread’ (R&S 199)

Prayers of Intercession

God of all, we turn to you today and ask for your help. We pray for wisdom to make right choices and right decisions in all things, to seek your truth and not be swayed by all that the world offers. Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go.

We pray for those who are easily led astray and end up in situations and places that they struggle to get out of – especially those influenced by status, money, power, drugs and alcohol. Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go.

We pray that world leaders will always seek justice, truth and wisdom in their decision making, and treat everybody as an equal, with fair opportunities for all. Steer us, Lord, in the way we should go. Amen.

Hymn One more step along the world I go (R&S 549)


Let us go forth with the love of God surrounding us; the wisdom of God guiding us; and our trust in God protecting us. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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